I've started reading the Christmas story again and, as always, something new hit me this year.
Joseph and Mary travelled to Bethlehem because there was a census and everyone had to go back to the place the family called home so that they could be counted. Everyone.
|My Advent stable waits for its visitors|
It should surely have been a family expedition. And yet there is no mention of any of Joseph and Mary's family being around. No aunts and uncles seem to have called in. No cousins visited. There were shepherds and angels and fancy chaps from the east but family visits? None.
Was it that family visits were too insignificant for the gospel writers to have recorded? Did everyone disapprove of the couple so much that they left them alone? Did the rest of the family not bother to go to Bethlehem to be counted? I'm sure scholars must have pondered this one over the years but it is this year that it has really struck me.
For me Christmas Day will be the same as it has been these last eleven years since I retired. I'll go to church (first time since March!) then it's home for a quiet day alone. But for others it will be the year when they don't meet up with their extended family, when they have to see their grandchildren's faces on a screen. We had our usual street meeting on Thursday and all the other households would normally be travelling to stay with their children and grandchildren but they all feel it would be too risky so we all got quite excited when we decided to have a street meet-up at 6pm Christmas Eve. (I'm even planning to put jingle bells on my mobility scooter for the occasion!) We're all valuing little things which would normally be very unimportant.
But don't forget that little threesome who spent that first Christmas in Bethlehem. Maybe they too were wishing that granny and grandad could have been around.
Don't forget to check Tracing Rainbows for other "Thoughts" in the "Advent at Home"