There are so many things that happen around Christmas that make it what it is. The familiar songs, the classic movies, the decorations, the festivities and the lights all around are just a few of the things that make Christmas a special time of year. In our family, we have more traditions than we can fit into the month of December! But there is one that stands out among the rest.
Every night in December we celebrate Advent as a family. We read Scriptures, sing Christmas songs, talk traditions, and pray together. This year, on the first Sunday of Advent we talked about our favorite Christmas traditions, and as soon as someone said their favorite was the Journey to Bethlehem, everyone else in the room was shouting, “Hey you took mine!” There is no doubting the Journey to Bethlehem has certainly become a favorite around our house each December.
Each year, a local church puts on this “Journey”, which is essentially a re-enactment of the familiar events surrounding the birth of Christ in Bethlehem so very long ago. For our family it would not really be Christmas without it. Complete with sheep, camels, realistic street scenes, Roman soldiers, Wise Men from the East and a host of angels singing Hallelujah, it takes just a little bit of imagination to find you have been transported out of today’s fast-faced social media world, and back to a distant time and place, to a world in need crying out for a Savior.
And then it doesn’t take long to realize that the world we live in today isn’t really all that different.
Last night we took the Journey to Bethlehem with a group of friends and experienced it all once again. But even after years of hearing this story, and years of seeing it played out, the story never gets old. Even though I am familiar with it, and I know the ending, it still evokes emotion, it still has meaning, and it still reminds me that there is a purpose to it all.
That somewhere beyond the Christmas hustle and bustle, there lies a child in a manger.
That somewhere beyond the noise, there is a Silent Night.
That Almighty God so loved the world, that He wrapped Himself up in human skin to walk among us.
That whoever believes in Him shall have everlasting life.
And I think Christmas is really all about journeys. God’s journey to reach us where we are, the long journey of a young man and his betrothed, the journey of Magi from a far-off land, the journey of shepherds to ‘see this thing that has happened’, and the journey of all those who had to travel for the census decreed by Caesar Augustus.
But in a symbolic way, it is a journey for all of us too.
A journey out of what is comfortable and from all that distracts us, to a small stable in a small town where the Savior of the world lies resting.
A journey from our everyday life to a remote and ancient place where we kneel and worship the newborn King.
And as I reflect, I realize that this is a journey I should make a lot more often.