It feels quite weird at work at the moment as we are being asked to find savings from our budgets that are quite challenging, given that most of the money we manage goes into supporting vulnerable adults and older people. At the same time we are all getting ready for christmas and trying to relax and enjoy the festivities. We are facing uncertainty about our own jobs, and increasing pressure to hit targets.
This week at cell we are looking at James, who was incidentally Mary and Joseph’s lesser known son. His words are challenging but help us see that there will always be conflicts between our desires and the demands of the world and the way God wants us to live. Many Christians face bigger challenges than us in the public sector at the moment. For example, Mary and Joseph had to go into exile after Jesus was born and were first time parents who had no family and friends around them, let alone Mumsnet, Facebook and mobile phones. This must have shaped how they saw the world, and how they later brought up their family. While God put them in a difficult situation, he helped them back to Israel, and helped them raise Jesus and his brothers in a normal community despite all the odds against them.
It is difficult to hear the nativity story with fresh ears as it is so familiar, but in church this week we were focusing on Joseph. When Mary first became pregnant it is clear Jospeph was sceptical about how their future together might pan out, given that it was unplanned, and potentially an unwanted pregnancy at the time. Even though they know their baby was the Messiah, they would have had no comprehension of the impact the man Jesus would become, would have on the world. Throughout the bible, God often seems to put people in difficult or dangerous situations for a reason, that they don’t understand at the time.
However if you have grand plans and think highly of yourself, James is also unforgiving
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
By focusing on today and what good we can achieve in the time we have available, and what God’s will is for our specific circumstances, some of the bigger picture can feel more manageable, even if it’s a challenge.