Mary Did You Know? (Brian Beattie, @FHBrantford)

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Joy Frank of Rebecca Joy Photography

In the fall of 1985, Mark Lowry was asked by his Pastor to write a play for his church for the coming Christmas season. Mark had sat through many services and Christmas plays in his years in the church and he wanted this one to be special. As he began thinking about the Christmas story and specifically what he wondered Mary would be thinking and feeling, he began to write down a series of questions.

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

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man?
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?
And when you kiss your little boy you’ve kissed the face of God?

In the end, Lowry’s play chronicled the Biblical narrative of the Christmas story, using passages from the Bible from Matthew 1 & 2 and Luke 2 – separated by Christmas carols and the questions he had penned. The play was a hit with the church.

Seven years later, while travelling with the Gaither Vocal Band, Lowry combined his efforts with singer-songwriter Buddy Greene who came up with the music to what has become the Christmas favourite of millions – Mary Did You Know.

Mary Did You Know has become a favourite of many people in Brantford as well. It is the final song in The Living Nativity – the Christmas play Freedom House hosts in Harmony Square every year. This will be the third year that Freedom House has performed the Living Nativity. Both of the last two years have been amazing with great reviews and wonderful stories of how people are making the Living Nativity a family tradition.

One of my favourite stories of the last couple of years of doing this show for the city is from Lori-Dawn Cavin – Community Recreation Development Co-ordinator for Brantford Parks & Recreation. The first year we did The Living Nativity, Lori-Dawn’s twin girls were 7 years old. They came to every performance of the show with their eyes glued to the stage the whole time. A week later, when the Cavins had their family Christmas, the girls excused themselves and went into the family room in the basement. About 90 minutes later, they called the family downstairs where they had everything set up and they performed the entire Living Nativity production from start to finish. It was the highlight of the family Christmas.

I love this – not just because they loved the show and remembered it well enough to perform it for their family – but more than that, because we were able to get the story out of the church, into the public square and then into a home in a meaningful way.

The last verse of Mary Did You Know goes like this:

Mary, did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Did you know that your baby boy will one day rules the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the Great I Am

The truth is, there is no way Mary could have ever known what she was about to experience with the birth of her son, Jesus. There was no way she could have ever dreamt what it would mean to be responsible to raise God’s son. There was no way she could anticipate the gravity of her son’s life and death. But, from the very outset of her journey, her response to the unknown task ahead of her was a clear and unwavering “Let it be unto me as you have said, Lord.”

What a great example of how we could respond this Christmas season.

Please consider this your personal invitation to a great evening and the start of a wonderful family tradition. The show is free, the hot chocolate is free and you will be joining hundreds each night – celebrating Christmas in a beautiful outdoor setting.

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