Christmas Spirit? Stuck in Gridlock!
I hate driving during the Christmas season. Traffic is terrible. Drivers seem more erratic, less patient, more rude, and in a rush. Every time I leave my house I end up in gridlock. If there is one thing that triggers my impatience (and there is at least one thing), it is traffic. Especially when I’m trying to enjoy the Christmas spirit and all I do is inch through gridlock. I’m afraid I may end up acting like one of those crazy “erratic, less than patient, in a rush” drivers I mentioned earlier.
The other day, as I moved at an unbearable snail’s pace through the shopping wonderland of Christmas, I began to think about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem and inching their way through gridlock in search of a room. The town was crowded, filled to the brim with out-of-towners who had come in for the census. Maybe all kinds of “reunions” and class parties were going on…I don’t know. I do know that Mary was pregnant and ready to give birth to Jesus, her first born son. The town was so crowded that Mary and Joseph couldn’t even find a place to stay. Even a woman in the throes of childbirth could not find a room. Finally, someone gave them permission to stay in a stable. Fighting their way through an impatient crowd, Mary and Joseph entered the stable to find it crowded with animals that belonged to the visitors and guests. Listening to the serenade of noisy animals, the couple quickly set up their home away from home…and soon delivered a Baby. Jesus was born in that crowded stable and laid in a feeding trough, the closest thing to a crib that Joseph could find. Surrounded by the noise of a crowded city outside and the braying animals inside, Mary and Joseph gazed for the first time into the eyes of their newborn Son. That peaceful gaze did not last long. Shepherds, pushing through the Bethlehem gridlock, burst into the stable to see the Baby. They spoke of angelic visions and told of a huge angel choir that sang “glory to God in the highest and peace on earth, good will to men.” They rambled on with such unbridled enthusiasm that it bordered on hysteria.
In the midst of all this noise and rush, Mary marveled…she “treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” As crowds fought for space in the city, and animals mooed and brayed all around, Mary treasured the events. In the middle of that first Christmas gridlock, Mary pondered. Perhaps we need to follow her example by taking time to ponder, even in the midst of our holiday rush…especially in the midst of our holiday rush. Our whole family will witness our pondering and follow our lead. They will ponder with us. Together, our families can ponder the treasure residing in our hearts because of the gift we received on that first Christmas—that gift is our newborn Baby Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us! “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…” In the midst of our pondering, our family will experience the quiet peace of Christmas. Our family will discover the joy found only in the treasure of that little Baby laid in the manger of our noisy hearts. Won’t you join me as we “treasure all these things and ponder them in our hearts?” Have a Peaceful Christmas of pondering.