Saturday, December 31, 2022

Sacred Margin And A Commonplace Life

 Sacred Margin And A Commonplace Life

Author Shelly Miller called the time between Christmas and New Year's Day a sacred margin- 
"A sacred stretch of time between what was and what is yet to be."

Sacred margin is the in-between time. The current year is closing and the new year stretches out before us.

For quite a few years our office has closed for the week between these holidays as a way to recharge. Working in a church means the time through Advent leading up to Christmas can be pretty hectic. Add into that equation the fact that our church has adopted two public schools as our community partners, and the busyness level is increased. I always appreciate this slow week between the holidays and I use it to reflect on the past year and make plans for the year ahead. 

This year my sacred margin week has had ups and downs, but overall it has been a good time of resting, getting creative, looking back on the past year, and making plans for my creative life in the year ahead. Last year was not a year of consistent creativity and art making due to so many events that drained my emotional energy. It was a year that held a lot of transitions. As a result of these events and transitions I got off-track with the rhythms that keep me balanced: time in God's Word, reading, writing in my journal, and making art. I intend to reconnect with all of them in 2023 intentionally.

I spent some of my reflection time looking at past art journals and found that the years where I kept an art journal or commonplace book where I kept records of my daily life, were the journals I enjoyed the most. So, I intend to return to the habit of commonplacing in the new year.

I first heard about commonplacing and commonplace books back in 2013. A commonplace book is where one writes down book quotes, musings, ideas, experiences, observations, etc. Many famous people in the past have kept commonplace books, such as Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain, C.S. Lewis, John Hancock, Virginia Wolfe, Emerson and Thoureau, and Ronald Reagan.  One article I read even called it "a record of a curious person's readings, obervations, etc". Being a curious person, I was drawn in!

I have always written in journals since I was a teenager and I have always quotes from books and obervations in them. So, when I came across a term that described a habit I already had, it was exciting. When I then combined this habit with art journaling I found a practice that appealed to my soul - filling a journal with art, images, and words from everyday life. A visual commonplace book filled with the marginalia of life. A commonplace life. And that is my intention for the year ahead.

A few year's back I used a Moleskine journal for my visual commonplace book. I loved the Moleskine and the dotted paper but I did not enjoy how the paper buckled when gluing objects onto it. That problem was solved as I explored journals on Amazon. I found a journal with heavier weight dot paper. It has 80 pages of 170gsm paper, so in between the weight of drawing paper and watercolor paper.  It's great! I can glue paper on the page with no bubbles or buckling.

My pages so far:

You also get a sneak peak into my word of the year for 2023: Place. But I'll expand more on that in another post. I'm also joining Junk Journal January (@megjournals on IG) which starts tomorrow. A sneak peak at my first page along with a tracking page is below.

I'm looking forward to re-connecting with the things that put me in my happy 'place' in the new year. The things that bring me joy, peace, rest, and energy.

I hope you have plans for the year ahead that connect you to the things that bring significance and peace to your life.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Advent Words 2022 ~ Word 15: Word


Word 15: Word


Through the Advent season we have journeyed through the prophets and the story of Christmas in Luke’s gospel, as well as parts of Matthew’s gospel. We have read of the characters who make up this story culminating with our main character, Jesus, who is Messiah and Immanuel. Today, on Christmas day, we wrap up the story in John’s gospel. John does not give his readers the traditional Christmas story that we read in Luke and Matthew, but instead he focuses on another title for Jesus: The Word.

Just as Immanuel describes Jesus as God with us, Word describes his incarnation as well.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. John 1:1-4

In these opening verses John tells us so much about who Jesus is:

He is eternal – with God from the beginning.

He is divine – the Word was God.

He is Creator – through him all things were made and in him was life.

In the beginning God spoke Creation into being. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. Throughout the Creation story in Genesis we are told that God spoke words and from those words the created things came into existence. God spoke and it was done.

Now God speaks to us through His Son, the Word become flesh.

“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” Hebrews 1:1-3

John continues in his gospel:

"The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us." John 1:14a


The Word became flesh ~ the Incarnation. This is the great mystery, wonder, and truth of Christmas. God took on human form and lived among us, and thus became fully like us. He understands us. The author of the book of Hebrews tells us that the incarnation means that Jesus is able to sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15), because He was tempted in every way He is able to  "help those who are being tempted" (Hebrews 2:18). Jesus was fully human. 

