Joseph might be my favorite character in the nativity accounts. This is how I imagined his encounter with the angel.
JOSEPH, SON OF DAVID
(Joseph stomps onstage and slams the door. He yanks off his coat and throws it down. He will pace in an agitated manner on and off through the monologue portion.)
JOSEPH: How could she do this to me? Pregnant! How could her parents let this happen? This is not what they promised me in the marriage contract! Who did this to my sweet Mary? If I find out it was one of those wretched Roman soldiers, I’ll hire a band of Zealot terrorists to get my revenge! It’s enough that they march down our streets with their swords and spears, and mock our laws and our God. If any of them so much as touched my Mary, I’ll become a Zealot myself.
But why won’t she just tell me if that’s what happened? Instead she comes up with this ludicrous story about a visit from an angel. I’m supposed to believe that God made her pregnant? I might as well be a Roman myself if I’m going to believe in that kind of a god. Oh, God, what am I going to do?
I can’t marry her now. I won’t be a father to some other man’s child. What if the baby looks Roman? I won’t be the village idiot--people mocking me and whispering behind my back. The engagement is off. That’s all there is to it.
But she could be stoned for this. My Mary could be stoned. No, don’t be ridiculous, Joseph, no one has been stoned for adultery in years. Calm down and think! What is the worst that could happen? She’ll be an outcast. She’ll have no one to support the child. Even if she names the Roman soldier, he wouldn’t marry her. Would he? I won’t have my Mary joined to a Roman.
No, she’s got to go away somewhere. She must have family in another place, far from here. Yes, that’s it! Didn’t she just come back from visiting a cousin somewhere in the hill country? Wait a minute. She was gone for three months…and she comes back pregnant with a story about an angel? Oh, what a fool I am! Well, she can just march right back to the hill country and find the father of her baby. Let that hillbilly support his own child. But what if he’s a married man? Oh, God, what am I going to do?
Think, Joseph, calm down and think. Mary could pretend to be a widow. Her husband died suddenly--and quite tragically--leaving her pregnant and without two denarii to rub together. Yes, that’s it. That will work. She can live with that cousin of hers in the hill country. I’ll send her away first thing in the morning. I’ll even give her some money to get her started. Then this nightmare can end and I can get on with my life. Without my Mary.
(Joseph throws himself down on his bed. Tosses and turns a few times, then lies still.)
(Angel quietly enters the room and stands by Joseph’s bed.)
ANGEL: (softly) Joseph, son of David.
(Joseph stirs and moans.)
ANGEL: (louder) Joseph, son of David!
(Joseph turns and groans.)
ANGEL: (very loud) Joseph, son of David!
JOSEPH: (Sits up) What? What? Who are you? How did you get in here?
ANGEL: I’m an angel.
JOSEPH: Yeah, you’re an angel and I’m the King of Judah. Leave me alone; I’m sleeping.
ANGEL: I know you’re sleeping. I’m in your dream.
JOSEPH: (Joseph gets up out of bed) Well, get out of my dream, whoever you are. Go away.
ANGEL: Joseph, son of David, I have a message for you.
JOSEPH: Enough already with this “son of David” thing. Where I come from sons of David are seven for a shekel. Every other man on the street can trace his lineage back to King David. Think about it. David had seven wives and nineteen sons. A thousand years later there are hundreds of us with the dubious honor of being sons of David. It’s no big deal.
ANGEL: Where I come from, it’s a very big deal.
JOSEPH: Where do you come from?
ANGEL: I’m an angel sent from God with a message for you.
JOSEPH: If I listen to your message, will you get out of my dream?
ANGEL: I might.
JOSEPH: Go ahead. I’m listening.
ANGEL: It’s about time. They didn’t tell me you’d be this difficult.
JOSEPH: Yeah, well, I had a very difficult day.
ANGEL: Here’s the message. “Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the baby she is carrying--”
JOSEPH: (Interrupting) How do you know about Mary and the baby?
ANGEL: Which part of “I’m an angel” don’t you understand? It’s my job to know things like this! Now, listen! “Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the baby she is carrying was created by God’s Holy Spirit. When Mary’s son is born, you name him Jesus--salvation--because he will save his people from their sins.”
JOSEPH: Whoa! (He staggers backward and sits on the bed) You’re telling me that what Mary said is true?
ANGEL: Absolutely. She spoke face to face with the angel Gabriel--none of this dream stuff. The baby is from God. There were no Roman soldiers or hillbillies involved.
JOSEPH: You heard that? I’m so embarrassed.
ANGEL: Like I said, I’m an angel. (sounding excited) Do you realize what this message means?
JOSEPH: (Stands up) Yes! I don’t have to send my Mary away. We can be married and have the life together that we planned.
ANGEL: (sounding more excited) Yes, yes, that’s true, too. Do you realize what else it means? (Gives Joseph a few seconds, then prompts) He will save his people from their sins….
JOSEPH: (softly) He will save his people from their sins…(louder) Only the Messiah will do that.… Are you saying Mary’s son--our son--will be the Messiah? Whoa! (Sits down abruptly)
ANGEL: That’s exactly what I’m saying! The time is right and all the pieces of the puzzle are in place. God is ready to act--he has begun to act already. Delivering this message to you is the high point of my career!
JOSEPH: But why me? What do I know about being a father to the Messiah--about being a father at all?
ANGEL: Joseph, son of David, out of all the hundreds of sons of David walking the dusty streets in this forsaken, Roman-occupied kingdom, God chose you. Trust his judgment. Now, Joseph, I’m about to get out of your dream.
JOSEPH: No, wait! Don’t go yet!.
ANGEL: Now he tells me not to leave. My mission is accomplished. You have received the message.
JOSEPH: Will I ever see you again?
ANGEL: You might.
(Joseph lies down and Angel quietly leaves. After a few seconds, Joseph begins to toss and turn and then sits up.)
JOSEPH: What a crazy dream! I’ve got to stop eating lentils before I go to bed. I’ve never had a dream like this. So detailed. So involved. So real. (He gets off the bed and begins to walk around the room) I felt as if I could almost touch--(Stops abruptly; looks down, bends over and lifts up a handful of white feathers and lets them fall through his fingers)--his wings.
Mary! I’ve got to see Mary! If she’ll talk to me after the things I said to her. I feel like such a Philistine! (pulls on his coat and runs offstage calling) Mary! Mary!
1 Chronicles 3:1 - 9 lists David’s wives and sons.
Matthew 1:14 - 25 records Joseph’s experience with the angel.
Luke 1:26 - 38 records Mary’s visit from Gabriel, and Luke 1:39 - 56 records Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth in the hill country.