I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to Theology…
One thing I am quite interested is the synoptic gospels, or rather why the gospels are different in places and what they are trying to say?
John, I think is a theologians story coming from a thoughtful wise old guy whose basically mopping up the stories of Jesus that haven’t been told (and he does rather tantalizingly leave the hint that more stories are about when he said if every story was written down there wouldn’t be books big enough to hold them all!)..
Mark was the earliest Gospel to be written, and probably his source for this was the disciple Peter.
Luke and Matthew probably read Mark and then did their own research and journey as they wrote their gospel narrative.
People say oh Matthew is writing for a Jewish audience and Luke for the Gentile Audience, but I don’t think this is right, for starters Luke starts and finishes his account in the temple and refers heavily to the old testament in his writings but interestingly their birth narratives are the opposite way around from what conventional wisdom would have us believe.
Matthew talks of Gentiles at the start of the Bible, people from ‘off the page’, finding and worshipping Christ, not to mention drawing attention to the Gentile blood that was in Jesus lineage with Ruth and Boaz.
..Not what a Gospel to the Jews would major on? Or perhaps it majors on these points as a head on challenge to the ideas that were too come re.jewish rituals like circumcision.
Luke on the other hand is all about people who believe they are written off being included, the shepherds unqualified and probably illiterate (which is why Jesus calling himself a shepherd later on is so culturally subversive), in fact even in the shepherding world the dud shift was the night shift, how much talent do you need to look after an asleep sheep.
Yet both are messages of inclusion, come from where-ever you are and encounter the King and Saviour.
Whoever you are, no one is too grand, intellectual or far away nor is anyone written off by being marginalised or disenfranchized kneeling before the King of Kings everyone was equal and everyone is equal.
I then began to think about the wisemen and the star.
They didn’t just appreciate and enjoy the star… They followed it.
In 2016 are we going to be people who grab the opportunity with both hands or be spectators from the sidelines.
They didn’t follow the star for a bit and then get distracted by a beautiful sunset or lovely waterfall…
One of the greatest problems in the Church (and in myself too) is distraction, so often we start with a noble and good calling, but we end up getting caught up with a million nice ideas and we never fulfill and complete what God has called us to do.
I once heard the advice, ‘keep going till I tell you to stop’, do we quit before the miracles kick in, especially when the deserts dusty and our camel is getting stroppy.
Yet the journey ended in Bethlehem, when the wise men took their eyes off the star, a bit like Peter took his eyes of Jesus when he walked on water and began to sink, and they used their own logic and world view that they ended up going to Herod and it all went wrong.
I think we think God’s plan must look a certain way, especially if it involves mission or church, but often we are simply trying to impose our baggage on God’s plan, a bit like David in Saul’s Armour.
A thought to finish with; a challenge to see and seize the moment in 2016, let us follow faithfully not turning to the left or the right and to finish faithfully where God has led us and to see what God has brought to birth happen in God’s time, in God’s way…
Let’s hold it lightly but faithfully.
But you might be reading all of this and think, God can’t use me, I’m no good…
but let me return to the shepherd, written off people who not only were the first to see Christ, but also the first evangelists, they told everyone what they had seen and heard and glorified God. God was glorified through them.
The question has never been “Can God use me?” but rather “Will we let him?”
And finally the last words in Luke’s narrative is about Mary treasuring all these things in her heart… God can and does and has used us, and will use us again if we let him.
Lets 2016, be a year when we say to God let us grab the moment and follow you faithfully and do everything your way, not my way or the way I think it should be done.
Two words that I think ought to sum up our response to 2016 are these “Obedience”& “Surrender”.