~ Things to Ponder ~
“But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
~ Luke 2:19
Dear Members and Friends,
In one of the sweetest, most perplexing verses of Luke’s Christmas story, we get just a very brief snapshot into the sentimental heart of a mother. After all the strange events that attended that first Christmas—the angelic visitors, the shepherds, the long trek down to Bethlehem, the star in the night sky—we read that Mary, “kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” If those marvelous events occurred today, Mary could take a few photos with her cellphone, post them on Instagram, and ask the world what to make of it all. But she had no such luxury, and so she had to process her life’s events the old-fashioned way. She “pondered” them in her heart.
Our hearts do a lot of pondering in the season leading up to Christmas. Despite the busyness of December with its crowds, and its shopping, and its parties, and concerts, and family gatherings, our hearts are especially open at this time of year. We give ourselves over to musings that we would never entertain in the bright light of July. We think of the special people with whom we used to share this season. Some have died, some moved away, and some are still with us—the old spouses, the old selves—but so unlike the ones we know today. It’s a time of year when expectations run high, and the past is never far behind. Any soppy seasonal song on the radio can send our hearts spinning back over the years of our life and perhaps the miles of the big globe. This can be a sweet thing. It can be a painful thing. It’s just December’s regular fare, the raw yuletide tingle that mixes longing and hope, wistfulness for what-no-longer-is as well as joy for what was, and is, and surely is-to-come.
Our four watchwords for Advent are hope, peace, joy, and love. In this season when both happy and unhappy emotions run high, I hope you’ll take time to attend to your spirit. Let’s think of Advent as a “thin place” in time, a place on the calendar when eternity draws near, a place when we commit ourselves to sitting quietly with the things that kindle those four wonders in our souls: hope, peace, joy, and love.
And so, we’d like to offer you some opportunities this Yuletide season to withdraw from the madness and ponder some things in your heart. First, pick up an Advent devotional daily in the narthex on December 3. Choose a time in each day when you have ten minutes to devote to quiet reflection, and read your devotional daily. Second, take part in our Advent evening worship services on Thursdays, December 5, 12, and 19 at 8:10 p.m. on the chancel (just behind the communion table). I’m calling these brief, meditative services “Advent evensong” because they will be more sung than spoken—a perfect way to center your spirit in the peace of Christ during a busy season. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a great singer. Our musicians will be there to lead us.
All blessings and joy to you—even as the days grow shorter, the darkness increases, and the temperatures drop. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Don’t let this holy time be reduced merely to a period of hustle and spending. Let it also be a time of reflection, a time of sitting with your hopes, a time to ponder things in your heart. Merry Christmas! It is one of my life’s greatest blessings to be journeying alongside all of you.
In Christ’s Peace,