Journey to Bethlehem
Background for Grown-ups
Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be counted in the census. The journey probably took several days with them walking or riding a donkey the whole way. We can’t relate to an intense first century road trip like that, but most of us can relate to long journeys of some kind. Think about the last time you took a long road trip in a car, or spent hours flying somewhere. It probably took quite a bit of planning and packing, there were some moments of discomfort, and by the end you just wanted to get to your destination so you could stretch out and relax, or have some fun. Keep those feelings in mind as you read this Bible story and do the activities. This article has facts and thoughts about the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
- Read the story of Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem in Luke 2:1-5 or in your favorite Storybook Bible.
- Wonder about the story together:
- I wonder how long it took Mary and Joseph to get to Bethlehem.
- I wonder what their journey was like.
- I wonder if they knew Jesus would be born while they were in Bethlehem.
- I wonder what your favorite part of traveling is.
- I wonder what your least favorite part of traveling is.
Dear God, thank you for cars, planes, trains, and buses that allow us to travel farther and see more of your beautiful creation and visit loved ones who live far away. Thank you for technology like phones and computers that will help us spend time with loved ones this Christmas, even if we can’t travel to be with them in person this year. Be with us as we continue to prepare for Christmas and wait to celebrate the birth of Jesus! Amen.
Choose one or more of the activities to do with your family to explore the story!
1. Take a Walk – Take a walk around your neighborhood or a park, and pretend you’re Mary and Joseph walking to Bethlehem. What types of things would they have seen on their journey? What would they have heard? Smelled? What do you think they would have talked about on the long trip? At the end of their journey, Mary and Joseph didn’t have a comfortable room to sleep in, they had to sleep in a stable. When you finish your walk, thank God for having a warm and comfortable home to return to.
2. I’m Going to Bethlehem and I’m Taking… – Play this version of “I’m going on a picnic.” The first person starts the game by saying, “I’m going to Bethlehem and I’m taking…” and they say something that starts with the letter “A”. The second person repeats the “I’m going to Bethlehem and I’m taking…”, repeats what the first person is bringing and then adds something starting with the letter “B”. Continue for the whole alphabet. What would Mary and Joseph have brought to Bethlehem with them? What would you take if you were going to Bethlehem to see baby Jesus and his parents?
3. Bake Bread – Advent is about waiting and preparing for the birth of Jesus. In this Bible story Mary and Joseph are on their way to Bethlehem and they’re waiting for the birth of their son. They might have wanted to hurry and rush to Bethlehem, but had to be careful because of Mary’s pregnancy. Maybe they wished Jesus had been born before they had left so that they would have been surrounded by familiar faces and in the safety of their own home, but babies can’t be rushed! They come in their own time! To practice waiting for something that you can’t rush, bake some yeast bread as a family. You’ll have to activate the yeast, mix the ingredients, knead the dough, wait for it to rise, punch it down, wait for it to rise again, bake it, and wait for it to cool before you can finally enjoy it! While you’re eating your bread talk about what Mary and Joseph might have eaten on their way to Bethlehem – they probably baked some bread like this before they left and packed it. Here is a bread recipe to try: https://butterwithasideofbread.com/homemade-bread/
There are many books that include the story of the journey to Bethlehem and continue to share the birth story and the visit from the shepherds and even the visit from the Magi. These books contain the whole story.