Mary did you know? – Christmas 2017

26 12 2017

Written by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene in 1991, “Mary did you know” was first made popular by the Gaither Vocal Band. But today we are more likely to hear it being sung by Mary J. Blige, Pentatonix, or a church choir . . . as was the case in my congregation on Christmas Eve. And while I love the song, it bothers me that it never answers the questions that it so boldly asks.

Mary, did you know, that your Baby Boy has come to make you new;
that this child that you delivered, will soon deliver you?

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man;
that he will calm the storm with his hand?

Mary did you know that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation;
that he would one day rule the nations?

Each of these questions DOES have an answer – the same answer in fact. And the answer is a critical part of Mary’s story, the Christmas story, and the Gospel story. And the answer is yes!

Mary did you know?

Of course she knew!

That’s the reason Mary is such an important figure in Jesus’ birth narratives. We remember and celebrate her life precisely BECAUSE she knew. And frankly, only a man would write a song asking such a question.

Regardless of which of the details of Mary’s story you subscribe to – the literal reading of Scripture that insists she was a virgin who immaculately conceived Jesus by the power of the Spirit, or the more metaphorical reading that simply used talk of her virginity to exalt the status of the Christ-child, or the version that says she was raped by a Roman guard – the whole purpose of Mary’s story is THAT she knew! And the most important parts of her story have nothing to do with HOW she got pregnant. All of the ‘man-made’ theories – and they were literally ‘man’made – are concerned about the sexual activity that brought about the conception But consider the real point of Mary’s story.

2000 years ago, somehow, and someway, a young woman, frightened, lowly and without means, not in a palace but in the most humble of circumstance, gave birth to a child that would change the course of human history. And somehow, someway, perhaps simply because she was like any other mother, she knew that her child was special. And so she raised him to be, special! She knew, like most mothers, that her child was a gift from God, and so she did whatever she needed to do to raise him to do great and mighty things. She raised him to model for the world the unconditional love of God. She raised him to care for the poor, and the downtrodden. She raised him to seek justice, and to show mercy, and to walk in humility. She raised him to give sight to those who had lost their way, and to calm the most tragic of life’s storms, and to be a ruler of nations. Isn’t that what most mothers do? . . . everything they can, to raise kind, compassionate, and strong children . . . so that one day they might become healthy and productive members of society?

That’s all Mary was doing! She was doing what all mothers want to do. And that’s why her story is so important.

Did she know?

Of course she knew.

She knew that her son would do great things because that was how she was going to raise him! That was how strong her faith was! That’s why her life remains such an important model for us, and why she is such an important figure in the Christmas story. It’s what her “Magnificat,” in Luke chapter 1, is all about. She knew that God could use even her . . . a . . . simple but selfless, fragile but faithful, broken but beautiful, lost but loved, confused but capable . . . young woman. And she knew that even she could . . . conceive hope . . . carry compassion . . . and give birth to salvation.

Mary did you know?

Of course she knew.

And here’s why this is so important for us to remember. Here’s why this may be the most important Christmas message you’ve read in a long time. Because Mary’s story helps us to see that just as she boldly, daringly, and confidently, bore God to the world, so too can we.

Mary was a theotokos! A God bearer! That how she is referred to in the Eastern Church. And one of the most important messages of Christmas is that just as God came to the world in Jesus, Mary’s son; so too can God be born again in the world even today, thru average, broken, and simple people like you and me. We too, in some small way, can also be a theotokos, a bearer of God to the world . . . by what we say, and what we do. Mary’s story helps us to see that just as she can bear the peace, hope, and love of God to the world, so to can we. Jesus can be born in us, today, just as he was born to Mary, 2000 years ago.

Mary did you know?

Of course SHE knew.

But how about us? Do we know? Do WE know that this Christmastide, Jesus can be born in us, and thru us, change the world?

Mary’s story should help us answer that question! For because she knew, so too can we. Just as she brought forth the light and love God, so too, can we! May that be our goal this week, and every week of the coming new year.


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