1.Darkness. A voice, ‘Let there be light.’ A vulnerable light flickers. Stragglers, stumblers and those on the verge of giving up revive.
Isaiah 9 v 2, Genesis 1 v 3
2. The waiting. The longing. Silence. The challenge to keep believing in the face of emptiness. To trust that the voice will one day speak again.
1 Cor 2 v 9, Psalm 40 1-3
3. A peaceful child with an eternal future. A president, a prime minister like no other. Justice, mercy, hope and truth, all birthed in this baby.
Isaiah 9 v 6
4. He is the source, the inspiration, the uplifting song. The foundation. The strength for another day. The all-time companion. Understanding our fear, sorrow and despair.
Isaiah 12 v 2
5. 400 years from Malachi to Matthew. The world shifting, the time coming right. Empires rising and falling. The sun of righteousness waiting in the wings.
Malachi 4 v 2, Galatians 4 v 4, Romans 5 v 6, Ephesians 1 v 10
6. As the waiting goes on, hope rises for the man of justice. Someone who will break the chains, lighten the darkness, bring freedom for all.
Daniel 7 vv 13-14
7. The now and the not yet. These Advent times continue today. Living in the present when echoes of the past point to a brighter future.
Revelation 21 vv 3-4, Zechariah 8 vv 4&12
8. There is one who loves mercy and hates injustice. Who believes in new life, that death can’t win/prevail. A believer in harmony, peace and respect.
Isaiah 11 vv 1-6
9. The unexpected will play major roles in this tale. The lowly, humble, marginalised. A village girl, a carpenter, some pungent shepherds, a long-time temple widow.
10. One man chosen, one family line called to bless the world. Abraham stepping into the unknown, a road leading to a stable and a cross.
Luke 3 vv 23-34, Genesis, 12 vv 1-3
11. Like children with their noses pressed against the windows of time, frosting up the glass. The world waits. The universe groaning, people longing. Something’s happening.
Romans 8 vv 22-23
12. Balaam, the talking-donkey-man, predicted it. A star rising in Israel, a future royal hero. Wise men’ll go looking as a result. As will billions more.
Numbers 24 v 17
13. A young couple, an impending marriage. Everyone invited. Joseph building a room for them in his father’s house. Food, dancing, celebration. What could go wrong? Matthew 1 v 18, Luke 1 vv 26-27
14. Mary stares into space. The thoughts fight for space in her mind. The fears and the hopes clash brutally. A son. A baby. A rescuer.
Luke 1 vv 26-38
15. Elizabeth screams, her eyes wide. She points, amazed, talks about things she should not know. ‘You’re having God’s baby!’ The encouragement lifts Mary. She smiles.
Luke 1 vv 39-45
16. Betrothed. That’s binding. Breaking this off is serious. He studies her pregnant profile. Slips away. Doesn’t spot the angel waiting in the wings. ‘Listen Joe…’
Matthew 1 vv 18-25
17. The murmurs grow, fed by the rumours. The locals mutter and sneer. Joe decides, he’ll take Mary to Bethlehem. He’ll register, and they’ll become parents.
Luke 2 vv 1-7
18. They cower, waiting for the death-blow. They’ve often felt like outcasts, this proves it. Clearly these angels have come to finish them off. Why else?
Luke 2 vv 8-9
19. ‘Here’s a sign for you,’ the angel says, ‘a trough for a bed. This baby is like you. Lowly, humble, approachable. You can know him.’
Luke 2 vv 10-12
20. She has sweat in her eyes, can’t see properly. Is that shepherds at the door? She hugs the child close. Joe shoos them, they refuse.
Luke 2 vv 15-16
21. They’re battering on the doors, waking the neighbourhood. What’s the fuss? A baby? So? A rescue plan? How d’you know? Angels singing? Don’t be daft.
Luke 2 vv 17-20
22. Herod’s sick. Delusional. His body’s rotting like old food. Paranoia gnaws at his mind. ‘Who’s this new-born king then? Show me. I’ll ‘worship’ him alright.’
Matthew 2 vv 1-8
23. Charts, maps, that old prophecy by Balaam. It’s been a long road. They jump down. Catch their breath. Here he is. The future. They kneel.
Matthew 2 vv 9-11, Numbers 24 v 17
24. Joe wakes with a start. Grabs his wife and child. They scramble away, wiping the sleep from her eyes. Behind them the screams are beginning.
Matthew 2 vv 13-16
25. The wise gold buys nights of freedom in Egypt. Herod breathes his last. They slip back to Jerusalem. A wide-eyed ageing couple have been waiting.
Luke 2 vv 25-38