Hope in the Nativity
Friday - December 11th
"Hope is Here" Advent Devotionals - Day 11
Scripture to Read Today: Luke 2:16-20
But Mary treasured up all these
things and pondered them in her heart.
Nothing says Christmas arrives soon like the Hallmark Channel's Countdown to Christmas movie schedule. Hallmark has roughly two-hundred original Christmas movies to offer. The channel pulls in 85 million viewers each season, along with $390 million in advertising revenue. After three weeks of production, nearly $1.5 million in a local economy boost for the filming location, and hundreds of actors, extras, producers, directors, and crew, the end product of a new holiday movie thrills Hallmark fans every year.
Imagine if the Christmas nativity was a Hallmark Christmas movie. A virgin claiming to be carrying the son of God, a census being taken by an occupying empire, a bunch of dirty shepherds, and a 1st-century barn don't exactly shout "Hallmark." Add to that a paranoid King Herod (think Al Pacino without his morning coffee) who kills any baby boys born recently, and it's a miss.
If God was trying to make Himself look good, He sure doesn't know how to direct a Hallmark type of movie. Why introduce scandal, make the couple poor, take them to an off-the-beaten-path town called Bethlehem, and allow them to become refugees fleeing to Egypt for their safety?
The Hallmark production missteps of the nativity story should tell us a little something about the character and nature of God. One of the footnotes Luke gives us in his account teaches us something about our lives and how God relates to them. Luke says that at the end of the stable birth scene, Mary treasured all that unfolded and pondered those things in her heart.
Picture her holding the newborn baby Jesus and pondering, as any mother does, what the days and years ahead will be like for her child. But, then, understand what she might have pondered about his divine mission of saving mankind - something no other mother has done.
Mary processed this moment in time in her mind. Why? Here's the key - this moment was just a piece of the bigger picture. This is the part where we understand a little bit about God's character and how He engages us. The massive interruption to Mary and Joseph's plans was a cataclysmic interruption of human history.
The next time you are tempted to ask God, "Why me?" during a life disruption, ask God, "What are you teaching me? What purpose do you have in this?" Your situation may not be wrapped up in a nice neat happy ending like a Hallmark movie, but life is best lived in decades, not two-hour segments. You'll find yourself with a whole new appreciation for how God is at work in your life.
Ponder, consider, and think about what He is accomplishing in and through you.