Long before digital photos and decorative paper backgrounds, Mary made the first Christmas scrapbook””in her heart.
When Bethlehem”s shepherds heard the astounding news that the Messiah had been born, they left their sheep and hurried into the village to see him. They found Mary and Joseph and with them the baby, snuggly wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a feeding trough””just as the angel had told them. Luke says they “told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds” story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often” (Luke 2:17-19).*
Mary kept her treasured Christmas memories””visits from angels, travel to a distant town, giving birth when she was yet a virgin, shepherds kneeling beside her newborn”s crib””in her heart. What are your Christmas memories, and where do you keep them?
I will guess that your memories involve family””the one you grew up in, the family you raised or are raising now. Somewhere a box or a book holds ornaments children made, a fading photo of your family in front of a lighted tree, and Christmas cards received long ago. Somehow the day set aside in the fourth century to mark and celebrate the birth of Christ has also become a day””a season, really””to mark and celebrate family bonds. “Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother”s house we go. . . .”
Not everyone has happy Christmas memories. Or maybe this Christmas is difficult for you. Circumstances might not be good; people you love might be too far away.
But when believers meet as family””adopted sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters of the Savior””we can make the best kind of Christmas memory as we eat the bread and drink the cup together. The baby in the manger came to set us free. “This is my body, which is given for you,” Jesus said (1 Corinthians 11:24). “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people””an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me” (v. 25).
*All Scripture verses are from the New Living Translation.
Diane Stortz is a freelance editor and the author of the best-selling Bible storybook The Sweetest Story Bible (Zonderkidz). She blogs about the Bible at www.abibleplace.blogspot.com.