Yet He was also fully divine, fully God. We saw in the beginning of John that "In the beginning was the Word" - Jesus. The Word existed before time. He was with God. He was distinct from God, yet He was fully God. 


In His humanity He does not give up His divinity. Paul tells us in Philippians that Jesus willingly laid it aside and submitted humbly to becoming a man. In this He submitted to the Father's will. 

"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,

    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

rather, he made himself nothing

    by taking the very nature of a servant,

    being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,

    he humbled himself

    by becoming obedient to death—

        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

    and gave him the name that is above every name,

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

    to the glory of God the Father."

Philippians 2:5-11


The Word became flesh and lived among us ~ He was fully human and fully God. He was the fulfillment of the promise of Immanuel ~ God with us! This is the wonder of Christmas!

Thank you for joining me for Advent Words 2022! Please feel free to continue to post art on Instagram or in the Words FaceBook group. 

Merry Christmas!



Friday, December 23, 2022

Advent Words 2022 ~ Word 14: Immanuel


Word 14: Immanuel


“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” Isaiah 7:14


“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”- which means “God with us”.” Matthew 1:22-23


Advent is a season that reminds us that what we long for down deep is God’s presence with us. We wait and we long and we look for it.  From the beginning of Matthew's Gospel throughout the New Testament until we reach its end in Revelation, the Incarnation - God came down to us - is the fulfillment of God's promise of His presence with us.


In fact, the story of the whole Bible is about God wanting to dwell with His people. From the beginning God created a place where He could be present with His people. In Genesis 3:8, it says that God would walk in the Garden of Eden among Adam and Eve. But then sin separated them, and us, from God. From that point on God's presence was found in His holy temple or tabernacle (Exodus 25:8 Deuteronomy 12:4-14). Later in history the Jewish Rabbi's would refer to the temple or tabermacle as the "Shikinah Glory". Shikinah coming from the Hebrew word for dwelling.


Ultimately though, God had a still greater plan to dwell with and be present with His people. He promised One who would be born and called Immanuel - God with us (Isaiah 7:14). Matthew tells us that the One promised is Jesus (Matthew 1:23). John goes even deeper saying that God through Jesus "became flesh and made his dwelling among us" (John 1:14). The Greek word John used for dwelling is skenoo which means tabernacle or dwelling.  So, John literally says that God "tabernacled" among us through the incarnation of His Son.


Through faith in Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He made for us on the cross, we have the promise of God's presence with us forever.


“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ...In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Ephesians 2:13, 21-22


Through Jesus Christ God not only dwells with us, but He dwells in us through His Spirit.


“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.”  John 14:16-17


“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” John 14:20


“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you”. Romans 8:9-11


God's people, collectively as the church, and individually, are now the dwelling place of God, His tabernacle!

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God." Revelation 21:3




Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Advent Words 2022 ~ Word 13: Messiah


Word 13: Messiah


As the Advent season draws to a close, we now turn our focus for the final words to the main character of the Christmas story: Jesus.

Throughout the story we have seen many of our characters waiting and watching for the promised Messiah. Through the prophets God promised to send a king, one who would be anointed by God to deliver his people. Over time the Hebrew people began to anticipate that this Messiah would be a king who would bring military and political domination that would free them from bondage and rule by foreign nations.

The word Messiah comes from the Hebrew word for anointed one ‘mashiach. To anoint someone is to set them apart for special service for God, and through that anointing of the Lord that person receives empowerment for that service. Thus, Isaiah says, "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on" the Messiah. Here is Isaiah’s description of who the Messiah will be and what he will do: 

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn.” 
Isaiah 61:1-2

In Luke chapter 4:14-21, we see Jesus stand in the temple and read this same passage from Isaiah 61, announcing that he is the One of whom these words are spoken.

“Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:21

God anointed Jesus as the Christ, which is Greek for ‘the anointed one’. He is Christ,the Messiah. Jesus, as the Messiah, fulfilled Israel’s anticipation of an anointed One who would deliver them. Jesus would spend his ministry giving the disciples the true understanding of the Messiah’s rule, not a king who would deliver them from foreign rule, but a king who delivers us from our sins.


