Jesus on Facebook.
Imagine, baby Jesus being born into a modern family. He would have to compete with all the excellent distractions that are part of modern life. Perhaps Joseph and the three kings might have peeled off to play Fifa on Xbox after a few moments with the babe! Maybe Mary might have left the babe to set up a Facebook page for Jesus! Now there’s a thought. This Christmas in advanced economies, you will experience so many compelling and intoxicating distractions that will try to steal your heart from each other and from considering the superb idea that Jesus was indeed the Son of God and born into a manger as a vulnerable, needy infant, and therefore what does that mean? Superbly impressive, that the one who can’t get any bigger, chooses to become really small.
So, as you navigate the complexities of family life all bundled together in a sort of annual psychological, sociological, relational experiment that we call Christmas – may I suggest that you talk about planning a joint task or adventure together, it was, I suggest a great adventure for God to join mankind as an infant, which once again reminds us that we are built for adventure! It was for each other’s sense of adventure that you probably hooked up with each other in the first place. Don’t let life and it’s demands take all vestiges of adventure from you, generate some new plans together. Maybe get fit for a marathon, or navigate the Amazon (the river not the shop), so long as it’s a joint adventure that’ll be great.
If you can’t have a great marriage, an ok one is, well, ok.
The three kings following the star to the manger must have been quite a sight. They just wanted to be there because they knew it was a pretty special moment in time, and decided to harness astronomical technology to get them to where they wanted to be. I guess nowadays they would have used GPS technology to guide them, which inevitably means sooner or later calling a call centre. This is difficult for me as just this week my mobile phone provider of ten plus years to whom I have paid copious amounts of cash, offered up as a monthly sacrifice completely disowned me for an entire 90 minutes of call centre nightmare. The three kings can teach us a thing or two here. The lesson is, “if that’s what has to be done then just do it”, don’t make a fuss. They didn’t really want to end up in a manger, a nice five star hotel was probably more their thing. However, when the Saviour of mankind was born, there was no place they would rather be. So, if you have to wash up, cook or put up with dodgy relatives this Christmas in order to be with your loved ones, my advice is just get on with it, like the three kings had to and be a blessing to those around you. It may be that for a host of reasons realistically you will never have a stupendous marriage, well, if that’s the case – good news is that an OK marriage is well OK. That dosen’t mean you can stop making an effort, it just means that you can have realstic expectations. Finally, if you have to prevail with a call centre, just be patient, act humbly and remember they really are real people.
Life is a journey
Joseph was a complete star! In fact the Star of David should really be renamed the star of Joseph (only joking honest). He must have taken some serious mocking for Mary’s pregnancy. I can just imagine, and I bet you can too his explanation of events to his pals as they gathered around the watering hole! Then off they go on this jaunt to Bethlehem, at the command of the occupying army, to register themselves. With Mary heavily pregnant, it must have seemed all wrong, and insanely stupid to do such a thing. Joseph probably would have been focused on the journey, making sure the donkey was ok for the trip, sort of a resigned grumpiness regarding the whole affair. Perhaps inside he was pretty angry about the whole drama! I like to think that he just dealt with it in a manly way, and stoically “put on a brave face”. This Christmas members of your family might have issues going on that you aren’t aware of, or don’t fully understand. My advice is to just quietly support them in any way you can. Sometimes people are carrying terrific burdens and just need a bit of support, and not a full on analysis of all the options and issues. Quiet shoulder to shoulder support Joseph style, could be just what they need. Equally, at times, what people really need is a “good listening to”! and Christmas is a great time, to just give people space to talk.
Was the manger so bad?
Clearly Joseph and Mary would have preferred to spend what turned out to be the birth night in a nicer place than a stable. It would have been pretty smelly, probably dirty too with vermin and fleas dancing around – not too nice! However, since that was all they could muster on the night, they adjusted their expectations and, as it turned out it set the scene for a superb evening. If baby Jesus and three kings can all have a bit of a party in a manger then let’s worry less about where we live, what we drive and other external considerations.
Many marriages are ruined by the compelling drive for more and better possessions. No-one on their death bed (which by the way is where we all end up) has been heard to say “I do wish I had spent more time making sure all our iPods or TVs were the latest and greatest technological epiphany”. Not one bit. In the final act, it’s time spent hanging out, having fun with loved ones which makes for a peaceful departure. That and a sense of moving on from this life to the next with a sense of purpose. So, if you are coming under pressure to spend more, worry more or strive more. My advice is to consider the manger, and live more simply.
So exciting! I have finally completed the first draft of the Marriage Week UK Leaders guide. This little booklet includes; Media guide. Organising an event. Seminar notes based on “The Brush Past” and Directory of all year round resources. So, it’s off to the designers now, and available as a download really soon. Special thanks to Sarah-Jane Marshall for all that typing.
Did my seminar this afternoon. Fairly poor attendance but met some great people from Nepal and Indonesia who both seem very keen on setting up Marriage Week, so that’s great because that’s what it’s all about. Nepal was particularly interesting because I’ve been talking to someone in Katmandu already, who amazingly is a friend of the lady this afternoon! The Marriage Week International conference is now taking bookings at on line, 31st March 2012. Budapest, Hungary. Tired now, not doing too well with this jet lag lark., it’s past midnight in my head, and only 4.30 here.