By Ron VandenBurg, based on the play "Song of Mary", by John McNeil
An Advent Series of Monologues Writer, using material from the play The Song of Mary by John McNeil, The Message by Eugene Peterson, and We Were There by Marla Ehlers.
Voices of townspeople
(teen aged and pregnant
in that culture
the importance of the virgin birth and the immaculate conception of Jesus
other surprising births in the OT pointing to this birth)
I am here and right now I am very alone.
At first I felt a little skeptical, like Sarah when the angel told Abraham she would have a baby. Wondering what on earth was going on. (Chuckles) But a bit forward for my age, too, I think.
A girl of 13 should answer back to an angel!? I have to admit, I was a bit proud of having been chosen by God for such a special task ... for all of, maybe, five minutes.
"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it happen to me just as you say."
(Pause. Looking to congregation) Then I told my mother
"Mother! I have seen an angel! He had a message for me."
She was more concerned with preparing dinner for the men, saying, "Mary, bring me some oil. Bring the flour." She was too busy with everyday events then to hear about an angel's message.
However, she did stop to listen when I told her about the baby.
"But mother, it is not going to be Joseph's ..." (suddenly realizes what she is saying, breaks off.)
That's when I began to realize that while I might be blessed among women, it was a very mixed blessing.
My mother lives in disgrace. My father wants to know who the father was. "I will beat him to within an inch of his life," he screams.
Again, I told them about the angel. They called me blasphemous. How could I tell them that the Lord Almighty was responsible?
What am I to say to Joseph? How am I to keep my belly hidden?
(The voices of townspeople are heard. Mary reacts to their harsh words and quickly exits down the center aisle).
She won't say who the father is!
I bet it's Jacob - he's had eyes on her.
He laid more than eyes on her!
She should be stoned, the adulteress.
Her mother says she's hearing voices in her head.
It took more than voices to do that.
Maybe she and Joseph just anticipated the marriage day. I wouldn't blame him.
She should be stoned...
It's broken her father's heart.
She should be stoned ...
(teen aged and confused
about life, about the future, about God's plans for me
the reality of trouble and confusion in every person's life
God's activity in people's lives often brings "a sword instead of peace")
Joseph came to talk to me today. Now I am very much alone. He looked so... sad, not angry as I thought he might be. Sad. For himself. For me. For the baby. We were betrothed. He was struggling. To not believe the voices in the marketplace. Wanting to believe me. Oh, how I need him to believe me! But he said that he could only believe his own eyes.
I told him that God had chosen us to be husband and wife and that this child needed him to be his father.
He replied that it was not his child, and turned and walked away from me.
I feel utterly abandoned. Even by God. I cannot understand why he has supposedly chosen me for the highest honour ever bestowed on a woman, only to be totally rejected by all around me. I would doubt the whole thing - imagining I am going insane - if it were not for the evidence growing daily inside me. But both the baby and I are in grave danger.
My father has had occasion to sell some of our animals recently, and the rumour is spreading that the money was used to buy Joseph's silence. As if we had so much money, or he so little integrity!
When I mentioned that my cousin Elizabeth is also having a baby, my father thought it would be wise, and safer, for me to visit her. I can assist her during her own preparations - after all, she is not exactly young.
The angel himself has told me that Elizabeth was pregnant! I hope she will believe me.
(teen aged and trusting
the faith of a child, of a young person, that can put us to shame
Jesus says the kingdom belongs to such as these
God wants us to see his possibilities in the face of impossibilities)
She looked at me and said, "Mary! What a blessing to see you, my dear!" How ready I was to hear those words.
I had traveled with a caravan down to Judea. My father had supplied me with a donkey. You can imagine Elizabeth's surprise when I arrived.
(Reflecting) She called me a blessing. What a change from what the people back home were saying!
"And you, also, Elizabeth. Adonai sar shalom. Blessing be yours, and God's peace within your walls."
Elizabeth couldn't wait to tell me her news. A woman at her age, barren for years, and now pregnant and in her sixth month.
She was surprised to hear that I already knew. Who would have thought that an angel would have spread such wonderful gossip!
I was then surprised to hear that Elizabeth's husband Zechariah had met Gabriel too.
I told her, "Gabriel came to tell me that I am also to be a mother. Elizabeth, I am to bear the Messiah."
Then Elizabeth winced. I quickly came close to support her. Elizabeth said that it was the strongest kick ever.
And then, something amazing. Elizabeth became filled with the spirit of God and said, "Mary, my dear, you are blessed among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! How fortunate I am to have the mother of my Lord come to me. The babe that kicks within me is leaping for joy to hear your voice."
First, the angel had called me blessed, and now Elizabeth. Even her unborn baby had known!
Looking at her, the beautiful smile on her face, I remembered Gabriel words, "For nothing is impossible with God."
(teen aged and singing her heart out
a life full of worship, lived to the glory of God
our reason for living is magnify the Lord
God wants us to praise him in (not necessarily for) every situation)
(Rushes to the stage with a great smile and turns to the audience with arms raised in praise.)
I'm bursting with God-news;
I'm dancing the song of my Saviour God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened -
I'm the most fortunate woman on earth!
(turns in a circle. With laughter and joy)
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
(The following verses, her enthusiasm carries her as she demostrates the active verbs of the text)
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattering the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
He remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
(And here she pauses to make her main point)
It's exactly what he promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now!
(teen aged and grasping God's identity and strategy
identity: faithful covenant God
strategy: the great reversal
Jesus focused on the latter in his teaching (the first shall be last, etc.)
