"Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." These words are first spoken by a wandering band of shepherds as they responded to the angels' herald of the good news birth of a Savior, the Messiah, the Lord. As the story is told, these sheep-herders were filled at first with great fear, even terror. Perhaps, it was the awe of the announcement, or the mag- nificence of the divine presence, or the sound of the angelic singing, or just maybe, the unknown and uncertainty of what was ahead. Whatever the reason, it is true - fear too often keeps folks out of the will of God. On this first Christmas night, the shepherds determined to set their faces toward worshipping the Christ-child, and with a step, risked experiencing God in a new way!
The wise men who brought their gifts also set out on a journey, yet what would challenge them would not be fear, but distance. As the story is told, the hindrances before them were many - traversing a strange land, meeting new people, enduring a long trek to a faraway country. The comfort of familiar surroundings was left behind; the convenience of daily routines was set aside, and the contentment of former ways of thinking about the world was now being challenged. Yet, distance would not prevail. These magi from the East set their faces toward the glimmering star of Bethlehem and with a step, risked experiencing God in a new way!
Fear and distance have impeded folks of every generation from worshipping God's Messiah; even today, the fear is often of being transformed more into the likeness of God; the distance is not measured in miles, but more - a relational distance of connecting with God and others that is often arduous to traverse. In addition to these, other barriers hinder people from drawing near - attitudes of indifference, busy sched- ules, broken relationships, worldly cares, and a host of daily distractions. Yet, we are reminded of the Biblical personalities that experienced the true, genuine joy of the Lord. We are reminded of the shep- herds and the wise men - with a single step they risked everything to experience God in a new way!
Come this Advent season and join your First Baptist Church family in worship, ministry and devotion; take a single step, and let your Christmas journey begin!
Joy for the Journey, Jay