"Luke and Matthew go to great lengths to demonstrate that we - with our power, generosity, competence and capabilities - had little to do with God's work in Jesus. God wanted to do something for us so strange, so utterly beyond the bounds of human imagination, so foreign to human projection, that God had to resort to angels, pregnant virgins and stars in the sky to get it done. We didn't think of it, understand it, or approve it. All we could do in Bethlehem was receive it. A gift from God we hardly even knew.
"It's tough to be on the receiving end of love, God's or anybody else's. It requires that we see our lives not as our possessions, but as gifts... This is often the way God loves us: with gifts we thought we didn't need, which transform us into people we don't necessarily want to be. With our advanced degrees, armies, government programs, material comforts and self-fulfillment techniques, we assume that religion is about giving a little of our power in order to confirm to ourselves that we are indeed as self-sufficient as we claim.
"Then this stranger comes to us, blesses us with a gift, and calls us to see ourselves as we are - empty-handed recipients of a gracious God who, rather than leave us to our own devices, gave us a baby."
~William Willimon in Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas
- Do you see your life as a gift or a possession? What might the differences be lived out?
- In what ways do you find it easier to give than receive?
- Our inability to receive can often be a symptom of our need to protect or defend ourselves in order to remain in control vs. be vulnerable. Protected people cannot be transformed. Vulnerable people can. The gist of Christianity IS transformation...in what ways do you wish to be transformed?
- How might you let yourself be loved by receiving over these next few days?