Christmas Eve: Isaiah 9:2-7, Luke 2:1-20
We are now in the season of Christmas. It is a time that amazes us especially if you are young. Whether we have been naughty or nice there are almost always presents under a tree from people we love. Maybe some of us will be amazed in the morning when we awake to find a stack of presents as sign that Santa has visited. Even if today we do not find the season so full of awe, many of us just need to remember back to when we were a kid. Then we can remember the excitement of the day even if it is not because of gifts. The fond memories may be of family and friends.
Christmas is a time to be amazed. Even from the very first Christmas people were full of wonder and amazement. Mary and Joseph had to be amazed by the very idea of having a child, let alone bearing God’s Son. The shepherds were startled and amazed by the sudden and spectacular appearance of angels. Then all the people listing to the shepherds’ story were amazed by what the shepherds had to say.
When we think of Christmas, what truly touches our hearts is this type of amazement. It likely is not the gifts, it isn’t the hustle and bustle of shopping or the parties; it is the time we spend with friend and family; the sharing of stories and the sharing of love. I imaging that, for most of us, when we look back on our Christmas memories we find that they are about the stories of the people we were with or the stories that they told about times past.
Christmas is really about such stories, after all we read the story of Mary and Joseph traveling and giving birth in Bethlehem. We read Isaiah who tells us about a child who has been born for us; who will break the yoke of our burden. The child is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
When we look at these amazing stories of hope and salvation, it is Mary who I find especially interesting. As the Gospel unfolds and after everyone is amazed by the shepherd’s story of angels; we have Mary. She is thinking about what this all means; for she “treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.”
I wonder when we last pondered the stories we hear at Christmas. Not only the stories told around the table by friend and family but the actual story of Christmas; the birth of Christ. We all know this story, but do we think on it as Mary did?
Mary was thinking about what the shepherds were saying. The shepherds were telling of what the angel said. And the angel said: “To you is born this day…a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” Isn’t this an interesting way of saying that a child has been born. Imagine, back in the day when fathers were not allowed in the delivery room, what did the nurse tell them? Something to the effect of, “It’s a Boy!” Now imagine if the nurse instead said, “To you a boy is born.” By saying it this way, it makes this announcement a very personal statement. It isn’t generic, you don’t have to ask who this information if for. Clearly it is for me, for you, the person who is being told.
We often get so focused on the angels as being the amazing part of the shepherd’s story that we overlook the more important and equally amazing part. To you a Savior is born. Like Mary we should allow this to become part of our story, because the story the shepherds tell is no more Mary’s story than it is ours. The story moved Mary deeply. The shepherd’s story caused Mary to think what this all means.
In this wonderful season of Christmas, I hope we can find some amazement of Christ in our lives. After all, when we celebrate Christmas we are not only celebrating the gifts we exchange, the food we eat, or even the family we love. More than anything else we are celebrating the gift that God has given us in Jesus, through his amazing birth. This is where we find our hope; the hope that we have been preparing for over the last several weeks of Advent. This is where we find our Savior. Tonight or tomorrow when we feel the excitement of Christmas, along with all the rejoicing, we, like Mary, can ponder how Christ is changing our lives and we can treasure this in our hearts.