Journey to Bethlehem

For over twenty years, the community of Fort Assiniboine, Alberta, has produced an interactive play, Journey to Bethlehem, that retells the story of Jesus’ birth. Each year, as many as a hundred actors and other volunteers give their time and talents for the four nights of performances. And each year, hundreds more attend—one year as many as a thousand people took part. It’s quite a celebration for a small community!

To prepare for my Christmas Day sermon this Sunday, I watched Journey to Bethlehem again on the 20th anniversary dvd. The story is creatively told with the Holy Family, angels, and shepherds as we might expect, but there are also soldiers, beggars, vendors, a prisoner family, a tax collector, and even a pickpocket.

I won’t include all of those characters in my sermon this Sunday, but I’m borrowing the title Journey to Bethlehem to focus on those who journeyed to Bethlehem in Luke 2:1-20 and to reflect on our journeys today.

Image by Ambroz from Pixabay

Our opening hymn will be “O Come All Ye Faithful”:

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.O come and behold him, born the king of angels.
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.

This Christmas, some of us may be feeling “faithful, joyful and triumphant” just as this Christmas carol invites us to come. But for those of us who don’t feel that way, I appreciate these words from Whitney Rice, an Episcopal priest who serves in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri:

It’s okay if you’re not feeling joyful and triumphant.
O come, all ye faithful, bored and irritated.
O come, all ye faithful, exhausted and worried.
O come, all ye faithful, cynical and angry.
O come, all ye faithful, heartbroken and grieving.

Simply come, all ye faithful, no matter what you’re feeling.

Writing/Reflection Prompt: I appreciate the way Whitney Rice invites us to come no matter what we’re feeling. How would you complete the line: O come, all ye faithful. . . . ?


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8 thoughts on “Journey to Bethlehem

  1. Earlier this month, I heard It Came Upon the Midnight Clear playing and was struck by several of the phrases in the carol. It contains some very apt phrases that accurately describes so many people’s life experiences today. What a blessing it is that Christmas comes each year—-a time we can focus on God coming to this earth & be reminded to God’s great goodness to us . . . no matter our circumstances. Blessings to you, April, as you share this Sunday with your church community. May knowing God’s presence and peace be a gift to you as you walk through this season . . .

    1. Thank you, Helen, for reminding me of the carol and the line about the angels :”And still their heav’nly music floats / O’er all the weary world.” I appreciate your words of blessing, and may God also grant you the peace that passes all understanding.

  2. Received on LinkedIn: Thank you for this post, April. “Joyful and triumphant” sometimes reads “placid and nostalgic.” I’m grateful for your prompt to come as we are and to ponder Incarnation in our own words.

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