Advent and Christmas are about Celebration. That view is shared even by people who don’t know that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. People are so hungry for joy and peace and hope in their lives and in the world, for themselves, and for others. Something deep inside us longs for these qualities in our lives and in the world, and is drawn to anything that represents them. In the biblical version of the Christmas Story found in Matthew & Luke chapters 1-2, every major character faces some significant challenge or struggle, of which God’s presence and promises are a part. Because God’s promises challenge the ways that our world normally works, and call us toward a new way of being, the promises of God are challenging, and even threatening if we are not ready to open ourselves to them.
In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke lays out how the church comes to understand and proclaim the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel in and through the life of Jesus. Matthew and Luke both lay out some of these in their stories of Jesus’ birth.