“Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened,
which the Lord has made known to us.”
I have a friend, now gone, who used to send a Christmas card every year that ended with, “I hope you make it to Bethlehem this year.” I always heard in those words a mystic invitation to pilgrimage. Rather than chasing one “Christmas” experience after another, I could set out on the road, like Mary and Joseph, like the shepherds, like the Magi, to a place called Bethlehem.
It was not of course the kind of journey that required a plane ticket and luggage. It was a summons to some space deep within, a place in the heart. So that, while most of the world was running up the Christmas escalator, I could descend into a place of joy. Not exactly or always a place of happiness, not a place of achievement or perfection, but a blessed spot on earth where everything is all right, even when everything is, well—complicated!
How do we reach Bethlehem? By walking the path of acceptance, patience and willingness. If we can patiently accept life on its own terms and stop for a moment all our pushing and shoving, twisting and shaping the world according to our will, we just might find we are already there. As ever, it’s the plainest, most ordinary, least “miraculous” place we know of—just like our own lives. Here we find grace—what we might call salvation, but it’s really just a sense, almost comical, that we came all this way to find we were always home.
I hope you make it to Bethlehem this year.
Prayer: Christ who was born in the City of David, let our prayer join with the shepherds’: ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ Amen.