As a group we were starting to have problems. I think I was sensing the Beatles were breaking up, so I was staying up late at night, drinking, doing drugs, clubbing the way a lot of people were at the time. I was living and playing hard.
The other guys were all living out in the country with their partners, but I was still a bachelor in London with my own house in St. John’s Wood…So, I was exhausted! Some nights I’d go to bed and my head would just flop on the pillow; and when I’d wake up I’d have difficulty pulling it off, thinking, “Good job I woke up just then or I might have suffocated.”
One night, somewhere between deep sleep and insomnia, I had the most comforting dream about my mother, who had died when I was only 14. She had been a nurse, my mum, and very hardworking, because she wanted the best for us. We weren’t a well off family. We didn’t have a car. We just about had a television – so both of my parents went out to work, and mum contributed a good half to the family income.
At night when she came home, she would cook, so we didn’t have a lot of time with each other. But she was a very comforting presence in my life. And when she died, one of the difficulties I had, as the years went by, was that I couldn’t recall her face so easily. That’s how it is for everyone, I think. As each day goes by, you can’t bring their face into your mind, you have to use photographs and reminders like that.
So in the dream 12 years later, my mother appeared, and there was her face, completely clear, particularly her eyes, and she said to me very gently, very reassuringly: “Let it be.”
I was lonely. I woke up with a great feeling. It was really like she had visited me at this very difficult point in my life and gave me this message: “Be gentle, don’t fight things, just try and go with the flow and it will all work out.” So, being a musician, I went right over to the piano and started writing a song, “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me…” Mary was my mother’s name… “Speaking words of wisdom, let it be…. There will be an answer, let it be.”
It didn’t take long. I wrote the main body of it in one go, and then the subsequent verses developed from there: “When all the brokenhearted people living in the world agree, there will be an answer, let it be.” I thought it was special, so I played it to the guys and ‘round a lot of people, and later it became the title of the album, because it had so much value to me, and because it just seemed definitive, these three little syllables: “Let it be.”
All of us know of another Mary who said the exact same thing in her time of trouble. We read of it in Luke 1:38, “And Mary said (to the angel Gabriel), ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’”
Now when this Mary speaks these words, it’s not a resignation to fate or a whistling in the graveyard. Rather, it’s a faith statement. It’s a statement of deep conviction born of an intimate knowledge of herself and her God. It’s a statement of profound truth based on objective reality. When she says, “Let it be”, it’s not wishful thinking. It’s a statement of faith that’s founded on the knowledge of a God who’s engaged in her struggles. The truth of the statement “Let it be” is born out of the words she speaks in the verse that immediately precedes it, “For nothing will be impossible for God!”
This Sunday, the last Sunday of the year, we will again turn our attention to Mary’s encounter with Gabriel. Two weeks ago Tim focused our attention on Mary’s hymn of praise, Luke 1:46-56 – the Magnificat. There’s so much to see in Gabriel’s announcement to Mary. Indeed, the signature of Jesus is all over it. For here in Luke 1:26-38 we find a goldmine of application to us in our walk with Jesus. Like Mary, God is the initiator. Like Mary, He is the One who greets us. Like Mary, we are among the least, the last, and the lost; and yet He comes to us speaking words of life and hope and a future. Like Mary, we receive from Him grace upon grace.
In this annunciation the generous justice of God is again seen coming to a poor, insignificant, peasant woman (like us) and declaring in bold strokes the grace of the signature of Jesus.
In preparation for Sunday’s message you may wish to consider the following:
1. Why does Luke feature Elizabeth and Mary rather than Zachariah and Joseph like Matthew?
2. Why is it the women who are the first to praise and be blessed in Luke’s gospel?
3. In what ways does Luke’s account of Mary dispute the common idealized view of Mary?
4. What is the significance of Mary being the fifth woman listed in Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1?
5. What is the significance of Gabriel’s greeting in Luke 1:28? How is it different from his other appearances in Scripture?
6. Note the differences in Gabriel’s reaction to Zechariah’s doubt and Mary’s doubt?
7. What differences do you see in their reaction to his announcement?
8. How is Mary’s statement in verse 37 a perfect summation of Jesus’ life and ministry?
9. How is Gabriel’s description of what will happen to Mary in verse 35 a reflection of Genesis 1 & 2?
10. What is the difference between Mary McCartney’s “Let it be” and Mary, Mother of Jesus’, “Let it be”?
See you Sunday!