Monday, December 19, 2022

Advent Words 2022 ~ Word 12: Redemption


Word 12: Redemption


“Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices;
    together they shout for joy.
When the Lord returns to Zion,
    they will see it with their own eyes.
Burst into songs of joy together,
    you ruins of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted his people,
    he has redeemed Jerusalem. Isaiah 52:8-9

The prophet Isaiah describes a time when those who are the watchmen – those who are waiting and watching for the promised Messiah – will shout for joy and burst into song when they see with their own eyes the One they have been waiting for. The Messiah will comfort His people as the One who will redeem them.

We saw in our last post that the Holy Spirit led Simeon to the temple on the day that Jesus’ parents came to consecrate him to the Lord. Simeon held the child in his arms and declared to all that the One they had been waiting for, the salvation of the Lord, was this child. In the temple that day there was also a woman named Anna, who is described as an elderly widow who is a prophetess who has devoted her life to worship, fasting and prayer. Day and night she was in the temple waiting for the “redemption of Jerusalem”, just as Isaiah described centuries before.

“There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.Luke 2:36-38

Like Simeon, God rewards Anna’s years of devotion to Him with the gift of seeing the Messiah – the long-awaited Savior. And just as we have seen ibn others throughout the story, Anna responds to God’s favor with gratitude and praise to God. She then shares the good news with all others who had been watching and waiting for God’s redemption.

Many years later the Apostle Paul will share with the Galatian churches the event that Anna had been waiting for.

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” Galatians 4:4-5

Anna’s eyes witnessed the time that had fully come, the arrival of the Messiah. The One she saw that day in the temple was sent by God to redeem His people. The salvation of the Lord given through Jesus Christ enables all who receive Him to be adopted as His sons and daughters.

Those who lived under the law could not earn their salvation by their own merit. They needed one who would pay the price of their release for them. The Bible is clear; we are all sinners, and we cannot save ourselves. Jesus Christ came to redeem us from the slavery of sin, to “give his life as a ransom” (Mark 10:45). He died that we may live. The life He gave as a ransom is our redemption.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

When Anna saw this child, she saw our Savior, the One promised, the One who would die on a cross to redeem us from our sin. Anna saw the redemption of Jerusalem, the light for the Gentiles, the hope of the world.


Saturday, December 17, 2022

Advent Words 2022 ~ Word 11: Light


Word 11: Light


Throughout the Old Testament we read of One who was promised to God's People who would rescue and redeem them from the suffering and oppression they faced. The Promised One was known throughout Isaiah's prophecies as the Messiah, one who be the high priest, a servant of the Lord. Isaiah repeatedly claimed that the Messiah would be a light. 

“The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned”. Isaiah 9:2

“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
    I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
    to be a covenant for the people
    and a light for the Gentiles.” Isaiah 42:6

“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
    to restore the tribes of Jacob
    and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
    that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6

 In his gospel Luke tells us that there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon who had spent his life watching and waiting for the Promised One, the light of Israel.

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.” Luke 2:25-26

Simeon was known as being righteous and devout, one who stood before the Lord as a holy and faithful follower, as one whom the Lord found favor with, much as has been described of Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, of Mary, and of John the Baptist in our story so far. Simeon was waiting for “the consolation of Israel”. He was waiting for the Messiah who would be the hope of Israel, who would bring God’s people comfort. Luke tells us that the Holy Spirit was upon Simeon and had revealed to him that he would not die before seeing the Messiah come to Israel.

On the day when Jesus’ parents took him to the temple to consecrate their son to the Lord, Simeon was led by the Spirit to the temple.

 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
    which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.” Luke 2:27-32


The Holy Spirit enables Simeon to see this child for who he really is – He is the Messiah! Simeon holds in his arms the light that had been promised by the prophet Isaiah. He holds the light that is the salvation of not only the nation of Israel, but as promised, and as he proclaims, He is the light for the Gentiles as well.


God promised through the Prophet Isaiah that the whole world would see his salvation:


“The Lord will lay bare his holy arm
    in the sight of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth will see
    the salvation of our God.Isaiah 52:10


The Hebrew word for salvation is ‘yeshua’, which when translated to Greek and then English, we get the name Jesus. So, when Simeon held the child Jesus in his arms he held the salvation of God, the One who would be the light of the world!


“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

 God kept his promise to Simeon that he would see the Lord’s Christ, the Messiah, the light of the world. He is the light of the world for us as well! He shines His light in our hearts that we may know the glory of the Lord.

