"But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart." (KJV) Luke 2:19
Merry Christmas everyone! I pray that each and every one of you has enjoyed a wonderful Christmas. After months of preparation and planning, days of shopping and cleaning and hours upon hours of cooking, it is all over. As much as I love the preparations of Christmas, it all leads up to this memorable day.
I have had the incredible privilege over the last many years to share the Christmas Gospel of Luke 2 during our Christmas Eve service. Each year, our lovely church administrator provides me the reading so that I can ensure I have the words correct. The words don't change year after year, but each year, a particular part of that wonderful story seems to touch my soul. This year, I reveled in the scripture chosen for today's blog, "But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart." I wasn't quite sure why those words were touching me so much, but I believe it God's special way of preparing me for today.
I enjoy the traditions that our family has created over the years - waking up and opening presents while a fire burns in the fireplace, enjoying a bountiful breakfast while Christmas carols play in the background, delighting in watching our dog Duke play with the wrapping paper, going to Mom's to open presents all over again, and end the day with a meal made with much love. Yet, this year was a special Christmas.
Many years, my brother and his family make the trek from Virginia to New Hampshire so we can enjoy Christmas together. In his family, his eldest is heading off to college next year. We may not have the ability to join together in Christmas much anymore. Then there are our children who are all getting older. One lives near Boston, the others are still with us. Our youngest, Christian, is headed off to the Navy in January. We don't know what next year will bring - if he will have the opportunity to spend Christmas with us. That is why this Christmas was special.
I found myself listening to words that the children were sharing a little more intently this year. Their giggles and hearty laughter made me smile. Memories of past Christmases that were shared brought a warmth to me. Small actions and phrases meant the world to me. I realized what was happening - I was pondering. I, like Mary, was keeping all these things and pondering them in my heart. Each thing meant so much to me. I was creating that special place that I could refer back to when I have those days where I long for my children and nephews.
As I reflect on this as I write this blog, I'm thinking, "How can I compare my pondering to that of Mary's? My goodness, she was pondering about Jesus Christ - our Savior!" Mary and I may not have much in common, but we are both mothers. I believe that the way she held her baby close to her is the same way I hold my children close to me. We both have cherished memories that make up our hearts. We both love our children dearly. We both know our Heavenly Father is with our children always.
On this Christmas evening, I'm even closer to Mary. I'm closer to Bethlehem. I'm closer to the Christ Child, for I know what it is to ponder about my children. I pray that you, as well, have had cherished memories from either today or past Christmases. Keep those memories close to you and ponder them. Nobody can ever interfere with what we hold close to our hearts - including the little babe born in a manger!
"Dearest Jesus, on this Christmas evening, I thank you for the wonderful words of Luke. Understanding how Mary listened to all that was going on around her that first Christmas evening, and kept them in her heart, helps me to bring the Christmas story even closer to my home. Bring the gift of pondering to all, Jesus, that our hearts are filled with joy and love."