Advent Week 2: Unexpected Journeys & A Guided Imagery Exercise

“In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria. Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled. Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea. He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby. She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.” – Luke 2:1-7 CEB


You know the scene well. The long, crowded waiting rooms and stacks of papers with a million stamps in your arms. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. The uncertainties of the process, not knowing if you’ve got what you need, unsure of how things will proceed, or if you will receive favor with the government official who wields great power in the direction of your life at that moment. There are a million steps you find redundant and time consuming and they seem to change every moment. Are you doing this right? Why is it so hot in here? Where can I find a place to rest? 


Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem no doubt held some of the same feelings. The uncertainty of the process the census was taking, the deep discomfort of the journey to the town where their “paperwork” would be processed, the incredibly inconvenient timing right before birth, and the knowledge that this would likely not be a fast process. Clearly, life wasn’t panning out in an easy step by step process to usher the Son of God into the world.



As you step into the next government office in the coming months, or navigate the next uncertain task or journey in front of you in a context you’re unsure of yourself in, remember this… Jesus came in the middle of the world’s confusion, pain, and uncertainty. And He is here even now, with us. May His presence and the hope of a God who loves us fully reside with you in those difficult moments.

Here are we, people of faith, sometimes stronger, sometimes weaker, pilgriming to Bethlehem in spirit, soul and body, with the Father’s attentive, appreciative, caring eyes upon us. And it’s not just to a memory we’re travelling. It’s to a fullness. It’s to what Bethlehem points to. It’s to that we pray to reach… This is where we hope to end, to be complete as human beings. We are called to a great unity of creation and humanity and our whole selves in Christ.” – Homily by Bp Hugh Gilbert (St Mary’s Cathedral, Aberdeen, 13 December 2020)

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