Scripture & Stained Glass

What Mary teaches us about “treasuring all these things” during the Christmas season

In all the hustle and bustle of this season, how can we soak in this “most wonderful time of the year?” Christmas has great significance for our Christian faith, but it’s easy for us to get caught up in its busyness and miss its message. Over the past several years, I have been learning from one of the central characters of the biblical Christmas story on how to make the Christmas season different.

We are introduced to Mary, the mother of Jesus, in Luke 1:26 when she is visited by the angel Gabriel who announces that she has been chosen by God to be the mother of the Savior. As I follow Mary through the book of Luke, she teaches me to take time to ponder and to treasure Christmas—to slow down and see the things I might have missed.

Mary stopped and took time to reflect and allow God to teach her what He was doing. How does that compare to how you usually prepare for Christmas?

I would like to suggest two key practices that can make a difference this season: read carefully through chapters 1 and 2 in Luke’s Gospel in your Bible, and find some time to reflect on the Christmas story in a church with stained-glass windows that depict the joyful narratives of Jesus’s early life. Let’s walk through a bit of Mary’s story together and see what she can teach us.

Mary Accepts God’s Plan: The Annunciation (Luke 1:26–38)

The imagination, let alone a stained-glass window, can’t do justice to an angelic visitation. The angel tells Mary, “Don’t be afraid!” (1:30). How would you have reacted to an angel showing up in your room? Mary is told that she will be the mother of the Son of God; no one else would ever have that honor. Read Luke 1:26–38 slowly. Gaze at the window and imagine what it meant for Mary to say, “May it happen to me as you have said” (1:38).

Mary Ponders the Miracle of Jesus: The Nativity (Luke 2:1–20)

Mary gives birth to Jesus and lays Him in a manger. Angels announce to the shepherds His birth but begin by saying, “Don’t be afraid!” (2:10). Focus on Mary’s reaction to the visitation of the angels and shepherds in verse 19: “Mary remembered all these things and thought deeply about them.” What sorts of things do you think Mary treasured and pondered in her heart?

Mary Is Amazed by Her Messiah Son: The Presentation in the Temple (Luke 2:22–36)

In the temple, the Holy Family (Jesus, Mary, and Joseph) meets the “good, God-fearing man” Simeon, who was waiting for the Messiah. He speaks words over the little baby. In verse 33 we are told that Joseph and Mary are amazed at what Simeon says about Jesus. Imagine being there. What would amaze you? What was Simeon saying that would impact Mary and Joseph and even you?

Mary Treasures Jesus’s Identity: Finding Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:41–52)

Jesus was 12 years old when His parents took Him to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. A day into their return journey they realized Jesus was missing. “On the third day they found him in the Temple, sitting with the Jewish teachers, listening to them and asking questions” (2:46). Everyone was amazed at the wisdom of this 12-year-old boy! Luke 2:51 says Mary “treasured all these things in her heart.” Imagine Mary’s thoughts in realizing her Son was truly the Savior of the world!

Mary would continue to soak in, to ponder, and to treasure all that was happening in her life—all that was pointing to the true mission of her divine Son. Twenty-one years later it will give her perspective as Jesus would pour out His life for the sins of the whole world.

Do you have your Bible? Have you located the stained-glass windows? Find a seat and allow God to speak to you as you prepare for Christmas this year.

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