Friday, December 24
Imagine overhearing the conversation between Luke and Mary as she relived those Bethlehem events. The trek to Egypt lies ahead, pre-teen Jesus in rabbinical Temple discussion will be mystifying. But now she remembers only the precious infant softly swaddled in the manger, the shepherds bowing, the innkeeper wondering what all the excitement is about. She tells Luke that hard, mysterious days lay ahead but in those first hours, she just rested in the now.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Most versions begin this passage with “but”–Luke contrasting the shepherds’ response and ensuing action with words about Mary. She does’t jump into action to deliver the message, nor does she engage in debate about the meaning of the events.
Interpreters use several words to understand the verse: Mary gave careful thought; she put the events together in silent heart-pondering; she compared and interpreted the events; she weighed (original meaning of pondered) everything, turning the events over and over in her mind.
There are times when we are to follow the shepherds’ example to spread the word. But it’s crucial that we just as often take time to treasure and ponder which, in my experience, is a much more difficult practice. The cries of the world–strident, wretched, heart rending–rightly call us to action. Cries of my world–indecision, discomfort, pain, grief, weariness–easily leave me immobilized. But this Christmas Eve I need to ponder. Action may or may not come. Solutions may be delayed, detoured, or denied. But just now it’s time for pondering.