2 February – The journey continues ….

When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.
(Luke 2.39-40)

What a journey! When we set out we were simply following the angels’ song and look where it took us, to a stable and a birth and such joy as the world has never known. For Mary and Joseph, with their child, the time had come to move, to leave Bethlehem behind. The law had been fulfilled and now they had to get back to their life, their ordinary life. But Mary held something extraordinary in her arms, a child with the favour of God upon him.

Another road ahead

Another road ahead

The carpenter’s shop would be waiting for them, there was business to pick up, water would need to be drawn from the well, their friends and neighbours in their synagogue would be waiting for them. And what would Mary say about what had taken place? We don’t know because, apart from an incident when Jesus was twelve and the family had come back to Jerusalem and the Temple for his Bar Mitzva, the next thirty years are lived for Jesus and his family in obscurity, an ordinary life, like most of our ordinary lives.

But for us in the church calendar time moves much more quickly and very soon it will be Ash Wednesday and another journey will take place.

Ralph Vaughn Williams, the great English composer of the 20th century, was also a collector of English folk songs and carols and many of them he helped to introduce back into the choral and church repertoire. One of my favourite but lesser known carols takes us on the journey we have just completed and beyond. For in this traditional carol, which originates from Castleton in Derbyshire, the journey of the Christian life is seamless and ‘sweet Jesus’ is there as our companion throughout. Travel well and with God’s blessing.

It was on Christmas day,
And all in the morning,
Our Saviour was born,
And our Heavenly King;
And was not this a joyful thing,
And sweet Jesus they called Him by name.

It was on New Year’s Day
And all in the morning,
They circumcised our Saviour
And our Heavenly King;
And was not this a joyful thing,
And sweet Jesus they called Him by name.

It was on Twelfth Day
And all in the morning,
The Wise Men were led
To our Heavenly King;
And was not this a joyful thing,
And sweet Jesus they called Him by name.

It was on Twentieth Day
And all in the morning,
The Wise Men returned
From our Heavenly King;
And was not this a joyful thing,
And sweet Jesus they called Him by name.

It was on Candlemas Day
And all in the morning,
They visited the Temple
With our Heavenly King;
And was not this a joyful thing,
And sweet Jesus they called Him by name.

It was on Holy Wednesday
And all in the morning,
That Judas Betrayed
Our dear Heavenly King;
And was not this a joyful thing,
And sweet Jesus they called Him by name.

It was on Sheer Thursday
And all in the morning,
They plaited a crown of thorns,
For our Heavenly King;
And was not this a joyful thing,
And sweet Jesus they called Him by name.

It was on Good Friday
And all in the morning,
They crucified our Saviour
And our Heavenly King;
And was not this a joyful thing,
And sweet Jesus they called Him by name.

It was on Easter Day
And all in the morning,
Our Saviour arose
Our own Heavenly King;
They sun and the moon
They did both rise with Him
And sweet Jesus we’ll call Him by name.

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