And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
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 up 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 2:8-20
When our children were little, Christmas morning was a wild rush of activity. Wrapping paper pilled around, presents examined, and thanks given all in a matter of about 35 seconds, or something like that. No matter how much I have tried to make the morning of Christmas last over the years, it just rushes by. Then I usually sit with a cup of coffee and survey it all, a warmth filling me.
There is in the gospel of Luke this strange phrase attached to Mary: “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Treasuring in her heart; pondering. What a beautiful image. I suspect those treasures came out again over the years as she watched this baby boy become so very much more. I suspect she pondered the greeting of the Angel, the words of the shepherds, the visit of the Magi. I suspect that is what sustained her when, in the words of Simeon, a sword pierced her soul too. I suspect the treasures were all she had some days.
This Christmas Day is no doubt different for many of us: fewer people, fewer presents, fewer celebrations. It is my prayer that in this day you will find a moment to ponder, a moment to think of the treasures in your soul, a moment that can sustain.
O Little Town of Bethlehem v. 3
How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given;
so God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven.
No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin,
where meek souls will receive him, still the seat Christ enters in.
Eternal God, by the birth of Jesus Christ you gave yourself to the world. Grant that, being born in our hearts, he may save us from all our sins, and restore within us the image and likeness of our Creator, to whom be everlasting praise and glory, world without end. Amen.
— From the Book of Hymns, 1966
Pastor Tom Greener