These things were all taking place in line with the Divine purpose for all of life that had existed from the beginning of time as shown through the prophet who said, ‘A virgin will conceive and bear a son who will be named Emmanuel,’ which means ‘God is with us.’

Joseph awoke from his dream and, in line with God’s message, took Mary as his wife.

Most modern sophisticated twenty-first century westerners do not do well in the cosmic realms of supernatural events affecting the unfolding of the entire course of human history. Mystery is foreign territory for positivist materialist intellectual westerners.

We are more comfortable with a much smaller picture of the unfolding human drama. We believe in psychology and the impact of personal choice and decision on the course of each individual life. Christmas clashes dramatically with this reductionist vision of human history.

The events we commemorate at Christmas require that we open to the possibility that psychology and personal human decision are merely one small part of a vast tapestry of forces and powers in which human beings participate. To navigate the Christmas story we need tools that are not offered by empirical science. We need to reach deeper than natural phenomena.

Christmas invites us to consider the possibility that we humans are caught up in a vast cosmic drama that has been unfolding since the beginning of time according to a plan ordained by that Power centuries of tradition have called “God”.

Jesus stepped into human history as a major player in the great unfolding reality of the human story. He came to embody the truth that the Divine Origin of all creation remains active and present within that creation. God has not become absent from the human community or from the magnificence of creation.

Jesus was named “Emmanuel” – “God is with us.” By bearing the fullness of this reality in his being, he opened all humanity to a new experience of God’s presence and action at work in all of life.

Advent invites me to open to the possibility that my life is part of a greater whole that is unfolding under the guidance and direction of God. This requires that I put aside my materialistic and cynical worldview and enter into a space of wonder and mystery with which I am less familiar.