December 20

LUKE 1:41–44

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” 
The roots of Jesus run deep into the soil of his faith-family story—and they also run side to side with those who were his contemporaries and Advent partners. For Jesus, one must consider what would have happened if his relative, John, had not been born onto the scene at the same time. As we look at the Advent, we meet John first leaping in the womb of his mother, Elizabeth, delighted from before either child was born in all that God was about to do (Luke 1:41–44). Partnership is an essential part of Christlike living in the world. Banded discipleship points us to a way of becoming
God’s love to one another, and God’s love to the world, that lifts us out of more functional Christian paradigms of church and invites us into an intimately relational paradigm of deep community. (For more about banded discipleship, see John was a partner with Jesus, and with the Trinity, in seeing the Advent plan of salvation through.
Coming into the world a few months before Jesus, as far as we can tell from the Scriptures, John was a forerunner of Christ in many ways. He had a part to play in calling the nation to repentance, and his ministry was in full motion before Jesus began his. John the Baptist was the way maker; Jesus was the Way. Just as John laid down his life to see Jesus fulfill his ministry, so too Jesus laid down his life to see us come into the fullness of intimacy with God that the Father so desired.
We see John faithfully doing his work, even to the point of facing death, and Jesus then doing the same—moving toward a death that would mean the rescue of humanity. In Advent, we must pause to consider how Jesus prepared the way for you and I to come to know him as the Way that leads to life (Ps. 16:11).
The Incarnation is a celebration of intervention, of the day when the Father gave his very best to see us become our very best before him. Jesus is God’s very best, given to the world. He not only taught the way to the Father; he was the Way, the Truth, and the Life—and still is. Christmas, like Easter, is not a static event. It is a dynamic interplay of God’s continued work in the creation to restore it to himself, restoring his image-bearers to communion with himself and one another to attend to redemptive work.
Jesus continues to make a way in you, your home, your church, and your city to come back to him from the exile of the heart we all are so easily given to. In this, Jesus, like John, prepares a way for us to return, again and again, to our first love. Made for love, Jesus is the Way to its full, and unending experience for you, for me, and for those in your community.
Jesus, the Way, you continually invite me to follow paths that lead to you, to wholeness, and to community, ultimately leading to the Father’s heart. If you don’t cease your constant welcoming of us, we won’t cease our continual return when we wander. We choose you, the Way that leads to life; make us a way-maker for those who are yet to return, by your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen. THE QUESTIONS 
• Do you know of someone who needs some help right now to find their way to, or back to, Christ? • What one thing could you do to help remove the barriers they believe are between them and God, to support the Spirit’s process of wooing them home?

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