Joseph: What are you thinking about, Mary?
Mary: I miss Jesus so much now that he has gone up to Jerusalem with his disciples. But I know that he has his Father’s work to do. ……I was just sitting here thinking about all of the wonderful things that happened all those years ago when Jesus was born.
Joseph: I thought you might be.
Mary: It began so strangely. First there was the visit of the angel….
Joseph: …Yes, he also visited me in a dream!
Mary: I was so young, so innocent, and so confused. According to our laws I could have been put to death.
Joseph: Your parents were so angry, and you were so very young, and so frightened. Once the angel came to me in the dream, I decided to marry you as soon as possible. I think it was my suggestion that you visit your good cousin Elizabeth. She was six months with child herself, even though she was so old no one had thought it possible. I knew Elizabeth’s motherly heart would understand. I knew she would take you in no matter what.
Mary: Yes, I left as soon as possible. Elizabeth knew straight away that I was with child. She said that when she heard my voice the child she was carrying leapt for joy. My heart was so moved by her welcome that finally I felt my own joy at becoming a mother. Happiness filled my heart until an ancient song rose to my lips, the song that our ancestress Hannah sang at the birth of Samuel.
My soul doth magnify the Lord And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
Oh, Joseph, what a miracle! Cousin Elizabeth wrapped her arms around me, and took me in, just as you said. Her husband Zacharias might have had something to say about my condition, if he’d been able to speak. But he couldn’t because the angel that had announced his son’s birth had struck him dumb because of his unbelief. To be honest, Elizabeth and I didn’t mind his silence!
Joseph: (laughs) You’ve always preferred a quiet man, haven’t you?
Mary: Yes, (smiles) I suppose that’s why I love you so much. I stayed with Elizabeth for three months, until I hoped it had all blown over and I could return home in peace.
Joseph: It was a long time to be parted from you, my future bride and the love of my heart, but in the end your going away was a good thing. When you returned you were out of danger from the narrow-minded folk. So often in this life we long for peace, for the understanding of others, for kindness of heart.
Mary: That is true, Joseph. And it is true in every age, in every land in this great world of ours. If all people would reach out in love, just the way that Jesus does, we would all find peace.
SONG – O Come O Come Emmanuel.
Joseph: Even after your return, people were often cruel to you, and you were sometimes frightened about giving birth. Giving birth was a dangerous thing, in those days. When the decree came from Caesar Augustus for us to go to Bethlehem to register, it was almost a relief to take you away from all the gossip, and to have time alone with you. I sang to you as we travelled, to lighten your spirits, and mine. Do you remember, Mary?
Mary: Yes, Joseph, you were so kind to me. And it’s true, it was a relief to be away from all those wagging tongues. But didn’t you worry, as well?
Joseph: Of course I did. My young wife with a baby due at any time, the great distance, the dangerous roads, the threatening Roman guards. It felt as though we would never get to Bethlehem.
Mary: I remember, Joseph even though it was so many years ago, every jolting step of that long donkey ride along winding roads and over steep hills to Bethlehem.
SONG – Little Donkey
Mary: When we first caught sight of Bethlehem, I was so relieved! My labour had started, and I didn’t want to give birth on the side of the road. When we arrived, everything was so different from Nazareth. We did not know anyone, and night was coming quickly. Every inn was full, and we’d walked so long I don’t know what hurt the most, my back, or my poor feet. Such pain, I had never felt before.
Joseph: I remember the kindness of the last innkeeper, who allowed us to stay in the stable, made warm by the breathing of the animals. At least you were in from the weather, and we could have our baby alone and in peace. I did my best to make you comfortable.
Mary: I remember it like it was yesterday. Such a mix of feelings went through my heart that night – fear, excitement, pain, and then the wonder of our tiny new born baby. So small, I could hardly believe. I loved his wrinkled old-man hands, his deep dark eyes, his tiny mouth.
Joseph: I remember thinking no woman such as you had ever lived, and no child such as this had ever been born. I remember looking at him and thinking, what child is this, in Mary’s arms? Who will he become? What sort of man will he be?
SONG – Away in a Manger
Joseph: This child, this precious child had come into our lives that night, there in that rough unexpected place. And then those shepherds came to share in our joy. And they said they had seen and heard angels singing while they were watching their flocks. Do you remember that, Mary?
Mary: I do, I remember their kind faces and especially their excitement about the message of the angels. I still have this gift they brought. I will always treasure it.It kept the baby warm and comfortable.
SONG – Far, Far Away on Judea’s Plains
Joseph: And do you remember how surprised we felt when those important visitors arrived on camels bringing expensive gifts? And how they said that they had travelled many, many, miles to see the new-born king whose birth had been prophesied?
Mary: Isn’t it amazing that we knew all about those prophecies of the Messiah ever since we were little children but had no idea then the part that we would play and that we would welcome him into our family. Isaiah said he would be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
Joseph: What a privilege it was to be able to give a home to the Son of God and to see him develop and grow to understand his divine purpose. I remember the years we spent together working in my carpenter’s shop – how quick he was to learn and how obedient and respectful he was. Maybe my memory has been coloured by time, or by what came after, but it seemed when I looked into our child’s deep dark eyes, I could see the wisdom and the courage he would have as a man. Do you remember, Mary?
Mary: Yes, Joseph, it’s not your imagination. His eyes held the wisdom of the ages, even as a newborn baby. And do you remember how when he was just a boy he taught the doctors in the temple? He had the wisdom of the Torah, but most of all he had the wisdom that comes from being the Son of God. As well as wisdom, he has a kind, understanding heart. I think he learned his kindness from you, my dear.
Joseph: If that is so, then he must have inherited his courage from you. In my whole life I have never had the courage you had as a young girl. You faced your fears, you bore this child in such difficult circumstances, and you raised a wonderful, brave, wise, gentle man who is also the Son of God.
Mary: As I remember it, Joseph, so did you.
SONG – Joy to the World