Every year I am struck by the one-liner about Mary in Luke’s account of the Christmas story, the one line that gives a hint of how she responded to the unfolding events. She rode a donkey while full-term pregnant, traveled far from home, pushed out a baby (as my children call it) in a barn, and was resting when scraggly shepherds arrived. “Excuse me,” I imagine them saying as they poke their heads through the door. “Hodi, hodi.”*
“Yes?” Joseph lifts his head, protective of an exhausted Mary.
The shepherds saw the scene, the sign – a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough (Luke 2:12). They explained to Joseph and Mary why they had come:
“An angel appeared to us while we were in that field with our sheep. We were petrified! The angel said ‘Don’t be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born today in the city of David a Savior. He is Christ the Lord! This is the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And then there were thousands of them, all singing! ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’ And then they disappeared. Nothing like this has ever happened to us before. We came right away.”
” We believe you and rejoice with you,” Joseph might have said. And Mary, the woman who went through labor to deliver the Son of God to the world? She ‘treasured up these things, pondering them in her heart’ (2:19). That’s it.
She didn’t journal it for future generations, post it on social media, send out a family newsletter or use other more culturally appropriate means of personally getting the word out. These events were evidences of God’s truth, glory and faithfulness. She treasured them, thought about them, pondered them while nursing. As Jesus grew, again Luke records that Mary treasured things in her heart.
Christmas is a season I value and pay special attention to facilitating memories for my children – making gingerbread houses, looking at lights, decorating a tree – and daily studying and recounting the story of the Son of God who made his grand entrance as Savior in a small village in Galilee. But when I get to the part about Mary receiving the shepherds, I always ask “What am I treasuring about Christmas?” Am I treasuring tradition, family, warm cookies, colorfully wrapped presents? I want to treasure the same things Mary treasured – evidence of God’s faithfulness to His people, His glory revealed in Jesus inhabiting the earth, His truth displayed for all people. May these be the deepest ponderings of our heart this and every Christmas.
*Hodi (HOE-dee) is a Swahili word used to announce one’s presence at a home, particularly if the door is open or there is no natural barrier to privacy. It implies the question ‘May I come in?’