The Advent gift on Day 2 of Sharing the Joy comes from the Growing in Faith Circle.
Rev Jon Humphries shares an Advent reflection on "the way to the manger"
Christmas is often described as a time for being with family and sharing joy and love. Have you read the two versions of the Nativity story in the Bible in the books of Matthew and Luke?
There is little tinsel, and the family time in the Christmas story is raw and gritty. Houses would have been full with family members returning to register for the census.
In fact that is probably why there was no room in the upper room (which has been often translated as 'no room in the inn'). Mary and Joseph would have been with family, given that childbirth was one of the most dangerous things that a woman could go through back then, and they were in Joseph's ancestral town.
Perhaps we miss the reason for the season if we limit it to an idea that it is about family celebration.
Similarly, the gift giving of God in the story has little to do with extraneous or whimsical tokens of affection, which is much of the custom around Christmas. Instead, the story empowers people with the powerful resources of hope, peace, joy and love to help people in the reality of life.
The story of the nativity reminds us that God humbly enters into our existence through sacrifice and love. It is the ultimate act of solidarity and compassion. It is the beginning of the deep and real work of God being true at-one-ment with us in Christ. This God being with us starts in a manger and reaches fulfilment in crucifixion, with a powerful epilogue of resurrection.
The way to the manger needs to remember and foreshadow the way of the cross.
All of this is the story of how deeply God loves us and how this love is literally embodied in Jesus, and this is all part of teaching us what it means to be a part of God’s family. As the Bible states, we are God's family and God is here with us.
This is truly something to think about and is what is worth celebrating, not only at Christmas but in the way we live as families each and every day. God bless.
- Jon Humphries