Friday, December 12, 2014

Things Treasured

And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart (Luke 2:51)

Every heart treasures something.

What we treasure may truly be good and valuable and worthy of being treasured. Just as often we treasure things in our heart that we would do well to get rid of.

Closets and Wallets 
About a month ago my wife decided it was time to go through our closet and see what we needed to unload. We both knew that we had things hanging up in the closet that we hadn’t touched in years. Embarrassing, but true. I was stunned at what we gathered to be given away. How and why had we managed to hold on to these things for so long? Nothing about that chore was fun, but once we were finished it was very freeing.

But there other things we treasure that have real value, even if only to us. A certain credit card company ran an ad campaign not long ago with the tag-line “What’s in your wallet?” That’s a good question. What I treasure in my wallet may say something about my heart.

Of course, most wallets hold monetary treasures, but there are other more meaningful treasures too. In my wallet I have pictures of my family, my health insurance card, my driver’s license that serves as my official picture ID, a library card, a card from the Presbyterian Church that says I am a minister of word and sacrament in good standing (not useful in airports), my Skymiles # (which is useful in airports but which I’ve never memorized). I guess there are things that I keep or ‘treasure’ in my wallet go beyond purchasing power and say something about who I am.

Three Words 
In the opening chapters of his gospel account, Luke uses three different words to tell us how Mary gradually made her way to an understanding of who her son was. As we noted earlier this week, even after Gabriel’s announcement to Mary, she didn’t have Jesus all figured out. At his birth and as he grew, Mary would see things and hear things with which she had to grapple.

When the shepherds arrived just after Jesus’s birth they told what the Angels had said to them about the infant Jesus. Mary ‘treasured’ and ‘pondered’ these things in her heart. When the boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem, found three days later by his parents, Mary treasured in her heart her son’s words about being in his Father’s house.

In these stories Luke uses three Greek words: Pondered, treasured, kept. The three words are very close in meaning, sharing a similar sense. Mary grappled with words and events by thinking, holding close, remembering and cherishing them.

Our Treasure
We do this too. We treasure things in our heart, pondering with the mind, remembering and cherishing and holding close. What we treasure in the heart may reveal who we are, or they may shape us into who we become. What we ponder and treasure may draw us closer to Jesus. What we ponder and treasure may be an obstacle to knowing who Jesus is and why he came.

A heart can treasure things that are not good and worthy. We can keep resentments and bitterness. We can hold on to painful memories and mistakes we’ve made. We can dwell on our regrets and hurts. None of these do us a bit of good, but we keep them nevertheless.

We can keep a different kind of treasure. Pondering and treasuring the gift of God’s grace to us has a way of shaping who we are, making us merciful and gracious. As we dwell on the words Jesus spoke and the life he lived, we begin to become like him. As we cherish and treasure his blessings to us, we become grateful people.

At Christmas we will sing “Let every heart prepare him room.” Maybe you can start preparing him room today.

What’s in your heart? What are you treasuring?

We ask, O God, that our hearts would treasure and dwell on those things that draw us closer to you. Where we have held on to things that are not worthy, cleanse our hearts by your Spirit. Make us ready for you and cause us to treasure who you are, we ask in the name of your Son. Amen.

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