This story in Luke 2:8-20 is so familiar, we can miss the posture of Mary in the analysis of the entire event. Remember, she was likely rejected by her family, as was Joseph from his family (there were reasons behind the time she spent at Elizabeth’s house away from the probing eyes and accusing mouths of neighbors). Once they arrive in Bethlehem, they didn’t exactly receive red-carpet treatment from his extended family (the scandal of inhospitality by being forced to give birth on the lowest level of the house with the animals is unimaginable in our day). If anyone’s heart could have been filled with resentment, anger, and bitterness, it was Mary’s. After all, she never chose to be Jesus’ mother.
Instead, Mary had come to terms with, and found HOPE in her role (“I am the Lord’s servant” Luke 1:38), and now she found HOPE in the potential of God’s miraculous and bizarre plan (“Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” Luke 2:19). The verbs used in 2:19 to describe Mary’s process include the word from which we get the idea “to synthesize,” as in, “to organize, remember, and preserve,” and the word from which we get the idea “to confer with,” as in, “to converse with, dispute, and consider.”
Have you been able to find HOPE in the midst of your circumstances this Advent season? Have you had the courage to look everything directly in the eye, ask God for the courage to really consider their full scope, then to give you HOPE for a meaningful future?
Mark Hill, Pastor