Times to treasure and ponder: Blessings in beautiful chaos

Ready or not, here it comes.

The holiday season is upon us. Christmas music is rising with a steady crescendo as it overtakes our radio stations. Christmas lights are now lighting the night sky throughout our neighborhoods and within our homes. And as the cold weather begins to settle in, a warm sensation begins to rise within us. Sometimes, it’s the warm glow of love, hope and peace. At other times, it’s the acid reflux inspired by the insanity of it all. Either way, “Tis the season.”

The days from Thanksgiving to Christmas are exceedingly full, and they pass with exceptional speed. Time is always fleeting, but these days more than most. In the hustle and bustle of traveling here and there, numerous gatherings with friends and family and celebrating the goodness of God in a variety of ways, it is easy to miss the meaning and beauty in the chaos.

As we make our way out of Thanksgiving and begin the sprint to and through Christmas, the words concerning Mary, the mother of Jesus, continue to resonate in my heart and mind. In Luke 2:19, it reads, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Out of their original context in the whole of the Christmas narrative, these words conjure an image of a calm, pensive Mary staring thoughtfully off into the middle distance. But considered within the story, we find what might be a much more relatable picture.

Luke 2 tells us Mary and Joseph had made the trek home for the holiday (if one wants to call a census a holiday). Upon arriving in town, they find that the city is packed. There are people everywhere. So they end up pulling up a piece of floor in what was, according to scholars, probably the home of very distant relatives. While there, Mary goes into labor and gives birth to a beautiful baby boy whom they name Jesus.

Off in a field just outside of town, some shepherds were minding their own business and watching their sheep. Out of nowhere, some angels appear, announcing to them that a baby has been born to them. They tell the shepherds what to look for and send them off to look for the newborn. Verse 16 tells us how they responded: “So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby, who was lying in the manger.”

If we put it all together, we find Mary, Joseph and Jesus, mere hours after birth, sitting in a crowded room full of distant family members and their animals. Into this setting marches a parade of nameless shepherds, brought to the party by divine invitation.

While there, they share the story of how they ended up there. It is an incredibly chaotic and crazy scene, and in this context, we read the words of Luke 2:19: “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Beautiful chaos is woven into the very fabric of the Christmas season. From the very first Christmas, as experienced by Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and their new shepherd friends, to the experiences we will have with our own funny farm families and friends in the weeks and days ahead, there are moments to be treasured and pondered for years to come if we’re willing to take the time to see them and let them settle into our hearts.

It’s so easy to miss meaningful moments in the hustle and bustle of the season. May we take time to take hold of the deep, meaningful moments this holiday season. May we first remember the reason for the Christmas season.

Above all else, this is a season to remember God came to us in the person of Jesus in order that he might live and die to make the gift of true and eternal life available to all who would believe. But may we also remember the many other gifts God has given in our friends, our families and the many meaningful moments we get to share together in the beautiful chaos of life.

The Rev. Jeremy Myers is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour. Read his blog at jeremysmyers.com. Send comments to [email protected]