TEXT: Luke 2:19
TOPIC: Christmas Memories
Pastor Bobby Earls, First Baptist Church, Center Point, Alabama
December 17, 2006
Our biblical text is found in the familiar Christmas narrative of the Gospel of Luke, the second chapter. Luke 2:19.
Let’s read it together, But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart, Luke 2:19.
Verse 19 of Dr. Luke’s Christmas story has long captured my attention. There is something about this statement about a mother and her memories of the miraculous birth of her firstborn son that moves my heart.
Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus often receives a bad name among us Baptists. It is unfortunate that the sharp differences in doctrine concerning our Lord’s earthly mother often cause Protestants to ignore this important woman and the role she played in the birth and life of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When you think of the price she paid for her willing obedience to the will of the Father, she really was a remarkable and godly woman. The object of gossip and scorn by many in her day, Mary would suffer disgrace and loss of friendships and perhaps, even family, to bare the sinless seed of God’s Spirit.
But the Bible says of Mary, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. (Luke 1:28)
Mary, the mother of our Lord, is for us today, the biblical example of one among millions who have enjoyed both the highs and the lows of Christmas.
I. CHRISTMAS MEMORIES OF FEAR AND ANXIETY
Mary’s Christmas memories began with the pronouncement of the Angel Gabriel in Luke’s first chapter.
29But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33“And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:29-33
How could Mary ever forget that moment when the idea of Christmas was introduced to her by a heavenly messenger?
We know that among the many feelings Mary must have experienced that day was fear and anxiety. The Bible says she was troubled at his saying, and fearful.
Christmas today can be that way for many. Few of us have never known what it is to be anxious over the Christmas holidays. Our traditions and celebrations are so focused upon the material that we often feel as if Christmas will not be meaningful if we are not able to provide for our family or our children everything their little hearts fancy.
Christmas is about giving, but it is more about the gift. Would to God that it could really be true that we celebrate God’s great gift to us with every twinkling light, every manger scene, every star hung, every song sung.
Our gifts to one another whether few or many, large or small, should each one be a reminder of God’s gift of love and sacrifice for us all.
II. CHRISTMAS MEMORIES OF HEARTACHE AND SADNESS, Luke 2:22-38
As Mary ponders the events of that first Christmas, she remembers the day she and Joseph brought Jesus to Jerusalem for the first time. He was eight days old and according to the Law and customs of that day, he was to be dedicated to the Lord God through the practice of circumcision.
On that day in the temple, Mary met two of God’s choice servants, Simeon and Anna.
33And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. 34Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against 35“(yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
Mary’s wonderment and joy as a new mother would one day turn to great heartache and grief beyond anything most of us will ever experience.
Mary would watch her son of promise die the worse possible of all deaths. As a spear pierced the side and heart of Jesus on the cross, Mary felt the sword of anguish pierce her own soul also, as Simeon prophesied.
III. CHRISTMAS MEMORIES OF CHANGE AND ADJUSTMENT, Luke 2:39-40
We rarely hear messages about the boyhood years of Jesus. The Scriptures are, for the most part, silent on this period in our Lord’s life. We are left with much speculation and often fanciful stories with no real merit.
The Bible does tell us that Jesus grew up in pretty much the same way that all children do. In Luke 2:39-40, the Bible says,
39So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. 40And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
Jesus grew up. He became stronger, and taller. He was smart, well-educated and trained, probably apprenticed as a carpenter, his earthly father’s trade in life. He gained favor with God and man which means He grew spiritually and socially.
How many of you know that a child at age 12 is not the same as a child at age 2? The fact is that Mary and all of us go through change as the years of our lives are told. As Jesus grew up, so the Christmas memories would be different with each passing year.
Has that been your experience with Christmas? I recall those Christmases as a boy growing up. Like most children, I was most fascinated by the gifts and the decorations. I can still remember when we would go tramping through the woods in search of the perfect Christmas tree. And the trees were not as perfect back then as the commercially grown trees today, or the faux trees that cost hundreds of dollars. (I can remember the era of the first silver or aluminum Christmas trees, the kind that had the rotating light that sat beneath the tree and changed the color of the tree. We had one of those one year, but only one year. We didn’t like the change from a real tree.)
Anyway, after the tree was decorated, I remember how I use to climb under the tree and just lie there on my back looking up through the tree at the brightly colored lights of red and green, blue, white and even orange! (It was the sixties!) And they were the big lights you clipped on the tree branches. I would lie there for hours imagining how wonderful Christmas would be.
As the days drew nearer to Christmas, the tree would fill beneath with so many presents that I could no longer climb under the tree. That didn’t stop me; I’d just climb as close to the presents under the tree as possible and dream of Christmas morning.
Oh those are wonderful Christmas memories. Christmas for me was mom and dad, my little brother and me, waking early to see what Santa had brought. He never did bring that lump of coal and hickory switch my parents told me I might get. Oh the excitement of tearing through the packages and opening the presents, playing with our toys for hours on end, and Christmas dinner.
I didn’t realize all of that would change one day. But it did. Somehow for me, the unwrapped Christmas presents and empty boxes are a sad reminder that Christmas is not the same. It’s different. It changed. I changed.
Christmas changed again for me as an older teen and young college student as I began sharing my Christmas Eve at a friend’s house with her family. Her name was Penny Mobley and I really looked forward to the gifts that her parents would get me. They really treated me special.
My favorite Christmas memories with the Mobleys back then were the ones we spent at Ma Byars’ home with the rest of the family. A couple of times we gathered around the piano or organ and sang Christmas hymns.
And there was that one Christmas when my gift to Penny was a solitary diamond ring that carried the hope that she would share the rest of her Christmases with me as my wife.
But time would not leave well-enough alone. Slowly, through the years, our lives changed. Ma Byars’ went home to be with our Lord. And so did my father and Penny’s uncle.
But we adjusted. We had to because the Lord had given us three permanent presents called Josh, Jessie and Jordy. And you know what? Christmas became exciting all over again.
The point of my Christmas memories is that Christmas and life is about change and adjustments. Most of us don’t like change, but we can’t do anything about it. Except make adjustments and move on. Last Christmas I didn’t have my mother for the first time in my life. This year, we’ll miss my father-in-law. But we will adjust, and move on.
There’s one more Christmas memory Mary pondered in her heart.
IV. CHRISTMAS MEMORIES OF JESUS, Matthew 1:21
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
The angels, the shepherds, the star, the wise men, all of these, Mary pondered in her heart. Who were they, and what did they represent?
Collectively these were representative of all of God’s created order. When Mary remembered the angels, her Christmas memory would be of the pronouncement and the announcement of the birth of the Son of God who would save His people from their sins.
When Mary remembered the shepherds, her Christmas memory would be of the lowest caste of society, who humbly trusted the message sent from God, who came and knelt before the King of kings and Lord of lords.
When Mary remembered the star, her Christmas memory would be of the highest heavens that shone brightly to reveal the presence of God incarnate in a manger stall.
When Mary remembered the Wise Men, or Magi, her Christmas memory would be of the world’s elite who came and knelt low to worship and offered their best to the redeemer of all nations, tribes and tongues.
When you think of angels, the shepherds, the star, the Magi, what are your Christmas memories? As important as family, friends, gifts, carols and cards, celebrations, and traditions may be, all should pale in comparison to the greatest Christmas memory of all, the radiant gift of one small child, our Lord Jesus.