Christmas Greetings from India (The Athyals)
Christmas greetings from Leighton’s friends Saphir & Sakhi Athyal, from India:
Have a great Christmas Season! We wish you an outstanding and fruitful New Year!
Sharing with you a brief reflection on the cost of blessedness:-
BLESSEDNESS OF MARY: PARTNERSHIP IN CHRIST’S SUFFERING
People experience God’s blessings in different forms. In the narratives of Jesus’ birth Mary is described as one ‘highly favored’ and ‘blessed’ by God. What did the ‘blessing’ entail in her case?
*A teenage girl with the wonder and embarrassment of getting pregnant ‘out of wedlock’
*Response of her husband saved only by the voice of an angel of the Lord
*If events did not turn out well the possibility of her being stoned to death for adultery
*Delivery of the baby in extremely difficult circumstances, and life in poverty
*Simeon’s words that a sword would pierce her own soul
*Herod seeking to kill the baby, and the long trek to Egypt and life in a foreign land
*Seeing opposition and threat from the official circles throughout the life of Jesus
*Witnessing her own son dying on the cross: knowing that victory was only through suffering
In the early church Mary gets not even a special mention: only one simple passing reference to her (Acts 1:14) in the post-resurrection narratives. Mary’s blessedness was her unique partnership in God’s plan of salvation of humankind. But this plan meant also her suffering. Her blessedness was the grace of God given her to take part in the suffering of Jesus Christ in his redemptive work. So also, it should be to us.
Blessedness and suffering are interlinked in the Beatitudes in Mathew 5. We are to have the same mind as of Christ who emptied himself, was made nothing, and became obedient even to death on the cross. Why it is that “Indeed, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12), we do not understand. The degree of God’s blessing is not the measure of all that we can get from him but the degree of all that we give away for his sake.
It seems that discipleship of Christ necessarily involves suffering as if they are two sides of the same coin. None can follow Christ, he said, unless one takes up his cross and follows him. Mary did that. She shows us the path of blessedness she took from the very start. She tells us that a life that begins with “May it be to me as (God says)”, and partnership with him in his work in our world can be costly – but that is the real blessing.
The cross of Christ was not a detached later development. The shadow of the cross loomed over the manger. The efficacy of the cross is the basis for the joy and peace that Christmas event offers.
Please share with us some thought of yours on Christmas.
Yours in the Lord,
Saphir & Sakhi Athyal