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December 8th, 2015

Waiting for Love this Christmas – with an Urban Monk

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What is it about the Christmas story that can reach out to even the most uninterested in Christianity?

There is something about the familiarity of the story which we’ve grown up with in schools and we see all around us in shops, that makes people feel unthreatened by it, however they might feel the rest of the year.

And I think once in a while people find themselves touched by a story that really is a story of true love. That God the Father would allow His Son to leave all the glory of heaven, and safety of being ‘In the Father’s Bosom’ (John 1:18) – ‘At the Father’s side’ * – to come vulnerable and weak from the start, to a vulnerable and weak world.

It’s as if the Father was saying to the world – ‘Here he is, the one who is of ultimate value to me, and He is my gift to you, to show you how much I value you. What you are, He shall become, and what He is, you can be!’

The Son comes and leaves the glory of heaven willingly, most likely with the words that Isaiah echoed, ‘Here I am, send me’ (Isaiah 6:8), and He encounters the realities of a world so affected by that break in relationship from that beautiful garden where we once walked as sons and daughters in a full knowledge of our heavenly Father’s ocean of love for us.

As He walks the earth and towards the Cross, carrying our sorrows and sharing our pains, He also demonstrates to us, that this is what a Son is like. All the way He talks of God as His Father, His Abba, and offends so many people as He does – but His whole purpose in coming, was not to flaunt His Sonship at us saying – ‘Look at me up here on this level – a level you can never achieve!’ – but rather to show as an example the sonship lost at the garden, that the Father has come to welcome us back into. The Father has literally ‘come’ to welcome us back into this sonship, for ‘God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself'(2 Corinthians 5:18). So the Sonship of Jesus is a model to show us who we truly are – our real identity. Of course, we will never be God like Jesus, our wonderful un-created Lord who has no beginning. But He was called the firstborn among many brothers (Col 1:18) to show us who we truly are!! Who we were always truly meant to be!!

I wrote the book, ‘The Musings of an Urban Monk’ to share more of the revelation that God desires to be a Father to us in our experience – to truly enable us to live as his sons and daughters. The whole of the gospel is a love story of the Father calling us back to His original call for us – to live in His love. This is what I wanted to explore in this book.

I did this also by tying it into my personal journey, where I have taken many retreats, and learnt to have time out with God. That has really helped me to learn to encounter the love of the Father, and to start to walk in His love as a Son. For many this can be a good time of year to take a retreat, perhaps in January after Christmas. The silence of winter can be a welcome chance to hibernate for a while in the love that comforts and restores.

I realise that, for some, times and seasons aren’t as important as others. But whether celebrating dates matters to you or not, the nativity story itself is one of our infinite value and of such amazing love. Whether at Christmas or another time of the year, this story can open us up to a quiet contemplation of waiting on God. Waiting like Mary to give birth, waiting like Elizabeth and Zechariah, for God’s promise, waiting like Simeon and Anna to see the Messiah, waiting like the Magi on their journey to see love cradled on the earth.

May the story celebrated at Christmas release you into a quiet waiting upon Love, a waiting that will lead you into a contemplation of the Love that has never stopped working throughout the history of mankind. That love is your hope, that love is our hope!

* Or even ‘Close to the Father’s Heart’ as in the NRSV

The Musings of an Urban Monk is published by Instant Apostle and is available online and from bookshops in paperback and electronic formats.

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