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Midrash: The Last Laugh

Midrash: The Last Laugh
(Luke 1:46b-55)
Drama, for one person

Midrash, in Judaism, is a commentary on the ancient Hebrew text by the rabbis. They were known to supply missing information (often based upon their own speculation) in order to give their students a clearer understanding of the text and its principles. The Rev. Sherrie Dobbs Johnson has used the principles of Midrash to help us imagine the challenges of Mary's pregnancy and the birth of Jesus in the stable from Mary's perspective.

But oh, oh, oh, who's got the last laugh now? (Pauses in pain.)

I am every girl. I am every woman falsely accused of wrongdoing.

I am the girl whose tonsils are frequently inflamed who misses school several days at a time. . . . Folk say I miss school because I am having abortions.

I am the new bride of a handsome widower. . . . Folk say I was going with him before his wife's head was cold in her grave.

I am a young woman who married the only man who ever treated me like I was gold instead of giving me gold-plated necklaces and bracelets and rings. . . . Folk say I married him for his money.

I am a dark-skinned woman who lives with a dark-skinned man, yet I had a light-skinned baby. . . . Folk say, "No way!" could that baby be my man's child.

But oh, oh, oh, who's got the last laugh now? (Pauses in pain.)

I am Mary, a teenager who is about to have a baby without the benefit of marriage.

I am engaged, but my fiancé and I have never had sexual relations. Folk laugh at me when I tell them this. While what folk say hurts, what my fiancé believed was more important: If not by him, then by whom?

Thank God for angels who told Joseph I was not made pregnant by any human, but the Spirit of the Lord had put this new life into my body. This New Life was going to usher the possibility for "new life" for anyone and everyone who believed and followed him. I was about to give birth to the Savior of the world. We're going to name him Jesus, like the angel said! (Pauses in pain.)

I ain't got no Red Cross Red Shield health insurance. I rejected the Street's Drug Plan. On the night before I was to give birth, me and my husband finally arrived in Bethlehem, the place where he had to register his citizenship every year. We journeyed by foot across rough roads for several days. After going to several boarding houses, we learned they were all full. No relatives or friends to take us in, but God was with us; we were not alone. (Pauses to take a sip of water.)

At the last boarding house we come to, the woman of the house came to the door, tired but dignified and well-groomed. First I thought she'd look down her nose at us; but when she saw my big belly, my face ashy from the gentle slaps of the wind, my ankles as swollen as ripe melons stuffed into shoes that appeared two sizes too small, and my face, streaked with tears of labor, she did not hesitate to make a way out of no way. She gave us what she had! Remember THAT this Christmas.

She put us where the animals stay, and brought us fresh-baked bread, ruby red wine, perfectly seasoned roasted goat, aged cheese and a rich assortment of fruits. It was a royal feast! On that night, while we had no houses or gold, we had each other. I had a man who loved me, despite what anyone said about us. In our little living space, there was great joy, amid my labor pains, and the anticipation for New Life coming into the world.

So let the people talk. Let 'em laugh. I said to the Lord nine months ago, "I am yours." I meant every word I said. We've all got the last laugh now!

From the Africana Worship Book for Year C. Copyright Discipleship Resources. Used with permission.

The Rev. Sherrie Dobbs Johnson is the pastor of Galilee United Methodist Church in Englewood, NJ, and a clergy member of the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference.