She was from a weed of a town. That’s what Nazareth means. He grew up playing a version of cops and robbers, but because he was from Bethlehem, David’s city, the game was about a great military leader who would conquer all Israel’s enemies. Perhaps instead of cops and robbers, they called it Messiahs and Romans.
He was born two miles outside of a major global metropolis; she lived close to a tiny lake, literally the backwaters of the Roman world. With God’s help, they found one another, and the world was changed forever. Mary and Joseph are the most famous parents in history, and their child is the most important man to ever live.
We’ve all heard the tale before. She was frightened but faithful. He was angry but accepting. Many of us have heard the story over, and over, and over again. Sometimes, however, I wonder if we’ve missed one of the most important players in the tale: The Journey.
They could have taken one of two routes from Nazareth to Bethlehem. One was longer and avoided the loathed Samaritans. The other was shorter but created cultural complications as it led through an unclean land. Is the fact that Mary and Joseph walked through Samaria part of the reason their son felt comfortable making a Samaritan the hero in his most famous story? Is this why he called a Samaritan woman by Joseph’s well to become one of the first evangelists?
As Mary and Joseph journeyed, they walked within sight of a town called Tel Megiddo. It was the crossroads of the ancient world; the place where the silk road from the east terminated into the Mediterranean. If you turned left, you went to Africa. Turn right and you end up in Europe. This was the most important intersection in the world. Therefore, it was much fought over. In fact, its name became synonymous with strife; prophecies predict it will be the place of the last battle in the war to end all wars. Tel Megiddo is known today as Armageddon. On this journey, Mary carried the Prince of Peace past terminus of war.
The Journey wasn’t simply about getting from point A to point B. As Mary and Joseph traveled, they bore witness to the past even as she was pregnant with hope for the future.
In the same way, our life journeys are not simply about getting from here to there, from school to retirement, from cradle to grave. Like Mary and Joseph, we bear witness to the blessing and bondage of times gone by as we carry the light and hope of Jesus to the world.
I want to invite you to join with us this December as we discover the unknown character in the greatest story ever told: The Journey.
Together, we’ll discover the richness and meaning hidden in the story of Jesus while uncovering the beauty and possibility of our own journey.
Join us in December for our sermon series THE JOURNEY.
- Rob Lough
Anticipation makes the heart grow fonder. When my wife Melissa and I first met she was living in Virginia and I was living in Corpus Christi, Texas. We spent hours talking on the phone getting to know each other. While it can be difficult to be in a long distance relationship, we discovered that having a date on the calendar of the next time we would see each other gave us something to prepare for and get excited about.
The word Advent means “to come.” In the church, it’s the 4 weeks we dedicate preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. While our relationship with God can sometimes feel like a long distance relationship, even though it isn’t because God is with us, the art of anticipation can help our heart grow fonder. One of the many things I love about this church is the family Advent activity. This take-home activity will help prepare your family to celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day. I hope you’ll join me and my family in this great opportunity that in the anticipation of what this day means for us, our hearts might grow in our love for our Savior.
Starting November 25.
During Advent, Pastors Rob and Mark will take us on a Journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and Ebenezer Church has your passport. Stop in the Gym beginning November 25 to pick one up and participate in this year’s family advent activity.
Each week of advent, you and your family will visit a person or a place relevant to Mary and Joseph’s trip. Bring your passport to church each Sunday to collect stamps from each stop and receive the next week’s activity. Fill your passport will all four stamps for advent and fill your heart with anticipation of the birth of Jesus Christ.