Tonight, at the Christmas Eve candle-lit service, the pastor spoke of the difficulty of the travel that Mary and Joseph encountered going to Bethlehem. It is a long, dry walk, to be sure, and dangerous. But I got to thinking: that trek was not the only one of the Christmas story. Each of those journeys came with some sort of announcement, including the well-worn command to “Fear Not!” Check these out in Matthew 1 and 2 and Luke 1 and 2.
Gabriel went to the Temple to speak to Zechariah: “Fear not. Your wife will bear a son.”
Zechariah went home to Elizabeth: “. . .”
Gabriel went to Nazareth to Mary: “Fear not. You will bear a son.”
Mary went to Ein Karem to Elizabeth: “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
Mary went back to Nazareth: She was found to be with child.
Gabriel went to Nazareth to Joseph: “Fear not. She will bear a Son. You will call His name Jesus.”
Mary went to Joseph’s house: She became his wife, but he kept her a virgin until she brought forth her first-born son.
Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem: “All the world shall be taxed.”
Angels went to the shepherds keeping watch: “Fear not. . . for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ, the LORD.”
Shepherds went to see the baby: “Let us go to Bethlehem to see this thing which has come to pass!”
Joseph and Mary and the baby Jesus went to Jerusalem to the temple and see Simeon: “My eyes have seen your salvation, the light of the Gentiles, and the glory of His people, Israel.”
The Magi went to see Herod in Jerusalem: “When you have found him, return to me so that I too may worship him.”
The Magi went to Bethlehem to find the Star-King: They rejoiced with exceedingly great joy, and returned home elusively.
Joseph and Mary and Jesus went to Egypt to evade Herod’s slaughter: “Out of Egypt I have called my Son.”
But of all of the journeys and all of the announcements, this is the most amazing: Jesus left heaven to come to earth.
“When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”Galatians 4:4-7
Merry, Merry Christmas! And Godspeed on all of your journey!