Each time we get to Christmas and begin to read the different scriptural references to the birth of our Savior, I am always struck by one phrase in the story. The shepherds are out in the fields where the angels announce the birth of Christ. Following this proclamation, they head off to Bethlehem to find Mary, Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. The shepherds excitedly begin to tell everyone what they experienced out in the fields and witnessing Christ in the manger. There is a growing excitement among all those who hear their story. In the very next verse, you read this:
“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)
In the midst of all of the excitement and chatter and the miraculous birth of the Son of God, Mary steps back and begins to carefully think through what has just transpired. I’m guessing she’s replaying the night the angel appeared to her and told her she would give birth to the Son of the Highest, the looks she and Joseph received as the baby grew in her womb, the journey to Bethlehem at nine months pregnant, being told there was no room for them, and laying down and delivering the Savior in a cave or barn, and His first night being spent lying in a manger. In the midst of all that was going on around her, Mary pondered it all.
I think Mary found herself wanting to fully present, to not miss out on what all of this meant, to not get carried away by the emotions of just giving birth, the commotion of shepherds arriving and talking about being visited by angels and hearing a cacophony of voices proclaiming God’s glory, or the excited chatter of those hearing the story. She simply didn’t want to miss the gravity of the moment and instead be fully aware of God’s hand moving in her life and intersecting the story of mankind.
This is a busy time of the year. That busyness has a tendency to overtake us and consume our time, energy, and thoughts. There’s a lot to do. Family to manage, dinners to plan, presents to wrap, travel to navigate, events to attend, and the list goes on. I want to encourage you to take a page out of Mary’s book and find some time in the midst of all the busyness of this season to simply ponder the incredible gift that has been given to us by our Heavenly Father. I’m fairly confident that if we can step back from it all and grab some time to reflect on what Christmas is and really allow the Spirit to settle in our soul, life will look a little different. All of the activity will fade into the background and we will be left with a Babe in a manger, wrapped in swaddling cloths. Immanuel.
From all of us here at Heritage Preparatory School, we hope you have a joyful, blessed, and very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
Matthew H. Skinner