ADVENT MEDITATIONS No.20
20. Ponder This
Luke 2:16-19 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart
It’s nice when stories end happily isn’t it. Here are the shepherds who have an angelic experience out in the fields, and who have come running down to Bethlehem, found the Inn with its stable (we think) and there, just as predicted by the angel, they find the baby. Story over. Not quite. It may be for the shepherds but it’s only the start for others.
The shepherds make their way back to their sheep after telling everyone they could find, what had happened. The word went out that something amazing had happened that night. The only signs left were a baby in a stable and a bunch of happy shepherds. Oh yes, and the memory of the night in Mary and Joseph’s minds. The account says that Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. We mustn’t forget that.
On the earth at that moment there were various groups of people. First there was the vast majority of the planet who had no idea that anything had happened. Then there were residents that night in Bethlehem who had heard the shepherds’ accounts and so knew something had occurred. Then there were the shepherds who KNEW something special had occurred. Finally there were Mary and Joseph and they know something special IS occurring. They are in the midst of it. Mary has just had a baby after an angelic visitation and she knows there was no human father. Joseph has had a less tangible angelic visitation which has left him sure that something strange is going on and he’s called to be a part of it, even if it seems he’s on the edge of it, so to speak. Their minds must have been full of what was going on. For them this is just the start.
What goes on in people’s minds is important. It’s what governs our behaviour, how we act in the next few seconds or minutes. Much of it is based upon what has happened in the past and our understanding of it. Ah yes, that’s the difficult bit, our understanding of it. Mary and Joseph know certain things definitely happened and, in Joseph’s case he thinks certain things happened (in the dream). The end result, up to this moment, is that they now have a baby – and shepherds have just come and reiterated things they had both been told about this baby. The shepherds have acted as agents of confirmation, reassuring Mary and Joseph that what they had been told was true. (Check that out again by looking up Mt 1:21 and Lk 1:31-33, now added to by the shepherds’ information – Lk 2:11). It wasn’t much but it was sufficient. The baby was to be called Jesus – which means deliverer – because he will save people from their sins, he will be the long-awaited Messiah, who the Jewish people had been waiting for throughout the centuries.
Joseph just seems to accept all this (typical male response – “Right fine!”) for there’s no mention of his response, but Mary (typical mother) held onto all this and mulled it over and over. Isn’t that just how women work: she keeps on looking back on what has happened and keeps on chewing it over; her mind is full of it. Many of us are like Joseph (or least like the way I’ve pictured him) and when we hear the story say, “Yes, fine. OK.” and that’s it. If only more of us would copy Mary and chew it over we would realise far more the wonder of what was going on there. These events are incredible! They are God appearing on earth, and we say, “Yes, right.”!!!! They deserve more! Ponder these things!