I allowed the craziness of Christmas to capture my calendar this week. Somehow, I didn’t notice that I had some kind of event, meeting or party every night this past week. As the week unfolded, I realized my calendar conundrum. The craziness was all good things. Yet, by the end of the week, I was dreaming of cozying up on the couch with a nice fire, good book and orange spice hot tea.
I would prefer to walk, not run through Christmas season. However, I’m tempted to do just the opposite! Is there a way we can enjoy the Christmas season without frittering away with exhaustion? Does the busyness of the season prevent us from pondering the wonder of that Christmas day?
The story of Christmas contains a paradox we all struggle with. “They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary treasured up all these things in her heart, pondering them often.” Luke 2:16-19
Notice in this passage that the shepherds “hurried off” to the village and found Mary and Joseph. On the other hand, Mary treasured up all these things in her heart, pondering them often. What a contrast! I find it so much easier to hurry off to my next errand or activity, checking them off as I go. It’s harder to set aside time with God. That can seem royally unproductive. Yet, all the while, God waits for me, longing to spend time with me.
What does it look like to treasure and ponder the Christmas story? It’s like taking a steady, long gaze at God and his work in this passage. I think about the shepherds hurrying. I picture the baby Jesus laying in the manger. I wonder what the barn might have been like. I picture Mary and the look on her face when the angel told her she’d be carrying the baby Jesus. As I gaze on God, not my lists and schedules, I’m changed. I’m less anxious. I’m more centered. I’m more grateful.
I dare you to ponder these things in your heart. God would love to meet you there. Pull up a cozy chair, have a cup of hot tea and enjoy time with God. Merry Christmas!
“I’ll ponder all the things you’ve accomplished, and give a long, loving look at your acts.” Psalm 77:12
Nancy Abbott is the Chaplain for the YMCA of Greater San Antonio.