Walking to Bethlehem: A Labyrinth Journey
“You will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:12-13
When we hear the word journey, we most often think of traveling from one place to another over a period of time. A journey might also be passage or progress from one stage to another. Both definitions might be used to describe one’s faith journey.
Over 2,000 years ago, Mary and Joseph journeyed from Nazareth to Bethlehem; a 70 mile journey laden with danger, discomfort, and fear. A journey we only imagine being possible with deep trust and faith in God.
Today, we invite you to explore Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem through the experience of a prayer labyrinth. The labyrinth is a spiritual tool that many people use to grow closer to God. It is found in all religious traditions in various forms around the world. The labyrinth represents a journey, a pilgrimage, an intentional time to seek God.
Labyrinths can be large for walking, indoors or outdoors, and small designed for your fingers to walk. You can even walk a labyrinth on your computer screen using your mouse. Unlike a maze, there are no dead ends or false paths. Simply follow the path to the center. As the path winds, it becomes a reflection for where we are in our lives; touching sorrows and releasing joys.
There is no right or wrong way to experience the labyrinth. Trace or walk the labyrinth without words, sing it, pray, or repeat a few lines of scripture. Feel free to skip, run, crawl or dance as you journey. Use whatever means might help you to open yourself to God’s presence. As you ‘walk’ the labyrinth be aware of your spiritual focus and how you are drawn to God. Journey with an open heart and mind!
Begin the journey by taking a few moments to quiet and prepare yourself. You might choose to begin your labyrinth journey with a prayer hymn such as this twentieth century hymn by Daniel Iverson:
Spirit of the Living God fall fresh on me. Melt me. Mold me. Fill me. Use me.
Walk the labyrinth as if you are on a journey to Bethlehem to worship Christ! Begin with a favorite Advent hymn, such as O Come, O Come, Emmanuel or Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.
Read through the following scriptures as you prepare for this journey to Bethlehem:
Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:2-7, Matthew 1:18-25, Matthew 2:1-12, Luke 1:26-56, Luke 2:1-20
What journey might God be calling you to explore? Joseph’s journey to obedience? Mary’s journey from questions to praise? The Magi’s journey to worship Christ the King and experience His wonder? The shepherd’s journey from amazement to proclamation as they share their joy, glorifying and praising God? Mary & Joseph’s journey to Egypt to escape Herod and protect Jesus?
As you explore these journeys surrounding the stories of the birth of Christ you may find God is calling you to journey. Perhaps you are finding yourself on an unwanted journey or heading in a direction that you may not have anticipated or find surprising. Journeys of disappointment, sorrow, and pain are bound to be part of our life story as are journeys of wonder and great joy. Allow the good news revealed in the experiences of those who journeyed to Bethlehem over 2000 years ago remind you that God walks with you on your journey as well. Seek God and submit to the journey He has prepared for you knowing that He is with you. May you find peace, hope, and strength in Him that will sustain you wherever you are in your journey this Advent.
If you are in the North Canton, Ohio area we invite you to stop by Faith UMC today and walk our labyrinth anytime between 10 am and 8 pm or use the finger labyrinth pictured here.
In what ways is God calling you to journey? How have you experienced Christ on your journey? Click on ‘leave a comment’ or ‘reply here’ to share your thoughts, comments, and reflections.