Advent: The period of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
“O night divine! O night when Christ was born
O night, O holy night, O night divine.”
Only 168 verses in the New Testament recount the events surrounding the conception and birth of Jesus Christ and the first few months of His life. A traditional retelling of these incredible events fits nicely into a short nativity segment of a Sunday service. And yet that familiar story is packed with incredible detail, which the Gospels recount in a quite unapologetic and matter-of-fact manner. The pregnancy of a virgin teenager and her barren relative; regular dialogue between earth and heaven itself for Mary, Joseph, Zechariah, and even the shepherds who happen to be in the fields nearby; and the intervention of God to protect His Son from the rejection that would characterise Jesus’ life and ministry in adulthood.
When we read this story, we are completely awestruck. As we read each other’s reflections we pray that this awe sinks a little deeper, as we marvel at every incredible detail in what is not as short a story as it first appears. The Bible tells us the story stretches back to creation and forward to all eternity, as one Christmas carol aptly puts it:
“The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”