In today`s reading St Luke tells us that Mary treasured all that the shepherds told her and “pondered them in her heart”. What, I wonder, might we `ponder` on this happy day?
Well, we don`t have to look far. The trick is to look more deeply at what`s in front of us. For example, how about looking more closely at the tree we may have brought into our home? Even the smallest, most artificial specimen can be a helpful reminder of the significance of this day.
Clearly, by nature, a tree does not belong in a house; it is foreign and an intruder. But we bring (drag?) it in to stand as something with a deeper significance. The Christmas story teaches us that Jesus`s, divinity, a seemingly foreign presence, makes a silent (and largely unrecognised) intrusion but immediately begins rearranging our human furniture. Just as the stable had to be arranged for a birth and the shepherds had their nightly-watch interrupted and the lives of Joseph and Mary were being intruded upon daily and nightly so a simple tree can speak of how that which was distant and outside, came intimately close and what was the strange, “pitched His tent among us.”
Look more closely and we can see that ornaments on our trees can stand for the promise of fruitfulness which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has come to produce in the lives of those who are joined to him. He came that we might have life; and how we live those lives is the brightness and roundness and oddness of His life within us. The brightness of our own unique (Jesus-shaped) way of living reveals to “the people who walked in darkness,” that the “great Light” is still shining. The “Light” is come to those in “gloom” and we, looking at those many bulbs on our tree can say, “yes! that’s me right there. That’s what I want to be and do.”
These are visual and touchable ways in which we can seek to take it all in; just as Mary sought to take it all in. That’s what the stable did, took it all in. Pondering these things in our hearts may be one way for us to turn our Christmas celebration into an opportunity for us to take it all in …and give thanks.
O Come, let us adore him!
Today`s Word: In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth 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 heaven and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So, they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.’ (Luke 2.8-20)