The events of the Christmas story seen from the perspective of Mary.
Anna, Joseph's mother
Jacob, Joseph's father
(A VIDEO MONTAGE ON AN OVERHEAD SCREEN FLASHES IMAGES OF OUR WORLD FROM EDEN TO THE PRESENT DAY. THE IMAGES GET UGLIER AND MORE VIOLENT AS TIME PROGRESSES. MUSIC IS PLAYED THROUGHOUT. THE IMAGES AND MUSIC REACH A CRESCENDO AND STOP, LEAVING THE AUDIENCE IN A DARK QUIET FOR A FEW SECONDS.
MUSIC BEGINS AGAIN SOFTLY AS THE LIGHTS SLOWLY FADE UP REVEALING A DANCE WHICH DEMONSTRATES THE VASTNESS OF SPACE SHRINKING DOWN TO A MINUTE FOETUS.
AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE DANCE THERE IS AGAIN DARKNESS AND QUIETNESS FOR A FEW SECONDS UNTIL THE SOUND OF A PULSE BEAT IS HEARD BEATING SOFTLY IN THE DARKNESS. THE SOUND BUILDS IN VOLUME FOR A FEW SECONDS AND THEN FADES OUT AS THE LIGHTS FADE UP ON A YOUNG GIRL. SHE IS DRESSED APPROPRIATELY FOR A JEWISH COUNTRY VIRGIN OF 1BC. SHE IS OUTSIDE A SIMPLE DWELLING AND IT IS NIGHT. SHE IS FEEDING A RABBIT IN A CAGE.)
MARY: (Mary coos to the rabbit, pets it and feeds it throughout the speech) Come on, here you are...eat up...that's it..good girl..It's easy for you. All you have to do is be nice and look cute. You don't have to fetch water, grind grain, cook, clean..nothing. You're just like a harem girl, although your cage isn't as pretty is it. Never mind..eat up...(She pauses and a smile spreads across her face) I saw Joseph again today..down by the well. The house is almost ready! We can be married soon!! Oh, I can't wait. Me...a wife! I'll have my own home. My own pots. My own pans. It's going to be beautiful! I'll take you with me, don't worry. You should see my dress! Mamma's finished it. It's gorgeous!! The gold thread is magnificent. I'm going to shine like the sun. I can't wait to see Joseph's face when he sees me. Soon we won't have to sneak conversations at the well. Soon we can stay up all night and talk if we want to. Soon.
(Suddenly there is a blinding flash of light. Dimly, in the light, the figure of an angel can be seen.)
ANGEL: Greetings, favoured one. The Lord is with you. (Terrified, Mary falls to the ground.) Don't be afraid Mary, for you have found favour with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.
MARY: How can this happen? I'm not married yet.
ANGEL: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy the son of God. And your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing is impossible.
MARY: I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.
(There is a crescendo of blinding light, and then blackness. A starry night, Mary is alone and stunned. We hear the faint pulse beat and on the screen is flashed the image of a tiny foetus. Mary holds her stomach.)
MARY: (Stunned, she calls out in a strangled voice) Joseph!
SONG: 'Who will stand by me?' (Musical or dance item expressing the sense of loneliness and fear felt in a time of trial.)
(Joseph's parents' home. A simple room in a simple home. Joseph sits at a kitchen table, His mother, Anna, busies herself in a flurry of tense activity with kitchen tasks, and his father, Jacob, tries to make himself invisible.)
ANNA: You can't be serious. Tell me you're not serious Joseph. Jacob, tell me he isn't serious. Jacob?
JACOB: Yes dear?
ANNA: Tell me he isn't serious! He can't possibly be serious about marrying the girl now. Frankly, I'm surprised her father hasn't dealt with the matter more strongly.
JOSEPH: (shocked and angered.) What do you mean by that?
ANNA: The law is the law! 'If the tokens of virginity are not found in a young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father's house, and the men of the city shall stone her to death with stones'.
JOSEPH: (horrified.) Mother!
JACOB: Anna, Mary is a good girl, no one thinks-
ANNA: Good?! Her illegitimate child swells within her. How can you let her disgrace us like this? Don't you care what people are saying?
