'Tis the season to sing Christmas songs and one that I've particularly come to love is the haunting and reflective, 'Mary, Did You Know?'
Not only is the song a favourite because of the lyrics but it has been beautifully covered by a couple of outstanding acapella groups: Pentatonix and Voctave. Seriously, go click on the links and listen. And then keep reading!
Now, I'm a pretty straight-laced Protestant Christian (that is, not Catholic). So it feels a bit weird to be writing an article solely about Mary because my Lutheran-raised inner voice is yelling the whole time, 'Don't over-glorify her! She's not a deity! She's not equal to Jesus!'
And yet, to steal a popular movie title, there really is something about Mary.
I can relate to her on a couple of levels.
An ordinary girl
One, she's a pretty ordinary girl. It seems her life was set to be nothing that special. It had a pretty humble plan to it: marry Joseph; have babies; raise them; send them out; live a quiet life.
Yet, God had other plans.
Two years ago when I was pregnant with my first child, something struck me about Mary's story that I'd never noticed before.
Mary is the only woman to experience pregnancy knowing that the outcome—a safe delivery of a healthy baby—was completely guaranteed. (She's also the first to know the gender of her child all the way through too!).
In our time, mothers to be are all too aware of the frighteningly real possibilities of miscarriage and stillbirth. While I rejoiced at being pregnant, my joy was always followed by an unspoken 'What if'. What if something happened to my baby? Should I delay being excited until he is in my arms? Would it be less painful if something happened?
Mary experienced an extraordinary gift with her extraordinary pregnancy; peace of mind. Peace that stemmed from a trust in what God had told her.
Another thing I admire about Mary, and in some ways can relate to, is her faith and trust in God. In the gospel account written by Luke, the writer is very deliberate in the way he contrasts the response of Zechariah, a priest and leader of people, and Mary, an ordinary girl, to the news of the angels that visit them.
Zechariah doubts. Mary trusts.
I can't say for sure I would have the same mature response of Mary to a similar situation. But gosh, it's something to learn from, isn't it?
Furthermore, later we see a song of praise from Mary. And she totally gets what God is doing. She's learned the history of Israel and God's relationship with her people. She knows that he is a God who turns the world upside down; who shakes down the proud and lifts up the humble—yet another sign of her maturity and trust in God.
Later in life as her child grows into a man, Luke records that she ponders and treasures all the things that have happened.
Ponder these things
Christmas is a great time to do this—to ponder and treasure all the things that have happened. Reflect upon who Jesus is—who he says he is—and why he was even born in the first place. After all, it's because of who Jesus is that we even know who Mary is at all.
Sarah Urmston lives in Toowoomba with her husband, Stephen. She loves God, her family, writing, colouring in, crochet, and creating lists. Sarah works full-time at home and seeks to faithfully serve Jesus in many different ways using the time she's given.
Sarah Urmston's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/sarah-urmston.html