"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on
whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told."
Advent has arrived amidst the busyness of the holiday season from Thanksgiving to Christmas. There is so much going on in this season - family dinners and shopping, parties and gift wrapping, school events, travel plans, and more shopping. In the midst of this busyness Advent is a call for us to slow down and reflect on the coming Christ. In the above passage, Mary gives us a picture of taking time out and slowing down to take these events deep into our hearts.
"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19
As we read this passage one little word reaches out to us to slow down: "But". Mary pauses and takes time to reflect and ponder on the news the angels had shared with the shepherds. In the midst of this activity Mary takes time to slow down in order to take these things deep into her heart.
Engaging in intentional practices during this season offers us a way to slow it down. When we do this we "make room in our hearts for Jesus to fill us", as author Kris Camealy says in her Advent devotional Come, Lord Jesus.
Over the past few years I have come to appreciate this habit of intentionally slowing down in the Advent season. In fact, I think this practice has helped me be intentional in making time in my days and weeks for slowing down throughout the year. Busyness can so often creep in and take over our lives without our being aware of it. An intentional habit of slowing down keeps our eyes open to the effects that busyness can have on our lives, our health and our relationships. For me, this slowing down and making room in my heart for Jesus to fill it, comes through practices of reading and making art.
This season I'm reading Come, Lord Jesus: the Weight of Waiting by Kris Camealy (find it on Amazon here). I made an art journal to record my thoughts from the daily readings (tutorial for my Advent art journal is here). Kris' daily devotional readings run from December 1 -25 so I'll start posting my daily pages on December 1st. I'm also participating in a book club for Kris' book on Christina Hubbard's blog, Creative and Free (click on title).