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Responding to the Wonder of Christmas:
Part 5 – Treasuring

January 3, 2022 • Life for Leaders

Scripture – Luke 2:19 (NRSV)

But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

Focus

I know that for many people it feels like Christmas is over. We’re in the new year, after all. But in the last few days of official Christian Christmastide, may we take time to “treasure in our hearts” the reality of Christmas, much as Mary did two millennia ago. Though the celebration of Christmas may be over, the wonderful reality of God coming to dwell among us remains.

Today’s devotion is part of the series Responding to the Wonder of Christmas. It’s also part of the series Following Jesus Today.

Devotion

So far in this series on Responding to the Wonder of Christmas we’ve focused on the varying responses of the shepherds: fear, resolution, action, and witness. Today we look closely at Mary’s response to all that had happened: treasuring.

Luke sets up a bit of a contrast between what the shepherds did after their visit to the holy family and what Mary did. Whereas they went out and told everything they knew about what had happened, Mary “treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). The Greek word translated here as “words” also means “things,” and is probably better understood in this way (following the NIV, ESV, and CEB). Mary treasured all these things in her heart, including the words spoken by the angels and the shepherds.

The Greek verb translated as “treasured” means to “protect, defend, treasure.” It has the sense of “storing up information in one’s mind for careful consideration.” Mary quite intentionally sought to remember everything that happened during her momentous visit to Bethlehem.

But she didn’t just memorize things. She also “pondered them in her heart.” The Greek verb translated as “pondered” means “consider, ponder, or give careful thought to.” So Mary wasn’t just storing things away as in a mental photo album. Rather, she was also examining each photo, reflecting on both what happened and what it means.

The English verb “treasure” covers both the “memorizing” and the “pondering” senses. If you treasure events in your life, you don’t just store them away somewhere safe. You also think about them, pondering what happened and how you felt. The memories you treasure are ones you bring up from time to time, reliving past experiences and enjoying the bittersweet nostalgia they produce in you.

How can we treasure the reality of Christmas? Well, for one thing, we could always do some literal treasuring, that is, memorizing. I memorized the Christmas story in Luke 2 when I was ten years old and can still mostly recite Luke 2:1-16 from memory in the King James Version (yes, rather like Linus in A Charlie Brown Christmas). This year, during Advent and Christmas, I have been memorizing a couple of wonderful Advent/Christmas passages: Isaiah 9:2-7 (“for a child has been born for us”) and Luke 1:46-44 (Mary’s Magnificat, “my soul magnifies the Lord”). I’ve been doing this, in part, as a way of treasuring the reality of Christmas. (Let me say, I’m doing this even though my 64-year-old brain doesn’t memorize as easily as did my ten-year-old brain.)

We can treasure Christmas by pondering the events and their meaning in our hearts, just like Mary did. This is mainly a matter of paying attention. We can listen well to the biblical story as it is read in church or sung in concerts (such as in Handel’s Messiah). We can be open to hearing God speak to us in a personal way through the Advent/Christmas story in Scripture. In this season of my life, I find that God’s truth put to music has a special way of getting into my heart. There are certain Christmas carols I cannot sing without getting completely choked up, even though I’ve sung them for six decades.

In addition to treasuring the biblical account of the birth of Jesus and its meaning, we can also treasure our current experiences of Christmas. You might reflect on how it felt to be together with beloved family and friends. Or you might remember some other way God’s grace touched you. I had the chance in the last couple of weeks to experience relational reconciliation with someone who means a great deal to me. We had been estranged for several years. It was a precious thing to celebrate Advent and Christmas by experiencing confession, forgiveness, and relational healing. I’ve been treasuring this experience often in the last few days, thanking God again and again for his mercy.

I know that for many people it feels like Christmas is over. We’re in the new year, after all. But in the last few days of official Christian Christmastide, may we take time to “treasure in our hearts” the reality of Christmas, much as Mary did two millennia ago. Though the celebration of Christmas may be over, the wonderful reality of God coming to dwell among us remains.

Reflect

What are things in your life that you treasure? Why?

What form does your treasuring take?

Did you experience anything in the last couple of weeks that you want to treasure? If so, what was it?

What parts of the Christmas reality do you find that you tend to treasure?

Act

Set aside a few moments to think about your experience of Christmas this year. Bring to mind that which you especially treasured and give thanks to the Lord for it.

Pray

Gracious God, thank you for the example of Mary, who treasured in her heart things associated with Jesus’s birth. By your help, may I be like Mary. May I take joy in your good gifts that I experienced this year. Most of all, may I ponder in my heart the reality of Christmas, the wonder of the Incarnation. Amen.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Peace on Earth!


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One thought on “Responding to the Wonder of Christmas:
Part 5 – Treasuring

  1. Jonathan Russell says:

    Mark, thanks for you devotional. Pre-covid, I delivered the announcements and prayed over the offering that was to be received in my local church. At this time of year, I would always read this piece that I came across some thirty years ago. Good to be reminded about our response to Christmas.

    When the song of the angels is stilled,
    when the star in the sky is gone,
    when the kings and princes are home,
    when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
    the work of Christmas begins:
    to find the lost, to heal the broken,
    to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner,
    to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among people,
    to make music in the heart.

    May we together enjoy the work of Christmas.

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