Aim to have an Up In Out Christmas
In the lead up to Christmas I have been reflecting more on the life of Jesus and how he expertly balanced the three relationships - with his Father (Up), with the disicples (In), and with the world around him (Out). I have noticed that he was able to do this in both the macro and the micro.
Jesus was with the crowd of 5000 for a day (Out), went up on a mountain at night to pray (Up) and then went on retreat with his disciples (In) to the region of Tyre and Sidon - Matt 14:13-15:28.
Then Jesus was with another crowd of 4000 for 3 days (Out), was with his disciples travelling to Caesarea (In) and then went up the mountain and was transfigured (Up) - Matt 15:28-17:5.
Early in his ministry he spent time in prayer early in the morning (Up), his disciples came to him (In), and then they went around to various villages (Out) - Mark 1:35-39.
Before Jesus chose the twelve, he spent a night in prayer (Up), called his disciples to him (In), and then went down onto the plane to minister to the crowd (Out) - Luke 6:12-19.
However, we also see Jesus incorporating these three dimensions in shorter periods of time.
When he was in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest, he withdrew by himself to pray (Up), he talked with his disciples about prayer (In), and he engaged with those who came to arrest him, including healing the servant's ear which Peter had cut it off (Out) - Luke 22:39-53.
When Jesus was hanging on the cross, we see him crying out to God in prayer (Up), making arrangements with John for the care of his mother (In), and engaging with the repentant thief hanging next to him (Out) - Luke 23: 32-43;John 19:26-27.
So this Christmas, I encourage you to think and plan how you could balance these three relationships - with God, with the church family, and with the world around you. Think about setting side larger chunks of time for each - the macro level. But also look for ways that you can include all three relationships within shorter periods of time - the micro level. As you do you will be copying the lifestyle of Jesus and your Christmas season will be enriched.
David Wanstall, 25/11/2016