The First Christmas, Part 4

Rachelle Gardner

Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

All week here on the blog we’ve been discussing various aspects of the first Christmas. One thing that has always intrigued me about the birth of Christ is the long journey his parents had to endure right before he was born. They traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem, about 80 miles, which probably would have taken them a few days to a week, traveling on foot. I sometimes imagine what that must have been like for them—not only the physical hardship for Mary, but also the emotional journey they were taking together.

Did Mary and Joseph discuss this child they were about to have? Did they wrestle with what it meant that this child was of God and would be the Messiah? I’ll bet they were full of questions. All new parents are somewhat fearful and don’t know what to expect, but how much more intense it must have been for Mary and Joseph!

Mary & JosephThey were headed for Joseph’s hometown, and you know what that meant for Mary. Like many of us, she was going to spend Christmas around her in-laws! I wonder if she had trepidation as she got closer and closer to Bethlehem. Not only was she approaching the birth of her child, she was also probably about to meet Joseph’s family for the first time. Did she wonder what they would think? After all, it probably would have been clear to the family that Mary was pregnant prior to her marrying Joseph. This must have created anxiety in Mary.

As Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth, they most likely traveled through some rough, hilly, rocky territory. It wasn’t a smooth road. They also probably traveled through Samaria, which at the time wasn’t a comfortable place for Jews, since the two cultures were hostile to one another. This doesn’t sound like a fun trip!

And yet it’s clear that Mary’s faith was strong. The journey to Bethlehem would have been full of trepidation, but I imagine Mary praying continually for strength, and for the Lord to be with her. Through rocky passes, encounters with unfriendly Samaritans or even bandits, through fears about the future and getting comfortable with her new husband, I can envision Mary’s total trust in God. Throughout the journey, even though she wasn’t quite sure what lay ahead, she remained steadfast in her faith.

I often think of this journey that Mary and Joseph had to take so that God himself could come into the world, changing all of human history. We, too, are often on an arduous journey toward giving birth to something important in our lives. We are constantly on a journey toward allowing God to fully transform us, and it’s often a rocky road, full of uncertainty, fear, and even bandits. But just like on that first Christmas, the journey has a purpose. Its destination is completely worth all the trouble. The gift is nothing less than the miracle of eternity, brought to you and me on that first Christmas night so long ago.

May God’s blessings be yours this Christmas, and may your own journey be guided by His Love.

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