As Christmas day comes closer I like to share some nativity story thoughts which I’ve been mulling over of late.
About once a month I go to a book club which has quite a delightfully eclectic mix of people attending it. Presently we are reading Richard Rohr’s book “Falling Upward.” While initially I really liked it, now I find myself struggling with it; struggling to understand, in the midst of clever sentences and repetition, what beyond his thinking that life often consists of a before and after some life-changing event, Rohr is actually saying. (Feel free to comment)
Without commenting on the other participants within the book club group, last time we meet I came away not only confused by trying to work out what Rohr is saying but with some of the arguments which had been put forward. So what I’ve decided, with considering our wonderful son is studying theology, an obvious caveat that this blog has nothing against those who are theologically minded, but what I’ve decided and which I’m sure won’t surprise many, is that while I love studying Gods word, I’m really not a theologian a heart, and that’s okay.
And all the above got me thinking about the characters within the nativity story.
I guess its possible that the wise men had a “theological” type of brain but looking at the others, I doubt many of them spent much time thinking too deeply as they went about their daily living life. We see Mary a young teenager whose ordinary life was interrupted by Gabriel, telling her the news that life from now on would never be ordinary again. And Joseph whose sleep was interrupted, also by Gabriel- (I love that God came to Joseph when he was resting but that’s a different pondering thought!) Or the ordinary shepherds minding very ordinary sheep whose lives were interrupted by a host of angels singing. Or the innkeeper just going about his work earning an extra few bob with the influx of folk in town for the census, when the mother of God, Immanuel, landed on his doorstep! Of course, you have Herod as one of the characters who, by comparison, was anything but ordinary, but I suspect that he thought more about himself, over any other deep thinking thoughts. Then add Elizabeth, Anna, and Zachariah and it seems to me, that like Jesus met the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, God delights to meet us where we are. And that is such a comfort to me.
For someone who most often feels safer and functions best within set boundaries, who likes to be told what to do and who then tries her best to follow through, even when I don’t always understand, it would seem to me as I sit with the nativity story that it’s perfectly acceptable to be “ordinary,” and in sitting back and accepting that I may never this side of eternity understand everything, I am once again settled in knowing that He knows and that’s enough for me.
Two other things…
I met an elderly neighbour yesterday. As we discussed the past year he’s had he wistfully said to me…”It won’t matter how many are around the table on Christmas day, it’s the empty chairs which tend to touch your heart.” I know he’s right, and I am reminded to once again pause and remember families known to me, who this Christmas will be adjusting to, and walking with different shapes this time around. Maybe you might do likewise and remember some known to you?
And secondly, I was reading an article in a Christian magazine this morning where the writer, Chris Railey in respect of considering a new year, using the verse “Consider what great things He has done for you” 1 Samuel 12:24, asks, “If you had to sum up the last year in one word, one sentence what would it be? Mine would be…
“In all my letting go, in all my new shape walking, God has been, as He always is, my “faithful One, so unchanging””
I wonder what you might say? Maybe leave a note in the comments box?
And so we pray…
“Father, thank you that you see us all as individuals, each one of us fearfully and wonderfully made. Thank you for your faithfulness both in big things and small ways this past year and for knowing that whatever the coming year may bring your promise is to never leave us or forsake us. As we in this Advent season to consider Him we once again thank you for the Word made flesh who came to dwell among us.”
And so, with heartfelt thanks to all who’ve travelled with me during this past year, a prayer for His SHALOM peace to reign in your hearts over Christmas and into 2018, with this quote to close…
“We cannot understand Christmas without Good Friday, the meaning of the cradle unless we see the shadow of the cross. He stooped down that thereby He might befit us to be like Him. Where He is He will lead us. What He is He will make us.” Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910)