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Advent Words 2022 ~ Word 10: Glory


Word 10: Glory

The Angels

Angels play a significant role in the Christmas story as God’s messengers to his people.

An angel of the Lord came to Zechariah in the temple declaring a child would be born to him in his old age who would be the one promised by the prophets to be the messenger who would prepare the way ahead of the Messiah, giving the people the knowledge of His salvation. (Luke 1:5-25)

An angel of the Lord came to Mary, a virgin, telling her that she would be with child and that child would be the Son of the Most High, who would sit on throne of David and his kingdom would never end. (Luke 1:26-38)

An angel of the Lord came to the shepherds in the fields on the night of Jesus’ birth bringing them the good news that the Savior had been born, using them to spread this good news. (Luke 2:8-18)

Throughout the story the angels are the ones God uses to declare the significance of Jesus’ birth. They pointed others to the event that was to come and on the night of His birth they brought the good news singing of God’s glorious event.

“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.”” 

Luke 2:13-14



Angels declare God’s glory. The word glory is used in the Bible to express the visible manifestation of God's presence. It is the sum of all His attributes and perfection. In the Old Testament God's glory dwelt in the tabernacle. In the New Testament God's glory dwells among His people embodied in the person of Jesus – God made visible. His presence is always with us. He is the glory of God!


In the incarnation - God becoming human and dwelling among us - God made it possible that through the Word, Jesus, we would be able to see His glory.


"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14


The book of Colossians tells us that Jesus is "the image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15). The writer of Hebrews tells us,


“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.Hebrews 1:1-3


Jesus reveals God's glory. Jesus is God’s glory!


Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Advent Words 2022 ~ Word 9: Joy


Word 9: Joy

The Shepherds

“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 Christ, the Lord. "”

Luke 2:9-11


I love the image that this scene in Luke's gospel brings to mind. Shepherds doing their nightly job of tending the sheep, when suddenly the sky is bright as daylight as God's glory shines and His angel appears. I imagine their great surprise and then immediate fear. But the angel of the Lord reassures them: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people."

During Advent we celebrate with joy Christ’s first coming – His coming in the flesh to walk and live among us - the Incarnation of God. During Advent we also look forward with joy anticipating Christ’s second coming, “looking forward to [the promised] new heaven and new earth, the home of righteousness.” (2 Peter 3:13)

Advent is a journey to joy, but it is not we who are traveling. Joy is coming to us. ~ John Piper

At Christmas we are reminded that joy has come to us in human form. Joy has come to us to be our salvation, “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) We join with those who witnessed His first arrival. As did the shepherds, we respond with joy as they did:

Mary’s response to having been chosen to bear God’s child: “And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” Luke 1:46-47 

The Magi: “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:10-11

The Angels: “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.” Luke 2:14

"Good news that will cause great joy for all the people!"

A Savior has been born! Jesus, the one who would save people from their sins has come to earth. Emmanuel has come – God is with us. This is the Good News we still celebrate! Joy is at the heart of the life of the Christ-follower, for joy is our response to God’s gracious gift of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ.

"Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return.

    They will enter Jerusalem singing,

    crowned with everlasting joy.

Sorrow and mourning will disappear,

    and they will be filled with joy and gladness."

Isaiah 35:10 (NLT)


This week allow the journey of Advent to remind you of your joy in God’s gifts of grace, love and salvation given us through His Son Jesus Christ. And anticipate the joy we have to look forward to when He comes again. His salvation is our joy!

"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls." 1 Peter 1:8-9

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Advent Words 2022 ~ Word 8: Star


Word 8: Star

The Maji

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to  be born.   “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

   are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

for out of you will come a ruler

   who will shepherd my people Israel.”

 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” Matthew 2:1-12

I love to walk at the many parks in our area and experience God’s creation in nature. The variety of plants and trees, birds and animals. Water rushing over rocks or still in a pond reflecting the sky. The brilliance of autumn leaves, the sparkle of snow, the newness of spring as the world becomes green again. I think nature, more than anything else, reveals God to me. I am often in awe of His creation as I look at sunsets and clouds decorating the sky. Nature often draws me closer to God.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of his hands." Psalm 19:1

 Nature is also what God used to draw the Magi to the Christ child ~ "We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." ~ Matthew 2:2.

My sister recently moved to a new house, and we visited for the first time at Thanksgiving. She is out in the country surrounded by woods. The first thing I noticed as we got out of the car the night we arrived, is how brilliant the stars shone without the lights of city life. I can imagine how a large shining star would have stood out and drawn the Magi’s attention.

