Catherine Gorman from our Theology team reflects on Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and how it is mirrored by the journeys that many people still face today.
We are now well and truly on the countdown to Christmas. The Advent calendar doors are being opened, school nativity plays are being performed, and Christmas songs are stuck in my head!
At this time of year, we wait in joyful hope for the coming of Christ, now and at the end of time. We are reminded that Jesus is the Emmanuel – God with us. God is with every person, in every situation.
Journey to Bethlehem
As we journey together towards the celebration of Christmas, it brings to mind the journey that Mary and Joseph took to Bethlehem. Whenever I reflect on this story, my heart goes out to Mary who must have been so exhausted travelling while pregnant.
And I remember that around the world today, millions of our sisters and brothers face journeys similar to that of Mary and Joseph. They leave their home not because of a census but because of war, natural disaster, poverty or persecution.
Determined to save her children, mother-of-five Nyanguet fled her home when their village in South Sudan came under attack and was burned to the ground. Everything was lost. The family hid in the mosquito-infested swampland, going days without food.
When it was safe to emerge, Nyanguet and her children courageously began an 80 mile journey to find refuge. They were welcomed by another community, who generously shared what little food and water they had.
This community opened their doors to Nyanguet, giving her somewhere to stay. She was also given some land to grow her own food.
Nyanguet registered with our local experts who made sure that she had food to eat straight away, as well as the tools and seeds she needs to grow her own food in the future.
She said, “I am really pleased now I have moved out of trouble. My children and I feel safe here now.”
God is with us
At their journey’s end, Mary and Joseph shelter with the animals because there is no room for them anywhere else. As we will celebrate in a few short weeks, Christ is born in a stable and laid in a manger.
The Son of God comes not in a blaze of glory, not amongst princes and kings and palaces. He is born into a humble family who have no place to stay.
This leads me to reflect on what is truly important. To hold onto what is really special about this season. It is not the consumerism, the tv adverts, the sparkles and distraction. It is the time spent with the people who mean most to me, giving thanks for them and remembering that God is here with us even in the most difficult of times.
I hope that you will enjoy the rest of your Advent journey. And I wish you a very happy Christmas when it comes.