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Pondering & Seeking

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Luke 2:15-20)

 

It seems to have become hard to hold onto Christmas once December 25th has come and gone. Christmas displays are taken down in stores and replaced with Valentine’s Day displays as soon as December 26th. People stop saying “Merry Christmas.” Christmas music disappears from the airwaves. Our culture makes an immediate shift into an after-Christmas mode.

 

Luke tells us that the shepherds returned after they had seen the baby lying in the manger. That makes sense. The shepherds could not stay in Bethlehem. Some sheep needed watching. But if they could not stay in Bethlehem, Jesus could not either. When Luke tells us that Mary treasured these things and “pondered them in her heart,” he signals that Christ’s birth was only the beginning. There is much more to the story than what the shepherds saw and heard.

 

Though we cannot stay at the manger, there are ways we can hold on to Christmas. When we are called back to the tasks we have been given, we can join Mary in pondering and seeking to grow in our understanding. We can also join with the shepherds, who spread the good news about all they have heard and seen. Though the shepherds returned to their fields, nothing would ever really be the same.

 

I am reminded of a piece Howard Thurman wrote entitled The Work of Christmas. It reads:

 

When the song of the angels is stilled,

when the star in the sky is gone,

when the kings and princes are home,

when the shepherds are back with their flock,

the work of Christmas begins:

 

to find the lost,

to heal the broken,

to feed the hungry,

to release the prisoner,

to rebuild the nations,

to bring peace among [sisters] and brothers,

to make music in the heart.

 

As we move into the first days of this new year, may we continue to ponder the meaning of Christmas and grow in our understanding of how to live it out in our time and place. †

 

Blessings!

Pastor Becki

 

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