Sow & Gather

Over the River....and Across the Desert to Bethlehem We Go!

Celebrations & traditionsMarci AnthonyComment
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In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria). And everyone went to his own town to register. 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. Luke 2:1-4 NIV

For holiday travel you pack suitcases, load up the car, the alarm goes off, you roll out of bed half asleep to a dark quiet morning, backing your car out of the driveway quietly you head towards the highway or the airport. If you have ever had to drive across the country or tried catching an early flight during the holidays, you can relate to the schedule above. Growing up, my family did not live close to my extended family.  In fact, they lived about as far away as they could get while still staying in the same hemisphere. Even now as an adult, my parents do not live close by, so we must travel long distances to visit them. Many times we complain about having to travel long distances using our modern conveniences, but have you ever given a thought to what it was like to travel back in biblical times?  

I cannot imagine the preparation and uncertain travel experience that Mary and Joseph had to endure to travel 90 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. In today’s culture it’s easy to pack a bag when we want to travel, but imagine not having a suitcase and having to pack for a journey not knowing when and if you would return. Cell phone apps allow us to determine what the weather will be like at our destination, but this was not the case for Mary and Joseph. Growing up, all of the biblical photos I saw of Mary and Joseph depicted Mary wearing a light blue tunic dress with a white head covering. Joseph appeared to be taking a leisurely stroll alongside Mary through the non-threatening desert with sandals and a tunic that barely covered his knees. Biblical photos always portray the two of them traveling in the desert which, I’m sure, was partially true, but in reality there were several other terrains like mountains and forests that they had to endure as well as the harsh climate conditions.  

Thinking back, I remember my car ride conversation containing the cliché four words, “Are we there yet?” I think back to Mary who was pregnant riding on a donkey traveling only 10 miles in a day through hot and cold climates and rocky terrain and I wonder if she ever complained? I think how lucky I am that I can flip a switch changing the climate in my car from hot to cold. I think of how lucky we are that we have paved roads and GPS systems to travel by, but for Mary and Joseph roads were a luxury. Individuals in the Bible had to make their own path through forest and wooded areas. These areas may have been inhabited by wild and dangerous animals or perhaps robbers who waited out of sight to rob the first unlucky soul that happened to cross their path. The stress and strain that this 90 mile journey must have put on this young couple must have been almost overwhelming, but Mary and Joseph knew that God had a purpose. 

Now, when I ponder the convenience of modern day travel, I have to chuckle at the sighs of people having to wait in the security check point line to make sure the flight is secure before boarding or the frustration of getting a center vs an aisle seat. I shake my head thinking about traveling in my climate controlled car driving several hours to get to my final destination without having to really lift much more than my hand to change the radio station. The depth and dedication of Mary and Joseph’s journey far outweigh the minor inconveniences we face while traveling in modern society.  I appreciate the unbelievable and heroic journey that Mary and Joseph took thousands of years ago to bring a baby named “Jesus” into our sinful world so we could be saved.  Merry Christmas! 

Dig Deeper |

Psalms 119:105Proverbs 3:23

Action Item |

If you are traveling this holiday season, take time to thank God for all the modern conveniences we take for granted. Thank God for selecting Mary and Joseph as the earthly parents of Jesus. 

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this time that I live in. Help me to appreciate those things I take for granted and help me to acknowledge that you are in control of those areas of my life that are out of my control.

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