As part of our virtual Christmas Pageant this year, I have written a short Christmas reflection from Mary.

This short story will be read by our eldest grand-daughter in the pageant which will go live on Youtube tomorrow (Saturday 18 December) at 4:00 p.m. here:

Mary’s Story

My name is Mary. I am fifteen years old. Until recently, I lived with my mother and my father and my two sisters in the village of Nazareth. We are simple people. We do not have a lot of money but we have one another and the people in our community look out for each other.

We are people of faith. We trust God and believe that God’s love is with us and with all people.  We believe that God always wants what is best for us. Even when we don’t understand, we try to trust that things will work out ok.

But once, for a while, I did not believe things were going to turn out ok. It was nearly a year ago, I did not know where to turn. I felt overwhelmed and so frightened. It was such a troubling, uncertain, confusing time.

It started one night when I saw a vision. Well I think it was a vision. It was late and dark. I was asleep when suddenly I heard a voice, maybe it was just in my head but it sounded so real that I sat right up in bed. When I opened my eyes, I saw a light across the room.

I have never seen an angel. But I have heard stories about messengers coming from God. I think this might have been an angel. The voice said I should not be afraid, but then went on to speak terrifying words. He told me I was going to have a baby. That wasn’t the scary part; I wanted to have a baby. I love babies.  

It is not unusual in our village for fifteen-year-old women to be married and have a baby.  The part that made me all wobbly inside is that the angel said, this baby was going to come from God. This baby was going to begin to take shape inside me before I got married. Now that is terrifying.

I was engaged at the time to a wonderful, gentle, strong, kind man named Joseph. In our community we take engagement very seriously. I knew that, if Joseph heard I was pregnant, he would not understand and I could not think how I could explain this mystery to him.

As time went by I began to feel inside that what I had heard was true. I would not be able to hide for long what the angel had said. Pregnancy has a way of showing itself. News travels fast in a small village.

I knew I had to tell Joseph. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

I found Joseph alone one day in the fields. He was resting from his hard work. I should not have been alone with him. He was so surprised when he saw me walking towards him. But, I brought water and some bread. Bringing food and water to a tired man seemed like a good excuse for breaking the traditions of our people and visiting him alone.

I sat a little distance from Joseph, the bread and the water jug between us on the ground. Finally, I just blurted it out, “Joseph, I’m going to have a baby.” I think he stopped breathing for a minute. His face turned pale.

But, I had to go on. I didn’t know what to say. So, I said the only thing I could think of, “Joseph, this baby is from God.”  

Joseph was so quiet, he scared me. Finally he said, “There is only one thing to do. You must leave our village and go away. You can go to your relative Elizabeth; she will know what to do.”

I felt terrible pain at his words. Something in me knew he was right. But I would lose the man I loved; I would have to give up my family, my home and the only community I had ever known. Everything I cherished would be ripped away for some mysterious promise of God. I wanted to stop the pain. I wanted to find a way out.

All that night alone in my bed I wrestled and wept. I cried out to God praying, “Please. No. I can’t do this. There must be another way.”

After a sleepless night, as the light of the sun began to break through the window above my bed, something strange happened. A calmness rose up inside me like the sun breaking over the horizon. The fear melted away. I felt strong in a way I had never felt before.

It was as if that light I had seen on the night the angel visited me, had come to live inside me. It felt like a steady gentle warmth. Suddenly, I knew that I was going to be ok.

Later that morning, I went to the well in the town square, to get water for the day. As I was walking away from the well with my heavy jug, I felt a silent presence behind me. A hand rested on my shoulder. I stopped, put the jug down and turned to see who had been following me. It was Joseph. He didn’t speak; he just looked at me. I felt my heart quiver; but that strength was still there. I stood and looked straight into his kind gentle eyes.

That’s when I saw it. I saw that something had happened to Joseph. I saw in Joseph’s eyes the same steady strength and light I knew now living in my heart.

I couldn’t stop myself. Almost in a whisper, I said to Joseph, “You’ve seen him too.”

Poor sweet Joseph. He seemed so confused.

At first he said nothing. Then finally in a strong steady voice he said, “Yes, I have seen him. He spoke to me, just the way you said he spoke to you.” Joseph stopped. He didn’t seem to be able to speak any more. But I couldn’t wait.

Impatiently, I asked, “Please, tell me. What did he say?”

Again there was a long silence. At last Joseph said, “The angel told me that we should be married. He said that the child in you is from God.” Joseph stopped again. Then with a tremble in his voice, he said, “I am sorry. I am sorry I did not believe you. How could I have doubted you Mary? Can you ever forgive me? Can we be together and raise this child who is to be God’s gift to the world. Can we love this child together so that this child might become a beautiful sign of God’s love to all the world?”

Now I was the one who couldn’t speak. I felt my heart leap for joy. This wonderful man I loved so much had trusted the angel and had heard God’s truth. I reached out my hand and took Joseph’s hand in mine.

Then I did something that young unmarried girls are not supposed to do. I went up on my tippy toes and lightly kissed Joseph’s cheek. I had never stood so close to any man. The smell of him was like a field of newly harvested wheat, strong and good and wholesome. The love in my heart felt as if it spilled over into the whole world and filled the vast space of the sky above our heads.

I knew that Joseph and I and this little baby growing inside me, were part of a great mystery of beauty and truth that came from God. I believed that all people would be able to see in this little baby that God’s love is always with us and we never need to be afraid. Inside ourselves, with this love present, we will always be ok.