Pondering in Amazement
By Fr. Morgan Rice
“The shepherds made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed. . . . But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2.17-19). In the mid-1980s, I enjoyed watching a television series entitled Amazing Stories created by Steven Spielberg. Though I cannot remember much about individual episodes, I do remember looking forward to each new episode with the hope of being amazed and delighted by some unexpected twist or turn of the story. Today, as we celebrate Christmas, we remember one particular amazing story that still has the ability to astound us even 2,000 years later. Babies are miracles in themselves, but how incredible that our God would choose to become a baby born in a manger in Bethlehem! That the King of the Universe would come to us with such humility and lowliness is probably not how we would have expected the story to have been written, but it was. Amazement can affect us in different ways. Most likely, it will lead us to tell others about what we have experienced, probably like the shepherds would most likely have done after they left glorifying and praising God for what they had heard and seen (Luke 2.20). We could also take on the attitude of Jesus’ mother Mary, who pondered in her heart what the angel Gabriel and the shepherds had told her about Jesus. She was just beginning to realize the amazing story that was unfolding as a result of her “yes” to God at the Annunciation. She had an important role to play in the story and so do we as we participate in the story of God’s salvation, each in our own ways. As we listen once again to the amazing story of Jesus’ birth, along with the knowledge of what will come later in his life, we have the chance to ponder with our entire being how God’s birth into the world continues to affect our lives. Pondering might not provide us the answers we want, but it helps us to live with, and maybe even be delighted by, the surprises, the twists, and the turns that come our way and invite us to cooperate with God who always seeks to bring about life. While the Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, and Prince of Peace was born unto Mary, we have the opportunity to bring Jesus to life anew today as our relationship with him becomes manifest in our loving relationships with others. Be assured of my prayers for this family of St. Basil’s as we celebrate, ponder, tell about, and live out the truly amazing story of which Jesus has invited us to be part. Merry Christmas!
Christmas Eve Readings: Isaiah 9.2-4, 6-7 Psalm 96 Titus 2.11-14 Luke 2.1-16
Christmas Day Readings: Isaiah 62.11-12 Psalm 97 Titus 3.2-7 Luke 2.15-20