Hopes and Fears

| December 24, 2014


If Christmas carols bring to mind images of hot chocolate and coziness, you have them in the wrong mental category. Carols contain some of the deepest theology of all hymnody. If you don’t believe me, you should spend some time with “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” or “Joy to the World.”

While “O Little Town of Bethlehem” may be associated with nativity plays and children nestled all snug in their beds, it contains this bold and compelling claim: “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

What does this mean? How were the hopes and fears of all the years met in Bethlehem the night Jesus was born?

Hope Fulfilled

Jesus fulfills the hopes of all the years in a specific way; he is the long-awaited Messiah. His coming had first been promised to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15. His birth—of a virgin in the city of David—had been foretold by prophets centuries before (Isa. 7:14, Mic. 5:2). Jesus was the promised lamb of God, the hope of Israel, pictured for years through sacrifice at Passover. He fulfills the hopes of all the years that our sins would be laid on him who alone…


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