Have you ever noticed that there is a lot of walking and journeying in the Christmas story? We have the calm and silence of the manger scene but before, after and all around that is almost constant movement. The angel Gabriel is sent to announce God’s plan to Mary. Once Mary gives her “yes” we are told that she sets out “in haste” to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Joseph and the very pregnant Mary have to journey to Bethlehem to register for the census and because of Rome’s census the whole world seems to be in movement! Then, once the child arrives, the small family has to flee to Egypt for protection! The shepherds are told to leave their flocks in order to see this newborn child and the three magi arrive from the east searching for the newborn king of the Jews and once they encounter him they are told to return home by a different route. The only one who seems incapable of movement is King Herod sitting on his throne and grasping onto power in suspicion and fear.
Here is a quote by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt, “Brothers and sisters, break free from whatever ruts you have settled into! Whoever does not want to be set free – well, suit yourself – but don’t say you are living in Christ’s spirit. You can continue in the old ways and be a part of Christianity, but not of God’s kingdom. You can live in Christianity but not in Christ; the gulf between the two is great. You can settle down and feather your nest and think, “Now I’ve got it made,” but you’ll never win eternity. That is something altogether different. The “city” we have now does not interest us; it cannot last. Instead, we seek the future city – the one God sets before our eyes – of which Christ is ruler.”
“Instead, we seek the future city – the one God sets before our eyes – of which Christ is ruler.” In the prophet Isaiah, we hear these words, “Rise up in splendor! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you … Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance … (but then the prophet goes on to add) … Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow …” If there is a glory to the Christian it is not in our own merit nor is it in chasing after what the world holds and values – our radiance and our glory as Christians is found it what we see and what we seek – the future city, our true home, the Kingdom of God which God has set before our eyes.
So, the life of the Christian must then always be a life of movement and journeying by its very nature! The Christian is not allowed the luxury of “settling down” in this world with it’s limits. Herod was quite content to settle down in the limits of this world and he committed atrocities.
“Rise up in splendor!” the prophet proclaims to us. Rise up in the grace of Christ! Rise up in your worth as a child of God! Set your life by that worth and nothing else! Rise up in defending the dignity of all our brothers and sisters against the “Herods” of our time with all their sad thoughts and fearful plans! Live by what God has set before our eyes – the future city where Christ is ruler! Don’t just take the name “Christian” but live in the Kingdom, live in Christ!
Walk! Walk with the angel Gabriel and the shepherds and the magi! Walk with Isaiah and the prophets and the great company of saints! Walk with Joseph and Mary! Walk with our Lord himself! We are meant for the Kingdom of God and only there alone will our hearts find rest.
Rise up in splendor! You shall be radiant at what you see!