Part of the excitement and anticipation of Christmas is the rush of preparations. Send the cards, buy the presents, decorate the house (and garden?), set the digi-box, lay the table, and check the timer on the oven. There’s lots to remember and a lot that could go wrong, but that’s all part of the fun. Or maybe you are someone who groans at the thought of it all.
Either way, the example of Jesus’ mother is a good one. We are told that she ‘treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart’ (Luke 2:19). We must be meant to notice this, because Luke tells us the same thing again in verse 51. She treasured up the events of her son’s birth, meaning that she kept hold of them closely, not forgetting them but holding them dear and delighting in them. She pondered them in her heart, meaning that she continued to wonder at them, reflect on them, and allow them to inspire love and worship within her.
Jesus is the Messiah or Christ, born to fulfil all the ancient and wonderful promises of God. Jesus is King, born to extend God’s loving rule over his world. Jesus is Saviour, born to die for our sins and rescue us from a godless eternity. Jesus is shepherd, friend, brother, and judge, the beginning and the end; he is my Lord and my God (see John 20:28).
The birth of this Jesus is to be treasured up inside you and held most precious. We set aside a time in our calendar to remember this – let’s not be distracted by happy or not-so-happy rushing around. And the birth of this Jesus is to be pondered in our hearts. The big questions of life flit around the manger like moths at a lightbulb; they need our attention, and we must not fail to ponder, to reflect and think about it, while there is yet light.
How will you do that during this Christmas season? May I suggest three very obvious answers? They are obvious to say, but not always really done. First, read about it. Read the bible accounts of Jesus’ birth, and marvel afresh at those events of our history. Second, pray. You can truly pray to Jesus himself, the baby of the manger, now Lord of all. He came for you: will you at least speak to him? And third, come to church. He came to form a new humanity, saved by his death and alive by his Spirit, so seek out the company of others who, like Mary, are serious in knowing and worshipping him.
With all best wishes – James.