In 48 hours, it’ll all be over.
For the past two months, most retailers and radio stations have been preparing you for this moment. They’ve done their best to get you into the holiday spirit.
But on December 26, it’ll all be over.
For some, it couldn’t pass fast enough. Maybe you dread Christmas because of who will NOT be at your gathering this year. Others dread Christmas because of who WILL BE there. Some are just hoping to survive this not so wonderful time of the year.
Whoever you are, I believe there’s a way to make the most of Christmas.
I want to look at three sections of Scripture concerning Mary because I believe they can help all of us have the best Christmas ever.
3 ways to receive God’s greatest gift
1. Ponder. “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).
While the shepherds were rushing in and out of the stable area, Mary was fully present as she pondered what was taking place.
This reminds me of a practice of my friend and coworker Bill Limmer. On Christmas Eve, he sits alone in the dark by a lighted Christmas tree. He takes a moment to stop and ponder the infinite God made into an infant child.
What if you followed Mary’s example? What if you found a way to treasure up all these things and ponder them in your heart?
Maybe you sit by a lighted tree and meditate on the meaning of Christmas. Or maybe you pause and treasure each word from the angel of the Lord in Luke 2:10,11. Find your own way, place, and time to ponder and process the Christmas account.
2. Pray. “I am the Lord’s servant. Let everything you’ve said happen to me” (Luke 1:38 GW).
When the angel Gabriel told Mary that she would be the mother of the Lord Jesus, the great King and Savior of the world, she received this gift with open arms. She accepted it with prayer.
Last Sunday when I preached on this verse, I wanted my congregation to follow Mary’s example. I wanted them to receive God’s gift like Mary did. So I had the congregation pray with palms up and open. I wanted even our posture to reflect Mary’s receptive heart.
God wants to give you his greatest gift, wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger. Would you welcome him with prayer? Right now, open your palms like a child receiving a gift and pray, “Lord, I am your servant. By the power of the Holy Spirit, I receive the gift of Christmas. May everything that you have promised us in Jesus, happen to me. Amen.”
3. Praise “My soul praises the Lord’s greatness! My spirit finds its joy in God, my Savior, because he has looked favorably on me, his humble servant” (Luke 1:46-48 GW).
When Mary started to grasp all the wonders that God was planning for the first Christmas, she broke out into spontaneous song. She praised the greatness of the Lord who remembers the lowly and looks on them with favor.
It’s not just Mary who sang. The first two chapters of Luke sound more like a musical than a historical account. There’s so much joy surrounding the birth of Jesus that everybody seemed to be singing. Mary sang. The priest Zechariah sang. The angels sang. And Simeon sang.
And so should you.
On Christmas, everybody is in the choir. Find a church and sing “Joy to the World” with all your heart. Find a Christmas song playlist (“Santa’s coming to town” doesn’t count) and belt it out in the car. Or maybe you could follow a tradition my wife started for our family. On Christmas Eve, we stand by the lighted tree in the dark and sing “Silent Night.” It’s beautiful, moving, and memorable.
Words can’t contain the joy that Jesus brings. We must sing about the greatness of our God as we worship him.
I’m not sure what your circumstances are this Christmas. I’m not sure if you want Christmas to slow down so you might savor it or if you want it to speed up so you can move on.
Whoever you are, I believe that you can truly enjoy this day if you follow Mary’s lead.
Ponder the infinite God becoming an infant child.
Pray with arms wide open to receive God’s gift.
Praise God with shouts of delight and laughter at what he’s done.
If you do, you might experience real Christmas joy that lingers through the new year, which is good news for us all.