“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19
Take a look at one last picture. But for me, personally speaking, it is perhaps the most significant picture of the year.
The Bible says in Luke 2:19 that on the night Jesus was born, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” There was a moment when the joy of it all overtook her. There was a moment when the sheer impact of it all humbled her. There was a moment when the faith, the doubt, the uncertainty, the fight, and everything that went into getting to that moment, a brief moment when the wonder of it all overwhelmed her. She was acutely aware of the moment. She was so aware of the moment that she captured and carved a divine space in time in order to hold that moment before it got away from her. She basked in the moment, she treasured the moment. She perhaps breathed a sigh of relief in the moment. Maybe she cried. But many parts about this moment would define her life.
These moments generally crash into the space of our lives under the cover of subtlety, so they are often hard to recognize. Sometimes they are so overt, that they swipe us in the face full frontal and we can do anything but miss them. Regardless, when they come, they often meet at the intersection of the temporary and the eternal, the ordinary and the extraordinary. We must make space for them. We cannot rush by them, and when they show up at our door, we must, at all costs, give them a comfortable place to sit, even if for mere seconds. Mary did not miss this moment on that Holy Night. The picture you see attached with this Insight is one such moment for me. I was not expecting it to be caught on camera, but I’m glad it was. Of all nights, the very last performance of the 2020 Christmas In The City, one of our photographers was standing in the back, and she caught it.
We had just completed the reprise of what would become the thematic song of the entire Production, “Be Still.” The Tech Crew decided to empty the snow machines that night. It was the only night it happened. I had just finished sharing something deeply personal from the stage and thanking our Cast, and everyone who worked to make this year’s Christmas In The City happen. This was the moment I turned to walk back, the moment when it was all over. It was the moment in which I was breathing a sigh of relief, deeply humbled and grateful, and teary-eyed emotional. It was the moment I was grabbing with all my heart, treasuring up, and pondering with indescribable wonder that no words can represent.
The phone in my left hand was only in my hand at this point of the show on the final night. It was there for both public reasons (one of which I shared from the stage that night), and for personal reasons. On that phone were all of the emails, messages, and comments compiled and sent to me, telling me why we couldn’t do this year’s Christmas In The City or pull it off. On that phone were all of the emails questioning decisions we made over the last year that didn’t match people’s opinion concerning COVID or politics. On that phone were the Facebook messages where people told me they had lost respect for me, the reminders of the other ones who defriended me, and a myriad of other obstacles 2020 has provided.
The lines on my face represent the struggles I’ve had in leading through 2020. They represent the challenges and the uncertainty of it all. They represent mistakes I’ve made, maybe things I shouldn’t have said, and maybe things I shouldn’t have thought, maybe people I’ve disappointed or let down. But they also represent the opportunities for growth, joy, the opportunities to labor and fight together, and they also represent the victories I’ve shared with others also. In this moment, I’m surrounded on stage with people I’ve been in the fight with through it all…people who acted on faith and courage to get to this point. There are many such people who have been in the same fight with me who were not on stage, and yet still helped us to get there and helped us to get through this entire year. In this moment, I was fully aware of them as well...all of them.
This is the moment it all overwhelmed me…and maybe for the first time in 2020, I exhaled. It was a fitting moment. It was a fitting end. It is gratitude, conviction, some repentance, grace, joy, thankfulness, hope, expectation, wonder, pondering, all in a matter of seconds. But it was divine, and God made me aware of it. I’ll never forget this moment. The snow falling was the only night of the show it happened. But it seemed fitting. In the whiteness of snow, we find the graphic visual of all things being made new. It was fitting for that night and for this moment.
But here’s the final thing about this picture. I think you could just as soon insert your face into it. The year 2020 has been difficult for you. It has represented failures, fights, challenges, loss, and victories for which you won’t soon forget. But in the wonder of a manger where a God was willing to come into the world as an infant, likely surrounded by animals and circumstances that were less than ideal. We are reminded that He is willing to enter into the shrapnel of our lives, and through the fight, we will find opportunities for joy, opportunities to exhale, and we will be reminded that He is always making everything new. He is always bringing us hope and expectation.
Whatever your picture is, whatever your moment, wherever you find the intersection of the divine and the temporary, the ordinary and extraordinary, this Christmas, when that moment comes, give it a welcome place to sit, hold it, and ponder the wonder of it all.