Nine months pregnant, and to have to ride a hundred miles on the back of bony donkey? I felt like a sack of badly loaded cabbages, tossed and jolted from one step to the next. I walked as much as I could, but that was slow going because I got tired easily. It took us 10 days.
I was glad for the rolling to stop, believe me. In Bethlehem, we trudged from place to place, everything full to overcrowding, and I was getting more and more desperate, knowing my time was near.
An innkeeper's wife took pity on us when she saw my condition. She made her husband sweep out the stable at the back, and gave us room there. Fortunately, the animals had not yet been brought in for winter, so it was empty, and with a bit of clean straw it was not too bad. I was glad of the peace and quiet, away from the drinkers around the front.
We were settled in none too soon. My labour pains began almost immediately. Joseph, bless him, did his best to make me comfortable, but he was no midwife. I don't know what I would have done if the Innkeeper's wife had not returned. She had obviously delivered many babies in her time, and this was just another one to her, a break from routine before she hurried back to her guests out front.
To hold that baby - how can words describe the wonder. Every baby is a miracle, but suddenly all the pain, the discomfort, the ordeal vanished as I held him.
But you know what was almost more of a miracle? After Joseph and I married I could not shake a great fear - had he done it only out of duty, and how would he react to the child? So when he asked to hold him, I could scarcely breathe. His big, calloused carpenter hands reached down and took the baby and brought it up to his face. And then the miracle happened. A look of mingled wonder, awe, love spread across Joseph's face as he cradled the child. And then that big man wept. Tears of joy fell without shame, and Joseph knelt beside me, put the baby back in my arms, and held the two of us in his strong embrace.
At first I was astonished, but as I listened to his words, I came to see that he too had been visited by an angel. I realized that God had indeed been with me and had given me what I needed. Joseph knew that the baby had been conceived by the Holy Spirit. He knew that the baby would grow to be the Messiah. He even knew the name by which the child is to be called - Jesus!
(teen aged and capturing memories
no short attention span for Mary; she treasures and ponders
consider scrap books and photo albums of teens on service projects
her pondering enabled Luke to write the Gospel. She shared what she knew.)
Understanding so much, and so little. (chuckles) It is good of you to come and visit me, Luke. Though whether it is out of concern for me or for your history...
No-one ever had it more clearly spelled out to them, did they! The prophets. The angels. But though the words were sweet to the mouth, there were many times they proved bitter to the soul. Who could know the full meaning, except in hindsight? It was better that I didn't.
There were other comings and goings that night. Shepherds from the hillside who came at the angels' bidding. Angels sure had a big part to play in this whole story!
Then, not till several weeks after, the Magi. We'd been up to Jerusalem to present Jesus in the temple and have him circumcised, and come back to Bethlehem ready to start for home when they turned up.
It wasn't till later that I realised what this represented. The gentile nations coming to worship the Son of God. Oh I know it's all through the prophets, but we didn't see it then.
Goodness knows what the people of Bethlehem thought. It was like a circus parade. Horses and servants everywhere. They could have a traveled a bit more discreetly, but no, they had come to honour a king and so they did the whole king-honouring performance. Very impressive. I just wish they had not impressed Herod quite so much on their way through Jerusalem.
As soon as they turned up we knew trouble was ahead. God confirmed that in dreams to ourselves as well as the Magi. Get out, fast, he said. We hid the Magi's gifts as best we could in our baggage, and Joseph was able to locate a caravan heading down to Egypt that night. We fled, and just in time. We heard horses coming as we left town, but it wasn't until later that we learned the full horror of that night - the deaths of all those children. Those poor mothers.
(teen aged and warned about the future
many teen agers are scared about what's ahead. Work. Responsibility. Life.
Anyone involved with Jesus must count the cost of discipleship
Jesus suffering and death and the Christian's pain is prophesied.)
"A sound was heard in Ramah,
weeping and much lament.
Rachel weeping for her children,
Rachel refusing all solace,
Her children gone,
dead and buried."
Oh Luke, how many times since then have swords pierced my heart? I suppose if I had listened closely all those years ago, I would have known about the pain, about losing him. The words of Simeon. The gifts of the Magi. Gold for a king, yes, but incense for an offering, and myrrh for a burial ...a burial.
He was so little then. What a gift for me when my Son's feet - his feet so small- first stepped on their own, when his voice first cried "Mama"!
Then that Passover, now years ago. We lost him for three long terrifying days, only to find him in the temple. "His father's house", looking back I should have known he was never just mine.
I suppose I began losing him years ago. So many others needed him then, still need him, and I saw, though I didn't want to admit it, that he was no longer only mine.
I watch them mock him, flog him, spit on him, force him to drag his own cross, pound nails into his hands and feet. My son, alone, exposed before all heaven and earth. "Why have you forsaken me?" he cried... we all cried.
Does watching your Son die hurt as much when you're divine.
I wonder if God cried that night the angels sang, knowing his own child's birth would end in such a sacrifice.
"He has mercy on the miserable and afflicted when they fear him with godly reverence. He has shown the strength of his arm, and scattered those who are proud and haughty in the designs of their hearts.
"He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and raised up those who are lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, but the rich he has sent away empty-handed.
"He has come to the help of his servant, Israel, as he promised our fathers, Abraham and his descendants, for ever."
© Copyright Ron VandenBurg, all rights reserved
This script may be performed free of royalty, provided no entrance charge is made. In return the author would appreciate being notified of any performance. He may be contacted at the following email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org