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Sermon: Mary Our Mother

This sermon was delivered at Cobleskill United Methodist Church on December 13, 2020

Luke 1:26-56

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Mary’s Song of Praise

46 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” 56 And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

Today we’re going to be talking about…. Mary! Around this time each year that’s a popular topic. We pull out our nativity sets and we dress up for or watch pageants at church. And…we also start to see on social media and perhaps in church services, the song, “Mary Did You Know?” This is a beloved song of many and it has a catchy tune that makes it timeless. But it’s also a song that has stirred up controversy, especially among clergy that I know.

Here are the lyrics to the song:

Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water? Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters? Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new? This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man? Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand? Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod? When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God.

Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know?

Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know?

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb.

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation? Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations? Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect lamb? That sleeping child you're holding is the great I AM.

I think one of the reasons this song is so beloved is because it addresses Mary in such a tender way and foreshadows all the amazing things that Jesus will do in his lifetime in such a way that many parents can relate to and often dream about as they wait for a child to be born or gaze into those newborn eyes or watch the child grow. We wonder who will this child become?

And so I think for that reason, this song has pull with us and strikes a chord.

So you may remember that I started off by saying that this song also stirs up other feelings. And if you love this song, you may be wondering, what? Why?

So I’m going to tell you that many clergy people and others who spend a lot of their time thinking about these types of things and especially women who love the stories of Mary and treasure her impact on our faith will tell you that the answer to the question, “Mary, did you know?” is a undeniable and resounding, YES! She knew! She may not have none the specifics of each individual miracle Jesus would perform in his life, but did Mary know that she was going to be the mother of the Lord Jesus, a transforming and saving light for the world. Yes! She knew!

And that’s why this song (especially when its sung in sing it), can be a little frustrating.

There’s a part of us that wants to relate to Mary like the overwhelmed and unprepared parents that we were when a newborn came. But I’d like to suggest that though there are ways we can relate to Mary, Mary’s naïve wondering of who her baby would become is something that simply sets Mary apart from us. Put very simply, Mary knew!

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