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All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
Luke 2:18-20 NLT

Christmas has been celebrated well in my house this year. We have laughed and talked and eaten and shared. Gifts have been opened, Merry Christmases exchanged, relatives and friends spoken to on the phone or by email. I even got a nap in (which is one of my favourite things to do on any holiday!).

You might think that tomorrow it is back to business as usual. But I have learned a lesson from Mary. I learned it so many years ago, I cannot even remember when…it is one of those things that seems to have always been part of my understanding of Christmas. It is the reason that the words “but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often” are my very favourite Christmas scripture.

The lesson is this: Christmas, like Easter, is a defining moment in the Christian faith. It is not simply a fun holiday, or a season of the year or a great story. It defines our faith. It makes us – those of us who follow Jesus – what we are.

Like Mary, we are meant to keep these things in our hearts and think about them often. We are to remember that God became a man, that He moved into the neighborhood, that His message is for the poorest and the richest alike, that wise men seek Him still and that the very first King sized bed was a manger full of hay.

The fact that God took on flesh and blood, the fact that he became one of us, in the person of Jesus, who is the Christ, makes our faith unique.

We are meant to remember that. We are meant to carry it into all the days that come as 2012 ends and as 2013 begins. We are meant to allow it to shape us, to help us interpret reality, to call us to the work God has for us to do.

So Merry Christmas, my friends. Like Mary, may we all hold the lessons of this precious time of year in our hearts and think of them often.

Be blessed, and be a blessing.

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