Hello everyone and welcome to episode 47 where today we revisit the Christmas story from the perspective of Mary, and how the birth of Jesus affected her relationships, because his birth affects our relationships as well.
I don’t know about you, but for me there are lots of things that tire me about Christmas. Reindeer, wrapping paper, lighted Santa Claus figures on neighbors’ lawns, strands of Christmas tree lights with burned-out-bulbs that are time consuming to fix.
How about you? I bet there are things that tire you about Christmas, too.
But one thing I never tire of is the actual real-life Christmas story itself, found in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2.
I find new things every year in this story that never changes. This year, for example, for the first time I wondered about the sheep that the shepherds left behind to go find the Christ child in Bethlehem. What happened to them? They were left unprotected, or did the angels watch over the sheep while the shepherds were gone. Or did wolves or other predators do them in? And did the shepherds loose their jobs over leaving their post, or was their pay docked?
Not the most profound of questions, to be sure.
Something of far more significance comes near the end of the apostle Luke’s account of the first Christmas Day. Let me read the whole story to you, it’s just 20 verses from the beginning of chapter 2 of Luke’s gospel.
[Read Luke 2:1-20]
I never get tired of reading this familiar story. And this year it’s because of what Luke says about Mary at the end of the passage when the shepherds left to spread the word about what they saw. Mary is next to the manager with her baby, in the quiet of the night, reflecting about what just happened.
Luke then says in verse 19,
“… but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.”
Here’s what impresses me about this story
Some versions of Luke’s Christmas story translate “kept all these things” in her heart as “treasured” or “pondered” all these things in her heart. However you translate it, the main point this verse makes me think about this year, is what were “all these things” that filled Mary’s heart?
Luke doesn’t come right out and tell us. But in looking at the context, I’d like to suggest one strong possibility. And that is Mary quite possibly was treasuring her relationships in a new and profound way.
It starts with the beginning of vs. 19, “…but Mary…” Everything that came before this important word “but” was about an event of one kind or another. It was the plot of the story, the facts, the details. Then Luke adds a contrast to these facts, with the word “but,” which transitions us to another important aspect of the story. Namely, what is going on in Mary’s heart as she considers the relational implications of these recent events.
First off, she has to be thinking and feeling, “I’m a mother now!” And like most first-time mom’s down through the centuries probably wondering, “How in the world am I going to do this? I don’t have a clue.” She must have thought about this thing often.
More than this mother-child relationship, there was her relationship with God that must have joyfully gripped her heart. I suspect she was thinking something along the lines of “This actually happened. What the angel told me has actually come to pass. It’s really true. God used me to create a miracle, and this is all going to be really, really big, even though I am really, really, small.
“What a wonderful and kind God to finally enter the human race to redeem and reconcile all people to himself. And to use me as part of his plan. I can hardly believe it.” This certainly must have been one of the things Mary treasured in her heart and thought of often.
And then there was her relationship with Joseph. I don’t see how this couldn’t have brought her to tears in thinking about how blessed she was to be in relationship with him. He had every right to break off the engagement when she told him she was pregnant.
“But he believed me,” I can picture Mary thinking, “and he believed the Lord that what I told him about my pregnancy being of God was actually true. What man in his right mind would believe such a thing? Only a man who walked closely with the Lord, and who will be my husband. My Joseph had to endure the sneers and snickers of friends and relatives who took him for a fool in believing me. But he did. And he did it for me, and for God. He believed in me, and in God.”
This too, I imagine she pondered and treasured in her heart and thought of often.
So these are just three relationships that kept her thinking. I wonder about her relationship with her parents, with Joseph’s parents. With her neighbors and townspeople of Nazareth. What were these relationships going to be like moving forward. What was the future going to be like for all of humanity, and my role in it?
Here’s the one thing to remember from today’s episode, our show in a sentence:
Christmas takes on a much richer meaning when we follow Mary’s example and ponder, treasure in our hearts, and otherwise think about often the implications of our relationship with the God of the universe.
Here’s what you can do in response to today’s show.
Think often about the following questions.
- Mary had a deeply intimate relationships with Jesus. What is the state of my relationship with Him. Do I even have a relationship with him?
- Who was around me when Jesus came into my life, and what role did they play? Was there a sibling, parent, trusted friend, or a spouse like Mary had? How has my relationship with Jesus affected my relationship with them?
- In what condition was I in when Jesus came into my life, and how did He change things?
- Mary was pregnant before marriage to Joseph. She must have had her critics. I bet you have some too. How has your relationship with Jesus helped you deal with them?
- Mary had Joseph in her life, a man who believed in her when all logic and the opinions of others thought otherwise. Do you have a Joseph in your life you can count on? Someone who trusts you and believes in you when others do not? To whom can you be a Joseph? And if you’re a woman, who can you be a Josephine for?
As always, I’d be interested in what resonated with you about today’s episode. You can share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the show notes. Or you can send them to me in an email to email@example.com.
As we close this episode, and along with it, season two, I want to let you know what you can expect over the next several weeks. First of all, Season 3 of You Were Made for This will begin on January 22nd. It seems like a long way off to me, but Carol tells me it’s not.
While the podcast is taking a break, my weekly email to you isn’t. Each one will be very brief and will be about an insight, thought, or tip you can use to find more joy in your relationships. Because they come to you every Wednesday, from now on I’m going to call them my Every Wednesday emails.
If you’re already getting them each Wednesday morning, there’s nothing more you need to do. You’ll still get them. If you’re not getting them, and want to, just go to the show notes of any podcast episode and fill out the 3 fields in the “Get it Every Wednesday form.” You’ll see the form on the right side of the page, as well as at the end of the show notes. johncertalic.com/podcast is where you can find this.
Carol told me to tell we do promise to get the email to you Every Wednesday, even on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, which are both on a Wednesday this year.
I asked off for Christmas Day, but Carol said “Every Wednesday means every Wednesday. What is it about ‘every Wednesday’ you don’t understand?” I didn’t have a good answer for her. So to help me out, she pasted a “Every Wednesday means Every Wednesday” sticker on my locker downstairs in the employee locker room. All this to say, you will be getting an email from me on Christmas and New Years Day, and all other Wednesdays. Carol’s tough, but fair, and doesn’t expect anything from others she doesn’t expect from herself. So she’ll be working, too, on Christmas.
Now while you won’t be hearing new podcast episodes until January 22nd, there are 46 older episodes you can access any time. You can get them from our website, johncertalic.com certainly. But the You Were Made for This episode listing is displayed in a more readable form in iTunes and Google Play. I’ll put links to both at the bottom of the show notes.
Like all our episodes, each one of the older episodes is designed to help transform your relationships into the best they can be.
Now for Our Relationship Quote of the Week
I never get tired of this story, I hope you don’t either
That’s all for today. See you next week in my Every Wednesday email. Good bye for now, and season two.
Resources mentioned in today’s show
A listing of all 47 episodes of You Were Made for This from seasons one and two can be found here:
I was thinking about the CENSUS In the city of David.
These were family members. Extended family whose Ancestral home required their presence.
Where were they?
They had to stay somewhere.
Joseph’s parents had to have been there. His brothers.
How REJECTED they must of felt in the midst of great joy.
It made me think along with the shepherds that good news of great joy is not based on circumstances but associated with fear and amazement in circumstances we don’t understand. And Mary and Joseph, while chosen for faith and an understanding of scripture, were placed in a whole new level of understanding. New territory.
Just a thought. Pondering. A good thing.
I had not thought of the census piece to this story, so thanks for bringing this up, Cindy. And what you said about joy coming in the context of what we don’t understand is helpful to consider and ponder as well.