Will this be an actual reflection of the first Christmas, will we have experienced the real Christmas themes and tones for the first time in a long time?
As we see reports that “Christmas is cancelled” amid the Covid pandemic, as we are surrounded by differing views and outright falsehoods about the world in which we live, I was pondering this very thought, if you then include the references that some are making with the planetary alignment on the 21st December with the Christmas star, it makes for an interesting conversation at least.
In times like this, such conversations, I choose to have first and foremost with my friends and helpers in the world of spirit, they have a unique and more apt perspective after all.For many years, Christmas has centred around presents, big dinners, fancy speeches and family gatherings, but whilst all of these are nice, essential some may say, are they a true reflection of the Nativity, or indeed the message that Christmas comes with to teach us?
If you study the factual geographical and cultural situation in which the Nativity is set, I challenge and maintain, this may well be the first Christmas collectively where we will actual have experienced the truth.
At least, this is what spirit suggested. Whilst it may not be what we want, may it be what is needed to remind us of the truth of the birth of Christ?
I was told to consider and think of all these things when I brought it to Spirit. The one thing that shocked me the most, I suppose was a suggestion that may sound strange, even controversial, that as far as the Nativity, Jesus is not actually the central figure.It was explained to me in this way, Jesus as far as the Nativity is concerned is the special guest cameo cliff hanger appearance at the end of the episode, which sets up the next great story.
We only must look at the whole story, and the truth of its placing and location to find the genuinely important message that the nativity teaches us.Struggle, suffering, endurance, and ultimately in the end of joy and hope.
A newly betrothed couple is forced to register for a census in a town far away. The woman is nine months pregnant. When they finally reach their destination after an arduous journey, there is no place to stay. The woman gives birth in a stable.
The world of Mary and Joseph was a difficult and dangerous place, one whose harsh conditions were not fully chronicled in the Gospel accounts of their travails.
Joseph and Mary’s hardships would have begun more than a week before the birth of Jesus, when the couple had to leave their home in Nazareth, in the northern highlands of Galilee, to register for a Roman census.
They had to travel 90 miles to the city of Joseph’s ancestors: south along the flatland of the Jordan River, then west over the hills surrounding Jerusalem, and on into Bethlehem.
A gruelling trip, very much uphill and downhill. It was not simple, likely would they have travelled only 10 miles a day because of Mary’s impending delivery.And the trip through the Judean desert would have taken place during the winter, when during the day rains like heck, nasty, miserable. And at night it would be freezing. The unpaved, hilly trails and harsh weather were not the only hazards Joseph and Mary would have faced on their journey south.
One of the most terrifying dangers in ancient Palestine was the heavily forested valley of the Jordan River where lions and bears lived in the woods, and travellers had to fend off wild boars, with bandits, and robbers also common hazards along the major trade routes like the one Joseph and Mary would have travelled.
Its all a far cry from the gentle trip on a donkey we were all taught in primary school, that is for sure. And the arrival in Bethlehem is not much better.Under normal circumstances, they would have expected to stay in the spare bedroom of a relative or another Jewish family. However, an overcrowded Bethlehem would have forced Joseph and Mary to seek lodging at a primitive inn.
It is widely agreed that Jesus was born in a cave used for housing animals. Since the cave used for a stable was part of the inn, the only animals likely to be found there would have been donkeys used for travel and perhaps a few sheep, with overcrowded conditions in Bethlehem on the night of Jesus’ birth may well have resulted in others being close at hand during Mary’s delivery, so the noisy and dirty conditions under which Jesus was born would have made the event anything but an uplifting family affair – and we haven’t even touched upon the dangers of child birth 2000 years ago, in or out of a cave!Jesus then, placed in a feeding trough for the donkeys, arrives to bring hope and light into the world.
But the point is this – hope is born our of strife, pain and darkness, this after all is why the feast of the nativity fits in so well with this time of year, and all other faiths ways of explaining, and supporting their adherents through the long dark. The promise of hope.
Yes, Mary was contacted by an Angel, told of what was to come, but did that make the pain and strife of being separated from her family and friend, travelling long hard roads, and not to mention childbirth any easier physically or emotionally? Of course not.
The story of the Nativity teaches us, that we triumph through adversity, that hope and joy comes at the end of night, in the form of a light to shine the way forward, and ultimately the world of Spirit, that God, will give us what we need, not what we want, to find a path to that light at the end of the tunnel.It all sounds a little strangely familiar when we think of it this way, but in a time of isolation we must remember there is hope, and we certainly have more ways to ‘stay in touch’ than in the time of Mary.
In a time when quiet reflection is enforced upon us, we can either search for reasons why we should not be in the situation or recognise why we are so afraid of being alone, because we are all naturally fearing of the dark, but equally united in our need for hope.
2000 years ago, the spirit side of the universe invested so much effort, planning and hope in the teachings of a baby born out of suffering and endurance, that the words he would one day share would change the world.
They did, they still do for many, but the message of his arrival is equally important, so in this time remember, it is bleak and rough now – but the sun always rises, even after the darkest of nights.