The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Luke 2.20)
Advent’s power derives from entering its long night with complete confidence that dawn will break, restoring our faith in Christ’s ability to bring hope, peace, joy, and love to a cold, dark, and perilously conflicted world. Looking ahead—whether through the prophets’ foresight or the gospels’ accounts—assures us this story will end triumphantly. So, for example, we recall the shepherds’ experience as more than a narrative outcome. It is a promise we reach for that guides and sustains our journey through darkness.
Like the shepherds, we too are summoned out of our night to find the Christ Child. And as happened to them, what we see and hear in Bethlehem will utterly change us. We will return to our lives and labors, “glorifying and praising God,” having encountered anew in the eyes of a newborn Savior the fulfillment of God’s covenant to love and welcome us.
C.S. Lewis once said, “In commanding us to glorify [God], God is inviting us to enjoy [God].” Our journey leads to a place where comfort and confidence in our Maker enables us to revel in God’s infinite wisdom and care. As we travel the road to Bethlehem, rehearsing the prophets’ words and the intricate details that come together to bring light to darkness, we should make time to enjoy what God is doing. Every piece of the puzzle is falling in place. Every moment draws us closer to the realization of what God desires for us.
Christmas wonders that captivate our imagination are given to release our faith in a God Who works wonders in us. The Christ comes to us as a poor, homeless, illegitimate Babe to prove that God longs to dwell in each of us, no matter what our immediate situation or station in life may be. One look at the manger is all we need to see ourselves in a new light—God’s pure and perfect light. Hope will destroy our despair; joy will overcome our sorrow; peace will reign over our turmoil; and love will conquer hatred that rises against us. We will see and hear everything God’s Word has told us. We will return, glorifying and praising God. In the meantime, while we await God’s promises, it’s not too soon—it’s never too soon—to enjoy God’s astounding ability to bring wondrous things to life in us.