The Call of Christmas

There is a beautiful thread throughout the Christmas story – of regular humans, just like us, being invited to participate in this greater story. Simple folk invited into an extraordinary adventure.

God calls and they respond. We see it time and time again throughout the lead up to Jesus’ birth.

An angel calls out to Mary to bring forth Christ into our world. She responds.

An angel calls Joseph to trust Mary and father Jesus. He responds.

Mary and Joseph seek shelter in Bethlehem. A local responds.

A choir of angels invite lowly shepherds to celebrate Jesus’ birth. They respond.

Wisemen are drawn to follow a curious star. They respond.

In a dream, wisemen are warned not to report back to Herod. They respond and obey.

And this all leads to a baby born in Bethlehem – who would change the world forever.

Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus was born – humbly in a manger to a young and courageous mother and a cautious yet committed father.

To bear the cost of our sins and bring us back into communion with Him – dying on a humble and humiliating cross at the age of just 33 – Jesus responded.

And today, here and now, this Christmas, the call or rather the generous invitation to participate is extended to us too. Jesus invites us to participate in this extraordinary story too.

There are two ideas which strike me. I wonder if they strike you too.

One is that in all these call and response opportunities – it is always God initiating, creating, calling, summoning. It is God first – the alpha, the beginning.  

And secondly, there is us whom God so graciously invites to participate in this story too. It is God who puts out the call and it is us who get to respond. The story is not one for us to simply watch from afar but to engage with and live out with our hands, our feet, our minds, our hearts, our words – to the very breath in our lungs.

In 1 John, we read:

Here is how God showed his love among us. He sent his one and only Son into the world. He sent him so we could receive life through him. Here is what love is. It is not that we loved God. It is that he loved us and sent his Son to give his life to pay for our sins.

Dear friends, since God loved us this much, we should also love one another. No one has ever seen God. But if we love one another, God lives in us. His love is made complete in us.

1 John 4:9-12

What an amazing invitation is before us. Is there one stirring in your heart?

Is there a danger you’re being invited to turn away from, like the wisemen turning from Herod? Is there a calling on your life, terrifying and yet utterly compelling, one that you don’t feel ready or equipped for but invited too nonetheless – like Mary?

Like Joseph, is God asking you to trust when it doesn’t make sense? Like the resident of Bethlehem, is God inviting you to share what you have though it may not feel like much?

Or is it one other invitation? The very one that brings us together today. A baby born into our world to carry the cost of our sins and restore relationship with God. Is there a calling in your heart to follow Jesus – to surrender yourself into His loving hands? To trust in Him?

As we celebrate tis Christmas season, may we be listening for God’s call in our lives, however big or small, it may be. And may we not just listen, but may we too, just like those in the Christmas story, also respond with courage and humility, as God continues to write an extraordinary story.

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