george hancock stefanDuring the Advent season, I listen to many carols and many sermons. I appreciate the fact that so many radio stations become stations of Christmas carols. I rejoice while listening to these songs and sermons because I can see that no one receives as much praise as Jesus Christ does. I want to live in those historic, celebratory moments that describe the beauty and mystery of the birth of Christ.

Lately, I have been surprised by how many preachers cannot talk about the birth of Jesus without going all the way to the cross and the tomb. I agree that these items are important, but we have such a short time to focus on the birth. There is so much mystery and glory in the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is unfathomable to us that God is revealed to us in three persons, or how the incarnation of Jesus Christ affects the Holy Trinity. The birth of Jesus Christ raises many questions, starting with Mary’s “How can this be?” How does the Son participate holistically in the Incarnation without each being separating from the oneness of the Triune God? Or does the all-knowing God accept limitations and, if so, on which attributes?

Many of our beloved songs focus on the glory of Christmas. The author of It Came Upon a Midnight Clear invites us to “Look now! For glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing, O rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels sing.” In While by the Sheep We Watched at Night, we sing, “This gift of God we’ll cherish well, that ever joy our hearts shall fill. How great our joy!”

The glory of this event begins with the visitation that both parents receive. The angel announces the birth of Jesus to Joseph through a dream, while it seems that Mary’s announcement takes place as a conversation while fully awake. At the time of Christ’s birth, the angelic choir’s songs remind us of the angels praising God for the majesty of creation.

Jesus’ presentation at the temple and circumcision on the 8th day only get a few quick verses in the Scripture. But we are told that Mary pondered all of these things in her heart. Likewise, we are invited to come and reflect on Jesus, who is the greatest gift given to humanity. Sometimes, writes a Christian author, we are so concerned with the gifts under our Christmas tree that we forget to look at the stable and see the mystery and the glory of the birth of the Son of God.