When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
This season has been a hectic one for me. The holidays are just plain busy anyway, and the last few weeks have had me on the road – from Charlotte to Jacksonville to Nashville and finally NYC. All of this traveling can really distract from the joy this time of year brings. My house isn’t fully decorated, I haven’t finished shopping, and, frankly, I’ve felt too busy to follow Mary’s example of treasuring these things in my heart and pondering them.
It’s really no surprise that just as I’m in the middle of chaotic traveling, the Christmas scriptures (continued at the bottom of this post) are full of travels as well. Thank the Lord that none of mine (so far!) have involved me journeying cross-country on a donkey while 9 months pregnant or lodging in a freezing barn, but sometimes I wonder if the luxury of convenience in this day and time mean that we’re missing a big piece of what God birthed in the Gospels.
God specifically chose Bethlehem as the setting for His son’s birth and required Joseph and Mary to make quite the inconvenient trip to this unassuming village, and they hadn’t even been able to make prior lodging arrangements on Travelocity or Expedia. Instead their journey ended with some hay, some barnyard animal company, and a miraculous manger.
Following the birth of Christ, both the shepherds and the wise men were instructed to follow the star and go and see the Son of God. For the shepherds, that meant abandoning their day-to-day duties and wooly clientele to go worship a tiny, wrinkled newborn on a cold night. For the Magi, it meant traveling for nearly three years and escaping an evil king to lavish gifts on a toddler meant to rule the Heavens. It was inconvenient; it was tiring; and it was magnificent.
In this world of convenience – I have the entire Bible stored on my phone thanks to an app; I have access to nearly any sermon from nearly any preacher in the world thanks to internet connectivity; in Charlotte, there are churches on just as many corners as Starbucks – I don’t have to travel to get to Jesus. I don’t have to fix my sights on a distant star and just follow it wherever it goes. I can get anywhere I need to within hours… hours! But maybe that ease has also bred complacency. I don’t feel the strong urge of “There! The star! We have to go NOW!” Because the access is constant, my urgency for it is lethargic.
My prayer for myself, my family, and for you, is that in this season that is still just as ripe with miracles in 2015 as it was on the night of Jesus’ first cries, is that you would come adore Him. That you would actively travel in your heart to the place where He’s dwelling, and that you would worship Him with all of the intensity and urgency that the shepherds and wise men encompassed in the scenes of the nativity.
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.