Mary: Mamma, Poppa, I need to talk to you.
Anne (her mother): Joachim, come here. Your daughter wants to talk.
Joachim (her father): What does she want to talk about?
Anne: She didn't say. Probably something about the wedding. (To Mary) It is about the wedding, isn't it dear?
Mary: Sort of.
(Joachim comes into the room).
Joachim: Alright, alright, what is it?
Mary: There's no easy way to tell you this, and it won't be easy for you to understand. I'm pregnant.
(Anne looks shocked. Joachim arches his eyebrows).
Joachim: Well, well. You and Joseph got a little ahead of yourselves, did you? Well, it's not the first time, and it won't be the last. The rabbis allow for it if you are betrothed. We'll just move the wedding day up a bit and (Joachim stops as he sees the troubled look on Mary's face). What is it child? (he hesitates) Joseph is the father, isn't he?
Mary: No, Poppa, the father isn't Joseph
Joachim (interrupting): Who then? Who did this to you? Did someone take advantage of you? Was it a Roman solider? Did they violate you? Why didn't you scream? Oh, the #@&! scum!
Mary: No, Poppa, calm down. It wasn't like that at all. No one took advantage of me. I I was willing.
Joachim (shocked, as Anne softly weeps): You mean you willingly You betrayed Joseph? How could you? Don't you know he could have you put to death! What's gotten into you girl? Are you possessed of an unclean spirit? We tried to raise you right, took you to synagogue every Sabbath How could you do this to your mother? (Joachim starts to rip his sleeves as a sign of grief).
Mary: Poppa, no, no! I haven't betrayed Joseph at all. I I saw an angel. He said his name was Gabriel and he told me to rejoice, that I was covered with the grace of God. He said I would have a son, who would be the Messiah. I asked him how this could happen, since I was still you know, a virgin. He told me the Holy Spirit would overshadow me, and I would be pregnant in a way in which no one ever became pregnant before. Then he said, "The child to be born is the Son of God." Then he looked at me, to see my response. Poppa, I told him I was the Lord's servant. Whatever God said, I would do. Poppa, don't you see? God chose me! Isn't that what you tried to teach me all these years? Say "yes" to God?
Joachim (sputters): You? How could he choose you? We are poor people. We are not elite. We have no status except for our family connections to King David and to the priestly line. We do not even live in Bethlehem where the Messiah is to be born. Are you sure it wasn't a nightmare?
Mary: Yes, I am sure Poppa. Then the angel told me Cousin Elizabeth was pregnant, six months along! He said it was a sign.
Anne (shocked): But, but how could you know that Mary? I just heard it this morning, and I haven't had time to tell you yet. (To Joachim) I haven't even told you yet!
Joachim: Could it be? Could God choose our family for the Messiah? Could it be my little girl is going to be the Mother of the one who will deliver us?
Mary: Mamma, Poppa, it is true. I'm going to have a baby who will save us all. Now, will you pray for me? I need to go see Joseph. It will be the hardest conversation I'll ever have
Clay Smith is the pastor of Alice Drive Baptist Church in Sumter.
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