Advent Unwrapped: The Gift Of Readiness

By Jennie Pollock | 10 December 2018 | Comments (2)

In many ways the nativity story is a story about readiness. After 400 years of silence between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New, why was Jesus born now? It must have been because the time was right, and the world was ready to receive him.

Mary was certainly ready – we’ve already seen the speed of her response in Luke 1:26-38. She asked one question (“How will this be?”), but then was ready to surrender her body and her life.

The Magi were ready to travel many hundreds of miles to visit a baby who would grow up to be king of a rival nation.

But today we’re looking at the shepherds (Luke 2:8-18).

You know the story: they were sitting in the fields watching the sheep as usual, when the angels appeared and told them of Jesus’ birth. As soon as the angels vanished again, the shepherds decided to leave their sheep and go and see the baby for themselves. This meant potentially losing their jobs, of course. If anything had happened to the sheep, or if the owners had found out they had walked away in the middle of the night, they would almost certainly have been fired. And since shepherd was a very low-status job at the time, it is unlikely they were qualified for much more. This was a costly decision, yet one they were ready to make.

Not only that, but when they had seen him they went out and told everyone they met (vv 17-18). I wonder whether Paul had them in mind when he talked to the Ephesian church about having their “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15).

We are a gift to God when we are ready to obey him or follow his promptings. We become a gift to others when we are ready to put aside the pressures and demands of our lives and share the gospel of peace with them. This may mean, as it did for the shepherds, telling non-believers the good news of Jesus for the first time. But it also involves being ready to live out the gospel in other ways: loving our neighbours as ourselves, weeping with those who weep, rejoicing with those who rejoice, sharing with all who have need.

Like the shepherds, we might find this costly. It may mean that important things in our lives don’t get done, and that we have to sacrifice genuine needs for the sake of obedience to God. But this is normal Christian life – it doesn’t stop just because it is Christmas and things are busier than usual.

Advent is all about readiness. Readiness to act when the Holy Spirit prompts us, and to respond to Jesus’ call. Waiting with expectant longing both for the celebration of his first coming, and for the day of his second.

Let us not get so focussed on the former that we forget the latter. Let us not wake up on Christmas morning with our homes ready, but our hearts cold and far from God.

Christmas gives a perfect opening for us to share our faith with our friends. Are you ready to explain to others why you spend so much time at church over this period? Are you looking for opportunities to turn conversations away from the stress of the season to the joy and hope it celebrates? If the Lord appeared again tonight, would you be ready?

 

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Posted by Jennie Pollock

Jennie Pollock is a freelance writer and editor. She lives and worships in central London, a gift for which she is forever thankful. In her spare time she loves exploring the city's culture, dancing, providing hospitality... and curling up with a good book and a cup of tea. She blogs at jenniepollock.com and tweets as @missjenniep

comments:

Andrew Wright

December 10, 2018 4:42 PM
Thanks for your word. It was an encouragement to me at an important time. God bless

Spiro Raftopoulos

December 19, 2018 12:54 AM
I ponder on the acute cost to the shepherds. I wonder how sustainable was their amazement say one month after. The sprint feels exhilerating and you are excited to share. But what happens when you go back to your routine of shepherding sheep on the same, plain hill ? The antidote i sense is growing in deeper love for the Lord through 'remembering' deeply and regularly His story...a constantly growing experiential faith...that drives you to greater service.

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