But I'm not done thinking about it yet. In fact, I feel as if I've just begun. Even though Advent was a time for pondering, the height of momentum happens Christmas day. Contemplation, for me, at its deepest level happens when it's no longer forthcoming but here.
I spoke the part of Mary for my church's Christmas Eve service. Basically I'm holier than everyone and was offered the privilege to say boldly, "behold I am a virgin" on stage in front of my whole church....twice in one night. I should hope all of you one day are offered that fine joy.
Besides mortifying my soul in the name of Christmas, reading the part of Mary did something to me this year. It put me in her shoes, I said the words she said and it caught me off guard. What must have it been like?
"But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart."
Sitting in her hay-bed. Knowing both her and Joseph's side of the story. Hearing some outcast-shepherds tell their tale of heavenly host, followed by these strange rich men from another country one-up the shepherds, talking about how they followed a star and a hunch to a foreign barn with a teen-mom and her non-baby-daddy to give them presents.
What must have it been like to hear an angel tell you you're going to have a kid, then hear a story echoed so similarly from strangers who come to see your barn-child? It's as if God decided to give Mary wave upon wave of affirmation. "No Mary, this wasn't all a lie, this little guy who you're going to breastfeed and change diapers for, he is the one your ancestors waited and labored for, He is going to save you. And I will prove it to you by sending vagabond farmers and millionaires to tell you so."
So while everyone around her swapped stories and ogled Jesus, Mary just watched and put the pieces together. Knowing deep in her soul that life as she knew it had changed for not just her, but for all humanity.
I wonder how many times in her life Mary came back to their family's beginning. How many times did she have to remind herself that God gave Jesus to the world, not just her? How many times did she have to recall the shepherds manifesto and withhold her own inkling to tighten her grasp of Jesus and let him go? How many times did she have to recall that Jesus was God with us when it seemed he was just a defiant 12 year old runaway embarrassing his parents?
And maybe Mary didn't doubt and that's part of why she was blessed. Maybe when angels tell you something, you don't doubt it again. Even 30 years later.
Recently, the sense of security in my world was violated. No longer naive, I notice fear building in myself as I process through the world not being safe. The world as I knew it no longer is. And I'm having to remember promises that Jesus didn't come as a warrior, he came to bear the unsafeness and offer us security beyond it. Jesus came to eradicate fear from my life, promising peace to those with whom He is pleased. He's pleased by people who believe His Gospel, who believe that a baby who came with such divine intricacies, is who He says He is.
He is the wonderful counselor, inviting himself into our fear, pain, anxiety, depression, mental deficiencies, to provide respite and healing and strength and courage.
He is the mighty God, He doesn't fear our destructive capabilities because His own abilities supersede them innumerably. And He will prove it one day.
He is the everlasting father, he is the Jesus of all the generations before us who bore our names and lineages. The good kind of father that is patient and sturdy. Watching us fail and fail and waiting for us to ask to see the better way, joyfully guiding us there.
He is the prince of peace, bearing the weight of nobility and honor, he directs us towards peace in our souls. He stands true to peace, always pursuing it and offering it to us. Peace with God, to bear the family name of Redeemed.
So as my boat is still rocking back and forth, I am remembering all that was meant to be remembered. Jesus was born to be my refuge. Tender and mild and valiant and courageous. He is my good, untamed Savior, capable of withstanding that which I cannot and holding me tenderly as His mother once did for him.
And I will continue to treasure these things and ponder them in my heart....even though it's the 26th.