Now it came about in those days….
From Sunday School programs to Charlie Brown specials, Luke 2 is the Christmas story we’ve all heard and heard again. The words feel like familiar friends—they echo back to the wonder I felt as a child at this time of year. The lights, the carols, the family traditions…there is sacredness in this season, and those ancient words still fill me with awe.
Except sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I am too caught up in the many items on my to-do list, the countless programs and parties and gifts and cookies and crowds at the stores and by the time I am listening to the umpteenth reading of the angel saying to the shepherds I bring you good news of a great joy I feel anything but joy.
It is always a challenge to keep Christmas about what Christmas is about. We need to remember how Mary and the shepherds celebrated that first Christmas.
After the travel and the frantic hunt for a place to stay, after labor and childbirth, after surprise visits from angels and shepherds, Luke says Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. She treasured them. She treated them as something precious and valuable. She reflected deeply on all that she had been through and seen and heard.
And the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen…. They saw some pretty amazing things for some pretty regular guys—the heavens split open and more angels than the human mind could fathom were saying things which seemed incomprehensible, and yet it all was true. They all could see it in the skies and they could see Him—the Messiah—in the manger. Their response was to glorify and praise God.
This December, as we read the book of Luke, let’s read with a heart like Mary’s: full of wonder at the mystery of God on earth, holding close this treasure—a divine baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a humble manger—as the priceless gift He is. And let’s respond in the same manner as the shepherds: with eagerness to see our Savior, running to His side, glorifying and praising God for all that He will reveal to us.
…A Savior, who is Christ the Lord.