A Christmas play for the Advent Season
by Philip E. Friesen
The intimate details of Mary’s pregnancy and Jesus birth are narrated in the Gospel of Luke. It seems most likely that Luke would have interviewed Mary during his two year visit to Palestine in about AD 60 when he accompanied Paul to Jerusalem. This reading is my attempt to describe what feelings Mary may have experienced while she was carrying the baby. It has been performed on stage two times as a drama, and also been published as a reading in “The Mennonite.”
copyright 1995 by Philip E. Friesen
The opening dialogue between teen girls is only a suggestion. Feel free to create your own opening dialogue for whatever combination of actors you have. The actual reading of the diary should be according to the script, but use your creativity for dialogue and action around it if you wish. Have one of the artists in the group create an old looking scroll, and arrange a set according to your liking.
Characters: Sue, Sarah, Samantha, and Sid
Sue is seen digging around in an old trunk
Sarah walks in while Sue picks out an old scroll
Sue: “Look at this. I wonder what this is!”
Sarah: “Open it up. Let’s check it out!”
Sue: (Opens & reads silently) “Its a diary of someone with the name, Mary. Do you think we should be reading this?” (Holds the book out)
Sarah: (Takes the book) “It looks pretty old to me. I think this Mary has got to be dead. It can’t hurt anything.”
Samantha and little brother Sid walk in.
Samantha: “What are you doing?”
Sarah (Points to the book, then motions to sit down) “Come sit down. We want to read this.”
(All sit down)
The Day after Returning from Her Visit to Elizabeth.”
“This handwriting has changes! The title is different from the main text. Weird, isn’t it?”
Samantha” “It looks like someone different wrote the text, not the same person who wrote the title and the first heading. Probably Mary, whoever she was, didn’t write the title and someone else gave it a title… (Points downward into the scroll as if to emphasize a particular line) Maybe…………….. Do you suppose……?
Sarah: (irritated) “Suppose what?”
Sue: (impatiently) “Never mind. Just go on. Read!”
Sarah: (continues reading) “Now they find out. There is no way to hide it. Whatever will Joseph say? (pause) Oh never mind, Joseph will support me. I know that he will. Its incredible, this lightness of spirit I feel. I should be utterly depressed. Everyone thinks I have been fooling around. Today in the market no one spoke to me. Sarah and Rachel refused to look at me. I saw Philip and Andrew snickering with two other strange boys, and it was clear they were talking about me. Still I didn’t feel any shame. In fact I have been floating in ecstasy. So what if they think I’m a bitch. I have God inside, and angels all around. I couldn’t possibly expect them to understand.
Sue: “Who do you suppose this Mary was? I think it’s obvious she’s pregnant. And she’s also terribly religious, except maybe the bitch word.”
Samantha: (impatiently) ‘Just go on. I want to find out what happens. Let me read!”
(Samantha grabs the book and starts reading)
“The first morning after learning about the emperor’s decree for Joseph to go to Bethlehem.
Last night was awful! The street filled with devils. Hell came pouring in the window, and filled up my room. Was I ever scared! Joseph, it’s you who kept the devils out before. From way across the town in your own house, even that far away, it’s your love that gave me strength to laugh at my accusers. Now you have to go to Bethlehem. I ‘ll be alone and unprotected. What am I going to do? Even if I make it through the day, I know I can’t handle another night.”
Optional Reader (standing off to the side, interrupts, and reads Luke 2:1-3)
“The second morning after hearing that Joseph must go to Bethlehem.
Last night all the darkness of hell suddenly swallowed my room, and I stiffened like a corpse on the bed. I called upon God again and again, but there was no response. I prayed for the Messiah to save me, and then it hit me. I’m going along. Nine months pregnant or not, I’m going! God will take care of his own son. So long as I am carrying HIS son, he won’t let anything happen to me, and I can go to Bethlehem. As soon as I thought of that, it was settled. The darkness evaporated, and the devils flew out the window. I slept peacefully.
There is still one problem, though. How do I tell Joseph?”
Samantha: “I get it, this is Mary in the Bible.” (Looks at Sarah) “You don’t think she really wrote this, do you?”
Sarah : “ I don’t care. Let me read.” ( Sarah takes the scroll)
“The first rest stop after leaving home
God, you provide everything! I didn’t even have to tell to Joseph. He arranged it all. How did he know I wanted to go along? Did he see another angel?
Early this morning I dreamed I heard Joseph shouting. There were other voices too, but I could only recognize his. The shouting came nearer, and then there were lights. I felt myself lifted high into the air, and carried outside. I opened my eyes to see Joseph laughing, and I discovered the dream was real. Honestly, I must be the first bride in Jewish history that wasn’t ready to go when the bridegroom came.
When did Mother pack my things? It must have been when I was sleeping.”
Optional Reader: (standing off to the side, interrupts, and reads Luke 2:4-5)
It has been cool and cloudy all day; so unusual for this time of year. And the child hasn’t even been heavy! Well, sometimes I do feel like a rock, but a floating rock. A rock lifted on a strong, gentle breeze above the clouds. I know it’s Joseph’s love that makes me feel that way. Every time he smiles at me, I feel an infusion of new energy to keep going.
Optional Reader: (standing off to the side, interrupts, and reads Luke 2: 6-21)
Sue: (Leans over & starts reading the book out of Sarah’s hands)
“No wedding feast.” (Soon after finding a house in Bethlehem).
I get it. These little headings weren’t written by Mary. One of her relatives must have added this later to make sense out of it for us.”
Sarah: “Sure. Let me read!
“No wedding feast.” (Soon after finding a house in Bethlehem).
I can’t help feeling sad that there is no crowd outside the bridal chamber waiting for the announcement. No sounds of feasting and drinking either. I would have been so nice to have an ordinary wedding in Nazareth with all our friends. It is strange to first have a son, and then afterwards sleep with a man. But I shouldn’t complain. Joseph is asleep. Under my arm, Jesus slurps and gurgles as he sucks. I guess I shouldn’t complain. I have Joseph, and I have baby Jesus.”
(She pauses in her reading for a moment, then continues)
The shepherds opened up the town for us. They woke everyone up before dawn to announce Jesus coming. No one disbelieves us here. We just don’t have to make any explanations, and there is no laughing behind our backs, or mocking stares when we walk by. It hurt so much to be misunderstood by all our friends, but God has made a place for us in Bethlehem. We have good reason to be thankful.
SOME HISTORICAL BACKGROUND FYI
According to the Messianic Jewish writer, Zola Levitt, when Jesus was born, wedding vows were actually part of the engagement ceremony. Following the ceremony, the groom would return home to build a new room for the new couple, and the marriage would be consummated in that room, following the formal kidnapping of the bride. Traditionally the bridegroom came unannounced (often at night) with all his friends to kidnap the bride. As progress on the couple’s residence came near to completion, the bride would gather her friends and prepare to be kidnapped. No bride wanted to be caught unprepared for this event. The wedding feast would take place after the marriage was consummated. Since Mary was already pregnant, Joseph and Mary did not have a proper wedding feast in Nazareth. Luke says they were engaged at this time, which means the wedding vows had been said, but the marriage was not yet consummated.