God used His creation to draw these men and reveal the Messiah. The Magi were scholars of the stars and the appearance of a new star in the sky drew them on this journey that would ultimately draw them to Christ. The heavens declared God's glory! 

 "The star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was" ~ Matthew 2:9.

It is believed that these Magi, astrologers, were Gentiles, not of God's people. God spoke to these men who studied the stars in the language they knew, He spoke through a star. And that star revealed Christ to them.

 "When they saw the star, they were overjoyed...and they bowed down and worshiped him." ~ Matthew 2:10, 11

I am in awe that upon seeing a new star in the sky, these men follow it. The star becomes to them a divine calling. It announces to them the birth of the Messiah, and then, in a divine manner, they have no problem recognizing this baby for who He really is. They were overjoyed - overwhelmed with the joy of the Lord - the NASB says the Magi "rejoiced exceedingly with great joy". Immediately they bowed down and worshipped Him. They followed a star and found a Savior. 

May our response to the Savior this Christmas season be one of exceedingly great joy as well!

Friday, December 9, 2022

Advent Words 2022 ~ Word 7: Ponder


Word 7: Ponder


"Great are the works of the LORD;

they are pondered by all who delight in them.

Glorious and majestic are his deeds,

and his righteousness endures forever.

Psalm 111:2-3


Luke 2:1-20 tells the story of the birth of Jesus. We read in this passage that Joseph and Mary had to travel late in her pregnancy to go to the town of Bethlehem for a mandatory census. While in Bethlehem Mary goes into labor and her baby, Jesus, is born. Because they had not been able to find a room to rent, they had to use a stable. And so, Mary wrapped baby Jesus in cloths and placed him in a manger.


On that same night an angel of the Lord, shining with God's glory, appears to some shepherds at work in the fields. "Do not be afraid." He tells them. "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you: He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." At this news a "great company of heavenly host" appear. I imagine that they fill the sky and light it up as if the sun were shining. The angels begin to praise God.

"Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace to men on

whom his favor rests"


The shepherds immediately take off for Bethlehem and find Joseph and Mary and baby Jesus, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger, just as the angel of the Lord had said. They spread the word the angel of the Lord had given them, that this baby lying in a manger is the Savior. He is Christ the Lord, the promised Messiah. All who heard this were amazed. The shepherds eventually returned to their home "glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard".


Stuck in this passage, right before the story ends, is one sentence with Mary's response to these events:

"Mary treasured up all these thing and pondered them in her heart."

We have a clue to what Mary was treasuring and pondering in her heart. We have the events recorded by Luke in chapter 1 that reveal that Mary herself had been visited by an angel of the Lord. The angel had revealed to her the very things he revealed to the shepherds, so their words were not news to her, but rather confirmation. She had given birth to a king! Mary pondered the great, glorious and majestic works of the Lord. She reflected on them and treasured them in her heart.

"The Mighty One has done great things for me - holy is his name." Luke 1:49


A line from the hymn Praise to the Lord, the Almighty comes to my mind,

"Ponder anew what the Almighty can do…"


I read about Mary's response and I think, "I want that kind of faith.” The kind of faith that immediately sees God's hand at work in every situation. A faith that is at rest in knowing that God will do as He has promised. Me, I probably would have focused on my circumstances, looking for a solution, and then turning to God in prayer once I had exhausted all of my own resources. But if you read chapters 1 and 2 of Luke, you see Mary, time after time, looking to the Lord and praising Him for His work in her life. You don't see a shred of doubt, not a glitch of worry or anxiety. She doesn't fret over her circumstances, or even try to manage them on her own. Mary is focused on God. For that kind of faith I think that Mary must have had a life that was filled with the Scriptures. And she alludes to that in her song in Luke 1:46-55, referencing the mighty works of the Lord in the past, in Israel's history. She would have heard in the temple the prophecies of the coming Savior, the Messiah - the One that was hoped for. When the angel came to her, she believed. I want Mary's kind of faith. I believe this is the role of the scriptures in our lives. I can read Mary's story and witness her faith and from it I can have hope. God used this young, humble teenage girl to birth the Savior of the world. Mary's faith in believing what God says he will do encourages me and is my example of how to live in faith and in hope.