Christmas from Mary’s Perspective
by Helen Bryant (revised, originally published in 2010)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider the role of Mary in the Christmas story.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a student to play the role of Mary. This will need to be practised before the assembly. You may also wish to ask a student to take on the role of the leader.
Mary: What a day! You’ll never believe what happened. Actually, I don’t think anyone will, especially Joseph. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure if it’s really sunk in for me yet. (She freezes.)
Leader: Could you imagine being Mary, just for a moment? She knows something amazing, something wonderful, but she isn’t sure anyone will believe her.
Have you ever had anything so amazing to tell people that you thought they might not believe what you were saying? Maybe you met someone famous or played football with Cristiano Ronaldo. Maybe you bumped into Selena Gomez or Ariana Grande, and they smiled at you. Would anyone believe you? What would it take for people to accept that what you said was true? A picture maybe or an autograph?
Mary: Well, I was sitting quietly in the house, mending a dress – blue cotton is so hard to get hold of! Suddenly, out of nowhere, an angel appears. I know: an angel!
‘Peace be with you! The Lord is with you,’ he says.
I was totally taken aback and dropped my needle. I had no idea what he was talking about. Well, to be honest, I was quite frightened by it all. Usually, I have something to say, but I found myself speechless. (She freezes.)
Leader: Now there’s something that doesn’t happen very often: an angel in your front room greeting you with peace and telling you that the Lord is with you. I should think that would make anyone feel a little frightened.
Angels are celestial beings, and very important. Some people even claim to have a guardian angel who protects them. Mary was lucky to have a high-ranking angel like Gabriel looking after her.
Mary: I think he sensed my fear because he tried to reassure me. It sort of worked, but I still felt that if he went away, things might be a bit easier.
Angels often come as messengers for God, so I was interested to hear what else he had to say. But what he told me next was even more amazing. Now I’m sure you won’t believe me. He says I’m to become pregnant, and carry a son! (She freezes.)
Leader: Carrying a baby is a daunting prospect for any woman, and in Mary’s time, it was very dangerous. Many women died in childbirth, and their babies, too.
Mary: I couldn’t comprehend what he was saying. Joseph and I aren’t even married yet – only two weeks to go! The angel said that the Holy Spirit would visit me. (She freezes.)
Leader: This is where it gets a bit confusing. Christians believe that Jesus is someone very special because he has a human mother, but not a human father. Before time began, forever, Jesus was with God. There is one God and Jesus is part of God and the same as God (‘the Son of God’ is how Christians put it). Then, Jesus came to earth and was born. Christians believe that because Jesus was human, he felt all the pain, sadness and joy of being a human being. Jesus is fully human, but at the same time, he is fully God. This is called the Incarnation (‘two natures, one person’ is how Christians put it). This is why Christmas, which is all about the birth of Jesus, is so special to Christians.
Mary: I listened quietly. I’m scared about what people will say and what they will think, but I know that the Lord is with me. He is all around me, and now the baby is growing within me. I am chosen, and although I’m not worthy to receive his amazing gift, I know that he has great faith and trust in me to raise his Son.
The angel called the baby ‘Jesus’ and said that he will be the Son of the Most High, and a great king forever. It fills me with such pride and hope and joy. God has not forgotten us. I am the servant of the Lord! (She freezes.)
Leader: Although Mary was frightened, she said yes to what God asked of her, even though she knew it might cause some pain to begin with. She had full trust in God. She is seen as very special among women, and is often called the mother of God.
Mary loved Jesus with all the unconditional and human love that she had, and gave him all that she could. She was a woman full of courage and devotion. I wonder how many of us might have decided that the angel could go and find someone else.
Time for reflection
Belief in the Incarnation is one of the things that sets Christians apart from people of other faiths.
If you, like Mary, were asked to do something that was really hard and costly, how would you respond?
There are many things that we find difficult to understand,
But we thank you that at Christmas, we remember the birth of Jesus.
Thank you that he came to earth, lived a perfect life, died, came back to life and is now alive in heaven.
Thank you for the faith of Mary.
Thank you for her willingness to accept the message of the angel.
Please help each of us to have the courage to do what is right, even when other people do not understand.
‘For Mary, Mother of the Lord’ (Hymns Old and New (Kevin Mayhew), 136, 1996 edition)