So, due to the way the schedule falls at our church, we moved up “Magnificat Sunday” by a week to today, because next week we will be presenting our annual Children’s Nativity. Which means that I have been saving one particular song especially for today. It is a favorite of many, but a topic of heated debate among many of my theological nerd friends. If you haven’t guessed it yet, I mean none other than Mary, Did You Know?
Written as part of a script for a church Christmas party, Mark Lowry began to develop the lyrics in 1984. However, they would not fully turn into a song until Buddy Greene completed the music in 1991. Since that time, this almost instant classic has been recorded by an astonishing number of artists across a range of musical genres.
So then why would such a popular song stir up significant controversy?
The lyrics began as a series of questions from a man thinking about what he would purportedly ask Mary if he could sit down and have coffee with her. Fair enough.
There’s one kind of glaring issue though: they forgot to take into account Mary’s story within the gospels. The part where she is flat out informed who this child will be by one of God’s highest ranking angels. The part where a prophet predicts the death he will suffer and her own pain as a result. And most especially the part where, while she is still pregnant, she prophesies the very heart of Christ’s ministry on earth.
Now, the reason I still love this song is because of the long list of attributes of who Christ is – though I will generally only listen to the Pentatonix version at this point. The power of the music as it ascribes the incredible vision of who Emmanuel, God-with-us, became on earth is beyond compare.
However, the question asked is blatantly answered in scripture. Yes. She knew. Rhetorical device or not, the song can become a bit mansplainy if you hit the wrong version.
So here is the major lesson for the day: Jesus’s mother was a prophet in her own right precisely because she was willing to answer God with a, here I am. let’s go. Jesus was God-made-flesh. However, I am also convinced that God entrusted him to Mary for a reason. That strong young woman willing to follow God even in the face of incredible derision and hardship. Who was willing to still fight for others when everyone else was demeaning her. Mary knew who she carried. And she worked her tail off to ensure that he was ready when the time came for him to say, let’s go. Mary is a hero and prophet worth learning about.