When we think of engaging with people or an area, we can often go with the mindset that we know best or have something that others need to hear and listen to. This means we often go in a spirit of power. But at Christmas, it is worth remembering how the son of God chose to engage with us, our world and our culture, becoming a dependant with nothing at all, growing up, learning and engaging in the culture that he sought to bring to love, peace, encounter and relationship.
Even though we may well have something of God that we carry with us at all times whenever we engage with others, how we choose to show this is key. At this Christmas time, is there something we can learn from the way that God chose to engage with us, live life with us, and in gentleness and compassion, transform lives and society?
All the way through the Christmas story we read about vulnerability. Mary and Joseph in their contexts; the shepherds leaving their work; the wise men talking to the king; and maybe most of all, Jesus himself - King Jesus becoming a human baby; reliant, dependant upon a human couple to look after him.
Vulnerability for people in the story, as well as people today, happens in a couple of different ways: People can make us feel vulnerable, as I expect Mary and Joseph felt, (and I also expect Herod felt when he was told the news about the new king being born); or we choose to make ourselves vulnerable, as the shepherds did, and as Jesus himself did.
Vulnerability is often regarded as a sign of weakness, but through the birth and life of Jesus we see that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness to God but rather a sign of strength in relationship. How amazing is it to think that Jesus made himself vulnerable enough for us to have a strengthened relationship with the father in Heaven.
This Christmas time, how about making ourselves vulnerable before Jesus as he made himself vulnerable for us?
We do not read much after she is told about her pending pregnancy of how Mary must have felt about what was about to happen. There is some detail in the Bible, but not much. But what is clear is her patient waiting; waiting for what she knew was going to happen; waiting because she knew that what was about to happen was coming from God. She gave herself to God, gave herself to the waiting and gave herself despite of herself.
Waiting is often a difficult thing. It is difficult to practice, especially in a culture that is becoming more and more immediate in its response and activity.
There is something that is both challenging and yet prophetic about the discipline of waiting that maybe our culture could do with experiencing, noticing and even recognising that it is missing out on.
Amidst the activity, all the expectations of all that people think should happen at this time, where are we waiting? What are we showing to the culture around us if we do not engage in the discipline of the waiting?
We can wait expectantly - this is different to impatience - and we should be expectant about what God is doing and will do. But as Mary knew what it was that she was waiting for, what is it that you are expectant for this season? What are you waiting for God to deliver in your life?
Wait in expectancy, but wait in spending time with God, so you know what it is that he wants to give you.
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.