Advent Journey 2022

‘Follow me to Bethlehem’, with The Nativity from BBC 2010

Week 2 Mary and Joseph Leave Nazareth

Mary Leaves BethlehemLuke Chapter 2 verses 4-6

‘So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem, the town of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.’


A bridge between heaven and earth

Mary returns home, but no one believes her.

Luke Chapter 1 verse 39-56

And Mary said,” Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” And the Angel departed from her.

  1. Mary goes to visit Elizabeth
  2. The three wise men from the east arrive in Judea
  3. We see the shepherd is having problems paying his taxes.
  4. Mary returns to Bethlehem and is met with problems
  5. Mary and Joseph leave Bethlehem

The alignment is happening, we meet Herod and hear his worries.

We feel for Mary in her journey and carrying the weight of the responsibility alone. Joseph is torn between his love for Mary and his dismay and disbelief in her story.

1 Mary and Joseph in Nazareth 

Mary and JosephLuke Chapter 1 verse 26-29

In the sixth month, God sent the Angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings you, who are highly favoured. The Lord is with you.”

  1. We meet Mary and her parents in Nazareth, they need to find a husband for Mary. We meet Joseph, a young carpenter and Mary and Joseph get on well and make plans for their home.
  2. We meet the wise men from the east. They find that the meeting of the planets and a star will be in alignment, there will be a bridge between heaven and earth.
  3. We meet the shepherd, a young man in Bethlehem
  4. We meet the angel Gabriel and hear his words to Mary one night.

“Do you love God?”

“Do you trust in him?”

“Find the Holy Spirit within you.”

Some reflections on Mary and Joseph and how difficult life was for them at the start of their betrothal.

Love, openness and forgiveness

What vision of Mary do you have in your mind?

What kind of picture of this young mother do you have?

Is it that serene and graceful woman, often shown much later in life that Mary actually was, gazing with love and awe at baby Jesus?

Or is it of a good looking young girl, with lots of dark hair, and full of character, wondering how, where and why she has been given this enormous and immensely special task?

The BBC series last year on the Nativity had an amazing portrayal of Mary. And it brought in so many aspects that would have been there but are not mentioned; how on earth was she going to tell Joseph, what would her parents think, how would their friends and the village understand, what would the rabbi and the synagogue say?

In Luke, we are told that the Angel Gabriel visits Mary and says, ‘Greetings Mary, the favoured one? The Lord is with you.’

Why God did chose Mary?

We know that she often visited the synagogue and was a good Jew, but we know little about her family and upbringing.

Betrothed but not yet married, Joseph a good and honest carpenter and of the family of David.

I think it is something about God being with us all, we are not dependant on status, wealth or other worldly marks of being better than others. God had decided to send his only Son for all people and to show that he cared and loved even the weakest and poorest amongst us.

The story goes on with the shepherds, the travel of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem on a donkey, the birth at the stable, the wise men from the east, who were not Jews.

Ordinary people, ordinary places, young girl and husband to be, travelling late at night.

And so God gives Mary this huge task. We see her struggling with this, she does not know what it means, or how it will work out, but she accepts the call and answers Gabriel with,

‘Here I am, the servant of the Lord, let it be with me according to your word.’

Later on in the story Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth, to find out if she also is expecting a baby as Gabriel had told her. They talked together and the Magnificat was said between them by Mary.

It says it all about this young girl, about love and acceptance, openness to hear God’s word and be in the right place to carry out God’s call and forgiveness for all those who were unable to understand what was to take place.

And in the background must have been Joseph, waiting for her return, anxiously and to get ready for their marriage together.

I would love to have known how he did feel when Mary returned carrying a baby in her womb. A man at that time would have found this very difficult. When did he start to also believe that Mary had conceived through the Holy Spirit?

In Matthew, chapter 1 verse 20, we hear that an angel appeared to Joseph. Joseph was about to release Mary from her betrothal. What anguish and pain had gone through their minds? He was going to do this quietly so Mary was not exposed to public disgrace.

Public disgrace! Son of God about to be born and into public disgrace!!

What does this say about so many rules that there are?

The Magnificat , found in Luke; a song of joy and celebration, the sharing of a dream, all nations and all people to be blessed and it was about to happen. Definitely something to shout about!

Luke 1

My soul doth magnify the Lord :
and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

For he hath regarded :
the lowliness of his hand-maiden.

For behold, from henceforth :
all generations shall call me blessed.

For he that is mighty hath magnified me :
and holy is his Name.

And his mercy is on them that fear him :
throughout all generations.

He hath showed strength with his arm :
he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He hath put down the mighty from their seat :
and hath exalted the humble and meek.

He hath filled the hungry with good things :
and the rich he hath sent empty away.

He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel :
as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed, for ever.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son :
and to the Holy Ghost;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be :
world without end. Amen.

Rev’d Sue Martin