Before we meet again, my Advent Calendar will have finished its meander through the gospel narratives of the birth of Jesus. Without making a big fuss, it will have skipped lightly over the key events: so lightly that it’s easy to miss their meaning, their force.
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus
that the whole world should be enrolled.
And all went to be enrolled,
each to his own city.
– Dec 06/o7, Luke 2:1 – 2:3
Then, as now, people got by on too little and strangers were not always welcomed.
There was no room for them in the inn.
– Dec 09, Luke 2:7
Then, as now, some folks had work that didn’t stop for the weekend or for the weather.
And there were in the same country shepherds watching,
and keeping the night watches over their flocks.
– Dec 16, Luke 2:8
None of these things seemed worthy of special notice: Then, as now, life was just like that. Coming back to the calendar’s form of the nativity story after several years, however, one other thing struck me that the storyteller didn’t deem worthy of special notice: angels.
An angel appeared to Mary.
The Angel Gabriel was sent by God into a city of Galilee,
– Dec 01, Luke 1:26
Angels appeared to the shepherds.
The Angel of the Lord stood by them and said . . .
this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.
– Dec 17/18, Luke 2: 9, 11
Then, but not now. Somehow, angels seem to have stopped appearing to us: I myself have not seen any nor have I heard any recent reports thereof. Maybe that’s because there are none. Maybe that’s because I don’t expect to see them.
Some things have to be believed to be seen.
– Ralph Hodgson
However the message arrives, may this Christmas Eve bring us all a thrill of hope. May this weary world rejoice.