As some of you know, I love cars! Cars and driving were a big part of my sabbatical these past three months. However, I have come to realise that the more the automobile industry focuses on the future, the more passionate car fans like me celebrate the past. The number of events where people get together to talk cars seems to be growing every year! Which I love, but this also worries me because I have been wary or critical of those with a great fondness for looking backwards, especially in church circles. However, looking back and celebrating that which is good from our past is not necessarily a bad thing, for this is how we ‘learn’. We can enthuse, we can eulogise about the past, the danger comes only when we want to live there.

I think there is much to celebrate about the future of the motor industry, as it seeks to become safer and kinder to the environment, but my worry is that travelling will become more and more about getting to the destination, not about the journey. Car lovers and enthusiastic motorists might find ourselves increasingly looking back, exploring and celebrating the core essence of what made us passionate about cars in the first place – the design, engineering, noise, performance and the key thing that makes so many keen to embrace the car, all wrapped up in one word: ‘Freedom’.

It’s that idea behind the ‘freedom to journey’ through life, rather than just leaping from one destination to the next, that I wanted to embrace during my sabbatical. Like those magi we read about at the beginning of Matthew 2.1-12, relying on the wisdom and technology of their day, who set out for an unknown destination, I feel we need to grasp the idea of the adventure of ‘journey’. What a great adventure their journey must have been! Their passion and enthusiasm to journey, to explore, led them to discover the greatest gift God has given to humanity – God’s very self, born in human love in Jesus!  But their journeying didn’t end in Bethlehem. They travelled onward, taking what they had learned and discovered and the faith within them – helping them grow in their love of the freedom to journey.

For those of you who haven’t yet worked it out, ‘IN-CAR-NATION’ is a play on words based around my desire to look at the Advent, Christmas and Epiphany stories about the journeys to discover God born on earth – the ‘incarnation’. If you spot my car over the next few months you’ll see that I’ve carried that title with me!

As I’ve journeyed through these past three months I’ve come to realise that the time we spend travelling in cars is not time wasted until we reach our destination, but time to be treasured, whether alone or with others. Enjoy your journeys this summer!

Go well and go with God!

Rev Tim Lowe, St Andrew’s Roundhay United Reformed Church

photo – Tim’s own