But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
I rush into the sanctuary (running late, as I so often am these days) this dark Wednesday evening in the middle of a cold December, and slide into the pew as the congregation is already singing the first hymn. My husband is up front leading the service.
My pre-teen son, as the acolyte for this evening’s advent worship service, lights the candles. His dark hair is askew over one eye. Ragged jeans and tennis shoes peek out from beneath his white robe. In years past, I might have scoffed at such things, tsk-tsking parents for allowing their kids to come to church looking unkempt. How young and naive I was, blissfully unaware of the courage involved in parenting beyond what people think.
My son stands on tip-toes to reach the highest candle. This moment is settled and holy, and I treasure it.
So much in our lives is not working lately. I hit road blocks on each side as I try to access the help we need. Our kids’ behaviors are incredibly difficult to manage and exhaust me to the core. I cry out to God in my prayers, “How much more?” and, “Are you really serious, God?” Surely this is too much for one mom to endure.
As I see my son turn and bow at the altar, my spirit calms. I know we are getting this part right. He is here in God’s presence, offering what he has to give.
When You Are a Shepherd
And they (the shepherds) went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
I tend to be a shepherd. I go with haste, running around a lot.
The shepherds made known what had been told to them. In other words, they did a lot of talking. Sometimes I talk a lot, too. This is not bad. They were preaching to their friends about Jesus’ birth.
The shepherds obviously did a great job of preaching Jesus, because the next sentence says, “all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.” Jesus’ birth was the talk of the town.
But Mary. Mary was different. Mary treasured all these things, and she pondered them in her heart.
Sometimes God nudges you to proclaim like a shepherd, and sometimes God gives you moments to treasure.
Mary will later have the darkest of painful days. Thirty-three years later, Mary watched her son’s execution, and watched Jesus take on the worst pain possible to bear the sins of the whole world. There is no worse pain for a mother than to see your child suffer. God knew Mary would need these treasured moments.
How to Treasure Up All These Things in Your Heart
How can you, like Mary, treasure up all these things in your heart?
- Wherever you are, be there. Technology gives you the opportunity to talk to someone who isn’t with you and plan for the next thing. These are great blessings, but if you are always already on to the next thing, at what point do you savor being right where you are and talk to the people you are currently with? Be where you are.
- Watch for the treasured moments, and ponder them. You can learn from Mary’s example. Even in the most difficult of circumstances (and Mary was in the most difficult of circumstances), watch for treasured moments. No matter your life circumstances, God will give you these moments.
- In the same situation, people have different callings. Notice in this story, the shepherds proclaimed the good news of Jesus birth. Mary treasured and pondered. Both were honoring God’s call. Don’t judge others for not responding in the same way you do.
During the advent worship service, my son sits next to me in the pew. His head rests warm against my shoulder, fingers laced with mine. I hear the Word and it settles down deep, healing and reviving the weary aches in my soul. I treasure up all these things.
How will you treasure up all these things in your heart?