The Treasures of Christmas

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Today is Christmas eve. The world is in agony in the pandemic. How is Christmas in your part of the world today, my friend? Business as usual? of celebrating, partying, shopping? Or are you in suffering? Grieving? Perhaps even dying?

How about that first Christmas eve? How did it happen? Who were the witnesses? Who were invited to the great event? How did they respond?

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2:16-20 NIV

Responses to the Christmas story:
Who are they? They are just shepherds, lowly despised people in Jesus’ time. Yet God chose to tell them first of the good news of Jesus’ birth.
They were initially terrified of the vision of angels appearing to them. But their terror turned to great joy; they spread the word of the good news so that others could share their wonder. They got back to their own place, glorifying and praising God.
For what? (vv. 10-14)

For the vision:
The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them.

For the encouragement:
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.

For the good news:
I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

For the carol of praise:
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Those who heard the shepherds were amazed about the news of the child. What did the shepherds tell them? How did they describe the news? Who would not be amazed that the news came from angel of the Lord? And to find out that the news not “fake” but happened before their very eyes : just as they had been told!

I wonder who were these people that the shepherds shared the good news with. Were they also simple folks of the lowly class just like the shepherds? It seemed they were all trusting and hopeful of the good news that indeed the baby in the manger is the Savior they were expecting.

Mary – mother of the baby. What an adventure Mary had for the past 9 months right up until her delivery! It must be quite tiring to be 9 months pregnant, traveling a long long way, and contractions started and not even a place to stay. Imagine giving birth to your firstborn in the quarters of animals. And swaddling cloths for blanket and diaper. A manger for crib. Straw for beddings. First guest/visitors were the shepherds.

Yet Mary was not disheartened. In fact, Mary treasured up ‘all these things’ – what things? All of the above… plus perhaps she remembered the angel foretelling her this great event. Read Luke 1:30-36.

What does it mean to treasure? To keep carefully as something valuable or of great worth. Mary treasured all these things and ‘ponder’ them in her heart. To ponder is to think about it carefully.

This Christmas, I need to be like Mary. I need to treasure the birth of Jesus. It is important that I think carefully about God’s precious gift to me. And not just for Christmas but for always, to treasure and to ponder, to think not just with the head but with the heart!

Christmas is a familiar story – perhaps too familiar. I know each detail – the angel, the shepherds, Mary, Joseph, the manger, the wise men and even the baby in his swaddling cloths.

Have I truly treasured and pondered in my heart? Do I sometimes forget? Do I take for granted ‘all these things’ – these seemingly familiar and all too ‘customary’ elements of the season? Am I so occupied with the giving that I neglect the Gift? Do I intentionally focus on myself as the giver and forget that I am the blessed recipient?

To treasure and to ponder is a lifelong journey – not just during Christmas.
To treasure and to ponder is to linger in His presence with a grateful heart… not to rush off and get on with other things.

To treasure and to ponder is to bring along these precious memories in the days to come – to savour the moments and let the sight, sound, touch, scent and taste of God’s goodness embrace my whole being for the rest of my life.

What are the treasures of Christmas for you, my friend? Where are they stored? How have you been keeping them? Have you been wondering or pondering? Have you lost them? Have you found them in the first place?

Jesus is the treasure. He is just a prayer away. The babe in the manger can be found by the child in all of us.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me I pray
Bless all the dear children, in Thy tender care
And fit us for heaven, to live with Thee here

Everyday Christmas! Here and now.

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