The Journey Wasn't an Option

9:00 AMHeather

Well, there I go--opening my big mouth on Saturday to invite you all to our Journey to Bethlehem.  But, alas, it would seem the weather had other plans, and thus, our last 3 nights of Journey to Bethlehem have been cancelled.  This news was heartbreaking to my children, who, as I last noted, love their time participating in this event.  It was heart breaking, as well, for the event leaders and other cast and crew, who literally prepare all year long for this big endeavor.  Two nights.  Two out of five--that's all we managed this year before the rains came and flooded out the trail.  

This turn of events has been occupying our minds, as even this morning the kids talked about how much they would miss our last night's performance that should have been tonight.  And it got me thinking.  (Dangerous, I know).

How spoiled am I?  How much have I lost sight of the real story of Christmas--EVEN as I have been part of bringing it to life?  Mary and Joseph didn't have a choice.  As that poor very pregnant lady made her long journey to Bethlehem, she didn't have hand and toe warmers handy to keep herself nice and toasty for up to 6 hours.   She didn't have polar fleece and ski pants to bundle under her tunic to keep her warm.  She didn't even have the luxury of saying, "Well, this weather isn't quite cooperating, so I will just need to cancel this trip."  Our church paths were too wet and soggy to be safe for our guests.  But, Mary and Joseph didn't have the benefit of an amazing leadership team to go before them and determine how passable the paths might be.  They couldn't say, "that's a wrap.  We'll wait till next year."

No, I think I get so entrenched in my rather easy and spoiled life to fully appreciate all they endured.  The ridicule of carrying a baby out of wedlock, claiming it to be God's son--who would listen to such "crazy talk?"  How intimately Mary must have known the Lord to respond so willingly to the angel.  The courage of Joseph to go ahead and take Mary as his wife, focused on God's calling for them instead of logic or convenience.  

And, how about Jesus?  The humility and obedience it took to constrain himself--God's only Son--into the confines of human flesh.  And, not just human flesh--but a helpless infant at that.  Not the entrance into the world fit for the King of Kings--being born in a stable, among dirty animals and sleeping in a feed trough.  I can tell you from being in the "village of Bethlehem" with those crazy alpacas, rabbits, donkey, and's not a sanitary, welcoming nursery any of us would choose for our cherished children.  But, God Almighty ordained it to be so for His Son.

INTENTIONAL challenge:  I can don a tunic and headdress and play dress up as a Bethlehem villager...and still, all the while, miss the significance of that first Christmas.  I can moan and be sad about missing some nights of Journey to Bethlehem due to inclement weather, yet still overlook the difficult circumstances ordained for my Savior's entrance into the world, sent to complete the greatest work of all history.  We can all become so entrenched in our culture, our conveniences, our luxuries that we forget to really meditate and marinate in the TRUTH of that first Christmas.   We can display our nativity sets and be moved by some great Christmas hymns, yet still manage to overlook the meaning.  You see, God's only begotten Son came from the perfect Heavens, wrapped in human flesh, to the humblest of beginnings.  He was born to parents who braved bad weather, difficult travels, man's ridicule, and inconveniences to choose obedience to their Father's call.  And, just as our church's Journey to Bethlehem doesn't end at the manager...the entire path, every step, was leading to the cross.  And, that is the story of the first Christmas.

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