This series of thoughts for advent are designed to help us to focus on the reality of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. Rather than just focusing on the nice sanitized nativity that is presented I try to ask questions like ‘what was that like?’ or ‘How did that feel?’
I hope and pray that these reflections will help to keep us focused on the real meaning of CHRISTmas during this busy season of advent.
Advent 1: Surprised by an Angel (Luke 1)
Zechariah was in the temple where God’s presence is found, so why was he surprised to meet an angel?
Do we still believe that God can do the impossible or have we come to think that the impossible is greater than God?
Zechariah was unable to speak but his faith and relationship with God thrived despite this. When life is frustrating do we turn towards God or drift away from him?
Advent 4: The God of Miracles (Luke 1)
For years Elizabeth had only known a twisted feeling of disgrace and the pain it caused her but now she carried a child who was growing inside of her and she was so grateful to God for her miracle.
Advent 5: God is in the Ordinary (Luke 1)
Meeting an angel is probably not what you would expect to happen when you are doing something ordinary like washing the dishes or working on your wedding dress!
Advent 6: A Special Child (Luke 1)
Jesus was running the universe with his Father one minute & in the next he was a foetus. Why would he do this? Why would he limit himself to the confines of a human body?
Advent 7: Mary says YES (Luke 1. 39-56)
It is surprising that Mary didn’t need to think about it for longer before saying yes because becoming pregnant whilst unmarried was going to cause her some real problems in her culture.
When we obey God, do we do so with joy or through gritted teeth?
Advent 9: Receiving a new Perspective from God (Matthew 1.18-25)
Joseph encounters an Angel and his perspective is changed. Often we look at God through the lens of life but how different would things be if we looked at life through the lens of God? This is what Joseph does and it meant that he and Mary knew God leading them forwards.
Advent 10: Jesus is God With Us (Matthew 1.22-23)
Have you ever wondered why the angel said that Jesus would be called Immanuel?
Advent 11: Change Takes Time (Luke 1.57-80)
Nearly a year earlier Zechariah hadn’t believed what God had promised but over time his faith had grown. Are we willing to allow the time for our faith to grow or is our impatience getting on the way of what God s trying to do in our lives?
A decree from Augustus meant that Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem where Jesus was born. God had previously said that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, so was Jesus born there becasue of the will of Augustus or of God?
The Road to Bethlehem was a hard place to be for Mary & Joseph. God didn’t transport them miraculously but he was with them for every step of the way.
Joseph must have knocked on lots of the doors of his family members in Bethlehem but none of them had room anywhere clean and comfortable for Mary and himself.
Some people think that their lives aren’t clean enough to invite Jesus to be a part of but the birthplace of Jesus reminds us that God isn’t fussy about where his presence dwells.
Shepherds in Jesus’ day couldn’t go to the synagogue or temple because they had to watch over the sheep. They were poor and insignificant people who were not able to go to the Jewish equivalent of church. So, what does it tell us about God’s priorities that shepherds were the first people to be told about the arrival of his son, the saviour of the world?
Before their encounter with the angels, the shepherds had no expectation that God knew or cared about people like them but they were about to learn the truth and if God was communicating with them then they were in!
The journey of the Magi started hundreds of miles from Bethlehem but it also started hundreds of years earlier when the angel Gabriel visited Daniel.
Instead of waiting in isolation from God and getting frustrated, Simeon and Anna were waiting with God and getting excited.
The Magi traveled to find Jesus which is wonderful, but they were led to him through astrology which feels err, a bit embarrassing.
Have you ever wondered what the unusual gifts of Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh symbolized?
There is a part of the Christmas story that I don’t recall seeing in many or even possibly any Nativity plays. As we face up to the darkness, we will see the light appear to shine even more brightly.
Mary, Joseph and Jesus escaped in the night. They left behind everything that was familiar and traveled to live in a foreign land so that they could survive.
What do we really need for Christmas?