Weekly Devotion with Kim Wu
For the second consecutive year, our real Christmas tree rang in the new year a dried and brittle mess. We’re not new to the process of keeping a Christmas tree well-watered and healthy through the Christmas season, so I’m not sure what happened. But as I reluctantly began the process of undecorating the tree on Sunday and the tips of the branches were just snapping off like twigs, it was apparent things had not gone as planned.
We want everything to be just perfect for Christmas. All joy and peace and happiness. Maybe that’s why we skip over parts of the Christmas story that are harder to hear. But we need to pay attention to those stories as well, because they have valuable lessons for us.
Like the story of Simeon, a faithful Jew who was eagerly looking for the Messiah, and found Him when Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the temple for circumcision eight days after his birth. After singing a song of praise to God for keeping his promise to send Christ to the world, he speaks these words to Mary: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
A sword will pierce your own soul. Simeon was speaking of the suffering and sorrow that Mary would experience as the mother of Christ. We know what is ahead for Mary, and we grieve over the road that will take her to the cross, at the foot of Jesus. At the foot of her son.
But in Mary, we see a way forward. When Gabriel first appeared to Mary, telling her she is highly favored and the Lord is with her, she “pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” When the shepherds saw Jesus in the manger and told others all the angel had said about the child, Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” A similar phrase is used when Mary and Joseph find Jesus as a young boy in the temple, listening and questioning the teachers there.
The word ponder means to think deeply about something, to put things together in one’s mind. Mary was piecing all these things together in her mind, to understand God’s will and to find her way forward. Mary’s approach to life was one of trust and hope.
“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” This quote by Nelson Mandela speaks to the choice we have in our approach to life. We can choose to let our fears rule our lives. Or we can choose hope. The hope of Jesus Christ is a hope that acknowledges a higher reality, a reality beyond what we can see from our human perspective.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
Lord Jesus, our faithful Redeemer, help us to hold unswervingly to the hope that is You. Amen.