Welcome to December and the launch into Christmas festivities! This is the time of year when everything seems to get really busy with parties, decorating, concerts, activities, shopping, wrapping, baking, etc. Truth be told, when the calendar turns to December, I always feel like I need to tighten my seat belt because life goes from fast to warp speed. Sometimes I resent the speed and hustle of Christmas, but I’ve been thinking about Jesus’ birth and how there was activity and motion around His birth.
For example, there was a fair amount of motion and activity for Mary and Joseph to make their way to Bethlehem where Jesus was born. In Luke 2:1-3, we read that Caesar Augustus had issued a decree across the Roman Empire for everyone to participate in a census by registering at their hometowns. To comply with this, we read in Luke 2:4-5, “Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.”
When I think about Joseph and Mary making their way to Bethlehem from Nazareth, it occurs to me that there was quite a bit of motion and travel for them to get to Bethlehem. Doing this journey on foot takes anywhere from four days to a little over a week. This quantity of time doesn’t take into consideration that Mary was possibly nine months pregnant as she did this journey. I think this would be a difficult combination – a late term pregnancy and walking all day for at least four continuous days.
As I recall the last month of my three pregnancies, I remember being very tired, uncomfortable and sometimes cranky. I was hopeful that my babies would have a safe delivery and that everything would go smoothly with no complications. In relation to walking long hours, thinking about Mary’s trek, that wasn’t something that I wanted to do. I would take an occasional walk, not more than thirty minutes to an hour. After such a walk, I was tired, my belly ached, my feet were sore and my body felt creaky everywhere. I was eager to sit down and prop up my feet. When I imagine Mary making the journey to Bethlehem in the midst of being pregnant, I’m awed by her struggle with this journey and really impressed with what she accomplished.
In the midst of this hardship, maybe Mary kept in mind the very miraculous pregnancy that she was having – not only from conception but also getting to stay with her cousin Elizabeth during her pregnancy along with Joseph having a supernatural dream to keep his engagement with Mary. Maybe she pondered these things as she traveled the road from Nazareth to Bethlehem. And maybe Joseph arranged a donkey for their travelling.
No matter walking or riding, Jesus’ birth was preceded by lots of activity, motion, travel, hardship and miracles.
As we are coming into a really busy season of the year, let’s keep in mind that our journey, busy-ness and marking off days on the calendar are all pointing to the culmination of celebrating Jesus’ birth. We can have lots of activity and bustle, but let’s never lose sight of keeping Jesus as our central focus and jubilant celebration in the Christmas season.
I pray that your Christmas season is fragranced with Jesus’ birth, no matter the activities and festivities.