The Dancing Puritan

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Glad Tidings of Great Noise

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart (Luke 2:19).

Do you ponder? To ponder is to think deeply, to consider. It is to meditate. If you ponder, then you turn thoughts, statements, and events over and over in your mind and weigh them.  What was Mary "treasuring up" and "pondering?" The Bible says that she was pondering "these things." What things? She was treasuring up all of the things that had been told her by the angel (Luke 1:26-45), the greeting that she had received by Elizabeth (42-45), her trip with Joseph to Bethlehem (2:1-7), the birth of Jesus (19), and the visit and message of the Shepherds.  Mary pondered.

I wonder how often we follow Mary's example at Christmas time (or anytime). We are Crazy Busy and therefore we have no Margin (*to quote a couple of book titles). Margin is the space that surrounds the words on this blog post. Around the words, there is room left over. There is space. 

The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.  Selah (Psalm 46:11).

The word "Selah" is used over 70 times in the Psalms. "Selah" means to pause and reflect. As the musicians would play and the singers would sing, they would pause. The pause allowed for a breath. It also allowed opportunity for a brief moment of reflection.

There is a lot of noise in the Christmas story. Angels constantly show up (Luke 1: 8-17, Matthew 1:18ff, Luke 1:26-38, 2:9-14). People and angels speak lyrically (Luke 1:46-55, 68-79, 2:13-14, 29-32). Shepherds testify to the wonder of the Christmas message (Luke 2:15-20). Bethlehem bustled with activity (2:1). The Birth of Jesus was preceded by, accompanied by, and followed by a lot of noise. There was the noise of the angels, the noise of Elizabeth, Zacharias, Mary, Shepherds, and Simeon.

After Joseph had taken his family to Egypt there would be more noise in Bethlehem, directly connected to the birth of Jesus. There was the noise of " . . . Rachel weeping for her children . . ." (Matthew 2:18). Rachel's weeping was the result of Herod's brutal murder of the male children in Bethlehem who were two years old and younger. 

That first Christmas brought not only "glad tidings" but also great noise.

Not much has changed about Christmas. Christmas is a time of singing praises to God. It is a time for noisy family gatherings. The decorating, shopping, and busyness of the season--leaves little time for pondering. Much of the noise is of the joyful sort. But there is also the loud noise that reflects, as Herod's noise, hatred of God. Babies are brutally murdered as they are ripped from their mother's womb. Why? Because God is rejected and hopelessness abounds. As we sing Silent Night we must not forget Rachel's weeping.

We should participate in and hear the noise of Christmas. We should also ponder. What Child is This? is not just a song, it is a question that must be asked and answered. Who was that babe in a manger? Such a question demands a response. It demands loud praise. It also requires pondering.

Do you ponder?

*Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung. Margin by Richard Swenson.