Re-Reading Christmas | (Mis)telling Mary’s Story

The following readings were developed by Brandon Morgan for the VOID event “Mothers of God” (December 6, 2009).

The introductory reading was offered at the very beginning of the event:

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a child. This child will be great, and will be called God and of God’s kingdom there will be no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; and will be called God.

The three concluding readings were offered one after the other (read by three different individuals) toward the end of the event:

Reading 1

The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son. This child will be great, and will be called God and of God’s kingdom there will be no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; and will be called God.

Then Mary said, “I’m sorry, but I am not the servant of the Lord. I cannot do what you have asked because I do not believe that what you say can happen.” The angel, surprised and perplexed, said to Mary, “But you have found favor in the eyes of God? If you do not let the Most High overshadow you, then God will not be born and God’s kingdom will not begin.” Mary said, “I don’t have the strength or the will to conceive God as you have asked. I don’t desire for God to be here as you have mistakenly hoped. I do not want to be the mother of this God. My womb is closed.” Then the angel said sadly, “Let it be with you according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Reading 2

The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a child. This child will be great, and will be called God and of God’s kingdom there will be no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; and will be called God.

Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her. Joseph, her husband, went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem. He went with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. But while they were there, Mary ceased to feel the child alive inside of her womb. There was no longer any kicking or moving, as if the child was no longer alive. When the time came for her to give birth to her firstborn child, the baby came without breath and was dead. Mary wept bitterly because the God that she had hoped to birth did not survive. She wrapped the child in bands of cloth, and laid the child in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Reading 3

The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a child. The child will be great, and will be called God and of God’s kingdom there will be no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called God.

Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her. Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem. He went with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. But during the birth, Mary’s body could not bear the labor. The pain and anguish overtook her body. Though she was willing to birth God, she was not strong enough to survive. Mary died giving birth to God. And Joseph wept bitterly because the child lived and Mary did not. He wrapped the child in bands of cloth, and laid the child in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

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