Engaging in the Culture

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?

Embracing Vulnerability

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?

Discipline of Waiting

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.

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?