Thursday, December 23, 2010

Taking Time to Ponder

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19

Chances are you are if you are like me you are trying to get all the last minute things done before you can relax and “enjoy” Christmas. There are presents to wrapped, groceries and last minute gifts to be bought and for me there is a Christmas Eve message to finish along with the power point. There is hardly time to “ponder” all these things. Yet that’s what scripture says Mary did, Luke 2:19.

The word strangely enough means “to bring or throw together.” It’ sort of like what someone would do with the pieces of jig-saw puzzle. They would look at them over and over, trying to figure them out and fit them together. Mary was taking all the pieces of the puzzle and tying to fit them together, the angel’s announcement to her that she would have a baby and that he would be born of a virgin, the timing of the birth so that he would be born in Bethlehem, the fact that there was no room for them in the inn and that he would have to be born in a stable, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.

She also pondered the fact that the very first visitors to see her newborn son were not his grandparents or even friends but strangers, strangers in the form of smelly, unclean shepherds whose job it was to watch the Temple sheep. What did that mean? Was it a sign? A sign that her son was the Lamb of God who would one day be offered up for the sins of the world? Perhaps, but it didn’t make sense yet and so at least for now she took the time to ponder all these things in her heart.

I am convinced that Satan’s strategy is to keep us so busy that we don’t have time to ponder these things even at Christmas. Let me suggest then before Christmas is over that we learn from Mary the importance of taking time to ponder all these things in our heart, maybe by attending a Christmas eve service, or rereading the Christmas story as a family or just setting alone in the light of the Christmas tree and remember the real reason for the season is Jesus.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Manger by the Numbers

402. . 2089. . . 6267! Those are the numbers of families and individuals served and the number of presents distributed last week at the Manger. The Manger is a ministry Journey Church has partnered with for three years now. It is a Christmas gift store for needy families in Northwest Columbus. It's purpose is to help ease the burden of gift giving by allowing parents to shop for their families but at greatly reduced prices.

This years numbers were almost double last years numbers, perhaps because of the exciting article printed in the Columbus Dispatch on Wednesday, December 8. The most telling comment in the article was a one made by a shopper. She observed that "these gifts have eased my burden, and I feel like a kid in a candy store, but it's the hugs and the prayers here that really matter." How thankful I am then for another number. That's the number of volunteers who gave hugs and ushered up prayers as well as donated and distributed Christmas gifts for the shoppers. This year there were more than 250 volunteers. That broke down to more than 63 per night.

The Manger is over for this year. We are not giving out any more presents but I have a feeling it's impact is far from over. Not only on the shoppers but on each of the volunteers. None of us will be the same and none of us are supposed to be.