Advent Series: What we don’t know


One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Mary did you know” written by Mark Lowry. I like all renditions, but recommend googling the Pentatonix version.

I think a lot about the lyrics:

“Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?

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?”

No, I don’t think she did. The journey she accepted was already overwhelming, knowing the situation with Joseph and the public scrutiny she would face. Imagine if she knew the full story – what Jesus would do, how He would suffer, how He would change the world. What she did have was tremendous faith, despite the unknown.

We cannot purchase faith, sell it or give it to our friends. Wouldn’t it be great if we could? It would make shopping so much easier. Here is a wrapped up package filled with faith that your grandpa will get well. Here is a cute box with a bow filled with faith about your children and their choices. Here is a gift bag, with extra tissue paper, filled with faith that the major decision you made was the right one.

How often do you wish you could just hug someone and transfer the belief you have in them, to them, giving them comfort and confidence? How different do we see ourselves, than how others see us? Wouldn’t it be a gift if we could change that? Unfortunately that doesn’t work and faith does not come in a store, with a receipt for returning it.

As we think about Christmas, faith and those gifts we wrap, I think there are two important things to keep in mind. What seems not very important to you, like casual conversation, may be vital to someone else. Those words of criticism that seem like jokes or kidding, or the verbal praise you don’t say because it’s no big deal or “we just don’t do that in our family” — are more important than you think. Words are so much more than verbal gift wrapping. And remember, someone else is keeping your words and actions close to their heart, recycling over and over in their minds what we said…or didn’t say. Think about what is actually the greatest gift you can give someone. (Hint: It can’t be gift wrapped.)

On the other side, we need to keep remember what seems damaged can still have value. We are more than what our circumstances appear to be to other people. We need to see ourselves in the mirror as God see us, not the rest of the world. This is what I think Mary did know – very well – about herself and her son. I think this is especially important during this season, because while many look forward to everything that comes with the traditions, others are scared, hurting and very much alone. Remember the first Christmas. Mary giving birth in a stable, with everything (physical and emotional) surrounding her at the time.

Finally, the song also asks Mary, did you know “when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God?” I hope you will think about that this week as we head into Christmas. Each and every person we meet provides us the opportunity to demonstrate our faith, and what is truly important.

If following the model of Mary seems overwhelming, and the approaching pressures of the holiday is overwhelming, remember one more thing. This time from another of my favorites, the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet. (I know, huge swing from Mary to the Grinch.) But he figured out that Christmas comes without ribbons and tags or from a store. Christmas “means a bit more.” Christmas is about a simple, humble stable, and had someone scared, who really didn’t know how it all would work out. Maybe we are more like Mary than we think.

Sheila Hellermann is a member of St. Rose of Lima Church in St. Rosa. She works at St. John’s University as a program and department coordinator for several academic departments. Read more about Sheila on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

One thought on “Advent Series: What we don’t know”

  1. Beautiful Christmas reflection that can be carried forth through out the year… through out our lives! Knowing Sheila, this is her life!

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