You can choose to begin this Christmas reflection in one of two (or both) ways.
Stop before reading any further and play "O Little Town of Bethlehem" on your CD player or Alexa device.
Or, better yet, read this passage from St. Luke's Gospel, chapter 2, verses 4-5. "Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child."
As the crow flies, it was a journey of approximately 100 kilometers but traveling over hills, through villages, and around rivers would likely have made the trip even longer. Our imaginations, figurines, and Christmas cards always show Mary riding a donkey but we really have no idea of their mode of travel.
In any case, whether on foot or on the back of a swaying brown animal, it wasn’t an easy journey, especially for a women nearing the end of her pregnancy. Why did she go? True, the government officials of the day decreed a census and that everyone must go to one’s “own city,” the place their families called home, for this official registration and counting.
Perhaps Mary was also quite ready to leave the village of Nazareth where tongues were wagging about her pregnancy and unmarried status. But Mary and Joseph knew they were going far from family and into a city whose streets would be clogged with traveling strangers. They were assured of no warm welcome, no cozy place to birth the expected child. Remember those famous words, "but there was no room for them in the inn."
Perhaps they hoped for a small house or a distant relative or a way for Joseph to earn money for their keep, but in almost every way, they were traveling into the unknown. The journey was long and hard, the destination uncertain.
Nearly nine months before their arrival in Bethlehem, Mary spoke life-changing words to God, words that were to comfort her in the many uncertain years ahead. Catholics call it her fiat, Latin, meaning "Let it be done." But from Scripture, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”
With those simple words of faith, she could endure the long journey on the back of a donkey, the cold streets of Bethlehem, the staring faces of strangers, and even the crude stable with its straw-lined manger. Where is your Bethlehem? Has the path been long, the people uncaring, the circumstances burdensome?
I had to learn this the hard way. But the truth is, when we submit ourselves as servants to a loving God, we can — in quietness and confidence — add “May it be to me as you have said,” no matter the place or position in which we find ourselves.
Would you like to say "May it be to me as you have said," to God, this Christmas? Would you like to know Jesus? One of the promises that the Christmas angels made was "Peace on earth." Well, knowing Him, through a personal relationship with Him, you can have peace, and find hope, and know forgiveness: all unsurpassed and unconditional.
You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. It doesn't have to be complicated. Sometimes, we think that prayer has to be well said and eloquent. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart.
Here’s a suggested prayer: "Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Bring peace to my world this Christmas. Make me the kind of person you want me to be. And 'may it all be to me as you have said.' Amen."
If this prayer expresses the desire of your heart, pray it right now and Christ will come into your life as He promised. If you invited Jesus Christ into your life, thank God often that He is in your life, that He will never leave you, and that you have eternal life.
Oh, and by the way, Merry Christmas!
The Rev. D.G. “Skip” Davis is pastor of St. Thomas Church, Corry.