Every Christmas I have a ‘word’ that focuses my mind in the many messages, talks, and ‘few words’ I give at various occasions during the run up to Christmas.
In previous years I’ve used ‘hope’ ‘light’, ‘mother’, and last year was ‘heaven’.
This year as usual I mulled over this in October and never tell a soul until Advent Sunday, and this year my word is ‘journey’
Have you ever thought how many journeys are portrayed in the Christmas story?
There is the first obvious journey of Mary & Joseph to Bethlehem, popularly imagined on a donkey giving rise to many Carols and Christmas songs, but it’s also feasible they walked from Nazareth to Bethlehem, a distance of some 60 miles – ie from Ashford to London, which with Mary being heavily pregnant whether on foot or on a donkey would have been very unpleasant.
And then after Jesus is born, the angels give the good news to some shepherds on the hills outside Bethlehem, so they then make a journey in the middle of the night – and its very dark in Israel at night and more so in those days.
Then there was the exceptionally long journey of the wise men to Bethlehem, calling first at Jerusalem, and its thought that the star appeared to guide them maybe before Jesus was born, but also that they arrived possibly when Jesus was a few months old or maybe over a year. By tradition again they travelled on camels, but the biblical account makes no mention of transport.
But the greatest journey in the Nativity Story is actually made by Jesus Himself. As the 2nd verse of the Carol ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ states, ‘He came down to earth from Heaven who is God and Lord of all’. People have travelled all round the world. Some have even been to the moon, but what a journey God makes as He comes down in Jesus from heaven to earth as our Saviour.
So our response is often in the journey we make through this life. The journey of life as we take one more step in our lives. Advent is a time of waiting and preparation. During this time we reflect on our journey through life, our thoughts, our activities, our faith. Jesus has made the greatest journey to us to be born as a baby at that first Christmas. Christians are challenged to make that journey of faith, trust and obedience of service to Jesus. May your Advent Journey be a blessing to you and all whom you love as we approach another celebration of Christmas – a tale of many journeys to encounter Jesus.
Rev Timothy Wilson
Great Chart Rectory