O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight
There is something so evocative for me about ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’, in my church growing up its a carol synonymous with Midnight Communion, the air thick with candle smoke and fragrant with the pine needles desperate to make their own carpet in the church foyer.
And two of my favourite lines are the ones which end that first verse.
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.
It reminds me of the four hundred years of silence the people of God experienced before John the Baptist declared: ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ (John 1:15b)
I wonder what it was like, for the Jews, with the words of Malachi ringing in their ears down the centuries for the words of John the Baptist to break the silence in such a revolutionary way.
The hopes and fears were met in Jesus because He came in a way no-one expected.
They expected a victorious King, reclaiming the throne from the Roman Empire, what they got was a baby born into obscurity.
Let’s pause and linger awhile to wait and meet with Jesus; advent is our privilege, to reexamine the ancient story glimpse something of the King who gave up His throne for our sakes.
Let allow our hopes and our fears to meet in Jesus tonight, and every night.