An Advent Devotional, By Rev. Allison Lanza
Read Luke 2:15-20
Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.
It is often the last line we hear in the church Christmas pageant. The scene is set. Mary and Joseph by a doll in the manger. Kids dressed as sheep surround. Kids with angel wings stand behind trying to keep their halos on. The kids in shepherd costumes are kneeling. Everyone is looking at the baby Jesus in the middle of it and wiggling a lot. Can you picture it? Then we hear the scripture reader, Mary treasured all of these things and pondered them in her heart. And for a moment, usually, everyone is real still. The whole congregation realizes that something has changed.
For Mary and Joseph, life had not been very still before Jesus’ birth. Angels had spoken. The young girl Mary was going to have a baby. It would rock her whole world and yet still she said to God, let it be. The angel asked Joseph to believe the unbelievable and to stand by Mary and raise this child as his own. And beyond all reasoning, Joseph did. Then the census was called and they had to travel with Mary 9 months pregnant to Bethlehem to be registered. They arrived exhausted and there was nowhere for them to stay. They ended up in a stable with animals and dirt and awful smells far away from their family and friends. Then, Mary had the baby. Exhausted from labor and life, I imagine the baby and his parents just falling asleep when suddenly shepherds they don’t know come running in waking them up singing about the great thing that God has done and wanting to see this child. It was anything but still.
But then, I like to picture, maybe just for a moment, everyone getting quiet and still and Mary and Joseph looking into the eyes of this child and pondering the wonder of it all. Angels had spoken to them, Shepherds had dropped everything to meet their baby. The baby in their hands was not just their baby, which is wonder enough, but the world’s child. One who would bring life and love and peace to all people. The son of God was in their midst. Love had been born into the world and they got to hold him. Life would never be the same. In the stillness I picture tears welling up in their eyes. The situation had not changed but love had changed everything.
Recently a pastor shared on a Facebook group I am a part of about her son who was born several weeks ago. He has down syndrome. She loves him dearly and yet worries about how the world will receive him. The next day she shared a picture. There was her son, just weeks old, lying in the manger for the church Christmas pageant. After rehearsal, the children of the church had spontaneously surrounded him and were adoring him. The situation had not changed but love had changed everything.
This Christmas, love will be born into our world again. Jesus is love with skin on come to live among us. So remember, while the situations around us might not look different, we know that love changes everything. So receive the gift of love this Christmas, give thanks and then go out and share that love with the world around you. Treasure these things and watch with wonder as the love of God changes everything.
Prayer: God of all love, we can never thank you enough for the gift of your love born among us. Give us eyes to see it being born anew all around us. Help us to be bearers of your love. Amen