Still waters, we are told, run deep. They also have another quality: the ability to reflect. Though in a somewhat different sense, both those qualities are found in the example of Mary at the birth of Jesus, and we too would do well to ponder them. It must have been an exciting night for her, that night Jesus was born. For a start, there was the natural euphoria of giving birth and holding her child close for the first time, but, alongside that, there was more. There was the memory of the angel Gabriel, telling her this child was the Son of God. Then, as if to confirm it, there came shepherds, no doubt telling their story of angels in the skies praising God and directing them to where the Savior had been born. She could easily have been swept along by the tide of events. Carried by it all in such a way that she scarcely gave a thought to what was happening, but she didn’t – she stored all these things in her heart, pondering what they might mean. In other words, she looked deeper, beneath the surface, and she reflected on what God had done in her life. She made time to consider and to understand.
Do we do that today? Christmas is an exciting time for us, though for very different reasons. It’s an occasion for partying and celebrations, for family reunions and get-togethers, for giving and receiving, laughing and making merry. And why not? – those all bring welcome happiness in the bleakness of winter. Yet, how many of us pause to reflect on what it is ultimately about? What we are celebrating and why, on the thing God has done for us, gives the season its name. Make time for fun and celebration, but, above all, make time to think and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, for then you will indeed find something worth getting excited about.
Do you make time to think about your faith? When was the last time you paused to reflect quietly on what God might be saying to you or calling you to do?
Perhaps this could be your prayer, taken from my prayer guru, Nick Fawcett,
Gracious God, help me to learn from the example of Mary. Teach me this Christmas time, like her, to ponder all that you have said and done: to listen again to familiar readings and carols, and to hear again the story I know so well, but also to consider what it all might mean; what you are saying through it not just to others but also to me. In all the celebrations and rejoicing, help me to be still before you so that I may open my heart to your living word, your renewing love, and your redeeming power, and so know the presence of Jesus within me, by his grace. Amen.
May you have a peaceful New Year.
Shalom to you, my friend.