Luke 2:11 “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. ” (KJV)
Christmas is often a time of travel. Friends and families love to spend this special season together celebrating and giving gifts. By necessity many take a journey across town, across states, or even across country.
When I was growing up in New Jersey, my extended family lived relatively close. Every Christmas my aunts, uncles, and cousins would meet at Grandma & Grandpa Thomson’s house to celebrate the season together. After exchanging gifts we observed an annual tradition. All who wanted to go wrapped themselves in their warmest clothes, jumped in the car, and journeyed into New York City.
There we weathered the whipping winds and frostbiting cold to catch a glimpse of the beautiful Christmas tree standing proudly in Rockefeller Center. In my memory I can still see the graceful skaters circling the ice in front of the tree. I can still smell the acrid scent of fire and roasting chestnuts and feel the cold tightening my face. When we all had enough we headed back home to fill our stomachs with Grandma’s delicious dinner.
This Christmas Dad and I took a different kind of journey. We traveled to Holmes County to get away for a few days. While there we participated in a tradition that the people of the area have observed for a number of years – we joined the crowds on Saturday night and travelled back in time to relive the story of Jesus’ birth.
The registrars at the Wallhouse Hotel recorded our names for the royal census.
The shopkeepers of Bethlehem lined a large hallway trying to entice us to purchase their wares.
The innkeeper at the Carisle Inn gave the last available space, the stable, to a young pregnant couple and then turned the rest of us away.
King Herod, enthroned at Yoder’s Hardware store, became very angry when we told him we were seeking the newborn king and he sent us all away.
The shepherds and their flock of sheep camped out between two gift shops. We rejoiced with them as the angels, perched on the porch above us, proclaimed the good news that the Savior had been born and sang glory to God in the highest.
But the best part of all was arriving at The Farm at Walnut Creek’s Amish version of Bethlehem.
A horse-drawn wagon took us to the big wood frame barn where real camels, cattle, goats, sheep, and turtledoves resided. The Roman soldiers on horseback and the stirring Amish children’s choir singing popular Christmas hymns helped remind our hearts of the real reason for Christmas.
As we contemplated the live nativity, we remembered the longest Christmas journey of all. The Savior, Jesus Christ, travelled all the way from heaven to earth to be born as a human. Born to a poor family, Jesus entered the world in a stable. The Creator of the universe was wrapped in strips of cloth and laid to sleep in a manger full of hay. Why did He humble Himself? It was so that He could die to make it possible for you and me to become part of the family of God. What better gift could He give?
This Christmas, as you pack your things to travel across town, across states, or across country, make sure that you don’t forget to take the journey to Bethlehem. Open your Bibles and experience the greatest love story of all time.
For unto you a child is born!