Weekly Reflection (NEW!)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
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Please read this passage in your Bible or follow it as a link: Luke 2
Treasure from Grandma
My Grandma did something weird each Christmas. In addition to the clothes and token toy gift, my brother, sisters, and I received a box of Christmas ornaments from her. Using masking tape and a marker she would write our names and the year given at the top of each box. I'm fairly certain that she bought the ornaments at after Christmas sales and gave them to us the following year. She may have been sentimental, but she was no fool. One year I asked her why she gave us kids Christmas ornaments that we couldn't even use. She told me that I would be grown up one day with my own Christmas tree and I would need ornaments for them. Sure enough, I grew up and now use those ornaments.
The ornaments have come to mean so much more than just something that seemed practical to do. They have come to represent her. Grandma died in December of 1992. I think of her often, but at Christmas so many memories about Grandma come back to me. I remember her visits to our house on Sunday afternoons. I remember how she used to brag about her grandchildren. We would roll our eyes, but inside it felt good. I remember how she used to be afraid of cats, but our cats sure loved her. Grandma was a cat magnet. We would protect her from the fierce creatures by "shooing" them away. I remember visiting her retirement home in North Carolina, her love of playing cards, being with her and my great aunts, her smile, and her touch. Those ornaments have come to mean so much more than painted glass. Even the boxes with her handwriting on them make me feel connected to her throughout the years. The boxes of ornaments have become a treasure to me.
Each year as we unpack the Christmas decorations, memories, emotions, and experiences of good and trying times come to life. We have ornaments made by our children and children we used to foster. We have ornaments given to us by friends and relatives. We have ornaments from trips we have taken. They have all become treasures to us because of the hardship, joy, and love they represent. There is a feeling of peace tinged with sorrow and happiness that we ponder in our hearts this season.
Luke tells us on more than one occasion that Mary, the mother of Jesus, treasured and pondered in her heart all that happened to her on that first Christmas and throughout the life of her son, our Lord. The angel who visited with the announcement of the pending birth, the child born to her cousin, Elizabeth, in her old age, the visitors who came to witness the birth of a new King, Simeon and Anna in the Temple with their prophetic exultations, and the boy Jesus found teaching in the Temple after getting left behind on a visit to Jerusalem were all treasured by and pondered over by Mary in her heart. I wonder if Mary had any keepsakes from the life of Jesus. I wonder if she observed his birthday each year or the anniversary of his crucifixion and resurrection. Imagine the roller coaster of emotions from wonder and awe to terror-filled grief and ecstatic joy that would be relived in such remembrances. Mary must have had many pleasant memories of her son that caused her to pause and smile to herself, or perhaps there were times when she seemed far away in thought as she contemplated what had happened to her, her family, and all of humanity.
Christmas is a time for treasures and pondering of the heart. As I place angels on the tree and set up the nativity scene, I treasure God's great love for us all. I treasure God who is so in love with us that God sent God's only son into the world not to condemn the world but that through him the world is saved. God came into this world as a vulnerable, helpless baby dependent upon a young woman for all of, yes, God's needs as Jesus. God entered into this world to be fully with us and in relationship with us. God entered into this world and took the ultimate risk of relying on frail humanity for God's very life. God, creator of the world and all that is in it, wants so much to be in relationship with us that God risks God's very life to do it. As we ponder such a love it is mind-boggling, heart-warming, and heart wrenching all at once. God gave God's very self and we did our worst. Yet God still is Emmanuel. Yet God is still now and forever in a loving relationship with us. There's the true treasure of Christmas to ponder this season. There's the true treasure of Christmas that opens our hearts in love and peace toward one another.
Ponder and treasure in your heart the great love of God for you!
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