Priorities for the new year
When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child… But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
(Luke 2:17, 19-20 NIVUK)
Christmas is over and we are heading off into a new year. Many are probably thinking about what the year ahead will bring. But as we pause at the turn of the year perhaps, we can turn that question around and ask, ‘What can I bring to the coming year?’ Let me suggest that the shepherds and Mary provide a clue in their reactions to the birth of Jesus.
First, the shepherds proclaimed the news of the Messiah’s birth: ‘When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child…’ (v.17). What they witnessed with their eyes and ears, they witnessed to with their lips. They made known the good news of Jesus’s coming into this world. This experience was too great, too marvellous to keep to themselves; it had to be shared. Is that how you feel about the gospel message? If so, can you commit to sharing it, as opportunity presents itself, in the coming year?
Then we see that Mary pondered: ‘Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart’ (v.19). She took time to think deeply about what had just taken place and reflected on the meaning of the nativity. Can you make it a goal over the coming year to ponder on the life of Christ? Can you commit to thinking about the meaning of the incarnation, his vicarious life, death, resurrection, ascension, and his return to earth? Can you treasure those things and store them in your heart?
Finally, we see that the shepherds praised God ‘for all the things they had heard and seen’ (v.20). The shepherds were so excited about what had happened that they could only have one response: to glorify and praise God. Are you excited about Jesus coming into this world to bring salvation to humanity? If so, can you commit, not only in the next 12 months, but for the rest of your life, to be a worshipful and a praising person?
The shepherds and Mary’s encounters with Jesus changed them so that the effects of his birth were felt long after the event itself, and the same can be true for us as well, if we make it a priority to be a proclaiming, pondering and praising person throughout next year and beyond.
Just these three simple acts will ensure that the Christmas message lives on, long after others have forgotten it even happened.
Loving Father, change me through the birth of your Son so I can make a difference in the world over the coming year. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Study by Barry Robinson
About the writer:
Barry Robinson is a minister in Grace Communion International and Regional Pastor for Southern England.
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