Everyone loves them some Mary during Advent, don’t they. Ooooh, she’s an unmarried pregnant teenage chick who submitted herself to the will of God! How can we possibly relate!? Heh.
And just like last week, where everyone focuses on Zechariah so I focus on Elizabeth, this time around when everyone focuses on Mary, I focused on Gabriel’s part in the Christmas story for my Christmas monologue collection. Because honestly, enough is enough about Mary. No disrespect intended, but there’s been a million sermons, stories, and painfully earnest shorts and feature films about Mary. How many people stop to think about what it must’ve been like for Gabriel, delivering the message to Mary, huh?
Nobody thinks about things like that. Which is why I do.
I talked about the inspiration for Gabriel’s monologue here (so I guess I’ve written enough in the blog if I’m now officially quoting myself.) The monologue went over amazingly well in the Christmas Monologue show that my theater company did at the end of 2006, and convinced me that I should go on to do a series of monologues about the Christmas story from other peoples’ perspective.
But Gabriel was my favorite. (Second runner up was Eugene, the donkey that Mary sat on when they went to Bethlehem.) It was one of those nifty confluence of events where the right actress and the right director took the piece to a whole new brilliant level that I couldn’t have done on my own.
Basically, I imagined Gabriel as secretly wanting to be a comedian, but doesn’t understand that his jokes are really bad. (Despite the fact that Gabriel is thought of as a boy angel, I wrote it specifically for my actress, who did a whiz bang job of it anyway. I like to think of angels as being gender neutral, but whatever…)
So when Gabriel comes down to break the news to Mary that she’s gonna be pregnant with God’s kid without having sex, he opens with a joke:
Hiya Mary! Wanna hear a joke!? Okay, okay, check it out, God says "Whew! I just created a 24 hour period of alternating light and darkness on Earth." So I say, "What’re you gonna do now?" And God says "I'm tired, let's just call it a day." HA! HA! HA HA!
Whoa, whoa, come back! I’m not gonna hurt ya!
Needless to say, Mary does not take this visitation well at all. And Gabriel is starting to panic, so he calls a sidebar with God. The way I wrote it, Gabriel stands off to the side, and stares up at the heavens. But my director gave Gabriel a cell phone to call God, which was much funnier.
Um, hello? God? Yeah, um, it’s not going so well. I dunno, I opened with a joke just like You said. No, I didn’t use that one, I thought...look, God, she’s really upset, You wanna take over? Please? People listen to You, ‘cause you’re, you know, YOU. I’m just an angel who...tells bad jokes. Okay, okay, I’m going.
(Gabriel comes back to Mary.)
Hey Mary? Why did Noah have to discipline the chickens on the Ark? Because they were using FOWL language! FOWL! Get it? HA HA HA HA!
It’s oddly comforting for me to imagine that angels quarrel with God like kids who want more allowance. I’m sure it’s not true. But it’s funny to think of them that way.
So Gabriel goes on with trying to explain to Mary that her son is actually going to grow up and be a really cool rebel dude who heals the sick, stands up to authority, and when he’s crucified in the Temple, the curtain’s gonna be torn in two, symbolizing that his sacrifice is enough to bring people into God’s presence, and they won’t need priests and la la la.
Mary has stopped listening at the phrase “Crucified in the Temple” and is freaking out again, prompting another cell phone sidebar with God.
God! God it’s NOT GOING WELL! Forget the chicken joke! Huh? Yeah, I told her about the crucifixion! Why not!? What’s the big deal, it’s not like He stays dead!
That got the biggest laugh of the whole piece, every single night. It may be one of my finest one liners ever.
In the sermon on Sunday, they focused on the obedience of Mary when Gabriel tells her the news. “I am the Lord’s servant, Mary answered, May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1, vs. 38)
You know what? I don’t think Mary was that calm about it at all. No. I refuse to believe that an angel could beam itself into her room, and she’s all Groovykins Cool Hiya, Gabriel and all.
I’m not saying it didn’t happen. I’m not saying that Mary didn’t eventually say “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.” I’m saying that it’s much more realistic to believe that the authors of the Gospel, whether it’s Luke, or the many scribes who came after him, did a judicious edit to concentrate on Mary’s good side, and eliminate the part where she screamed, threw things at the angel, and climbed the walls trying to get out, before finally giving up on the idea of escaping and listened to the angel, agreed to the plan, and became a bright shining example to the rest of us modern day dumbasses. Be like Mary. Be humble. Be obedient. Submit yourselves to the will of God without a single peep of dismay.
(I also think there was a moment or two when Joseph was in jail for seventeen years where he harbored lustful thoughts after a servant girl or something. History is written by the winners who want you to believe your heroes don’t struggle at all, and why they think THAT would be helpful for us as potential role models is beyond me. My heroes don’t struggle with doubt. The Bible says so. NOT.)
Gabriel’s monologue wrapped up with him saying this to Mary:
I know you’re confused, and scared and none of this makes sense right now, but it’s just...it’s gonna be okay. Trust me. Nothing is impossible with God. There’s gonna be pain, and tears, and laughter, and your heart is going to break a thousand times, because things are going to be so awful and so beautiful all at once. But ultimately, everything is going to be so much better than you ever imagined.
Everything is going to be wonderful.
I still have hope in that. I really do.