Christmas time can be the most frantic and hectic period of the year. There are so many expectations on the time that is available, different people to see, different places to visit, different traditions to be upheld. It can be such a wonderful time and yet it can also feel like you are being swept along on a fast moving current and before you know it, you are deposited in the New Year, tired and confused, trying to get back into the routines of real life again.
For Mary and Joseph, the roller-coaster of the Christmas story seems to be as fast and frantic as our modern day versions. After the visit by Gabriel, Mary is off to see her cousin, before coming back again, only to have to leave for Bethlehem and then whisked off to Egypt, before coming back to Nazareth. Travelling whilst pregnant and with a new baby is not always the most enjoyable time. For Joseph, even his sleep did not appear restful as he is constantly visited by angels in his dreams and every time it results in an instruction being given, something else to be done. Not to mention all the visitors that required their time and attention.
They must have felt that they were just holding on and trying to survive, which is a feeling that many new parents will know all too well. Whether you are swept along by God’s plan to save humanity or by the demands of every day life, it can feel like we have no say in the matter; it can feel like we are at the beck and call of others to such an extent that we have no choice and no time to make any choice beyond the one that is most pressing at that time. It is when this feeling comes that we need to take a step back and reflect, this is where New Year can come in really handy.
If we look back closely at the Christmas Nativity the period of time over which these wondrous events happen is much longer than we imagine. The beautiful birth of Jesus is just a moment, but the lead up and aftermath lasts for eternity. The beautiful painting by Gari Melchers captures this so incredibly by revelling in the moment after Jesus’ birth. There is a most precious moment after birth where all the preparations and worries, aches and pains are swept away in the joy and peace of the new baby; when the doctors leave you both on your own with a new child, your child, and a new chapter begins with new worries, hopes and dreams.
The Baptism of Jesus marks this moment in John the Baptist’s life. For years he had been preaching and preparing the way for the Messiah and finally Jesus and the Father choose the moment to reveal their plan and Jesus’ identity. After this moment John now knows who he has been waiting for and begins a different ministry of pointing people towards Jesus rather than an unknown Saviour. This also means John needs to decrease to allow Jesus to increase. It must have taken great humility to give up a successful ministry and great wisdom to know who to give it up for.
Today marks the two year anniversary of my blog. At times it feels like I have been doing it forever, but also like I have only just began, However after prayer and reflection, it is time to step back for a while. Being unable to find time to write each week has also been a factor. Therefore I wanted to say how blessed I have been by your kind support and encouragement and hope I have been able to help you on your journeys as well. I may write occasionally when time and inspiration strikes, but please feel free to look back at the previous posts. Thank you again and I pray God will make His face shine upon you and make the road rise to meet you.