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The First Sunday Of Advent

The First Sunday of Advent

THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT

19But Mary treasured all these
words and pondered them in her
heart.

Luke 2:19

This is an invitation to you as the Advent season begins, to do what Luke’s Gospel tells us Mary did that first Christmas:  to treasure and ponder the wonder of this season. Ours is a busy and noisy world, and it will be easy for us to miss out on the joy and meaning of this wondrous time. We have lists to prepare, cards to get out, parties to attend, and trips to the mall. In all our rushing about, the real joy of these days can easily slip past us. In the midst of all this busy-ness, this Advent journal is intended to help treasure and ponder these holy days.

Consider what it was that Mary did that first Christmas. Luke’s Gospel says that she treasured the words she heard from the angel Gabriel announcing the Savior’s coming. Mary treasured the words the herald angels sang in praise of God’s Son. Mary clung to and savored every incredible word that the prophets had spoken. Nothing escaped her. Like a mother putting together a baby book so Mary gathered up every memory and treasured them. She went over and over all that had happened and she pondered.

It is a fascinating word that Luke used when he said that Mary “pondered” (symballo) all that happened. Luke used the Greek word from which our word “symbol” comes. It means to “connect one thing to another.” And that is precisely what Mary did as she pondered. She connected one prophecy to another, one sign to another, and went over them again and again, treasuring and pondering the wonder of it all.

And notice where it was that Mary pondered all these things; it says that “she pondered them in her heart.” It was in her heart that she pondered, and not just in her head. It was in the seat of her affections and desires that Mary kept going over and over the wondrous story. Never content just to know the facts of what happened, Mary made room in her heart for adoration and worship. That’s what we most need to do in these days of Advent; to allow ourselves to be caught up in the wonder and amazement of the news that the eternal God has come down to become one with us. This will be wondered at and pondered by saints and angels for all eternity. And so we do well this Advent to wonder and ponder God’s gift to us of his Son.

I want to suggest that for the days of Advent you might find it helpful to set aside time each day to read and ponder these Advent scriptures and reflections. You might also find it helpful to set aside a specific place to ponder and treasure the meaning of Christ’s coming. It might be your dining table, a quiet room in your home, or easy chair. But by setting aside a special time and place each day to ponder and treasure, you will better experience the wonder and awe of these days.

A process of pondering and treasuring that many have found helpful is:  Read, Reflect, Respond, Rest. The process goes like this:

  • READ — Read the scripture and devotional reading prayerfully, and listening for God’s word to you.
  • REFLECT – Think prayerfully about what you have read. Meditate on it. Let the words sink into your heart as well as your head.
  • RESPOND – Respond to God’s word to you by speaking back to God in prayer.
  • REST – Choose for a few moments to let go the weight of anxiety and busyness and let yourself simply be. Take a few deep breaths and let go of the burdens you are carrying and rest in God. The old monks called this “lap time” with God. Why not decide this Advent to begin to develop the spiritual practice of daily crawling up into God’s lap and resting in Him?

PONDER

Read, Reflect, Respond, and Rest with today’s scripture text,
Luke 2:19, and devotional reading.

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