From Nazareth to Bethlehem to South Carolina and Ohio

The whir of the furnace is the only noise at this moment. The room has a tinge of chill, but not much.

Out innkeeper made room for us, though her house is small. Clean towels, a stocked refrigerator, and a freshly cleaned bed, awaited our arrival.

We arrived in a car and not on a donkey. We didn’t have to go through dangerous country. We didn’t have to travel back to Cincinnati to pay taxes.

There are no similarities between Mary and Joseph’s journey and ours.

But because of their journey, we came to Ohio to visit family and celebrate Christ’s birth.

From Nazareth to Bethlehem, Mary, hugely pregnant, and Joseph, traveled about 70 miles, on foot, to Bethlehem, to pay their taxes.

Ours are paid in escrow, no trip involved.

In todays society, Mary, pregnant without really knowing who the father was, would end up on the Jerry Springer show, with different possible fathers would be brought forth.

But that was not Mary’s fate. She had Joseph, a good man, who, in spite of knowing that he didn’t sire Mary’s son, stepped up and assumed responsibility, in part, to spare Mary the public humiliation that would come as a result of her being an unmarried mother.

Imagine how alone Mary must have felt before Joseph stepped up. She was probably only 13 or 14 years old.

The journey from Nazareth to Jerusalem, would have most likely, taken many days if walking.

They had to be exhausted, hungry and a tad forlorn, to knowing where they would stay and where Mary would give birth.

There were no Air B&Bs, Holiday Inns or Marriotts.

We hopped into our Subaru and off we drove, nearly 500 miles in 9 hours, to a city where open arms and love and a warm bed awaited us.

I don’t know a whole lot about the Bible. I know bits and bobs. I know there were dreams and prophecies and angels that played a large part in the story of Jesus’s birth and life.

But I know the impact that story and that man, have played a large part in my life.

Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit, are not everyone’s belief. There are believers, non-believers, people who believe in a different entity and value system.

The role of religion in this world, is precarious. It has often been used to tear people apart. But so do different sport’s teams, political beliefs, and property lines.

Humans are weird.

They have a penchant for war, self-destruction and messing up a beautiful world.

Even people who believe in Jesus, are divided. One Presbyterian church spilts from another and the Baptists become Reformed Baptists, and a king in England gets ticked off because he can’t divorce, so he starts his own church, to suit his needs.

In many ways, it is crazy. And now, in our modern day society, the Islam religion has risen to claim its place on the stage of religions. There are branches to Islam, just like there are with Christianity. The good, peace loving, Muslims have to separate themselves from the spin-offs. Just as in Christianity, there are sects that have nothing to do with goodness.

Religious wars have played a big part in history. They always have, and in my mind, always will. It is the nature of the human beast, unless, somehow, we all float into John Lennon’s song, “Imagine.”

But I have my suspicions that even with no religion, humans would still fight and have wars and do horrible things to each other.

I understand that. Yet, I choose to be a Christian. I was brought up in the Christian faith, said, rats on it for a while, and have returned to my own version of it, not in established church sort of way. I choose to be non denominational and don’t even go to church.

But I love what Jesus stands for, and the Ten Commandments are good guidelines to me. Not that I don’t mess them up, daily, but I know when I deviate from what I know I should do, and think. To tell the truth, there are times when my thinking doesn’t go along with other’s interpretations of the Bible, and I find some of my thinking to be contradictory to it.

That is just me.

Perhaps it is that my beliefs in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, are more personal than the mantras of any religious sect. My direct pipeline to God works just dandy for me.

Christ brought me the gift of finding my way through life, without being alone. I count on Him and His teachings, to get me through a life that although, good, has had its trials and struggles. Jesus and my belief that I have been granted grace, forgiveness and eternal peace, are salves for an often wounded soul. It is a wounded soul, because I am human. I don’t always know what’s right, or do what’s right, within the eyes of God.

But to know that if I ask for strength, forgiveness and direction, it is there. And no matter what, grace will be given, I can keep getting up, putting one foot in front of the other, and try to make my life on earth, one that gives love, kindness and hope.

So, as a Christian, this time, these next couple of days, are the real Christmas, to me. They have nothing to do with shopping malls, or Santa or sugar plum fairies.

The are the days when I think about that time, long ago, when humble Mary and Joseph believed in the angels and dreams and the prophecies, and gave us the gift of Jesus.

And I thank God for that.

Merry Christmas,

Susan

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