Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19,20)
So we are at the end of our Advent journey, the road to Bethlehem. Are you glad? Are you relieved? Are you sad that it’s over? Were you surprised or disappointed this time around?
In a way, for Jesus, his arrival in Bethlehem was just the beginning. Now, he would set out on another road, the road to Jerusalem. It would take him about thirty-three years. This next journey will end at a place called Calvary, just outside Jerusalem, where Jesus would die on a cross.
I guess you could say that our annual arrival at Bethlehem and the celebration of Christ’s birth is the beginning of a new journey for us, too. We don’t know how long our journey will last or where the road will take us. But in time we will arrive at the moment of our death. We will breathe our last, and go to be with the Lord. Our bodies will be laid to rest to await the resurrection.
Hopefully this Advent journey along the road to Bethlehem has reawakened in us a desire to make the most of our travel time. We will meet many faithful people along the way, who will challenge our faith. We will meet some who have heard of the Christ. Maybe they will join us on our journey. We will get lost at times, and our Shepherd will find us and return us to the right path. We will take a turn here or there in pursuit of something we think will make us happy. Disappointed, we’ll come back for forgiveness and get back on track. We’ll get tired, but Jesus will remind us to rest. He’ll feed us, lead us to still waters to drink, and renew our strength.
Writing devotions like this is just like all of the above. It’s a long haul. Not as long as Lent, but a race run through a very busy time of the year. There are temptations to quit. After all, who reads this drivel? There are many other things to do, worthy of my time and energy.
But the journey is good for me. It makes me stop and think about prophecies, people and places. I thought I knew the road to Bethlehem very well, but I always learn something new. And I remember that some have never taken this route before. Maybe I can bring a few more along with me.
If you’ve read even one of these devotions, I thank you. I’m grateful you came along for the ride. You’ve encouraged me to keep going, not give up, stay on track, and ponder the amazing grace found along the road to Bethlehem.
Thank you, Lord, for this Advent journey. Keep me on the right track, eyes fixed on you, the author and perfecter of my faith. Amen.