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For The Keepers of Christmas

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

Luke 2:19

One year, when our three girls were just little ones, I used my old film camera to document the annual tradition of decorating for Christmas. I stood back and framed a wide shot of the Christmas tree, with sparkling lights and ornaments, and the room brimming with nostalgia, decorations, and family traditions.

Then instinctively, I adjusted the lens of my camera to narrow the focus and watched the viewfinder’s display begin to alter. As I literally changed the focus to zoom in, the sparkly, shiny lights of the tree began to blur. And it took my breath away when I saw that all that was left in the frame… was Jesus. Only moments before, our beloved nativity scene had been just one of the many elements decorating the festive, candlelit room. But with an intentional adjustment of my camera lens, the very meaning of Christmas quite literally came into focus.

Jesus, Immanuel, God With Us. Tears filled my eyes as I remembered yet again­­––He is here and He is with us­­­, always. But if the glittery, shiny distractions of this world hold our gaze, we very well might miss Him altogether.

Thankfully, the heart of the Father, who loves us and knows us well, gives us an ongoing invitation. Tucked in a passage of Scripture that we return to every year is a beautiful, life-changing bit of inspiration. The words of Luke 2:19 describe that when Jesus, the Son of God was born, “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” The meaning of the original language used here is “to keep close, to preserve.” Another word study says, “to guard with close care, to keep intact and safe.” The heart of Mary here, re-frames for us, what it is to treasure the right treasure in these days.

The season of Christmas is full of traditions, parties, decorating, gift-giving, travel, meals, and preparations. But may we remember that even the good and beautiful things are lesser things. And even more than creating moments of wonder and magic for those around us, maybe the greater work of our hands, is to simply adjust our lens and place Jesus in the foreground again.

It is good and right to set apart moments with our families to celebrate Jesus. It is beautiful to create traditions, gather, and make memories in this season, telling the next generation the greatest story ever told. But may it begin in our souls, first. May we celebrate the moments, not just about Jesus, but with Jesus. And may we guard and preserve our affections, causing the world’s shiny, glittery distractions to blur in our view, as we treasure and focus on Christ.Immanuel, God With Us­­–– we wait for You in joy and anticipation. The longing of our souls is to keep You close, as we bring You our adoration and worship. May You find us, in these days, adjusting our lens, to fix our gaze on You, Jesus–– the truest treasure of Christmas.

~Kristin Hill

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