“…they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee”.
January can be one of the most exciting months of the year because of the feeling of a new start that comes with a new year. But for most, January is the month of deprivation. This is the month that we resolve to do more with less, lose a few pounds with less intake and more output, be more diligent with exercise schedules, balance out work and life better, etc. You know the list. At work it is the beginning of a quarter or a fiscal year and even before the year is really started we are already sitting down and planning and adjusting to be sure that we can hit the targets that we have set for ourselves. With a swirling external economic and (still) COVID uncertainty climate, we may already be investing more, or cutting back to make sure that we have breathing room in the coming months and year. So, after all the Christmas build up and holiday enthusiasm, January can feel like a real let down and a hard time for many. And, finally with this last year being anything but ordinary, we might be longing for just a year of normal. That’s more than okay.
As I reflected on the potential January doldrums I was reminded of how Joseph and Mary must have felt after their first Christmas. What a heady experience to have given birth to a new son, to have experienced the coming of the angel and the visitors being drawn to the stable to see and worship the baby Jesus, and to have gone to the Temple and had Simeon and Anna prophecy over their child. And then, it was over. The angel was gone, the shepherds and visitors had gone their own way and it was time to go home. Mary and Joseph left the temple and the Bible says in Luke 2:39; “…they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee”. For Mary it was off to work to raise a child and for Joseph it was back to his carpentry and making a living for his family and now with one new mouth to feed. It was back to the ordinary for both of them. It was a January and a new year, a year to go back to work and do what was needed to make their own ends meet. Our life and work life of purpose is not to always be filled with highs. It would be great if it was that way, but we all know that it just doesn’t work out that way. Our lives are filled with the ordinary and the routine. And, even in the ordinary and the routine we are to seek and work to live to the high standards we have been given as followers of Jesus. As we each start this work year, let us take all of the lessons given to us and do our best to apply them each and every day, knowing that like Joseph and Mary, that returning back to Nazareth was one ordinary step on what was to become a miraculous life journey. They didn’t know it then, as we don’t know today, but what can come from the ordinary, lived and pursued with righteousness, can be nothing short of extraordinary.
Reference: Luke 2:39 (New Living Translation)