This is made up of a series of monologues from Mary’s perspective. I suggest asking different people to read the different reflections. Feel free to choose different carols/readings. This has been used for the Sunday after Christmas, but again, could fit elsewhere.
Carol – O come, all ye faithful
Reading – Luke 2:19
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Reflection – How it all began
I was an ordinary peasant girl in an ordinary village. I loved my family and I loved God. Life was good to me. I didn’t have much, but never needed much. And I had a secure future – my family had found a husband for me – Joseph the carpenter, who was a good man – he loved God too, and I knew he would do his best to provide for me. I would hope to be a good wife to him, and a good mother to his children. That was the plan, anyway!
But everything changed when the angel came to visit. He said that God had chosen me for something wonderful. And then came the bombshell – he told me I was going to have a baby boy. His name would be Jesus. He’d be a king. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing … how would this be possible? I didn’t know much about this sort of thing, but I was pretty sure that a man had to be involved somewhere. I’d never been with a man. To say I was surprised and shocked was an understatement! But then the angel told me that God would make it happen – that he would make the impossible possible – that God’s holy spirit would be with me. I was amazed. I couldn’t believe it, but I knew what he was saying was true. I was overjoyed and humbled. I wanted to be part of God’s plan.
But then I had to tell Joseph and the rest of the family – I knew it wouldn’t go down well. I mean – who would believe my story – would you? When I told him, he got up without a word, and left. He looked so hurt. I could tell he felt betrayed. That was the end of my marriage, then. It was no surprise when he came back and told me it was over. To be honest, I was just relieved to hear he wasn’t going to make a big thing of it, that he wanted to divorce me quietly. It could have been so much worse – had the whole village found out, I would have been in a lot of trouble. My parents looked at me like they no longer knew me. Disappointed wasn’t the word. I felt so alone. I hoped and prayed God would get me through this – he had, after all, got me into it!
Reading: Matthew 1:18-25
A candle is lit
Prayer – for those who are finding life difficult; for those who feel misunderstood; for those whose marriages are under strain
Carol – O little town of Bethlehem
Reflection – Arriving in Bethlehem
He burst in, so excited, I had to tell him to slow down so I could understand what he was saying. He said that he’d had a dream. An angel had spoken to him, telling him that I had been telling the truth – that I would be having a son, that his name was Jesus and that he would save people from their sins. He told me he was sorry he doubted me and that he’d look after me and the baby, and be the best husband and father possible. I was so relieved. Everything would be ok after all.
The time came near for Jesus to be born. And then came another bombshell – we had to make a long journey to Bethlehem – a distance of 80 miles – to register for a census. I couldn’t believe it. I began to panic, but Joseph reassured me. “It’s ok,” he said, “I’ll make sure you’re ok, and don’t forget – God is with us.”
And so we began the long journey south to Bethlehem. It was hot and tiring and uncomfortable. I wondered if we’d make it on time. Would we get there before the baby was born? But I had to take comfort that every step we took we were a step closer to our destination. And finally, Bethlehem came into sight. We’d made it. But when we got there, we couldn’t believe it – there was no room anywhere for us to stay. We were getting desperate, asking every guesthouse whether they had any rooms spare, but none did. Eventually, someone took pity on us and welcomed us in to stay with the animals. We were too relieved and grateful for that simple act of hospitality to care that it wasn’t luxurious, but it was comfortable enough; and we’d be warm and dry, at least. God was looking after us, once again keeping to his promises.
Reading – Hebrews 12:1-2, 12-13
A candle is lit
Prayer – for our own spiritual journeys; for our own ministries of hospitality, that we may be more welcoming of people, more welcoming of Christ.
Reflection – The Visitors
We hadn’t been parents for long when we suddenly had some visitors – some shepherds – you could tell by the smell! At first we were quite intimidated – they looked quite rough, really. Not sure I wanted them around my baby. Joseph certainly looked like he didn’t want to let them in. But then they told us their story – it was extraordinary… they were on the hillside outside of Bethlehem, tending their flocks when an angel visited them and told them all about Jesus – told them that he’d been born for ordinary people just like them. And then the sky was filled with a whole host of angels who sang praises to God – songs about peace on earth, songs of hope. They were told they’d find Jesus lying in a manger. So they had to come, to find out if what the angel had told them was true – they’d wondered if they’d been imagining it; after all, shepherds so often get forgotten and overlooked. And they were overwhelmed when they found us; found him – the baby king who had been born for them. They spent time standing silently, just looking at this tiny baby – in awe at what they had been told and what all this meant. Then they left, praising God and telling everyone they met about what they had heard and seen that evening.
Later we had some even more mysterious visitors – magi from the east, who told us that they had travelled a thousand miles to visit my baby boy. They’d seen a special star, a star that told them a new king had been born. They travelled all this way to worship him. All the way to worship my child?? They’d brought some gifts with them – gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gifts to honour him. Gifts fit for a king. There really is something special about this boy. About my boy. I can barely believe all this has happened to me!
Reading – 1 John 1:1-3
Reading – 1 Peter 1:10-12
A candle is lit
Prayer – for unexpected guests; for people who struggle with difficult questions.
Carol – Silent night, holy night
Reflection – Mary’s baby, God’s son
If it weren’t for the fact I cradled him in my arms, felt the joy and the pain of his birth, seen him grow up, I’d think this was all a dream – it’d be too wondrous, too unbelievable, really. Who could imagine that God would make himself known in such a way? Who could imagine that God would become human, become a tiny baby? Who could imagine that he’d love us so much that he’d become one of us? Who could imagine that this baby would be my own, that I would have been chosen to be the one to carry him inside me for those 9 months, to be chosen to care for him? I feel so honoured, so privileged, so humbled. God’s own son is my son. It’s unbelievable, and yet, it’s true. God is with us. God loves us. Because of this baby, there is hope for the world. For you and me.
The final candle is lit
Prayer – thanking God for Jesus Christ, our Saviour.
Final carol – See him lying on a bed of straw (Calypso carol)