Read Luke 2:4-5
School term ends today in most parts of the UK. Do you remember that end-of-term feeling, coming home and knowing that Christmas was just round the corner? It was very exciting!! So today children will be really getting preparing for Christmas. And for many people and families, there’ll be some travelling to do. Visiting aunts, uncles and cousins, grandparents, friends and loved ones. Because you want to see and be with loved ones at Christmas.
The Christmas season has always been a time for journeying. That was certainly the case at the first Advent. When Mary heard that her cousin Elizabeth was expecting, she journeyed 80 to 100 miles (from Nazareth to the hill country of Judea) to see her. She then journeyed back the same long distance to Nazareth – whilst pregnant. Mary also journeyed again with her husband Joseph – this time from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census – which was another journey of at least 70 miles and it was in Bethlehem that Jesus was born. Then there was the short but significant journey the shepherds made from field to manger to see the baby, and the long journey the Magi made from the East. Soon after Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph journeyed with him from Bethlehem to Jerusalem to worship and perform purification rites – a much shorter but nevertheless important journey of about 5 miles. Finally the family made a hasty journey of escape to Egypt to avoid Herod’s forces who were killing all the infant boys. The journey to Egypt was the longest journey of them all!
Whilst God can speak to us and use us at home, the Advent stories show it’s often through journeying that the Lord works out his purposes. We might think we’re just travelling – going on holiday or doing some kind of necessary journey because of our job – but what we find is that the Holy Spirit is at work. He is with us. He’s gone ahead of us. He wants to speak to us. (Just flick through the Book of Acts and see how many people were away from home when God spoke to them!)
All this reminds us that God has some great journeying for us all to go through in Advent. Like Mary with Elizabeth (Lk 1:39-45) don’t forget that a journey to see family and subsequent time together can be an opportunity for much fun and Holy Spirit activity!
For others of us, our journeying at Advent is less geographical and more spiritual, as we welcome the work of the Spirit, are filled with joy and awe (Lk 1:65), worship Christ (Mt 2:11) and can’t stop talking about the wonderful things God is doing (Lk 2:20).
The Lord wants us to be excited about the journey of discipleship he’s taking us on, and welcome the work of his Spirit as many of us travel during this season.
This Advent, may you know much joy in the journey.
ACTION: Think of your relationship with God as a journey. Take your Notebook and write down 3 things that you’ve been discovering this Advent about the life of the disciple. Then think about the journeys you will be taking in the coming days, even if the distances are not very long. Write down where you will be travelling to – and be expectant that the Holy Spirit will be at work in all this journeying.
PRAY: Give thanks for your journey of faith and the things you’re discovering about discipleship at present. Pray for a friend or family member who is not yet following Jesus, that they would hear and respond to the call of Jesus to follow him and begin the discipleship journey. Then offer to the Lord the geographical journeys you will be undertaking in the coming days. Pray that God would speak and that he would use you to encourage others. Pray for joy in the journey.