When the wonder wears off
The Christmas celebration is over, at least with regard to the pre-holiday busy-ness and the family gatherings. We’ve sung the songs, wrapped the presents, feasted on the special foods, given the gifts, and (hopefully) thought some about the “reason for the season.”
But now what? Now that most of the celebration is past, what might be the lasting impact of the celebration? Once the wonder of the “most wonderful time of the year” has begun to wear off and we start moving back into a more normal, everyday kind of life, what might we carry forward?
I wonder if Mary (yes, that Mary, the young woman who gave birth to the Son whose birth we celebrate) might provide us a way forward, a way to think about the Christmas event once the wonder begins to wane.
It had been a wholly unique and puzzling, surprising and challenging year for her. She was told (by an angel!) that she was going to have a baby (in an unexpected and never-before-experienced way). Her betrothed also received a word from an angel about the child to be born.
As the months passed, the reality of the miraculous conception becomes evident. As they near the expected time of birth, a government decree forces the expectant family to make an arduous trip to arrive at the intended destination only to discover that there’s no conventional room for them. And the child is born. It’s the first Christmas!
Certainly, Mary and Joseph would have been celebrating at the birth, captured by the fulfillment of the angel’s announcement to them nearly a year earlier. Happy that the birth, in as unconventional a place as it took place, it went without serious complications.
And then some scruffy shepherds arrive with wondrous news. They, too, had heard from angels–not just one, but a whole choir. The shepherds report to Mary and Joseph what was told them: news of great joy, a savior has been born, this new-born is the promised Messiah, and this is all for the glory of God (Luke 2:8–18).
How did Mary respond to all of this? The journey, the birth, what she knew from the angels, what the shepherds told her. Luke tells us:
But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. ~Luke 1:19
To say she “treasured” these things means that she preserved–held onto–the swirling thoughts and ideas and feelings that were stirred in her. This wasn’t going to be a passing moment for her.
To say that she was “pondering” all of this means that she kept turning over ideas and thoughts in her mind and heart. She, in a sense, continued to have an internal conversation about what all that happened meant, what it all implied, for herself and for Joseph and for the world in which she was living.
What a profound response to the first Christmas! What a sweet nudge to us as well.
Having given some attention to the birth of the Savior, having celebrated with friends and family, let’s not leave that all behind as we head into the new year.
How can you hold onto the wonder and the delight and the insight and the worship that you tasted over the past days in anticipation of Christmas and in the celebration?
What might it mean for you to ponder and think about and carry on an internal discussion about the implications of what we gave momentary attention to over a few weeks?
Could the wonder of what God did in sending His Son into the world captive and delight you every day? Could that amazing reality, announced by the angels and told by the shepherds, fill your heart and mind with holy reflection and ongoing, regular worship?