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Summary: How to prepare for Christmas in the way that Mary did. How to cultivate the life of Jesus within.

Mary: the activity and intimacy Luke 1:39-56 WBC 12.12.04pm


This week I set Monday aside for reading and preparation for an essay for my MA on ‘How may the spiritual life of an individual be helped by a knowledge of different streams and religious traditions’

- busy reading through notes… trying to take in the facts… how I can craft my essay to get the maximum marks most efficiently

- struck me: here I am READING this stuff rather than doing it!

o Most ironic! So busy as a pastor & Christian that my soul is hungering for more of Jesus

Discussed it with Pam

- in many (some?) ways I’ve grown: more obedient. I do things more because they are the RIGHT thing. (not just because I want to)

o even do them joyfully most (some?!) of the time

- but my heart is crying out for more of Jesus at Christmas time

o “bet I’m not the only one!”

o that’s what I want to preach on, soon

And then I read through the Christmas stories in search of the Word for you, tonight

- and this struck me!

Here is this little girl. And what does she do? This little person who was the very first to carry Jesus inside her. The first to carry the good news.

- what does she do when she conceives (v 39 ‘at that time’)?

- She goes to Elizabeth’s house

- The spiritual experiences start

- She spends time cultivating the life that is within

- And then (v56) she stays with Elizabeth 3 months!

This struck me: the result of the incarnation to her was spending three months meditating on… talking about… the One within her

How different is that from our experience? Your experience?

- we rush to activity. She runs to intimacy

o in fact the only rushing she does is down to Elizabeth’s house (v39)… to where she can cultivate the life within

Because, in the end, that’s what matters.

Friday I went and had lunch with some of the local ministers:

Peter Doyle, David O’sullivan from St Peters, Charles Stewart, David Scott, Howard Mellor, Peter Davey, Robert Teare, Michael Starr

- what we call the City Centre Ministers

- made to leave at 2.15pm. ‘I’ve got 2 sermons to finish’

- said “Ewen: chill out! You’ve always got something to rush to! You need to relax and let God. God will provide. These things come from God, not from straining. Here- have a glass of port!”

So, I did!

- these are the ones who are telling me… but am I.. we as a certain kind of evo… the ones who are always saying ‘not by might nor by power but by the Spirit of God’?

- we have a lot to learn. There’s a quiet, very attractive, power in these kinds of traditions

o Illustr: Roy Searle ‘incoming’ BUGB president. Leader of the Northumbria Community. Coming here Oct 2005. Celtic spirituality. It’s magnetic

It’s magnetic at this time of year- AND it’s what this time of year is all about.

Don’t you want more of Jesus? To find Him born in your hearts this Christmas

Well: here are three brief points from Mary that might help.


The first is interiority. (it’s a real word. My spell checker told me so).

Mary cultivates the life of Jesus within her. That’s what she’s doing.

- it’s not about activity. Rushing around. DOING.

o That’s not what Christmas is to her.

So- she spends time preparing for His birth by

- talking about Him

- praising God. The magnificat: “my soul magnifies the Lord!”

- humbling herself (v48 ‘the humble state of his servant’)

- recognising God’s mercy

- recognising that the proud (and maybe the busy) get scattered in their innermost thoughts (v51)

o but in her innermost thoughts she cultivates Jesus. Life

o meditates on Him

This is the exact opposite of what our culture will try and get you to do

- our Christmas culture

- our CHRISTIAN sub-culture as well

And I have come to realise the more we… I am doing it- the more I can be running away!

- missing the real thing

- even: having a show of religion but missing it’s power

It’s about INTERIORITY… not ACTIVITY. Intimacy not doing

.. cultivating the life…Jesus within

I mean: how can you MAKE a baby grow? You CAN’T.

- God is the only one who can do that… and He will do that naturally in you … if you slow down enough… honour Him enough.. to have eyes to see it


The second thing about Mary is simplicity

She would have been a simple girl… and in the end it’s all very simple

There were countless other Jews who were busy keeping commandments and studying Torah

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