JOSEPH: If I marry her the tongues will stop wagging and then, when things have settled down , I will divorce her quietly.
ANNA: But it's not your child!
JOSEPH: Mary is my betrothed. I can't abandon her.
ANNA: Why not? She abandoned you,... and favoured another.
JOSEPH: She says there isn't any 'other'. She says she was visited by a messenger of God. She says her child is conceived by God himself..
ANNA: And you believe her?
JOSEPH: I don't know what to think. I know it sounds incredible,..but it's just as incredible to me that she should willingly go with someone else..I was sure she.. she seemed so..
JACOB: Do you think she could have been raped? Maybe she's trying to protect someone.
JOSEPH: It's possible...but, I don't know..why wouldn't she tell me?..why should she lie to me?...How can I ever trust her again?
ANNA: You can't son, and that's just my point. Look, I don't know what went wrong. We all felt Mary was a good girl, but some of us fail when we're tested in the furnace. It's not your fault and you have no further obligation to the girl. She has made her choice.
JOSEPH: And I have made mine. Her blood will not be on my head. I will marry her and divorce her respectably.
JOSEPH: I don't want to talk about it any more. (He leaves the room.)
ANNA: Joseph! JOSEPH!
JACOB: Anna. Let him be. He loves Mary. He can't be responsible for her death.
ANNA: So we have to go through a farce of a wedding- ( She is crying now - Jacob holds her close) --everyone sniggering and pointing and pitying.
JACOB: It will be all right. We'll do it quietly and soon it will be all over with. Come on, you need some air too. (He leads her out.)
(We see more flashes on the video of a foetus growing, and hear the sound of a pulse beat.)
SONG: (Joseph's song. We see Joseph sitting alone throughout, struggling with his thoughts.)
(Joseph's father enters and sits by his son. He waits to listen.)
JOSEPH: (Softly, after a pause.) Is mum all right?
JACOB: It's not easy for her son.
JOSEPH: (hurting.) I can't abandon her, dad.
JACOB: (gently.) I know.
JOESPH: I just can't believe she'd do it. She loves me. If I'm wrong about that, then I'm wrong about everything. You should have seen her dad..the day before she told me..about the baby..she was so excited. I told her the house was nearly ready..she was so happy- I mean, how could she fake that?..if she knew she was pregnant? You can't hide a pregnancy. She must have known I'd find out. And then to suddenly tell me the next day. How could she be so certain she was pregnant if she had no idea the day before? I just don't understand. She said an angel appeared to her..and told her that she had been chosen to carry the Messiah.. God's child..Why didn't he tell me? She's my betrothed....She really believed it dad. She can't lie to me..I always know it she's trying to hide something..at least I always thought I did. No. She really believes it. (Sighs) I don't know.
JACOB: Well we worship a God of miracles-anything is possible, and miracles seem to run in that family. I just heard that Elizabeth, Zacharia's wife is pregnant.
JOSEPH: You're kidding!
JACOB: Simeon just got back this morning and he swears it's true. What's more, he said that Zacharia has been struck dumb! He hasn't said a word since his temple service. Apparently he came out of the temple as white as a sheet and as dumb as an ox. It must have been about the time Elizabeth conceived if we can go on normal arithmetic. Elizabeth is convinced she is carrying a miracle child, and why not? It's certainly a miracle that she carries a child at all after all these barren years.
JOSEPH: It is Zacharia's child though.
JACOB: It's still a miracle son. And..if he can make a barren woman conceive, as he did with Sarah long ago, then he can do anything.
JOSEPH: (Surprised.) You believe Mary?
JACOB: I haven't shut my mind to the possibility. I don't shut my mind to any possibilities. But you're going to have to decide about this one yourself. You know, whatever you decide, I'm behind you son.
JOSEPH: How will I ever know for sure?..How can I ever really trust her again? There'll always be that doubt...and everytime I look at-her- child, knowing it's not mine...how can I say I won't come to hate her? She's either dishonest, insane or..or she's telling the truth, and I can't really cope with any of those alternatives.
