Advent is a season, a season that always seems to require a journey from me. Advent started with a journey, a journey chosen by God for those brave enough, believing enough to follow. A journey that always ends with humbled hearts, bent knees, bowed heads, songs of praise and words of worship.
That first journey was Abraham’s. God called Abraham and Abraham responded in obedience and in faith. That was the beginning of Abraham’s Advent journey. That was the beginning of the human lineage that would lead to the birth of the Savior of the world, Jesus. It happened in this way.
“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’ So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him.” (Genesis 12:1-4)
Abraham set out on his journey, not knowing where he was going, trusting God to show him the way to this unknown destination. Mary and Joseph had quite the arduous Advent journey of their own before they arrived at precisely the place picked by God to be the birthplace of the Messiah. The shepherds had their own Advent journey on the night Christ was born. They left their sheep in the fields and set out for Bethlehem. These shepherds wanted to see God’s gift, the promised Messiah, with their own eyes. And so their Advent journey led them to a manger in a stable in Bethlehem. And there they bowed, these seeking, skeptical shepherds. Finding themselves in the presence of the Almighty, they bowed in wonder, overwhelmed with the miracle of Emmanuel.
Others had Advent journeys far longer than those of the shepherds. There were Wise Men or Magi who traveled from distant lands to see Jesus. At one point on their journey, their search for God’s Messiah, they inquired of King Herod,
“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:2) (the desired destination of the Advent journey is a place of worship)
After their encounter with Herod, the Advent journey of the Wise Men continued until they reached their desired destination. We read this account of the end of their journey in Matthew 2:9-11,
“After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.”
The journey of the Wise Men ended when they came into the presence of God’s Son and were able at last to bow down, worship Him and present their offerings and gifts to Him. The purpose of the journey of Advent is to bring me into the Presence of my Savior, God’s gift to me, God’s gift to the world. But I confess – I have to be willing to leave the comforts of my home behind in order to embrace the journey before me, unknown and uncomfortable though it may prove to be. (it was no piece of cake for Mary and Joseph, the Wise Men, (who were gone traveling for a few years) or even the shepherds, who had to leave their sheep behind and hope they would still be there when they got back)
This Advent journey requires that I, like Abraham, be willing to get up and to go wherever God asks me to go, even if it is an unknown destination, as it was with Abraham. The faith to follow where God leads, is what I, like the Wise Men, must have. They faithfully followed God’s star until it led them into the very Presence of God’s only Son, Jesus. That’s where the journey of Advent leads me every time – into the hushed, holy, divine, life-giving, sin-shattering, heart- healing Presence of Christ.
To reach the destination of the Advent journey is to find oneself in the Presence of the Holy God of the universe and to be filled with the wonder, the joy, the hope, the peace, the comfort, the sense of being home at last, that only His Presence provides. Those that came into the Christ child’s presence on that first Christmas night, experienced what was spoken of in these words from Philippians 2:9-11,
“Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
And that night, that sacred, silent, holy night when Jesus was born – that is exactly what happened. For everyone who entered in to see for themselves the newborn Savior, bowed both knee and head in His presence as they confessed His Lordship and His deity with their tongues, worshiping Him with their words and their gifts. Light had come into our dark world, God’s light, and everyone bowed in the Presence of such pure holiness, power and might.
“In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)
The Advent journey of following God’s star leads me into the light of His Presence where I too, along with shepherds, Wise Men, Mary, Joseph and all of creation will bow in the face of the overwhelming wonder that is the love of God for the people He created. We are not forgotten. Our Redeemer has come!
“Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord comforts His people and will have compassion on His afflicted ones.” (Isaiah 49:13)
My Redeemer has come! My Redeemer is coming back for me! My Advent journey is leading me straight into His Presence.
sincerely, Grace Day