Christmas is round the corner and we all know what that means. There is a stereotype of a busy mum at Christmas, and I don’t know about you but I find that I am that stereotype. I love Christmas – did I mention that? – but let’s face it, it’s a crazy time. It’s a time when I make crazy decisions and I overreach to new and surprising heights.
Advent is a time when we feel pulled in several directions all at once. There are children’s parties and grown-up parties (which non-parents just call parties), church outreach events, church social events, Christmas shopping, over-excited children, gift wrapping, travel, relatives, Christmas cards, sometimes Birthdays (e.g. mine), Secret Santas, school performances, more baking than usual and (we hope not but maybe) the occasional bout of flu.
So at this busy time, when we can become so much like Martha of Bethany, rushing around in a sweat and scowling because nobody is helping, it’s all-the-more important that we try to be like Mary, who sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to him – I assume it’s not just me.
There are many resources around to help us meditate on the Lord Jesus during the Christmas period, and I wanted to recommend this one to you – One True Gift – as it’s new and it’s a little bit different. Sometimes a different angle can help us to refocus.
It’s by Tim Chester, who I think is brilliant. If you haven’t read Total Church, which is now really old, then please do. You don’t have time now, but maybe in January. I really enjoyed reading his Advent devotion in John’s gospel, One True Light a couple of years ago. He’s a good man and he communicates the gospel in a down-to-earth way, which is very helpful when you’re knee-deep in overambitious Christmas crafts.
The thing that makes this book a bit surprising is that it’s a 24-day meditation on Philippians 2, which isn’t usually seen as a festive passage of Scripture. But since it’s about the Son of God coming to earth as a human baby, who would grow up to serve and even to die, and is therefore now raised up to the highest place from which he’ll return one day to judge the world, there are plenty of good reasons to meditate on this passage in the run up to the celebration of the astonishing and marvellous incarnation.
So while I’m doing my worst Martha impression in the run up to Christmas, here are three ways in which, by God’s grace, I expect this book will help me:
I’ll be rebuked by Jesus the servant:
“‘I’m willing to serve,’ we might say, ‘but not that person – not after the way they’ve treated me.’ Yet Jesus washes the feet of Judas knowing that Judas already has 30 pieces of silver jangling in his wallet.” (p. 47)
Jesus is my example to learn from and to follow.
I’ll be encouraged by the love of Jesus.
“Jesus died for your sins. When he hears you grumbling and arguing, he didn’t turn away in disgust. In his love he turned towards the cross, arms opened wide to take the nails. And now in his love he turns towards you, arms opened wide to embrace you.” p. 77.
Jesus is my Saviour to love and to trust.
I’ll be awestruck by the incarnation:
“we are left with this conclusion: the baby in the manger is none other than the LORD, the covenant God of Israel, the Creator, the one, true God.” (p. 41)
Jesus is my Lord to praise and to worship.
If you don’t buy this book, I do hope you’ll find another way to make sure you’re feeding on God’s word each day this advent, so that your acts of service and good works are done for Him, our Saviour and Lord and the true star of every show. This book is very accessible, so I’d recommend giving it as an early Christmas gift to a friend or your mum, or anyone you think might be willing to take a closer look at Jesus this Christmas. You can buy it here from the Good Book Company.