Let It Be was The Beatles’ final record, and they made it as the band was falling apart. By the time the album came out, Paul McCartney, who wrote the title track, had already left the group.
It’s a beautiful song, but the lyrics are deeply troubled, which is no wonder, since everything that had defined McCartney’s life as a young adult was coming to an end while he wrote it.
The verses express turmoil, fear and loneliness, but into this malaise of emotion, a character known as ‘Mother Mary’ offers words of consolation and assurance.
Fans often think the Mary in Let It Be, is Mary, the mother of Jesus, specifically because of Luke 1:38 (when an angel tells her she will have baby, Mary says, ‘Let it be with me, according to your word.').
But when McCartney wrote the song, he was actually referring to his own mother, who died when he was 14. During the months when strife was consuming The Beatles, he’d had a dream in which she visited him and comforted him – he began working on Let It Be soon thereafter.
I find it deeply meaningful to consider both Jesus’ mother Mary, and Paul’s mother Mary, when I listen to the song. There is a devastatingly beautiful common thread among the stories of a boy losing his mom, a young man losing his friends and his place in the world, and a young woman learning that she will have a baby unexpectedly, while uncertainty envelopes every aspect of her life.
In all these circumstances, it’s easy to imagine a person feeling anxious, alone, and utterly overwhelmed.
And that’s Christmas, you see.
Christmas is the essential remembrance that in dark and fearful times, there is a light that shines into all the trouble.
Most of us plan for joy and celebration this time of year – we want to gather with people who love us, and get all the presents and treats that our hearts desire. But while it’s certainly fun if we get what we want at the holidays, it’s very important for us to understand that Christmas is not about everything going right. Christmas isn’t supposed to be a picture-perfect day; it’s not meant to be some sort of cozy proof that everything is wonderful.
Rather, Christmas is the experience of God’s peace breaking into real life, despite the realities of isolation, violence and fear that we are dealing with.
At Christmas, God’s love becomes incarnate as a precious child, and grace rises to contend with every trauma of the human condition.
The truth of Christmas is that God’s love is not shown by any of the fancy things we’re privileged to enjoy, if in fact we are so fortunate. The truth of Christmas is this: We know God’s love is true because even in the fearful times and the treacherous places God promises to be with us.
Christmas is found in the darkness, as the light comes in.
Paul said, “There will be an answer, let it be.” You and I are invited to trust, and welcome the light, even as dark surrounds us.
God bless you, and Merry Christmas.
The Table is a Christian church in Davenport, Iowa, seeking transformation:
from greed toward generosity
from violence toward peacemaking
from isolation toward neighborliness
from fear toward faith
Christmas Eve Service:
Sunday, Dec. 24, 5pm
102 E. 2nd St. Davenport