Skip to main content

Yes, She Knew.

When I was in seminary I took a part-time job at a brand new cinema at Cityplace in Dallas. It's now a gym or a Kroger or something, but then it was a Sony Theatre, which became Loews, which became AMC. Wasn't it beautiful?

Christy even showed up one night with her Dad when we were first dating. You're shoveling popcorn one moment, and then your beautiful girlfriend's Dad is looking back at you. Yikes. Anyway, at Christmas they would play "holiday" music-- you know, the secular stuff, not the religious. Being a Sony cinema, their featured artist that year was Mariah Carey, singing All I Want for Christmas Is You. It's a catchy song, but hearing it over and over again until 3:00 a.m., covered in popcorn oil, the bottoms of my shoes sticking to the floor after spilt soda..

Enough, Mariah!

Yesterday driving through Dallas I heard another popular "holiday" song, though it's more of a borderline religious song: Mary Did You Know? This version was by Pentatonix, and it's great. Check it out:

It's a good song, and it features Mary, the mother of Jesus. It wonders if she knew all the details of his life, like walking on water. Did she know about his true identity: the great I AM (God's name in the Bible). Here's the thing about this song, and why I still consider it a "holiday" song: the answer is YES. She did know. I'm driving my car, digging the music, but after every question I am answering: YES! She knew! Check out Luke Chapters 1 & 2. She knew!

The angel appears to her and says, "He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David... the child will be holy and called Son of God" (1:32, 36). She knew. When she visited Elizabeth, her relative says, "Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord?" (1:43). Mary knew! Elizabeth too!

The shepherds visited Mary, Joseph, and the baby at his birth, and shared what they heard from the angelic chorus (2:18). What had they heard? "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord" (2:11). Everyone else at the manger was astonished (2:18), except Mary-- because she knew. Eight days later the Holy Family presented Jesus for his dedication in the Temple. An elderly man Simeon was there, and seeing the child he proclaimed, "My eyes have seen the salvation [God has] made ready in the sight of the nations..." (2:30). Then to Mary Simeon said, "Look, he is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is opposed-- and a sword will pierce your soul too (3:35). Yes, she knew everything. Anna, a prophetess in the Temple, also saw Jesus that day, "...and spoke of the child to all who looked forward to deliverance of Jerusalem" (3:38).

When Jesus was twelve they returned to the Temple in Jerusalem. They became separated, and after a couple of worrying days they found the adolescent Jesus teaching the elders in the Temple. After his parents scolded him, Jesus said, "Where else would I be? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" (2:50). Luke does tell us that they didn't understand at the moment; but it's fair to say she knew.

Mary knew everything about Jesus-- and probably more than what is recorded in the New Testament. A couple of times Luke even says Mary "treasured" these things-- and probably more she witnessed and heard-- in her heart (2:19, 51). The Church has taught that Mary was Jesus' first disciple. She was the first to say yes to the invitation to participate in the new phase of God's plan for salvation. She followed Jesus throughout his life and was present at his cross when he died-- when the other "traditional" disciples had fled out of fear and doubt.

I love what Joyce Hollyday says about Mary:

Long before anyone else understood-- while Jesus was sill in her womb-- Mary knew what his birth would be about. God had entrusted her with the message of the radical social upheaval that was to come, when the rich and the powerful would be put off their thrones, the poor would be uplifted, and the hungry would be fed. It had already come true in her. She was a poor Jewish woman, a victim of oppression by class, race, and gender. You could not get much lower in those days than to be a woman in a patriarchal society, a Jew under Roman occupation, and a peasant in a land of plenty. But Mary was the chosen vessel of God's incarnation; God's promises had already become truth in her flesh." -- Clothed with the Sun, 1994

So when you hear that song over the next week or so, answer YES to every question. Mary knew. Here's the big question: Do we know? And if not, are we ready to hear? Ten days and counting...

But of course now I have that Mariah Carey song in my head... again!


Popular posts from this blog

Reflecting Upon Newtown

Note: I offered these words during the prayer section of worship Sunday, December 16.

Last Friday was a day full of surprising ministry. After I wrote my usual Friday email devotion to the church, I received a call from Byron Proutt, our missions coordinator. He and others had recently partnered with Park Cities Presbyterian on a project, and their missions director called Byron to say another ministry was unable to pick up several boxes of food for their pantry—could we use it? Of course we could! So Pastor Gregg, Mr Johnny, and I rolled out to the warehouse and hauled back 80 boxes of food. Praise God! After we unloaded it Gregg and I went to Kroger to give them a letter of appreciation for making our Thanksgiving baskets for hungry families a priority. After I dropped Gregg off at home, I turned on my radio for the first time that day and heard the reports of the shootings in Newtown, Conn. I could not believe what I heard, especially as a father of young children.

I came back to m…

The Famous Black Cat Band

This week my former high school band director, Mr Reinke, died. Mr Reinke is a legend in my hometown of Bay City. He was the leader of our Black Cat Band for many years. He was a fiery man, a perfectionist with extremely high standards. He was a gifted musician. He and I both played the trombone; one of us sounded like a goose being strangled. The other sounded like... well I can't think of a metaphor to properly describe Mr Reinke's horn. It was amazing. He would pull that thing out occasionally to show us how to properly play a part of a song and the sound was spellbinding. 
Mr Reinke was very innovative in his music selections. He had us playing the most random music, from popular stuff of the day by Michael Jackson to Also Sprach Zarathustra (popularly known as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey) to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. This song in particular was a great choice-- it's amazing, complicated; however, this was the late 1980s. The song was originally released…

a response to gideons international

last sunday prosper united methodist church welcomed representatives of the gideons to share about their ministry. how many times have you stayed in a hotel or visited someone in the hospital and found a gideons Bible there? and while no one can argue that reading the Bible is a bad thing, or that distributing Bibles to others in native languages is inherently harmful, i would like to offer some thoughts on the practices of the gideons, as they were described at church.

1. bravo to the gideons for distributing 73 million Bibles last year. however, most of the Bibles they sent were tiny new testaments with psalms. i am a Christian, and i love the words of the new testament. but those words have their foundation in the old testament, and to remove thousands of years of traditions and stories of God's powerful love and acts of salvation diminishes the power of the whole Bible. we must never forget that the old testament (or "first" testament or "hebrew Bible"…