The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t know that.) Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.
While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.”
(Matthew 1:18-21, The Message)
Bishop Justin writes:
We are so blessed that Joseph didn’t decide to leave Mary to it. Those of us in ministry are also blessed by our partners in crime (*cough* I mean life) who have also stuck with us; often a shared ministry which can sometimes get lost against the collars, robes and occasionally croziers and pointy hats.
This Christmas, I wanted to share with you the Christmas letter written (originally for St Michael’s Kelburn) by Bishop Ellie’s husband, Tim. He really hits the nail on the head – together as the body of Christ we partner with Him to extend God’s kingdom invitation to others, and this is the season when those invitations are easier to make than at other times of the year. Let’s not miss the opportunities given to us to build relationships with those who orbit our lives.
Tis’ the season for all sorts of invitations: BBQ’s, work functions, old friends, family, and probably other stuff too. Sometimes it all just seems too much and we start looking for excuses: “I’m busy”, “I’m tired”, “I have work tomorrow”, “I have been out too much recently.”
All good excuses…unless you are the one doing the inviting. For every “sorry I can’t make it” there are ten reasons why it would be easier to just not try and get people together in the first place! And do you know what? We would be so much worse for it.
This year I want to challenge you to say yes to as many of these invitations as you possibly can (Health-&-Safety-Tim says always eat and drink in moderation). Make an effort to catch up with these people. There is a lot to be said for face to face communication and it’s often surprising to hear what hasn’t been posted on social media!
“But wait!” I hear you say, “What if I still have some free nights without invitations?” Thanks for asking! On those nights perhaps you could invite people to your place? Friends, neighbours, colleagues, family, sports team, book club – you may have better suggestions? Keep it simple – BYO takeaways, BBQs – whatever makes it easy to focus on the people and not get too stressed with organisation, allowing you to enjoy the time together.
There is a great story in the Bible (Luke 14ish) where, and I am going to paraphrase here, we hear about a guy who throws a party, invites his mates who all say yes and then one by one they make excuses and don’t show (anyone else squirming here?) so the guy looks around and says ‘you know what, I have the party organised just no guests, so I may as well just invite anyone I find in the street’. The party cranks up and an awesome time ensues; later a few of the original guests turn up and aren’t able to even make it through the door…
There is a bigger message in the story but we can also learn from its face value – turning up matters. And you can’t miss out if you are already there!
Still not convinced? Start slow: say yes to a couple things you would normally dodge. Invite a few people over that you haven’t seen in a while and see how it goes. You’ll be surprised – it really does make a difference both to your life and to those you share with, and bit by bit, God’s kingdom also turns up.