Lost in the familiar story, I watch as Mary marvels. A noisy crowd of shepherds had just bumped and scuffed their way back out the door, leaving behind the odor of dirt and unwashed bodies. They hadn’t stayed long, only long enough to see her newborn baby in the manger. She slowly pieced together their disjointed chatterings. They said an angel had appeared in the night sky telling of the Messiah, then a host of angels joined him, shouting joyfully together: “Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace to men on whom His favor rests!” So impossible an event, but with the memory of the angel in her dream months ago, the glow of excitement on the shepherd’s faces and the animation of their words, she believed them. And marveled. That she should be part of these events, at such a time as this!
She heard them outside in the street, telling everyone who would listen. “The Christ is born! Messiah is here!” She smiled in silent praise to God.
Eight days later, following the custom of their people, Mary and Joseph were caught off guard when the elderly Simeon approached them, an almost tangible sense of wonder surrounding him. Holding the child with utmost care, he gazed into its eyes and said, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, now dismiss your servant in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation…”
Unconsciously Mary squeezed Joseph’s hand and pressed close to him. He looked at her gentle face and saw she was beaming in wonder, entranced by the face of her child cradled in this man’s arms and by the power of the words he spoke. The words sank deep into her mind, “my eyes have seen your salvation…and the glory of your people Israel .” She let them run through her mind again and again, marveling.
Life seemed to settle in to normalcy for another twelve years, until they began the journey home from their annual trip to Jerusalem and discovered their son was gone. When they found him back in Jerusalem several harrowing days later, he only said, “Did you not know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But nevertheless he returned to Nazareth with them and obeyed them as parents, though every day reminded Mary that He was no ordinary child. She mothered Him as best she could while watching Him grow in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. And she treasured all these things in her heart and marveled at them.
Years later she stood at a distance from a Roman cross, watching her tortured son cry out in anguish and forfeit his life. The memories treasured deep in her heart churned within her: the shepherds’ excitement, Simeon’s wonder and worship and the years of her son’s submission to her as his mother. All the words of promise that she marveled at, the tangible unseen presence that could have only been the Spirit of God surrounding Simeon as He held her baby, the times when he obeyed her as his mother, but she knew in her heart he had all authority over her. She clung to each word, each thought, each memory of what God had done, and could not conceive that this might be the end. So deeply rooted was her assurance that hope refused to abandon her, much as she wished it would, to ease the pain.
Why bother to step away from ceaseless noise to marvel at the wonders of God? Why allow them to sink deeply into our mind and heart and soul, soaking them into the deepest part of us?
So that when all looks hopeless, hope refuses to leave because it simply cannot. The fact of Who God is, will not let it. Mary’s hope was not in vain. Nor is ours. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Take the time to marvel.