The woman looked weary. “Tired?” I asked. Her reply was interesting. “I just don’t feel very ‘Christmasy.’ Millions can identify with that feeling as we close out 2020 and come to the holiday. We are weary of the Covid mess, exhausted by the strife that fills our land, and weighed by the uncertainty of the future. Then, too, much more personally, many have allowed the chaos of Christmas to overwhelm them. December’s calendar fills up with events, parties, travel, children’s programs, gift preparation, feasts, and family gatherings.
I celebrate the Christian season of Advent so that the wonder can gradually unfold as I intentionally make my way to the Day! Day by day, week by week, the season emerges as the words of the prophets, the songs of the Season, and the messages of the Gospels help me to prepare to celebrate the pivotal event of human history. Jesus entered Creation as a tiny Baby, a mysterious and miraculous coming that announced peace with God, the dawn of the Kingdom come and yet to come.
Dear friend, if we allow bright lights and festivities to steal the Moment, if we substitute mere parties for the substance of the Season, we will quickly grow exhausted, perhaps even Scroogish! It’s not too late to capture the joy of Christmas.
There is a little phrase buried in the middle of Luke’s narrative of the Nativity that speaks of Mary’s response to the birth of Jesus, the angelic announcement, and the visit of shepherds with the wondrous tale. “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19, NIV) Treasured and pondered- the words that arrest me.
She took time to store the moments in memory and revisited them often. Why? Because they were precious, sweet memories for a mother? Perhaps. More importantly, I believe she treasured and pondered knowing that His birth was the pivotal moment of her life, the reason for her very existence- to bear the Son of God. I wonder if, as she stood 33 years later at the foot of the cross on that horrific day when her Son hung dying, if she retreated to that Holy Night and drew comfort from the knowledge of God’s plans?
Today carve out some time to treasure and ponder. Before you laugh at the suggestion as you look over your calendar, please consider that God’s gift cannot be found in a store, on Amazon.com, or the holiday music of SiriusXM radio. Oh yes, those parts of the holiday traditions will play a part in our celebration, but the amazing, restorative, joy-bringing love of God shown to us in Christ Jesus will be found in the quiet, where His Spirit can whisper to us about the wonder, the mystery of the Incarnation (God in flesh)!
Treasure and ponder this familiar word letting become new in your heart – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17, NIV)
Tonight I will gather with friends in the church (Faith Discovery Church, 7 PM) for my favorite worship service of the year. It will be the first time in decades I will not be leading the worship, but rather sitting among the congregation. But, I am anticipating the opportunity to savor the Story, to sing the songs, and most of all, to treasure and ponder the message that makes all the difference for me and for any who will receive the Christ of Bethlehem.
Yes, I am pondering that momentous message – “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:11-12, NIV)
I pray for you a most blessed Christmas, a renewal of love for the Savior, a re-centering of faith on Him, and a recommissioning to service of the Baby of Bethlehem, now the Lord of Heaven and Earth, our King!
Joy to the World,
The Lord is Come!
Let earth receive her King.
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room,
And Heav’n and nature sing!
CoffeeBreak will be back in a few days, Lord-willing!
I am taking my own counsel and hope to spend time treasuring and pondering the mystery of the Word become Flesh.