Even though I am kind of glad to get the house back in order and get back to routine, it always makes me a little sad when Christmas is over and the decorations are put away, not just in my home, but in the community. The special lights are taken down, the cheery decorations are removed, the whole air of festivity is gone, and everything is just…ordinary again. And not just ordinary, but dreary, drab, colorless winter for a few more months.
I was thinking this morning of the shepherds to whom the thrilling, stunning announcement of the Savior’s birth was revealed. What excitement! Bright lights, wonderful news, angels, a quick trip to Bethlehem, awe and wonder at the sight of the Christ child, the long-awaited Messiah. And then…it was back to the sheep and ordinary life. Dark nights, lonely days, smelly work, in all kinds of weather. And yet…they didn’t return quite the same. “And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them” (Luke 2:17,20). I wonder how often they talked of that night, that promise. I wonder how many of them were still alive when word began to spread of a prophet and teacher doing miracles and saying the most incredible things. I wonder if any of them realized it was Him, the same baby they had seen thirty years before. I wonder if any of them saw Him die, or heard about it, and were mystified, and then astounded and joyful at the news of His resurrection. I like to think they continued “glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen” even in the midst of “ordinary” life.
And Mary. After the whirlwind of remarkable events — a visit from an angel, remarkable news, an unplanned pregnancy (unplanned originally by her, at least), almost losing her betrothed husband, an uncomfortable trip to Bethlehem and a birth in a stable, strange visitors — shepherds, and later, magi, then another couple of visits of angels to her husband, a flight into Egypt to protect her newborn Son, and finally, after all of that…back to the ordinary life of a wife and mother, everyday housework and cares, at least six more children. What must it have been like to raise one child who never sinned? Did she have to deal with sibling rivalry against Him of the other six who did? How many things did Jesus say that she did not understand? We don’t hear from much from her in the rest of the New Testament: there was the incident when Jesus was twelve, the wedding at Cana where she asked Jesus to help the host who ran out of wine, and where, incidentally, her last recorded words in Scripture are “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it” (John 2:5), a time when she tried to see Him but couldn’t get to Him, watching her Son die on the cross and arrange for her care as one of His last acts (Joseph must have passed away by then). And then in Acts we see her “continuing with one accord in prayer and supplication” with the disciples, women and Jesus’ brethren. Perhaps those quiet years from Jesus’ birth until He began His public ministry were the only ones anywhere near ordinary. We’re told just after the shepherds’ visit that “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). You can tell from what words of hers which we do know of that she was a thoughtful, faithful woman who loved God. From the birth of her Son for the next thirty years, she did not quite know how the promises concerning Him would be worked out, but she faithfully served and cared for Him, pondering all the while the things she had been told.
As we pack up and put away Christmas, may we keep the wonder, the love, peace, and joy, the pondering, the telling, the waiting in hope. May His light fill our ordinary days.