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?

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?

Crazy Obedience

Obedience is one of those things which is often spoken about but it really does take a lot to put into action. As we think about Advent and the lead up to Christmas, obedience is key to the whole of the story.

Firstly, Jesus himself had to be obedient to come to earth! It would have been so easy surely for God to have come up with another plan, another idea, rather than sending his son to us here on earth, in the midst of hurt, pain, turmoil, trouble, anger and even risk, but yet it happened. Jesus, the son of God came to earth! Came to be amongst us, his choice, his obedience!

And then there was Mary and Joseph! We spoke about their ability to hear God’s voice previously, but to then act on it in total obedience, even when the whole thing would have seemed strange, odd or peculiar to what they knew, their traditions and so on. Yet they did what God said, and were obedient.

Obedience will be tough when everything around us will be saying something different or suggesting that there must be another way! Yet the challenge for us is to think through where we put our trust. Do we trust the culture around us more than God? Do we trust the voice of our culture more than the voice of God? Do we only give part of ourselves because we are uncertain? If God was prepared to take a risk and Jesus was obedient for us, can we rise to that invitation for us to be obedient to what God is asking of us?

On the Move

This is the first of our Advent reflections, and we wanted to reflect on the fact that God is on the move!

But God has always been on the move, and this is so represented in the life of Jesus even when he was a baby. From the point of birth, his family took him on an adventure (even if it was for his own safety). They took him to different places, and he was on the move. Living in different places, engaging with different people in different ways, Jesus was not confined to one place, nor to one people group, and God today is not confined!

God is continually on the move, inviting people to engage with him, opening his arms to receive, going to where people are, not just expecting them to come to him. If Jesus moved around during his life, and God is on the move, shouldn’t we be people who are going to where people are, reaching out to them, engaging with them in their contexts, in their lives and circumstances?

During this season, let’s be open to where God is on the move, but also ask, where is it that we should be on the move also?