At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. All returned to their own ancestral homes to register for this census. So David had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, because he was a descendant of King David. He travelled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancé, who was now obviously pregnant. (Luke 2: 1-5)
As a Christian, I understand that Advent is a time for both preparation and self-improvement ahead of the worldly arrival of Jesus. Somehow, only one week into Advent, preparation has overtaken self-improvement.
Last weekend we found ourselves (for reasons too bizarre to mention) purchasing a real Christmas tree, and I consumed a large slice of chocolate yule log. So far this week, I have enjoyed the start of my chocolate advent calendar, lit our advent candle, and counter-signed Christmas cards. This preparation all sounds rather self-centred, and ignores the hardships experienced by others.
I don’t think Mary and Joseph were enjoying their preparation for a journey to Bethlehem. The required journey from Nazareth, through Tiberius, along the Jordan river valley to Jerusalem, is 150 kilometres, taking 6 days on foot. Food and clothing had to be packed for cold weather, and Mary was heavily pregnant.
More recently, Zoom meetings take us inside other people’s houses, but not into the houses of those families no longer in work and struggling to put food on the table.
This material poverty of others, and the spiritual poverty in ourselves, is precisely what the coming Light of the World will illuminate.
Proper food for thought.
O Lord our God, make us watchful and keep us faithful as we await the coming of your Son our Lord; that, when he shall appear, he may not find us sleeping in sin but active in his service and joyful in his praise; through Jesus Christ our Lord.