I’m delighted to welcome my friend Liz Wann on the blog today! She writes with a Gospel-centered clarity, and this piece deeply impacted my heart.
When the Shepherds told of all the glorious things that the angels told them, Luke tells us that all who heard it wondered (Luke 2:18). And then Luke gives the account of Mary in verse nineteen, which says, “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” She must have heard the Shepherds retelling of the angel’s message:
“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!””
When Mary heard this message, she pondered it, trying to brand the memory onto her heart. Did she remember this message as her baby grew into a boy and then a man? Did she remember it when she saw him hanging on that cross? She must have, because scripture says she treasured it, or hide it away in her heart, so she would never forget.
Do we come into the Christmas season in this manner? Treasuring and pondering, so we won’t forget? Does the message of the angels affect us the way it affected the mother of Jesus? It should. This message of great joy is for us. The angels weren’t just telling this to the Shepherds in one moment of time, this was a message for all of time, for all those who belong to God from all nations. This message can easily be crowded out of our hearts and remembrance when our Christmas to do list grows, when advertisements remind us to buy gifts, and pressure mounts in baked goods and holiday parties. In order to cultivate the pondering of Mary this Christmas, we’ll have to learn to say no to some things in order to find rest in remembering the message of the angels.
In a season when we are called to remember a God who limited himself in the form of a baby, it’s good to remember our human limitations as well. We can’t do it all, say yes to everything, and get it all done. It’s proud to think and act like we can. It’s humble to accept our human limits, the same way Jesus humbled himself in human form. Though he limited himself, he was still an all powerful God who could break the chains of our sin and earn us our salvation. We can never do that. Like Mary, let’s remember who the angels say he is, ponder it and hide it away in our hearts, while walking in the humility of our fragile human form. This is how we cultivate a Christmas worth having.