“And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.” Matthew 2:6
Eight years ago, my family and I were living in Southern California. We still wanted to keep our tradition to go to Chicago at Christmastime and had been saving all year in order to fly to Chicago that December.
We had been going to Chicago each Christmas since 1996 and experienced every kind of weather imaginable – warm and thunderstorms, freezing temperatures that struggled to get above zero degrees, and snow. But the four years we lived in Southern California we were at the mercy of the weather since we would have to fly to Chicago.
One year we had super cold weather – which I wrote about in the devotion “Traditions” that can be found in the book “In My Father’s Footsteps Christmas 2016 Edition.”
But the Christmas of 2008 was the year of the big snow storm that nearly made me miss the Christmas Eve services at the church that I was serving – Redeemer Lutheran Church & School in Ontario, California.
There was snow on the ground when we arrived on December 19, which was great! We did all the things we planned to do – the boys got their picture taken with Santa Claus at Macy’s (the former Marshall Field’s). We had dinner at Miller’s Pub. We walked up and down State Street and Michigan Ave. Most importantly, we were able to spend some wonderful time with my mother at her house.
We planned on returning to California the morning of December 23 – which would give us enough time to get back, get unpacked, and get ready to celebrate Christmas Eve & Christmas Day with our brothers and sisters at Redeemer Lutheran.
It would have given us enough time, that is, unless it snowed. And boy, did it snow!
It started early in the day on the 23rd and didn’t let up until later that evening.
What was normally a one hour drive turned into a drive of over three hours to the airport. But thankfully we had plenty of time to get there as our flight was delayed over 8 hours!
We finally were able to fly out of Chicago about 10:00 p.m. and landed in California about 5:00 a.m. local time on Christmas Eve.
I was able to get a nap in before the Christmas Eve worship services that day.
That was a pretty hectic travel experience, but certainly not the worse one ever.
The first Christmas – two thousand years ago – also had its own “travel” stories. Mary and Joseph had to travel from their home in Nazareth to Bethlehem. The Wise Men from the East traveled an even greater distance, following a star.
The destination was Bethlehem – the ancestral home of King David, a distant relative of Joseph and Mary. While Joseph thought he was going in order to fulfill a mandate from the Roman government, he was actually traveling with his pregnant wife to fulfill a prophecy made by Micah some four or five hundred years before.
It seems to me that because Mary & Joseph traveled to reach the first Christmas, travel was destined to be a part of every Christmas since.
It certainly is true for my family, as I suspect it is true for most every family. We travel to family and friends to celebrate. We travel to and from church to worship God. People travel to us to remember the love of our relationships.
As you travel this Christmas – whether it’s only a mile or two or hundreds or even thousands – remember that it is part of what Christmas is all about.
Mary and Joseph traveled to get to the first Christmas.
The Wise Men traveled to worship the newborn King of kings.
Jesus himself traveled all the way from heaven to earth to be our Savior and Lord!
Remembering this may make the travel we do at Christmas a little easier to endure, and just maybe it can make it a joyful experience!
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