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‘Mary, Did You Know’

One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Mary, Did You Know?”

Mark Lowry wrote it in 1984 when his pastor asked him to write the living Christmas tree program for his church. The music is by Buddy Greene. It is a wonderful song, tender, powerful and compelling. In this familiar image of a mother looking at her child, we get the view of the vulnerability of that baby, its potential, and the simple question, did she know? Did she understand the explosive power that baby would unleash on the world?

Luke tells us that it was to this young girl at the bottom rung of society, from a poor insignificant family, in this insignificant little village in this insignificant little backwater part of the Roman Empire that the angel Gabriel came. Hail, Mary, Ave Maria. The Lord is with you! She must have been terrified to see this man, this angel appearing to her, a nobody girl in a nobody family in this nobody town. Don’t be afraid, for you have found favor with the Lord. You will conceive and bear a son and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and called the Son of the Most High, and God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David, he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of this kingdom there will be no end.

And Mary is perplexed — how can this be? I haven’t even been with a man. It’s impossible for me to have a child. Gabriel assures her that the Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Most High will overshadow you, and the child will be holy, the Son of God. See, nothing is impossible with God. It now rests on Mary to respond, and there is no hesitation. Let it be with me according to your word. And with those words, the world is changed!

And so now, to each of us who see ourselves as insignificant, the angel still comes to us. There is a lot to continue to do, the world continues to need someone to show the way, to heal the pain, to feed the hungry, to visit the lonely, there is something important that God asks of you. So pray and listen. What is it that God wants you to do? Will you say, “Here I am. Use me”? Even if it seems awfully difficult, nothing is impossible with God. Mary did know that! Do you?

The Rev. Dale Brown is the pastor of Cumberland and Guinea Presbyterian Churches. His email address is dalembesq@aol.com.