Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about how inexorably time marches on. Perhaps it’s seeing how quickly my little boy is growing up. Perhaps it’s the beginnings of a midlife crisis. Perhaps it’s our church beginning our Christmas planning before we’ve even finished our harvest celebrations. Or perhaps it’s just because I missed my deadline to get this introduction written!
Whatever the reason, our inability to stop the advance of time is a reminder that, like King Canute, we are not in control of our futures, however we think we are. It’s a reminder, too, that God brings about his purposes in his own perfect timing.
Never was that more true than in the incarnation. As Paul puts it, ‘when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons’ (Galatians 4:4-5).
Christmas may seem a long way off, but it will soon be upon us. More importantly, as we explore in this edition, the consequences of that first Christmas are already on us and have transformed our lives.
So in this issue, Roger Carswell reminds us that the stakes of that first Christmas, and our response to it, could not be higher. John Woolley thinks about what it might have been like to have been one of the shepherds visited by the angels. Johnathan Stephen examines the fascinating origins of the carol, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, while I consider how the Old Testament stories of Bethlehem teach us about who Jesus is.
There’s much more to the magazine than Christmas, of course, with articles on everything from the reliability of the gospels, to God’s help when Robbie Hall was confronted with a 500kg WW2 bomb, to understanding our Sikh neighbours.