JACOB: Even Mary wouldn't condemn you for that.
JOSEPH (sadly.) I'll divorce her quietly. I don't want her publicly shamed.
JACOB: I'm sorry son.
JOSEPH: I'll go and tell her now.
(Judith, Mary's friend, enters.)
JUDITH: (puffed from running.) Mary sent me.
JACOB: I'll go and see to your mother.
JUDITH: (To Jacob.) It's all right, you don't need to leave. Mary just wanted me to tell Joseph that she's gone to stay with her kinswoman Elizabeth for..a while. Elizabeth is with child.
JOSEPH: We heard.
JACOB: (Noting Judith's surprise.) From Simeon.
JUDITH: Oh, yes, of course.. well, Mary left this morning. She wanted me to tell you.
JOSEPH: How long will she be away?
JUDITH: She's... not sure.(there is an awkward pause.) Well,...I have to get back...
JOSEPH: Thank you Judith
JUDITH: She loves you Joseph. Only you. There's never been anyone else..ever. I have to go....Bye.
JACOB: I'll go see to your mother. (He moves to exit.)
JOSEPH: Dad? (Jacob stops and turns to his son questioningly.) Thanks. (Jacob smiles and exits.)
SONG: 'It's over.'
(We are in another simple room in another simple house. Mary sits sewing, sadly. Elizabeth enters with a plate of snacks. She is huge with child. She offers a snack to Mary, who refuses.)
ELIZABETH: Oh, come on- you're eating for two now..they're nice..I put in extra honey and extra nuts just for you.
MARY: (Laughs sadly and takes one.)
ELIZABETH: There's a good girl. I didn't want to be accused of starving you to death.
MARY: It would be a kinder way to go than stoning.
ELIZABETH: Mary, no one is going to stone you. You're not the first to start the family before the official nuptials. People will forget- in time- once you're legally wed.
MARY: I won't be legally wed.
ELIZABETH: Joseph loves you Mary. He's a good man. He'll come around. It's just been a bit of a shock, that's all. Be patient.
MARY: It's been 6 weeks!
(There is a pause as Elizabeth considers.)
ELIZABETH: You can stay here with me.
MARY: Thank you Elizabeth.
ELIZABETH: It's lovely to have you here. The boys can play together. It will all work out. (Pause) Look Mary, you've done nothing wrong. God has chosen you, above all women to be the mother of his chosen one.
MARY: What if..I mean..what if I imagined it? Maybe it was a dream...what if...
ELIZABETH: Mary, dreams don't make you pregnant.
ELIZABETH: I felt my son leap in my womb when you came here. That was not a dream. You are carrying God's child and God will take care of you both.
MARY: But you should have seen the look on Joseph's mothers face. She'd throw the first rock given half a chance. She won't have me as a daughter in law. Never!
ELIZABETH: Joseph is not one to be ruled by his mother.
MARY: (Quietly, sadly) Why hasn't he come?
ELIZABETH: (Gently.) I don't know pet. I don't know. But it will be all right. Give me a hand will you.
(Mary moves to help but stops and freezes.)
ELIZABETH: (Concerned.) What is it?
MARY: (A smile spreads slowly across her face.) He moved- I felt him- kind of fluttering-like butterflies. (She looks to Elizabeth) It is Him, isn't it?
ELIZABETH: (Smiling.) Yes love. You're going to have a healthy son.
MARY: (Awed) He moved!
ELIZABETH: Come on, Zechariah will be back soon. (She picks up a load and exits. Mary gathers her load and follows.)
SONG/DANCE: 'Mary did you know'
(More flashes of the growing baby in the womb and pulse beats.)
(Elizabeth's home a few months later. John is born and Mary's time is near. The room is empty when the now slim Elizabeth rushes in.)ELIZABETH: Mary, Mary.. It's Joseph! He's come! Where are you girl?
MARY: (Enters. She is big and a little scruffy.) Joseph?
ELIZABETH: Yes! Oh goodness, you look a fright! Quick, see to your hair, I'll delay him at the gate. (She exiits and then quickly re-enters.) Pinch your cheeks. Good luck! (Exits)
(Mary tidies herself quickly and in a moment or two Joseph knocks.)
