Last weekend, as Advent drew to a close, we saw the newly pregnant Mary visiting her relative, Elizabeth. She stayed for 3 months before returning home.
Today, 6 months later, we’re at the end of another journey; Bethlehem. Despite the accommodation shortage, room had been found in the stable and tonight Mary will give birth. Despite the many difficulties and dangers; Mary and Joseph are now married, their relationship has weathered the storms, they will soon have a healthy son. For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given (Is 9:6). This is a moment to celebrate.
On the night of Jesus’ birth, local shepherds visited; followed later by a team of eastern Magi. Today, we join millions of fellow travellers as we make our way to the same Bethlehem stable. Long, short, comfortable, joyful, difficult and dangerous; journeys of every kind: all with the same goal; to see this child.
After nearly two years of pandemic, with no end in sight, our journeys are difficult, but we do not travel alone. As I contemplate retracing my steps along this road once again, I am reminded that Mary and Joseph did not go to Bethlehem to see Jesus; Jesus came with them. Literally, in Mary’s case, for she carried him in her womb. Here, at the moment we call Christmas, God comes to us, not us to him; God with us.
This Christmas, however tired you feel, however stressed, pause for a moment and gaze on this child in the manger. Wherever and however you find him, as you gaze, see this. This child is no lesser person than God, become human. The God who journeys with us through thick and thin, joy and sorrow, and longs to share our lives. As we each leave that stable and continue on our way once more, He will come with us; the question is ‘Will we notice him, and noticing, will we welcome him into our journey?”
God Bless you this Christmas
Rev Philip Payne
Notice Sheet for 26th December can be found here