The Road to Bethlehem
Not all roads lead to Bethlehem. I-85 west of Charlotte is snarled at the McAdenville exit- “Christmas Town USA,”- a drive-thru of ornately decorated homes. Off McDowell Street, tourists pay one hundred and twenty-five dollars to see the forty-five thousand twinkling lights inside the Biltmore House. On Balm Grove Avenue in East Asheville, North Carolina’s longest-running live nativity scene is on display. But the baby Jesus won’t be found in any of those places.
His parents were on foot, forced to walk the eighty miles from Nazareth. Joseph kept checking his wallet for tax money he didn’t have. Mary kept checking her underdress, anxious her water was breaking too early. They traveled the slow miles over ten days through the Jordan River Valley and past the Bedouin camps, north to south, hauling their provisions as they counted the contractions.
While the holy family eventually made it to Bethlehem, we are just starting the journey of Advent. Over the next four weeks, the distractions will only intensify, the glossy ads and blinking signs pointing us in every wrong direction. And when we lose our way, turned around by culture and consumerism, let us return to today’s text asking this question: how do we get to Christmas by the end of December?