Thursday, September 13, 2018

Christmas in September

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” - Luke 2:19

It was one of my favorite Christmas presents of all time: the Little Tikes football toybox that my parents gave me when I was just two or three years old. I LOVED that toybox. It didn’t take me very long to figure out that if I didn’t have many toys in it, I could crawl inside, put the lid back on top and hide from my parents. Little Tikes must have suspected that there would be some mischievous boys who would do just this, so fortunately they designed it with a big round hole in the back of the football.

I would sit inside that toybox and peek through the hole, watching my mom walk back and forth through the house looking for me. Finally, when my mom’s voice sounded like I was about 10 seconds away from a spanking, I would slowly stand up in the toy box with the lid on my head. And I was so darn cute I didn’t get in trouble.

Well, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered that a Little Tykes toybox isn’t the best Christmas present of all time. Neither is a dollhouse or a new bike or a game system or a trip to Disneyland or even a new car. I’ve learned that the best Christmas present of all time was a baby boy who—it turns out—was the Son of God, born to save the world.  

Of course, the Christmas story in the second chapter of Luke is one of the most famous parts of the Bible. The details in the first 20 verses are so familiar to us, from the decree of Caesar Augustus to the “No Vacancy” sign at the inn. Maybe you read it with your families on Christmas Eve or on Christmas morning as you’re gathered around the Christmas tree. Chances are, you don’t usually read it in September. But by taking a closer look, we still take some lessons from this story that are new to us, and that apply to our lives any time of year.

We know that while Joseph was in Bethlehem registering to be taxed, Mary gave birth to Jesus. We also know that since the little town of Bethlehem was bustling with people who had come into town for the census, there were no vacancies in any of the homes or inns. And since Jesus’ first crib was an animal’s feeding trough (a manger), our best guess is that Jesus was born in a stable. It could have been a cave. It could have been an open corral without a roof. But whatever it was … it was not a nice place for a baby to be born.

In the insightful words from Bible scholar William Barclay, “That there was no room in the inn was symbolic of what was to happen to Jesus. The only place where there was room for him was on a cross. He sought an entry to the overcrowded hearts of men; he could not find it; and still his search—and his rejection—go on.” Think about that. Jesus Christ has sought entry to your over-crowded heart and my over-crowded heart; our parents’ and kids’ and neighbors’ and co-workers’ overcrowded hearts. And in most cases, there is no room for him. So, the Christmas story carries this important lesson to carry with you all year long: Make sure there is room in your life for Jesus.

Now, we all remember what happened next. In verses 8-20, we read about the shepherds who were out in the fields watching their sheep and the angels who announced Jesus’ birth to them. Since Bethlehem was just about six miles outside of Jerusalem, these shepherds were likely tending the lambs that were used for temple sacrifices. It’s a touching thought to consider the strong likelihood that the first outsiders to lay their eyes on the Lamb of God were the same ones who cared for the little sacrificial lambs.

After the shepherds visited baby Jesus, we’re told that they spread the word about what they had seen, “and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them” (verse 18). And I want you to notice what is said about Mary in verse 19: “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” I like the wording of this verse in New Living Translation: “But Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.” Even though Mary had been visited by one of God’s most important angels … even though Elizabeth had prophesied about Jesus nine months earlier … even though she had just given birth without ever having had sexual relations … Mary was still blown away by the story the shepherds told her. She hung on their every word, and she treasured their words in her heart. And she thought about them often.

The same should be said of us as Christians. No matter how many times we’ve heard the Christmas story … no matter how many times we’ve read Luke chapter 2 … no matter how many times we’ve heard the story of the manger and the shepherds and the angels … we should never stop being blown away by that first Christmas night. Like Mary, we should still treasure these things in our hearts and think about them often.

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information, visit  and join us for National Back to Church Sunday next week at 10 a.m.

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