Under Threat

As we read the story of Jesus' birth, we read about how King Herod felt threatened, especially when the wise men came to visit him to ask for directions. He felt threatened because he had placed his security in himself, his own power and his own authority. How many of us do the same, placing our security in ourselves, in what we know, in the power or authority we try and create around ourselves? Herod would have felt threatened because he may have thought that he was about to lose - lose all that he knew and lose the respect of all those around him. Loss is a huge feeling for so many. The fear of loss can sometimes mean we do not gain!!

This Advent time, can we recognise that Jesus lost so much by leaving Heaven and coming to us; he gave up everything he knew for us. Lets not miss out on what Jesus has for us by placing our security and hope in ourselves, but in him.

Persistance

So much that we think about in the Christmas happenings only really happened because of a level of persistence of the people involved. Mary and Joseph had to persist through the discomfort of pregnancy, tough weather conditions (probably) and being rejected at so many places, but needing, wanting, believing that there was somewhere for them to stay.

The wise men traveled from afar. They followed the star, not knowing where it would go, but knowing that they wanted, had to, follow where it led, not knowing how long it would take to get wherever it was they were heading.

We have no idea about how long the labour was for Mary, but persistence is one of those things that has to happen when getting through a pregnancy.

Joseph and Mary's travels, both to Bethlehem and then after the birth to keep themselves and Jesus safe, would not have been easy, and they would have had to keep going.No doubt at times they would have wanted to stop and just be.

In a culture today where it is easy to flit from one thing to another, where answers are easier to come by, where things don't have to be worked at for as long, or as hard as maybe in previous decades, have we lost something of what it means to be persistent, not to give up?

Is there a recommitment that God is asking of us at this Advent time, to persist in all that he has called for us, all that he is asking us to be and do, and all that lies ahead for us?

God himself never gave up and never gives up on us, which is why he persisted and sent Jesus for us. If God is persistent for us and about us, could we, with thankful hearts, persist that little bit more in all that he is asking of us?

What are you prepared to leave?

At Christmas, we often think about the giving and the receiving of things; rarely, if ever, do we reflect on leaving, letting go, or even abandoning.

So much of the Christmas story has leaving at the heart of it. Jesus leaving Heaven, his father, and coming to us; the three kings, or wise men, leaving their environment, all that they knew and going somewhere that they probably knew little if anything about; and the shepherds leaving their livelihoods to go to meet with Jesus.

How much would we be prepared to leave, to let go of, at this Christmas time? Is there stuff that we still want to hold on to? Is there stuff that we are not prepared to let go of? Is there comfort, the familiar that we feel we need to keep a hold of, rather than going to Jesus and all that he might say to us?

If Jesus himself was prepared to leave and go, what could it mean for us today, and what could God be saying to us through this living example of leaving and going?

Are we prepared to leave all that we know, that is comfortable, that makes life easy, to go to Jesus and meet with him, regardless of whatever the consequences might be?

The prophetic in the lack of room

One of the most interesting points of any nativity play is when the inkeeper says that there is no room. It is often said with power, authority, and Mary and Joseph are left in no doubt that there really isn't any room in the inn at all.

All that they wanted was somewhere to sleep, somewhere for Mary to give birth, somewhere for Jesus to be born. And yet, all that they found was rejection, no room, no openness, pushed away and not wanted.

Is the fullness of the inn a representation of life? Was life then, and is life now, too full for us to recognise the Jesus who knocks and wants to come in, be part of life, bring all that he brings? If so many places rejected Jesus at his birth because they said there was no room, do our lives say the same thing? We are too full; there is no room; we cannot fit anything else into our lives!

This Advent and Christmas time, could it be that Jesus is asking the same question again? Is there room? Can I come in? Is there space for me?

Interestingly then, as it is now, Jesus and his family did not push their way in; there was no force, they did not go where they were not wanted. And I guess the truth is still that - Jesus will not force himself, he will not invade a life that does not want him, pushes him away or rejects him.

What do our lives say at this time? Is there room, space, a welcome? Or are we too busy, too full, and reject the Jesus we think we are open to?