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Free from Self, Free for Others

I greatly admire Brennan Manning. His Reflections for Ragamuffins continues to speak to me, even now, 20 years after he wrote them. Today’s reflection is especially meaningful: [1]

Jesus calls us at Christmas to enter into the Kingdom of Liberty, to be set free by his Father’s love. There is a refreshing quality about the Nazarene without which Christianity would never have become a fact of history. The surprise of his birth in Bethlehem fires a longing to be free from self and free for others. It sparks a search for intelligent and imaginative ways to celebrate an unconventional Christmas.

The wailing Infant bears witness to a God whose Word is fresh and alive, who is not the defender of the old, the already settled, the well established and familiar. The God we encounter in Jesus is free from preoccupation with his own glory, free to be for us, free to be gracious, free to love and let be.

This Christmas such a God might well expect us to be creatively responsive and thus truly Christlike. Indeed, he might call us to set free captives bound by loneliness and isolation, to share our hope with prisoners of gloom and despair, to invite the unlovely to our table, to celebrate our freedom in forgetfulness about our own comfort and convenience, to cry the gospel by ministering to widows and orphans, to be the Church by bringing soup to the poor, to ignore conventional expectations, to call his Son out of Egypt once more.

He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.                                                 Hebrews 5:2 (NIV)


[1] Brennan Manning, Reflections for Ragamuffins (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1998), p355.