People are welcome to attend our The Journey class on Wed at 9:45 or Sunday at 11:15, or online.
Week Four: From Nazareth to Bethlehem
Please take a few minutes to think about these questions as they apply to your life. Jot down any answers if you would like.
- When did a journey in your life have a radical impact on you?
- Was the journey one you wanted or one required?
- Were you alone? With others? A loved one? A friend? A Stranger?
- What distance did you have to travel? Less than a mile? Many miles?
- Were you changed? How? Was your life different? How?
- How did you feel about the journey when it ended? Were you glad or sorry to have taken it? Why?
Goals of Chapter 4
Consider possible route Mary and Joseph took, how difficult? How long?
Reflect on Mary and Joseph’s condition as they took this trek
Ponder and identify in our own lives the theme of Journey as a metaphor for life. (Good lead in for 2019. Would you like to take a Journey of reading the Bible in a year?)
1. Opening Prayer (from Psalm 139)
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. Amen.
2. Opening Activity — Bible Reading
As you have been reading and answering questions please email me and let me know if you have any lingering questions from the readings or the questions.
1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
2) These are the sights that are described in the First Video Presentation, I have looked up references for some of them, and encourage you to do the same if you have time:
3. Video Presentation
- Map of possible routes
- Way of the Patriarchs (one goes through Samaria)
- Jezreel Valley—including modern roads and highspeed traffic
- Jezreel Valley view from Muhraqa
- Valley of Megiddo
- Path through what is not part of West Bank
- Groves of Olive Trees
- Carob trees
- Modern-day Sychar
- Jacob’s well and church over it
- Mountainous landscape around the approach to Bethlehem
- The way of the Jordan River
- The Judean wilderness in all its bleak beauty
- The difficulty of Journey in Mary’s condition.
- Probable Reluctance of Mary and Joseph but yielding to legal requirement
- Importance of potable water and places to stop along the way
- Metaphor of journey and the application of this metaphor to much of life.
I have placed these pictures here that correspond to the Video to help those who are participating online and to give those in the class a point of reference for reflection.
Take time to reflect upon a time in your life when a journey radically altered your life.
- Was the journey your free choice or a requirement?
- Was it a solo journey or with anyone else?
- Was is long distant or close by?
- How were you changed?
- How was your life made different?
- How did you feel as the journey neared an end? Were you glad it was over? Sorry to have taken it? Why?
- Some journeys that we forget to include are life changing like joining the military, getting married, going to college, starting a new job, having children, etc.
Use all of your senses as you view this video. Try to imagine what it would be like to we with the group touring Israel. Do they see the hawks flying overhead? Can they hear the wind? Feel the stones under their feet?
4. Group Discussion (Gather in groups of two or three, discuss one of these questions below for ten minutes. Take notes on your handout and report your answers to the rest.)
- What things in the video surprised you or were new to you?
- How did these things help you to understand the journey they took more completely?
- Imagine walking 80 miles over this territory. How would you prepare? What would you take with you? What would you need if you or your loved one was about to give birth?
- How would you feel if you were required to make this journey at the demand of an occupying power?
- What do you think Mary’s frame of mind might have been?
- How much do you think Mary’s Aunt Elizabeth’s encouragement helped Mary?
- How effective do you think the powerful dream Joseph had was on this pair? Do you think they doubted at all?
- People were curious and hungry for more details about this journey—and that produced lots of books that were written years later are not accepted by many theologians as accurate. Hamilton believes we can learn from conjectures—what do you think?
Turn to page 104. Skim the passages about “Room at the Inn.”
- What does Hamilton believe about the Inn?
- Does the assumption about the family and taboos make sense to you?
- Do you think Mary’s pregnancy caused rejection by family members?
- Do you think Mary and Joseph willingly gave up a room to make room for others?
5. Reconvene and discuss your thoughts.
One of Hamilton’s themes is the importance of our response to God’s call. Have you ever experienced God’s call? What form did it take?
What do you think about the concept of “being called by God?”
7. Closing prayer:
Lord God, You have called us, each of us,
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke.
You have called us to share our bread with the hungry,
to bring the homeless poor into our houses,
and to cover the naked.
Almighty God, in the words of Mary’s Magnificat,
may we magnify the Lord who calls us to do these things,
and may we do them joyfully and thankfully,
We pray this prayer in the name of Christ Jesus.