MARY: Come in.
(Joseph enters shyly. They stare at each other awkwardly. Finally Joseph breaks the silence.)
JOSEPH: You've grown. (She blushes and he adds hastily.) It suits you....Ah...How long...?
MARY: Not long. A few weeks. (Joseph nods - pause) Your family is well?
JOSEPH: (He nods.) Mary..I have to go up to Bethlehem- the census.
MARY: Of course....Thank you for stopping by.
JOSEPH: I want you to come with me. ..As my wife.
JOSEPH: Zechariah will marry us. I've spoken to him. We will need to travel tomorrow...I want to have you safely home before....before your time comes.
MARY: Joseph, you don't have to do this. I'll understand. I can stay here. I'll be all right.
JOSEPH: I want to marry you.
MARY: (Sadly) And you'll divorce me ..after the birth?
JOSEPH: Mary, I'm sorry. I'm sorry doubted you.
MARY: You believe me now?
JOSEPH: I was going to marry you and then divorce you, as you said,..but I had a dream..God told me that this was his doing. I don't understand...I don't know why he should choose my betrothed, for this. (bitterly)..honour...except perhaps that your goodness and sweetness shines above all other women. He would want the best for his son ..and so do I. Mary, I want you for my wife. I promise to take care of you and your..son..and our children to come..(Nervously.)..but, if you..
MARY: Oh, Joseph! (She throws herself into his arms in a tearful embrace.)
JOSEPH: You're huge! I'll have to widen the door to get you in! (The laugh excitedly.) You'll love the house Mary. It's all ready for you ..and the baby. I've made a cradle-
MARY: (Afraid.) Joseph, your mother..
JOSEPH: (Gently.) She'll come around, in time, and if she doesn't, she'll miss out on the joys of her grandchildren.
MARY: (Beaming.) Joseph, I love you. (She kisses him.)
JOSEPH: Now, now, none of that..until after your baby is born. Come on Zechariah is waiting. (They exit arm in arm.)
SONG: a Christmas carol
(The baby in the womb is full term now on the video as the heart beats continue and increase in volume.)
(In the stable. It is night. Mary is alone.)
MARY: It's so light tonight- almost like the dawn- and yet so quiet- Huuuh (She grabs for support as she feels her first contractions.) Oh my Lord- not tonight- not now Lord- not here. A stable Lord? Your special one can't be born here..among the animals. Wait little one. Wait. Soon we will be home where all is prepared.Only a few more days. All is well..God is in control..his special one will be born in the right place at the right time...But it won't be long... (Fear flickers across her face momentarily, but is soon replaced by a warm smile.)
He will be great, and will be called the
Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him
the throne of his father David
and he will reign over the house of
Jacob for ever,
and of his kingdom there will be no end.
What a great task for one so small. You should be born in a palace, with servants and fine linen for your bed..little king. How strange..how marvellous, that the most High God should entrust you to me. I hope I am equal to the task. What if I crush your spirit with lack of patience, or spoil you with too little discipline..This child is too precious for one such as me..Oh Lord, I'm sorry..of course it's in your hands and you have not placed your..son..foolishly. Thank you for this..this special task. I know you'll see that his needs are met and that he walks in the way that you have set for him. Huuuh. (A second contraction, stronger than the first.) Joseph. No. I'll let him sleep. It can't be time yet. Poor Joseph..so tired. What a trip..and all that haggling to end up here. He's been so good to me. Any ordinary man would have left me to disgrace. I know he will love this child as his own,...and there will be more. Oh huuh. (This one leaves her in no doubt.) Oh my Lord- it is time- marvellous are your ways. Oh God. I'm afraid. I wish my mother were here. I'm not sure what to do Lord...Oh Holy Lord- be with me now- be my midwife- I'm not good with pain Lord... Thank you. Thank you Lord God, Most Holy God. Joseph... Joseph, it's time.
SONG: 'Unto us a child is born'
(We see another video montage, taking us from the birth of Jesus through church history up to the present, with perhaps a poetic voice over along the theme of 'Our heritage, our choice'.)