Peace Lutheran Church Natoma, Kansas
But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart – St. Luke 2:19
I am hardly an expert, but I am going to venture a guess that following the birth of a child, whether it is your first or fifth, you do not have a lot of time to ponder many things in your heart, there is just too much going on between visitors and doctors and adjusting to schedules and planning a baptism. And yet here in St. Luke, at the end of the familiar Christmas Gospel, we see that Mary treasured and pondered what was going on around her.
In the midst of giving birth in a stable, surrounded by animals and unkempt shepherds, Mary takes it all in. She might see Joseph trying to convince the shepherds to come back later, only to let them in anyway. She may see a lamb nibbling at the straw that now serves as baby Jesus’s pillow. There might even be some passersby, who peaks in, wondering what the commotion is all about. Imagine the stories she can tell her friends and family later on about that fateful night.
What did it all mean? How much was happening because this was the Christ child, and how much was happening just due to the circumstances of being in a stable?
How many times in the coming years will Mary reflect back on that stable and remember something small and seemingly insignificant, and realize that maybe it was not so insignificant after all?
I think the reason that there are so many traditions surrounding Christmas is because we do not take the time to treasure and ponder what is going on around us. Everything seems to go by in such a blur that the only memories we have sometimes are those that were repeated year after year, without fail.
And so I challenge you this year to start a new tradition: take a moment to treasure what is going on around you and ponder it all in your heart. Treasure the gathering of everyone around the fireplace, treasure the going to church on Christmas Eve, treasure the singing of carols around the piano, treasure the fellowship that you have together, even if it is only for a few moments.
And then ponder it throughout the rest of the year. Ponder how Christ came and died for each of those that were gathered around the fireplace. Ponder how Christ comes to each of you in His gifts of Word and sacrament when you come to church. Ponder how those carols, and all the hymns that we sing, are confessions of the faith that has been passed down from generation to generation.
Treasure these things, ponder them in your heart. Rejoice in what Christ has done for you.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!