Holidays bring trials, blessings

By Debra Whittington: QCS columnist

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Titus 2:13-14.

The calendar is full with something going on almost every night of the week. Mark and I look forward to a night at home together. Every event is important to us and we enjoy attending all of them and yet it seems as though our calendars are way too full.
It is the same every year as Christmas approaches and seems as though we try to fit in as much as humanly possible. We have this party and that party to go to and this and that Christmas program. There is the parade of lights that makes its way through the
city streets. Each and every event are all worthwhile.

I tell myself each year that I am going to cut down on the number and every year I find my calendar crammed full for the month of December. The days seem to fly
by as I count down the days on my advent calendar and I wonder how I will accomplish everything I planned before Christmas Day arrives. I justified giving up holiday baking and making candy by convincing myself I didn’t need all the extra calories. I send out fewer Christmas cards than I used to and receive fewer cards as well. Still, my calendar remains full.

I am not alone in this dilemma. In the midst of it all, the regular day-to-day tasks go on as before.

Businesses operate as usual and their employees report to work as usual. The grace period for paying property taxes counts down to the deadline on the 10th of
December. The treasurer’s office at the courthouse is immersed in a flurry of activity as many people wait until the last possible moment to pay their taxes.

Adults aren’t the only ones who feel the pressure of the advent of Christmas. Children are excited and eagerly anticipating the gifts they will receive on Christmas morning. Several of my teacher friends tell how difficult it is to keep the children’s attention or even keep them still for any length of time. Older students are frantically working to complete research papers and spending long hours studying for final exams.

People claim that our world is going at a much more frantic pace than it did even a few years ago. While our world has changed greatly due to technology, many
things remain the same. I found myself wondering what it was like in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago when a young carpenter and his wife who was expecting her
first child at any moment arrived in town amongst a flurry of activity to pay their taxes.

Their long journey to Bethlehem wasn’t an easy one. First off, there was Mary’s condition. She knew that it wouldn’t be long before she gave birth and I am
sure she was uncomfortable before she even started out on her journey. There is a young mother in our church whose child will be born in only a couple of weeks. Just by watching her, I can tell it is difficult for her go get around. I can’t even imagine her sitting on the back of a donkey.

I thought about a message I heard telling about the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Depending on the route taken, the distance is about 95 miles. If Mary and Joseph traveled through Samaria, their journey would take them up 2,500 feet through a treacherous
mountain road. It was unlikely they followed the banks of the Jordan River because of the added miles. The journey was extremely difficult under the best of situations. Still, they went the distance mile by mile.

The challenge from this sermon was to think about the hardships of Mary and Joseph on their journey and all they endured. Once we have done that, we need to think about our own journey to Bethlehem. What are the obstacles we face on a day-to-day basis as we make our pilgrimage to Christmas and what it means to us?

I am determined not to let the rocky path of a calendar crammed full prevent me from truly worshipping the birth of Jesus. In each bend in the road between now and Christmas, I look forward in anticipation to celebrating the birth of the King of
Kings and Lord of Lords. I plan to take plenty of time beside that road, resting in the Lord and taking time to reflect on the real reason for the season.