We have the opportunity to welcome the story of Christmas every year with curiosity and intentionality, and today I was drawn to the moments after the birth of Jesus. I know, I know, it feels like I am getting a little ahead of myself here, but something about reading Mary's heart condition resonated in me today. I sense that as we move forward in this season of remembering the birth of Jesus on earth, there is an invitation to learn from her path to pondering.
In Luke 2 Mary and Joseph had just had their baby and were receiving their first visitors. Some shepherds who had been grazing their sheep in a local field got the news via heavenly hosts and had hurried to visit the couple and the new baby laying in a feeding trough. They were excited to share all that "…The Lord had made known to them." Have a little read of what the angels communicated to the shepherds:
"Don't be afraid, we bring good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ The Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby lying in a feeding trough."
Then a whole heavenly host became visible and they were praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men
With whom God is of good pleasure."
Good news for all people. Wow, can you imagine just having had a baby and then your first visitors are shepherds testifying to this new baby and the future life of Jesus? This, a present, sacred and prophetic interaction between the new mom and dad, and the shepherds who acted as conduits for the heavens. These shepherds were there to witness the Lamb of God. The imagery, humility and beauty of it all is so moving.
In Luke 2 v19 it says this, and it's what I want to pause with in today's blog.
" Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart…"
Take a breath. Have a read of all the things that Mary (and Joseph) had been told.
Here she is pondering them in her heart, and I can imagine that wasn't the only thing she was pondering. There had been 40 weeks of life and story and visits to relatives, and conversations with Joseph, and plans to travel to Bethlehem, and intrigue from neighbors, and vulnerability mixed with the deepest kind of faith. Here was Mary receiving the message from heaven and the text chooses to tell us that she pondered them in her heart.
The word ponder is first used back in Proverbs 4 v 26:
"Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established."
Ponder is the Hebrew word Palac and means "to weigh, make level, balance, to make smooth," and I guess this is why I wanted to highlight it today. Mary had a lot to ponder and was full of the weight of such a Holy and raw experience. After all she had just given birth in a stable. Can you even imagine? Mary isn't recorded as saying anything in Luke 2, and I sense that this, plus the use of the word ponder, could be a gift to us during this season and an insight into this woman.
It's like the words of Proverbs resonate to this moment for Mary and maybe even for us. A moment to ponder the path of our feet after all we have learnt and experienced in the last year. A moment to know and remember that Salvation has been with us during this time, and now, during this season we get to remember where it all began. One woman who had great faith and strength. One woman who received unexpected news, which lead to one moment in history that was meant for her to inhabit. It is from this place of faith in motion, from remembering the path and all that has been established that we must take time to ponder, just like Mary.
I invite you today to take account of the path of this last year, to bear witness to Jesus, our Salvation in our stories. To weigh and balance and make smooth the many ups and downs with the power and presence of God with us. To treasure and ponder all that was, is and will be as we not only enter the season of Christmas but as we also slow down enough to listen for His voice and be nourished by His presence once again.
Take time in your pondering as 2020 comes to a close. Remember Mary, see how she treasured and pondered, and may joy and peace be with you all.