Paul’s Message: A Pondering Christmas

WisemenLet’s take a cue from Mary this year. Let’s ponder.

When Gabe the angel came visit, he opened this everyday conversation with, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”

Of course, this wasn’t an everyday conversation. It’s not every day that an angel chats with an young teenage girl in a small town far from the center of anything.  It was an extraordinary conversation. Mary knew it. It perplexed her. What did she do? She pondered.

It’s easy to go through this season without pondering.  There is so much to do. There are so many carols to sing, so many gifts to wrap, so many parties, and gatherings, and concerts, and on and on.  It’s easy to wake up in January having celebrated much, but pondered little.

For some of us, the season is a little more blue. We are supposed to be happy. We do our best to put a smile on our face. We try and get into the spirit of things. But on the inside, the more we try and be happy, the more we slide into the darker corners of our hearts.  We grieve the loss of a loved one, or struggle with an inner hurt. We wake up in January, emotionally wrung out from a holiday known for joy.

Whether we are on the happy side or the blue side of the holiday season, I believe that we can grow from Mary’s example. We can pause to ponder.

When we ponder, we pause to turn things over in our heads and hearts. We listen. We share. We wonder. We question. We doubt. We examine. Sometimes, we even come to believe. That is to say, we come to discover that the good news of a coming savior is not just for others, it’s for us.

Perhaps you would benefit from some communal pondering. Ponder with a friend. Ponder with your church.  Our worship services, sunday school classes, mid-week bible studies, and more are there to give us an opportunity to ponder the significance and depth of the one whose coming we await. When we ponder together, we are reminded that we are not alone.

After Mary pondered, she was able to say yes to God’s invitation. She ended up singing a pretty profound and joyous song of good news that still echoes today.

When we ponder, it gives us opportunity to sense an angel’s greeting (It might not be the angel Gabriel. Maybe it will be angel Gus, or angel Betty, or Angel Hala), “favored one! The Lord is with you.”

And we can sense that in the midst of everything, God is waiting to bring peace to our hearts and peace to the world.

May you ponder this Advent and Christmas, and may you be blessed.
Paul

This entry was posted in Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

    There is a beautiful piece of seasonal writing attributed to the theologian and civil rights leader Howard Thurman that you may have encountered in Christmases past. It’s entitled, “Now the Work of Christmas Begins.” Take in these words from the author:

    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 the people,

    to make music in the heart.

    Indeed, this is the real work of Christmas. This is the work we discover in faith when we follow the light of Christ, which the darkness has not and will not overcome. In last Sunday’s Scripture passage, Luke records that Mary and Joseph were amazed at what was said about Jesus when they encountered Simeon in the temple in Jerusalem. On account of the angel Gabriel’s visit, Mary knew in the beginning that the child she would bear would be holy, but I wonder if she knew that this would be the character of His holy work? What a proud mother she must have been. What a nervous mother she must have been, watching her Son challenge the status quo as He lived in obedient faith to God, gently shepherding God’s people! Yes, this holy child will lead us – the Church – in finding, healing, feeding, releasing, rebuilding, and bringing peace. His story is ours to discover anew in the pages of the Gospel, the pages we will turn together in worship in the months to come. 

    Although the real work of Christmas is ours to offer another, let us also take to heart that it is also ours to receive as blessing and gift. At times we are lost, feeling broken, or living and praying for peace of mind or spirit. At times we sense that our lives are in need of rebuilding. As the great Henri Nouwen has observed, our own wounds may serve as a source of strength and healing in our own work of serving.

    My heart is full this holiday season. As may be true for you, I am holding joy and sorrow in the same chamber. I rejoice in what I hold dear, in the embrace of my loved ones in the home, and in the privilege of worshiping with you through a variety of experiences this December. I grieve with families who lost loved ones to Covid or other causes in 2020, and most recently, Pastor Derek’s family. I find joy in new traditions and customs that this holiday season has inspired. I long for loved ones who are no longer with us and who I remember especially at Christmas. My faith is wide enough to embrace these differing realities, to hold joy and sorrow in tandem. I pray yours is, too. 

    In faith, we will find, heal, feed, and rebuild, because Christ has first found us and embraced us with His healing presence. He feeds us with His Word and at table, in our hunger for bread that nourishes and lasts. In the grateful words of Martin Luther, “to you Christ is born. For this purpose Christ willed to be born, that through him we might be born anew. Christ must above all things become our own and we become his. See to it that you make this birth your own and that Christ be born in you.”

    Dear friends, Christ is born in us, and His love will guide and equip our ministry together in 2021. Pastor Derek and I look forward with anticipation to a new year of ministry with you. Let us follow the light of Christ together!  With joy, Pastor Meg

  • Pages