Welcome to the first devotion of this Advent season.
Last weekend, my son and I visited Tsawwassen Mills, a large shopping mall south of Vancouver. We went to the outdoor store – the store that sells fishing and camping gear. My son wanted some new fishing lures. We took our small dog, Mikey.
Mikey doesn’t like the polished concrete floor in the store. We place his blanket in a shopping cart and put him on top. We push the cart while Mikey sits down and enjoys the ride. It is funny to see a small Pug in a shopping cart. People turn their heads. People also say how cute he is.
I doubt Mary thought Jesus was cute after she gave birth to him and wrapped him in cloths. For one thing, the word “cute” as we use it today was first uttered in the early 19th century, in the United States. By contrast, the Scriptures are simple in their description of Jesus’ birth. Luke 2:7 says, “and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” Cuteness isn’t mentioned at all.
But this doesn’t mean Mary was emotionless. She must have been in awe of what had just happened – she had just given birth to the promised Messiah, the Saviour of the world, the Incarnate God, Immanuel. I expect she and Joseph just looked in awe at the infant Jesus lying in the animal feeding trough, trying to understand what his birth means.
The only insight we have into Mary’s thoughts come a few verses later. The shepherds arrive, telling everyone what the angel had said to them about Jesus. Luke 2:19 says, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” The words “treasured” and “pondered” are rare in the Scriptures. The first means “keep carefully in mind”. The second has a spread of meaning but seems to suggest that Mary reflected upon these words over and over, her heart and mind stunned by the implications.
Cuteness solicits a response of “Aww, how adorable!” A Pug in a shopping cart is cute. But I doubt very much that the shepherds or the wise men, when they saw Jesus said, “Aww, how adorable!”. Cuteness isn’t the response given to Jesus in the manger. Instead the shepherds praised God and the wise men fell to their knees in worship and gave gifts.
Cuteness doesn’t inspire praise and worship. Incarnation, however, does.
And at the Incarnation, our hearts and minds are forever swirling with awe and wonder, trying to grasp how glorious is our God.
This Advent may the Lord’s presence and love cause your worship to soar, your praise to resound, your heart and mind to stagger in awe. There’s nothing cute to look at.
視頻大意翻譯(video Chinese translation):
我懷疑瑪麗亞在生下耶穌並用布包裹他時是否也認為他很可愛。首先，今天我們使用的“可愛”這個詞是在 19 世紀初在美國首次出現的。相反的，聖經對耶穌誕生的描述是平淡而簡單的。路加福音 2：7 說：” 就生了頭胎的兒子、用布包起來、放在馬槽裏、因為客店裏沒有地方。” 根本沒有提到可愛。
在幾節經文之後我們才知道了瑪麗亞想甚麼。牧羊人來了，告訴每個人天使對他們說的關於耶穌的話。路加福音 2：19 說：“瑪麗亞卻把這一切的事存在心裏、反復思想。”。“存在心裏”和“反復思想”這兩個詞在聖經中是罕見的。第一個意思是“放在心裡面”。第二個含義很廣，但似乎表明瑪麗亞一遍又一遍地思考這些話，她的心和思想被這些含義震驚了。
可愛會引起 "哇，多可愛呀！” 哈巴狗在購物車裡是很可愛。但我非常懷疑牧羊人或博士們在第一次見到耶穌時會說：“噢，多可愛呀！” 可愛不是對馬槽裡耶穌的回應。相反地，牧羊人讚美上帝，博士們跪下敬拜並呈上禮物。可愛不會激發讚美和崇拜。然而，道成肉身確實如此。在道成肉身時，我們的心靈和思想永遠充滿敬畏和驚奇，試圖理解我們的神是多麼榮耀。
Grace and peace