“Consider what our good God has done in sending us his only son.” We have entered the Advent Season, that four-week period before Christmas when we are called upon, once again, to prepare ourselves for the awesome miracle of God’s entry into our human history in the infant Jesus. Advent is a time of waiting, like the waiting that any family experiences around the expected birth of a child. But this child is like no other.

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Advent is the period in which we are called to prepare the “house” of our souls for the coming of the Lord. Like parents who prepare their house, cleaning it up, and getting things ready for the arrival of a new child, the Advent season allows us to prepare the house of our soul to receive this child, this man, who is our redeemer. 2,023 years ago, this king of all kings was born in a cave, a place reserved for the animals. In the words of the poem ‘Annunciation’ by Denise Levertov, singing about this, child, born of Mary’s womb, this “Infinite weight and lightness, carried in finite inwardness, nine months of Eternity [contained] in a slender vase of being, the sum of power in narrow flesh, the sum of light” was born among us a, “Man-child needing, like any other, milk and love—but who was God.”

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This event of the birth of this child that we celebrate each Christmas season cannot be separated from the even greater events of his death and resurrection that would come in what we would call the prime of his life. As Christians, this season is not about Christmas lights and decorated trees, or Black Friday, and the mad rush to buy gifts. It is about the greatest miracle in human history. It is about the One who “though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking on the form of a slave, coming in human likeness” (Phil. 2:6-7). It is about the One who has saved us from our greatest enemies, our most fearsome foes, sin and death. It is a time for humble prayer, for examining our consciences, and for recommitting ourselves to say yes daily to God’s call to follow him.

The beautiful Irish Christmas Carol called the ‘Wexford Carol’, which accompanies this article, is sung by Alison Krauss. She is accompanied by Yo-Yo Ma on the cello and by various Irish musical instruments. It carries a deeply beautiful and prayerful praise of the God who, out of his infinite love and mercy, willingly became a babe born to the virgin, Mary, in a poor stable, in the little town of Bethlehem. The greatest story ever told is born on the haunting notes of this ancient Christmas carol. Let it wash over you. Let it be one of your own prayers during this Advent season of waiting. Let it help you to prepare your mind, your heart, your soul to receive the promised savior into your own life again this day, this year, for the rest of your life. Praise be to our loving and merciful God!

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