At church, we've been moving into Christmas by focusing on the "advent," the coming. So often, when we celebrate Christmas, we focus on the destination, the birth, the "event." We forget that the journey is just as important.
The prophets of the Old Testament told of what was coming. They didn't talk of only the Christ child, they also foresaw the coming of John, the one who would lead the way. They knew that it was a journey that must be taken.
When John was wandering in the wilderness, he also talked of the One who would follow. He prepared the people so that they would understand once He did arrive.
In the Gospels, there is also a series of journeys. There is the journey of a carpenter to understand the need for him to accept the circumstances of his child's conception. There is the journey of a young girl, struggling to become the mother of the One at a time when her pregnancy was unexplainable and socially unacceptable. There is the physical journey of the Israelites, returning to their birthplaces so that they might register for the census.
The Bible is rife with tales of journeys. The Israelites leaving Egypt. Abraham traveling to the promised land. Christ wandering the landscape on his inevitable journey to Jerusalem. The apostles traveling around the Mediterranean as they spread the news of His message. The journey, over and over, presented as more important than the actual destination.
We have our own journeys to make in our lives. We travel from childhood to adult. From play to work. From birth to death. Along the way, it is the many lessons learned that make us the people that we become. And, on that trip, there is joy, and there is sadness. There is success and there is failure. However, if we had not made the journey, the person we are now would never have been possible.
Many of us have struggled during the last week to make sense of some of the things we encounter on our journeys. The events in Newtown, Connecticut, horrible and evil, do not make any sense. But, in the trek that we are making, it is vital that we face those events head on and make sure that we learn all that we can from what has occurred. Unless we face the horror and learn from it, we do not grow. Unless we admit that people are capable of unspeakable acts, with no rhyme or reason, and that something must change if we are to prevent such things in the future, these events will have failed to teach us the important lessons that will become part of our growth.
One of those journeys that we make is the move from the tragedy to a place of healing. For many in that Connecticut community, it will be a long and difficult passage. There will be times when they will fear that they will be unable to complete their travels, and they will require the support of their neighbors, friends and families, as well as the support of the nation, as they seek to arrive at resolution.
It is the season of advent, preparation for the arrival. It is time for us to open up our hearts to possibilities and promises yet to come. It is time to realize that Christmas is not the final destination - rather, it is one of the waypoints on our journey.
This Christmas, realize that the birth is only one of the points on our journey. As you celebrate the holiday with your family and friends, continue looking ahead on your travels. Know that the final destination is far down the road, and we have much to learn and to celebrate along the way.
It’s all just my opinion.