Reflection – Journey to Bethlehem

Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth
By Ssolbergj – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

At the Journey to Bethlehem station there is a labyrinth, based on a smaller version of the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France (12th century).

Whether you’re visiting the station in person or online, here are some words to think about…

It was 90 miles from Nazareth, where Mary and Joseph lived, to Bethlehem, the city of Joseph’s ancestors. It takes less than 2 hours in a car now, but in those days on a donkey, they might have only travelled 10 miles a day.

South along the flatlands of the Jordan River, then west over the hills surrounding Jerusalem, and on into Bethlehem.

Why did they have to go?

Their country was under Roman occupation and the Emperor had ruled that they had to travel to their home town to register for a census. Bethlehem had been their home town right back to the time of David roughly 1000 years earlier.

This year, we’ve had to make our Christmas plans in line withgovernment guidance too.

Government policy limits us to meetings of three households. Special rules for isolation, quarantine and distancing make it difficult for us to see everyone we would like to see on Christmas Day. Our family and friends have to change their plans, make new travelling plans, take new journeys. You can probably think of more changes from last year.

Journeys are never easy. For some they are an adventure; for others an ordeal.

Mary and Joseph’s journey took them away from familiar friends and family in Nazareth at a time when she was expecting her first child. They journeyed to Bethlehem in obedience to Roman law – but they trusted God to look after them on the way.