“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19 NIV)
Captain Gerald Coffee was a POW for 7 years and 9 days during the Vietnam War. In no context are a COVID-19 quarantine and an imprisonment in a war camp comparable, but I think many will resonate with Captain Coffee’s words about Christmas.
Christmas 1968 stands out in my memory. I had never known what real loneliness could be. And then I thought about the simplicity of Christ’s birth. Here there was nothing to distract me from the awesomeness of Christmas. No commercialism. No presents. Little food. I was beginning to appreciate my own spirituality because I had been stripped of everything by which I had measured my identity…rank, uniform, money, family. Yet I continued to find strength within. And I realized that although I was hurting and lonely and scared, this might be the most significant Christmas of my life.
What if all of us could have the most significant Christmas of our lives? Many of us are struggling with what Christmas will look like this year. Should we travel? Should we gather in large groups? Some will spend their Christmas in quarantine. Some will spend it in the hospital. Some will spend it alone in a nursing home. Some will spend Christmas in a quieter place because a loved one has died this year. And yet, all of us have the potential to have the most awesome Christmas ever. How? By dwelling on the simplicity of Christmas.
Consider the simplicity of that first Christmas. God chose a simple couple from Nazareth named Joseph and Mary. He chose a simple place—a manger. God appointed the angels to go to simple people, the shepherds, to announce the divine arrival.
But as we consider the simplicity of Christmas, our minds must dwell on the significance of Christmas. We would do well this Christmas to spend some time doing as Mary did, “pondering these things.” (Luke 2:19)
Ponder His name, Jesus, which means Yahweh saves. Ponder His name, Immanuel, which translated is “God is with us!”
Ponder again the reason for His coming – to seek and to save the lost. (1 Timothy 2:15 and Luke 19:10) He came to bear witness to the truth. (John 18:33-40) He came to give His life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:32-45) He came to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:1-10)
A simple Christmas need not be a sad Christmas. In fact, in light of all we’ve experienced this year, it could be the most significant Christmas of our lives. “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10, NIV)