Traveling to Bethlehem
Here’s a picture of a picture for Random Photo Monday –
I’ve been thinking a lot about Advent.
Quite honestly, I don’t feel like I’m in the holiday spirit. We have few decorations in place — our Nativity scene (see “The Creche“) and now a wreath outside our door put up last night. The Christmas station on the radio only plays if Jacob turns it on.
The sermon for the first Sunday in Advent was about making preparations. Things like cleaning the house (ugh) and baking and decorating were mentioned as things we do to prepare.
It hit me yesterday, though, that Advent really is a journey. The first advent was simply a journey to Bethlehem.
For the Jewish people, all sorts of preparations are made for Passover (the holiday that coincides with Easter). The house is thoroughly cleaned lest any leaven be found inside. A special meal, instituted by God Himself, is prepared. It’s all to remember the lead-up to a journey, the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.
But Advent is a journey itself.
It’s Mary and Joseph traveling, totally unknown to their fellow travelers, to Bethlehem.
The only ones who seemed knowingly aware, the only ones who had made preparations, were not of the same faith, but were the Magi, also on a journey. They had carefully selected gifts for the king they knew was coming, but nobody else did. Like Mary and Joseph, they were travelers.
So why all the hubbub and fuss in today’s world?
The King of Kings arrived to a workaday world totally unprepared for Him. The innkeeper, I’m sure, was busy seeing to his guests, not knowing that his most important guest was in the stable. The shepherds were just doing their usual work, tending flocks, guarding over them, not knowing that the Great Shepherd Himself – the One who guarded them — had arrived without ceremony in Bethlehem.
We will be traveling Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I know there are some who think we are missing the holiday by doing that, but I think, in some ways, it may be the most appropriate way to celebrate Christmas.
We can travel with eyes open, looking for the overlooked. We can go about our business leading up to Christmas listening for those angel voices, proclaiming to those who will hear that there is good news of great joy.
Paper chains and tinsel can’t prepare me for that moment.
Doing the work that is set before me on my own earthly pilgrimage, I think that’s what God wants me to be busy about. With eyes and ears open, I will prepare my heart more than my home for the arrival of the Baby.
I am, after all, “just a poor way-faring stranger, traveling through this world of woe.”
Come, Lord Jesus.