Christmas is all about journeys. It starts out when Mary makes haste to visit Elizabeth. Then Mary and Joseph make their way to Bethlehem. The shepherds trek from the fields to the manger and the magi leave their far-off homes under the guidance of a star. What unites them all is that each is a journey in faith.
Mary is greeted by Elizabeth with the title of ‘Mother of my Lord.’ Mary responds with her servant song. It’s the first of many journeys she will take with Jesus as he grows into a man. These journeys all lead in one direction: to the cross, the tomb and ultimately to rising from the dead so as to pave the way to heaven for all of us. Mary’s role is that of simply serving.
Joseph’s faith allows him to believe in his dream and to take his wife into his home and provide for her and for the child he knows is not his. He, along with Mary, will receive other visitors in Bethlehem. He will protect his family, leading them into Egypt until the threat to the child has passed.
The shepherds are awestruck as the angel makes his announcement. “Do not be afraid,” they are told. Whether it is fear of the angels or the curiosity of the message, they seek out the child in a manger. Their simple faith is rewarded when they find the baby Jesus, just as they were told, and respond by praising God.
The magi’s journey took them to a different country following a star. In the world around them, they noticed the changes in the night sky. Determining it meant the birth of a new king, they took it upon themselves to travel a long way to welcome the future ruler into the world. Their faith is rewarded when they find the child with Mary and pay Him homage.
Each journey is different. Each encounter with God is different. We cannot compare one with another, nor should we. Each journey is important in its own way. Not all can be Mary or Joseph, but that does not mean their mission is any less meaningful. It’s when these stories are presented together as a whole that we see a marvelous picture emerging. The whole of humanity is represented welcoming Christ into the world. His journey on earth was just beginning in the Christmas story, but the story continues when each of us lays down our life to seek Jesus, adding our faith journey to all these others.