“Our Journey to Christmas” is an appropriate phrase to express the rich variety of feeling, belief, commitment, and theology associated with Christmas. In this Advent season, each of us is on a journey, but not all paths are equal. Your path might be taking you to selfishness and greed, or perhaps you will lavish children and friends with presents out of guilt instead of love. Your journey might be one dripping with bitterness because of un-forgiveness and a hardened heart. The question “Where shall we go?” can only have one answer for the Christian – we travel toward Jesus; but it is a journey that can be thought of in several ways.
This Journey Takes Physical and Emotional Effort
If we think of ourselves as the Wise Men, then we have some physical distance to travel in order to see the Holy Child. The physical act of travel involved for them not only preparation for the trip but also the determination to see it through. So we too, if we are to travel toward Jesus in this Advent season, must plan and resolve that this year we will make the emotional and physical efforts required to devote ourselves to this spiritual journey.
Christmas is two weeks away – what are you going to do to properly posture your heart? Will you give of your time? Sit in silence with the Lord? Commit to meditating on Scripture? Find some Christ-centered activities to do with your family? Find/make a Bible reading plan to remind yourself of the hope, prophecies, and surprising twists of the Christmas story? This journey toward Christ takes some planning and purposefulness on your part, but it will be worth the effort.
This Journey Includes Anticipation
Second, the journey to Jesus is a journey in time, a journey which involves anticipation. I am thinking now of the prophets of old who predicted the coming of Messiah. Israel had suffered long under the hands of tyrants and foreigners. The people of God longed for the coming of an anointed leader who would deliver them from their slavery to oppressors and take them back to their own lands and homes. “How long, oh Lord, must we wait?” became the heart cry of Old Testament faith. They longed for, they waited for, they prayed for the coming of Messiah. The coming of Jesus was the New Testament fulfillment of that Old Testament promise. His coming was truly “in the fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4). His coming was the resolution of the emotional tension in their long-anticipated and long-awaited hope. We, of course, can now look back in time and see that the Messiah has come. But anticipation is still a part of our Christmas journey, for now we await Christ’s return. “Advent,” which means “presence” or “arrival,” can thus refer to either Christ’s first or second coming. Seen in this way, Christmas is not only a reference to his birth in the past, but also a foreshadowing of His Second Advent. Just as children long for Christmas to come so that the brightly colored packages under the tree may be opened, so we long for Christ’s next Advent as the time of resurrection, peace, blessing, the full presence of God, and a joyous reunion with loved ones, all done with no more sorrow, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:4).
Let’s Focus Our Hearts and Minds
So this year, again, we must make the “physical” effort to undertake this spiritual pilgrimage. We journey towards Christ. And we do so with expectation. Our salvation is assured but not yet completed, so we press on in hope, faith, and obedience. “For why would we hope for what we can already see? But if we hope for what we do not yet see, with perseverance we will wait eagerly for it” (Romans 8:24-25).
Let this idea of a “Journey to Christmas” help us properly focus our hearts and minds for Christian renewal, worship, and celebration during the entire season.
Note: While I know we’re already two weeks into the Advent Season, I hope this blog will be an encouragement to you and you’ll use the next two weeks to journey toward Jesus this Christmas.