Mary leaves Nazareth to meet Elizabeth

Mary leaves Nazareth to visit Elizabeth

We start our journey with Mary, who had been visited by the Angel Gabriel and knows she is carrying the Son of God. She travels to see her cousin Elizabeth who is six months pregnant with her son John (the Baptist). They meet at the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth’s at Ain Karim, a wonderfully peaceful place just outside Jerusalem. It is about 50 miles from Nazareth and a journey made by Mary that we often overlook. We don’t know how she travelled but probably on a donkey. The Nativity series from the BBC in 2015 showed Mary on a cart, pulled by a donkey with someone who was already travelling to Jerusalem.

Our Advent Journey this week follows Mary and Joseph in their travels.

Journeys to Bethlehem Mary and Joseph

Journeys to Bethlehem Mary and Joseph … Rev’d Sue Martin… pdf file

Mary stayed with Elizabeth for some time before returning home to Nazareth, again, another long journey on her own. There is little said in the Bible about the reaction of Joseph, to whom she was engaged, except that in Matthew, we know Joseph did not want to shame Mary although wanted to break off the engagement. There would have been much reaction to Mary’s news, and little belief in her statement that she was carrying the Son of God. How did her parents feel? What about the local community and the synagogue?

Angel Gabriel came to Joseph in a dream, and he was reconciled with Mary. They married and travelled to Bethlehem, to be counted in the census, demanded by the Romans. Joseph’s family and ancestors came from Bethlehem as we have heard last week.

So, Mary and Joseph set out from Nazareth to Bethlehem, Mary’s third journey. By now she was well into her eighth month of pregnancy. They travelled across the plains and long and dusty roads, there would have been other travellers too, making their way back for the census. Left at Nazareth, her mother, Anne, and father Joachim would have surely been wondering about all that Mary had said.

Arriving in Bethlehem, busy and bustling, people everywhere, and nowhere to stay. And then… Jesus is born to Mary, the shining star pointing the way, angels in the fields, (just like we have seen), and the shepherds, the first visitors.

Advent Journeys 3 Notes 2021

Emmanuel, God with us!      Rev’d Sue Martin

Carol O Little Town of Bethlehem sung by Kings College Chapel, Cambridge

Notes and images by Rev’d Sue Martin December 2021