And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.” Luke 1: 46-48a
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:16-19
The angel Gabriel told Mary, “You are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”(Lk 1:28).
Imagine how Mary must have felt, knowing she was chosen by God to participate in God’s plan to bring God’s own son, in the flesh, among God’s people. Later, after facing her family, community and traveling a great distance for the birth of her son, she and her baby were visited by shepherds. Then, the scripture tells us that Mary treasured up all that had happened and pondered then them in her heart.
After the birth of Jesus the shepherds spread the news of a messiah-king, and their message went viral.
But, for a few minutes between birth and the spreading of the good news, Mary treasured all that had taken place, pondered and took a deep, deep breath. Her pause, between birth and sharing good news, is a mother’s gift. It is a pondering moment. Words don’t seem to fully express the joy. A good pondering is warranted.
Pondering comes when we don’t know quite how use words to describe what is taking place. Our family had one such pondering during the Christmas rush and business of 1993. I was working full time, attending graduate school, and my husband and I had a two-year old son. November third that year, we gave birth to our daughter. About three weeks after she was born, a dear colleague in a church called me in a panic. She was planning the church’s annual Journey to Bethlehem program and was short a Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus and wondered if we could fill the role.
What an honor, for sure! But, to be honest, I was overwhelmed with thoughts about how to keep a five-week-old baby content and quiet while she lay in a makeshift manager in order to “play baby Jesus”. But, of course we told my friend, “Yes”!
The church basement was decorated to look like the ancient town of Bethlehem. My husband and I were decked out in Joseph and Mary costumes and our daughter was swaddled in a blanket on top of a straw lined manger. The three of us sat in a dimly lit corner as people walked toward the place where “Jesus lay”. Many would stop and stand speechless while peering at the scene before them. Others seemed to be overcome with unexpected emotion and begin to cry. It was an unexpected moment, I will always treasure and ponder it in my heart.
God chose Mary to participate in his divine plan. Her life was forever changed and she gave birth to the Son of God – the world has never been the same.
God chooses all of us to participate in the love of Christ. If we listen closely there are moments between the rush, craziness and hardships of life that will give us pause to ponder. Those are Christmas moments to treasure in our heart.
God of mystery, God of revelation, God of joyful sound,
We come before you this Christmas to worship!
We come before you with the most profound devotion,
reflective wonder and deep thanksgiving.
We are grateful at the privilege to gather in your name this season,
knowing there are those all around this world who are not able to
gather in your name without fear.
Shower us with your spirit oh God so that we may be people of courage,
reaching out to invite others before the manger, the life of Christ and the cross.
Let our Christmas joy be true worship; in the of Jesus Christ. Amen