A Portrait of Mary

  • Cast Number: 1
  • Run-time: 20 minutes
  • Bible Reference: Luke 2

A monologue useful at Christmas or any other time of the year. An artist "paints" a picture of Mary, identifying her wonderful gifts, all of which were used as the mother of Jesus. As each part of Mary's life is discussed the artist adds another stroke with the brush. The final brush strokes are added by the listener, then it becomes a personal portrait of the chosen mother. A scrim background may be used to display "Mary" as the drama proceeds.

Sample of script:

Lights off, actor comes on stage. Actor walks about for a few seconds, looking at the picture frame from several vantage points. Looks around, surprised, suddenly "sees" the audience.

Oh, you startled me, I didn't know anyone was here tonight. Seeing this empty picture frame made me think about painting a picture. (Pauses, looks out into audience, chuckles). Oh no, don't get me wrong! I'm no artist! But I often do paint pictures in my mind. Don't you do that sometimes?

I was just thinking about something that happened to me recently. Sometimes, when I'm doing my devotions I like to key in on characters in the Bible. But often I find it frustrating that so little information is available from which to draw. And I think, now if this was one of the major characters in Scripture it would be so much easier to document the life and the characteristics of that person. I have to struggle against getting lazy, leaving the "bit players" in the Bible and going to a major character, for instance a familiar one such as Peter.

I like studying about Peter. I think that I have a pretty good idea about Peter's makeup and what makes him tick. The same is true of Mary, the mother of Jesus. I feel as though I am somehow, how would I describe it, somehow familiar with Mary.

Recently I was at a kind of loss as to the next devotions project which I wanted to take on. So I got lazy. I decided I would study about one of the major characters in the Bible. Who better, I thought, than Mary, the mother of Jesus?
The Bible is full of references to Mary, surely I can have an excellent study without a lot of extra work. (Laughs to self). Or at least so I thought!
Probably like most people, I seemed to think I knew quite a lot about Mary. My mind seemed to hold a vivid impression of Mary, a kind of mental portrait of her. In my mind it seemed that the New Testament is full of references to Mary. But let me share with you the path I took and how a new portrait developed. A portrait of a Mary which I really had never known before developed as I researched her life. I just had a thought! Maybe we could go through this process together. We could try to paint a portrait, in word and in thought, of Mary, the mother of Jesus.So that we start with a fresh canvas, let's try to remove from our minds the traditional pictures of Mary which we have seen over the years.
That way we can paint our own portrait, right here, from scratch.
Just what would Mary's portrait look like if hung right here, on this wall?
(Picks up palette and brush and goes over to where the picture frame hangs. With each new thought actor makes a few imaginary brush strokes in the frame.)
I start by thinking, just exactly what do I really know about Mary? Who was she? What was unique about her? What were her strengths? Why was she chosen of God? And, maybe most importantly, what can I learn from her character which can help me be a better Christian?
I always thought that the Bible was full of references to Mary, but I was in for a shock. I found to my surprise that Mary's name is mentioned only 19 times in scripture . Now to put that into context, I noticed that Mary Magdalene is mentioned 13 times and Mary the sister of Martha 11 times. That seems very strange, when in comparison to Mary, the other "Marys" seemed very much "bit players".
It strikes me as I go through my Bible how so often the meaning of the name of a Biblical character "fits" the conduct and the makeup of the character. Example, Simeon means "harkening" or to "listen". Now that I can accept. Surely Simeon harkened, listened, waited for the coming of the Messiah. But in the case of Mary the name seems to me to be very totally wrong! The word Mary, in the original translation, means "rebellion". Rebellion? How inappropriate for what I believe, and what I have always understood about Mary!
The few scripture references which we do find paint a portrait of Mary drawn with few strokes but revealing a woman of deep faith, a faith which matures from an obedient adolescent into a dutiful wife and mother, and from there into a widow of incredible strength. Paint Mary faithful, with just a dash of moldable nature.
The portrait continues by showing that Mary, while entirely exceptional in her life and experiences, had a life not unlike others of her time, indeed not entirely unlike many women of today. She married at a young age and had a child. Her husband was a working man, a carpenter who earned a living for his family by the sweat of his brow.
According to the standards of their society they were neither wealthy nor powerful. Paint Mary common, with just a hint of special nature.
In her portrait, Mary's image is that of the wife and mother who was always there, when needed. In this day of severed and dysfunctional families we need a model of a someone who is always there. And Mary is always there. There even at the cross. Paint Mary dependable.

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