Merry Christmas!

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I was recently reading a Brent Weeks fantasy novel, one that often borrows from biblical theology, essentially taking many of the ideas and applying it to a different world and different gods.  One godlike presence says something similar in response to the question of his identity – “I am.”  

When Moses asked for God’s name, his answer was, among most translations, “I Am that I Am.”   There is significance among the capital letters for theologians, and I’ll skip all that.  Whether one views the old and new testaments as holy writ, mostly true, oral traditions, fanciful stories, useful for instructing children or a means of societal control (or insertiPhoneJan2015-152 your other view), it has always struck me that if there is one god, creator of all, what a marvelous answer that is.  “I Am.”   I don’t know that man is creative enough to have invented something so rich, elegant and comprehensive in so few words.

I have a number of favorite Christmas songs, sadly now lacking in the Atlanta airwaves when driving around…  In any case, one of those is “Mary Did You Know?”  First, it’s a very pretty song, but lyrically it relates.  It doesn’t question faith but neither does it stridently state it.  It speaks to the our wonder about Mary and the virgin birth, but also in very human terms, her intimacy with God.  Not coincidentally, the song essentially closes with the “I Am” affirmation.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary 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?
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?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God

Mary did you know, Mary did you know, Mary did you know

The blind will see, the deaf will hear and 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 will one day rule 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

Mary did you know, Mary did you know, Mary did you know

Written by Buddy Greene, Mark Lowry • Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group

Jesus also claimed that title when being asked by the Jews he was:  “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am.”  (John 8:58)  Note that the repetition of “Verily” was a Herbrew form of emphasis.  He claimed other titles as well: I am the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the Door, the Good Shepherd, the Resurrection and the Life, the Way and the Truth and the Life, and the Vine – each has its meaning and import, but none match the defining “I Am.”

While Christmas is the celebration of his Christ’s birth among believers, the holiday offers an opportunity for people to reflect on who he was and claimed to be.  The answer one comes to defines in many ways the course of our life.  The question is larger than a fact check; it’s the question that everyone comes to: Is there a god?  If there is or is not, how does that inform a person about questions as to the origin of life, the nature of morality or the relative presence of evil and good, the meaning of life, and our destiny.  Christianity answers those in a cohesive worldview.   If you’re undecided, decided against, too busy to consider it… my closing is the same:  Merry Christmas!

I don’t know that the definitive version of this song has yet been recorded.  This is a good one, though. 

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