The days after Christmas.  There’s always some sense of disbelief that it’s over.  The whirlwind of activity is starting to settle down.  And there’s a part of us that wishes we could keep that sense of wonder and joy and hope alive for a while longer.

One of the central figures in the Christmas story must have felt the same way.  And I like how she responded.

“Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”  Luke 2:19

The whirlwind of a miraculous pregnancy and treacherous travel and overcrowded inns and a manger and bright stars and visiting shepherds was over.  Mary had been a woman of many words months earlier after her visit with Elizabeth, reciting beautiful and strong prophetic poetry to express the feelings in her heart.  But now, words were few.  It’s like she stepped back and took it all in.  She made it personal.

And we should do the same now in these days following the celebration of Christ’s birth.  We should step back and think about the things we want to keep in our hearts, the things we want to ponder more fully in the quietness of the post-holiday moments. 

Maybe there was a particular sermon or scripture passage that brought the reality of “God with us” even closer.  Maybe the words to a familiar Christmas song were heard in a new way.

Don’t let those moments get packed away with the decorations.  Take a cue from Mary.

Keep them.  Ponder them.  And let the joy of the Christmas season stay in your hearts in the days ahead.

 Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.    Hebrews 2:1

Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. 1 Samuel 12:24






It’s inevitable.  At some point this holiday season, your lung capacity is going to be put to the test.  You’ll be standing in church, or at a carol sing, or maybe even in your own home belting out the Christmas tunes. 

And then the angels will be heard on high.

“Glo- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – ri-a, in excelsios Deo”.  Those dashes represent that part of the song where you have to decide if you’re going to go for it, and try to completely exhale all traces of air in your lungs before you get to the next line.

You know what I’m talking about.

So the other day I was doing a study on exactly what “glory” is.  In scripture, glory is always linked to  God’s self-revelation.  One commentary said, “God’s glory is revealed by His coming to be present with us, His people, and to show us Himself by His actions in our world”.

And that’s what Christmas is all about.  God’s self-revelation in human form.

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”.  (John 1:14)

So this year, the next time I inhale deeply and try to sing the “Gloria” part of that Christmas song without taking a breath, I’m going to use those few moments to think about what I’m singing.  God revealed Himself.  To us.  In a manger.

And that thought alone should indeed leave me breathless.


Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, “God with us.”  Matthew 1:23

Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”  John 11:40

The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together;  For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.   Isaiah 40:5

In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 1 John 4:9




God seems to like surprises.  Just when we think we know what He’s going to do and how He’s going to do it, He takes a sharp turn and does something we never could have imagined.

There’s a well-known Christmas hymn called “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”.  Jesus was expected.  So many Old Testament prophecies foretold His coming. But nobody dreamed it would happen this way:

Unexpected childless elderly couple

Unexpected angelic visits

Unexpected young virgin

Unexpected census

Unexpected room shortage

Unexpected poor shepherds and curious rich kings

So many unplanned surprises along the way.  Angelic visits – good.  Unwed teenager and census travel and room shortages – not so good.

But it was all part of the plan.

Christmas reminds me that God delights in the unexpected.  In matters of grand and universal and eternal significance, and also in the matters of my life and my heart. 

I want to have the kind of faith that expects the unexpected.  Not with resignation and fear and worry, but with excitement and wonder.

And hope.

You are the God who does wonders;  Psalm 77:14

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”                   1 Corinthians 2:9

Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men!  Psalm 31:19

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21


An older woman whose heart had ached for a baby for years, decades even, but whose arms remained empty and now hope seemed gone.  A teenager who had kept herself pure and hadn’t planned on a baby quite just yet.

Side by side.  Two women in a drama they didn’t audition for, but two women who became part of a story that changed the course of history.

I’ve been reading the Christmas story in Luke, asking God to show me things I hadn’t really seen before.  And this morning, I saw the contrast between Elisabeth and Mary.  But I also saw in a new way how both of them trusted God with the unplanned circumstances of their lives.

In spite of the disappointment of not having a baby, Elizabeth “was righteous before God, walking in all of the commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blameless.” (Luke 1:6)  And Mary, after being told she was going to have a baby – God’s Son! – reacted by saying, “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

Elizabeth didn’t know that her circumstance was about to change.  She had no idea that God was going to answer her prayers in a dramatic and unreal way. But she still walked with God.  And Mary’s circumstance changed so quickly and so dramatically that she could have reacted with panic and despair.  But she gave her heart with abandon to God.

Two women.  Two different situations.  One common response – trust.

I believe God gives us these kinds of details to get us to think about how we respond to unplanned circumstances.  Whether we find ourselves still waiting for something we’ve been asking for – for years, or in the middle of something we didn’t ask for at all, our response needs to be the same.

Because God always has a plan.  And His timing is always just right.


For with God, nothing is impossible.  Luke 1:37

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.      Hebrews 10:23

Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.  Luke 1:45