Last week, we kicked off our Advent mini-series, Set the Table, with a look at God’s preparation for the coming Christ child.

This week, we look at some of the challenges that Mary and Joseph faced as they began their journey to Bethlehem and the birthplace of Jesus.

Road Trip

I love road trips. Over Labor Day, I packed my car with as much stuff as possible and headed to the East Coast to meet up with my future bride.

My Jeep Grand Cherokee was filled with clothes, our wedding outfits, electronics, and some snacks. I spent five days driving across the country listening to podcasts, and scriptures, meeting with friends, and seeing all God had made.

Road trips are more fun when you share them with people, but there are things we learn about ourselves when it is just us on the open road.

During this time of year, families with board trains, planes, and automobiles to visit families near and far. These times can be fun, but stressful.

For some, the obligation is at the heart of their visit. Others don’t even want to see family because of past hurts and wounds, and it’s just not worth the fights that may take place.

And for the vast majority, it is about spending time with those you love who may or may not be blood family.

Where do you fall on the spectrum of family visits?

The Coming Road Trip for Mary and Joseph

Mary and Joseph were a soon-to-be couple that would begin an epic road trip across mountains, valleys, and deserts to arrive at Bethlehem for the census.

Their story is different than ours. Let’s drop in on their story, and see how it almost didn’t happen.

The Back Story

Mary was a teenage girl and betrothed (engaged) to Joseph, an older man from Nazareth. One day an angel came to Mary and told her that she would be having a baby.

Mary, concerned, said, how am I to have a baby when I am not married? The Holy Spirit would come upon her, and the baby in her womb would be the Christ-child, the promised Messiah.

Soon after this angelic encounter, Mary did become pregnant. At first, she didn’t show.

But then…she began to show, and that’s when things got interesting. As we heard last week, Mary spent several months with her cousin Elizabeth who was pregnant with her son, John.

Joseph was a little unnerved with the woman who was to be his wife, who was now pregnant. Scripture says he wanted to quietly break the betrothal to her so he would not dishonor her.

Matthew 1:20-21 says,

”As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. ‘Joseph, son of David,’ the angel said, ‘do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’”

Once Joseph woke from the dream, he continued with the engagement and marriage.

The Road to Bethlehem

Sometime after their marriage, a census was required for the entire land, and Joseph and Mary were required to return to his homeland – Bethlehem.

They saddled their donkey and began the trip across the mountains and through the valleys while Mary was with child in her nine months.

As they approached Bethlehem, they thought it would be easy to find a room in the town, but little did they know how difficult a time they would have when the labor pains began.

Encouragement & Challenge

How did you do with last week’s challenge of building your gratitude list? I did reasonably well; I missed a few days here and there, but I mostly got it done.

This week, think about your life and your travels. Write down some of your memorable road trips or travel adventures and then share them with others over the Christmas season.

As you approach Christmas, take time to remember your special Christmas memories, and build into each other this season. Jesus is the reason for the season; we will see how it all happens on Christmas Eve.


Lord, thank you for your new blessings each day, your provision, and the memories we get to share this season. Please help each one of us to remember the true reason for the season this year – your Son. Amen!

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Hi, I'm Dave Anthold. I am a small group leader, short-term missionary, and visual storyteller. You can read my story here.

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