“A just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly” From Matthew Ch1
Joseph to Mary’s father perhaps: “it wasn’t me, it was the Holy Spirit” No really, that’s a good one – at least it’s original!
Whatever Joseph might have been – the angels put him straight. Today the 4th Sunday of Advent we focus on Mary, Mother of Jesus. She journeys with Joseph on a hard road to Bethlehem.
You try it, nine months pregnant, each step forward another towards uncertainty. A future unknown.
Step after step on the bare rock, dust path, stony way, the ground pushing pack up into your feet after each step. The wind biting, like the bitter cold of winter, surrounding, within. Numb. What does this journey mean? How will this end? Already there are too many questions. Even the sky is heavy with expectation, pregnant with a storm waiting to drop, waiting for the moment to unleash its burden. Not unlike this child.
On into the night, through rocky hills, occasional trees stand bare on the landscape. Still the clouds hang heavy with the desire to be relinquished of their load. It begins with a bright flash, lightening like no other, a light so pure, the darkness itself is absent for a moment. Then comes the sound of the thunder rumbling along through the hills, bouncing off rocks, echoing each roar so that it rolls on and on. Unleashed – the rain comes, only it is white. Sleet, snow, hail, mixture of all three, the burden is falling – if only this baby-burden could fall away as well, but it must be carried to its destination. This baby, the weight of the world as the world waits with longing. The ground begins to turn from stony path to white carpet. The second flash is brighter still, closer, the sound comes before the light has faded, reflected off the hail strewn ground in a blue / white dazzle. Still the clouds empty themselves. Stopped. Standing still in the midst of it all, hand shielding the eyes from the stinging, falling snow, hail. It stops as soon as it started. The flash storm is gone as quickly as it came, but the transformation is complete. the path is changed. A clean crisp blanket. Pure, awaiting the first impression. Just like this small life within. All around it is a world made new. And within, a world could be made new, if only this new offering would be accepted like the snowy covered ground inviting, expecting. What will be the first shoot of hope to grow through the whiteness? Who will recognise the gift of the child as hope for the world. The world changes in an instant from grey to white. The world is now so shaped in a moment by the expectation that this birth brings. The birth. A new birth, born out of the old into the new. A snow covered path is a good one to tread, new first prints, highlight the way forward, the hard road of this journey is not over. New birth is just the beginning of a night to be remembered. Mary’s journey becomes ours as we bring to birth once again the saviour, like crisp, clean prints in fresh snow. Refreshing, pure, but above all full of hope.
A reflection on the Road to Bethlehem mentally ‘written’ whilst running mountains in the hail and snow and thunder.