“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.” Luke 2:4-5
In today’s reading we have the story of a journey – the journey that Joseph took with Mary and the unborn Christ-child.
Journeys. We are all on one, aren’t we.
The journey of life, of course, began for each one of us when we were conceived in the wombs of our mothers.
The journey of Faith, for those of us who are Christians, began the very moment that we came to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of our souls.
Of course, there are the physical journeys too. COVID-19 has thwarted travel plans of many these holidays, but some will be embarking on some trip or another.
The thing about journeys - some journeys in life are taken willingly - holiday, certain career path which one chooses to follow.
Other journeys, we are forced to take, whether we like it or not. Journeys which we would not ordinarily have chosen for ourselves or our families. Unexpected illnesses can set one on a journey; Unforeseen changes in work situations, or other areas of life can put one on a different trajectory than originally planned.
I remember in 2019 taking a trip back to Cape Town, South Africa to conduct the funeral service of my Mum who had died – needless to say, that was a trip I’d prefer not to have taken.
Journeys Have Their Challenges
Very few journeys in life, be they literal or figurative ones, are 100% challenge free!
Some of these challenges are “seen” hazards; others are unforeseen and catch us unawares.
I am certain that you, Dear Friend, can identify, to some degree or another, the reality of those challenges that arise from time to time.
Journeys Have A Beginning And Ending
When we start out on a journey, we can’t foresee the outcome can we. However, irrespective
of what the journey is – a pleasant one or a not-so-pleasant one – the two bookends do not change. There’s a start and a finish.
That's comforting, because that storm which one may be facing at the moment, will have an ending. It’s not going to last forever.
The sadder side of that of course is, there are moments when one stands at the finish line of a journey and has to say good-bye.
Of course, we are reminded of the words of wise King Solomon:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
Journeys Change And Can Change Us.
Every journey is different. Each one has its unique characteristics about it. Depending on what type of journey it is – it can have a lasting impact on us, changing how we think; changing how we view life; changing us!
One trip to a developing country, witnessing how folk who have so little can be so grateful can change one forever. Suddenly, the latest iPhone or expensive gadget doesn’t seem as appealing.
One painful journey through a broken marriage or other relationship, can change one, making it difficult to love and to trust again.
One journey down the road of repentance to the foot of the cross, and suddenly the load of sin and guilt is lifted through the forgiveness of one’s sin.
Journeys can and do change us.
Why all this talk about journeys and the characteristics of journeys?
Irrespective of what the journey looks like in your life. (positive or a negative one); where you are along that journey, there is One that promises to be with us in every journey and along every step of the way.
We said that journeys have their challenges.
Well, friends we need not have to face those challenges alone.
Jesus says: ““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
We said that every journey has a beginning and an ending.
Well, we are comforted with the knowledge that the One Who is the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega, is with us. He was with us when we took our first breath; He will be with us when we take our last!
We said that journeys change and can change us – at times for the better- at times for the worse. That can be unsettling, can’t it? Because as we approach a new season and embark on a new journey, the unknown factors can cause uneasiness and at times fear.
But here’s the message of hope – and once again it points to Jesus.
Irrespective of how the season may change or how the journey may change us, the wonderful truth is: He remains the same!
Jesus…the same yesterday, today and forever!
For Mary and Joseph as they travelled their journey, they would have been uncertain about the future, but the Christ-child was with them.
Friends, what tomorrow brings, we don’t know! For some it will bring great joy and laughter! For others it may well bring some heartache and tears.
Could I encourage you today! The Christ of Christmas is with you!
Take that step into the unknown, holding onto the one who promises to hold onto you!
What tomorrow may bring me, I know not,
Perhaps pain, perplexity, happiness, joy, peace;
What I do know is that You’ve promised to keep me,
Me, never, from your loving embrace release.