The best Christmas joke that has been circulating for some time is a critique of the song, “Mary, Did You Know?” The beloved song has lines like, “Mary did you you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?...would one day rule the nations?...is heaven’s perfect lamb?” The punchline to this now called “mansplaining” song is Gabriel’s announcement and Mary’s own song in Luke 1: yeah, she knew. But what she didn’t know was how her calling and her life would unfold. She had the message, but there was a gulf between the message and the actualization of that message.
Mary could have done so many different things after being told her womb would carry the Son of God; she could have spoken to her parents, her fiancé, a friend. Would they have supported her? Or maybe tried to talk her out of believing the angel? She could have tried to figure out her next steps on her own. Instead, as Mary processed Gabriel’s message, she decided to confirm her calling by visiting her cousin Elizabeth to see if, indeed, the angel’s words of Elizabeth’s pregnancy were true. If Elizabeth were pregnant, then Mary would be the one who would usher the Messiah into the world.
Elizabeth’s round belly along with her prophetic encouragement confirmed what Mary knew to be true: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42-43). After receiving confirmation, Mary broke out into her own song that reveals her heart and her dreams for the future.
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.” (Luke 1:46-49)
Before anything, before her parents knew of her pregnancy, before Joseph still agreed to marry her, Mary worshipped. With so many questions unanswered, the future was blurry, but Mary’s resolve was not. She worshipped. How she was to carry and raise this only Son, Mary did not know, but she knew to worship. In that process, she reminded herself of who God is and what God has done for her. In that process, she reaffirmed her identity as God’s servant, which moved her to do the next step. In the uncertainty, Mary responded with worship that led to a steady faith.
Perhaps you find yourself in a Mary moment. Perhaps you have sensed God beckoning you on a journey, whether it’s for a deeper friendship with God or maybe to take a risky next step in the dreams God has given you or maybe something else entirely. If there has ever been a year of collective uncertainty, 2020 is definitely it. But that uncertainty doesn't have to be the end of the story. We can be like Mary and respond to God’s invitation with worship. Perhaps we don’t have the plan in great detail, but we can worship. We might experience a few bumps along the way, but we can worship. In that place of worship, we are breathing faith in our understanding of who God is and who we are and, ultimately, how we are to live out that identity. The picture may still be out of focus, but worship can lead to steady faith in the One that calls us and guides us.