Some years I am still in the mood for Christmas carols well into January, and others I’m ready to pack up the holiday festivity and jump into a clean new year moments after the last gifts are opened. This year, as the candles were lit and the words to “Silent Night” filled my family’s Christmas Eve, I realized how badly I need “the dawn of redeeming grace” with me as we head into 2018.
In that moment, words from the Christmas story came to mind, words I’d been reading and thinking about over the course of Advent. Specifically, three verbs.
And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart... (Luke 2:18-19)
“All who heard it wondered…”
Everyone who heard the shepherds’ story wondered at it. The Greek word used in Luke is from the word for marvel, it means to admire or be amazed at. Wonder is so easy at Christmas, with the lights and candles and this ancient story we celebrate and sing.
But is wonder enough for us, once the lights are packed away, the candles are blown out, and the newness fades from even the best of Christmas gifts? Is wonder enough for our normal, every day, sometimes hard lives? I don’t know what 2018 holds for you, but I know I am going to need more than wonder as we head into the new year.
“But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart…”
Everyone who heard the shepherds’ story wondered, buy Mary went a step further. Mary treasured, Mary pondered.
Treasure is translated from the Greek word meaning “to preserve, to keep in mind.” In other places in the Bible it is translated, “kept safe”, it is a compound of the words meaning to keep within oneself. And ponder is “to bring together in one’s mind, confer with one’s self.”
As the wonder of Christmas fades, I want to sit at Mary’s feet and learn. I think she has something to teach us that goes beyond Christmas and can carry us into the new year.
These Christmas truths we celebrate and sing, the December reminders that God keeps His promises: We need these truths year round.
We need to move beyond the wonder of Christmas and treasure these truths in our hearts. Let’s ponder them, let’s keep telling ourselves these truths year round.
God keeps His promises. He is not far from us, He is near. Emmanuel. Fear not. God’s favor is on us and Jesus is good news for ALL, every day of every year.
What does 2018 hold for you? Are you lonely? Uncertain? Depressed that the distraction and busyness of the holidays are over, and you’re left with your same ordinary life?
Don’t let go of the good news of Christmas. Whatever 2018 holds for each of us, Jesus is Emmanuel. He is here, with us. Don’t stop at wonder. Ponder that truth.
Treasure it in your heart.
Let’s keep the Christmas Spirit alive in each of us.