Luke 2: 15-24
The Shepherds, the Magi and representatives of the animal community all ‘found Mary and Joseph and the baby, who was lying in the manger’ (Luke 2:16). That’s about as much information we get, but it’s all we need.
Mary and Joseph had their ups and downs on the way (the BBC ‘Nativity’ presents what might have happened brilliantly in my view) and Joseph would have jumped ship had God not stepped in, but they get there as one, in the end (or is it in the beginning?).
Faithfulness is not about getting it right every time, believing everything we hear from God fully and straight away, but it’s about keeping on, keeping on.
There’s a variety of practices, which combine to build a strong foundation of faithfulness into our lives, many of which we’ve taken a glimpse at during this advent period. However, in truth, it wasn’t that which eventually brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, and it wasn’t that which brought them to the oneness between the two of them (in spite of what everyone else must have thought). Neither was it what enabled them to keep the baby Jesus safe from death during his early months, or as refugees to the safe haven of another land. This was in fact all down to grace … the pure, unadulterated grace of God.
Everything’s down to God’s grace … ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ is a phrase not heard so much today as when I became a Christian at the age of seventeen, but it’s one which often comes to my mind. If God had not captured my heart with his grace, I genuinely cannot imagine where my life would have taken me. I didn’t get where I am today without the grace of God. Whilst for me that’s a very personal statement, it can be so for every one of us; because the limitless grace of God is always applied personally.
Mary knew she had encountered the one, true living God before Jesus was born. She still needed to be willing, but on that day when she looked down at the Son of God she had given birth to, she knew it was down to God’s grace. Joseph also knew he had encountered the one, true living God before Jesus was born. When he looked down at the baby Jesus he knew it was down to God’s grace – if it had been left to him he’d have been nowhere to be seen.
If it’s all down to the grace of God, His faithfulness, where do we come in and how on earth can we practice? Start today. Grab five minutes peace amidst the activity of this day and thank God, from the bottom of your heart, for getting you here. Then pray this prayer and mean it!
Prayer: Dear Lord. Thank you for carrying me when I’ve been unwilling to walk alongside you by your grace. Help me to re-focus my whole life, not only in thanksgiving when I fix my eyes upon you, but tomorrow and into next year in faithfulness. Give me strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other to follow you at every step. In Jesus’ name. Amen.