Duccio di Buoninsegna, The Nativity with the Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel 1308/1311
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
In the 19th century the hymn above, Adeste Fideles, was translated into English and became the well known Christmas carol, O Come All Ye Faithful. Though the words sound familiar, please set the familiarity of the last two centuries aside and hear this invitation anew! This is an invitation to wonder and mystery. It is an invitation to travel 2000 years into the past and behold the events surrounding the birth of Christ with amazement and awe. What a wonder that a small baby boy born in the backwater town of Bethlehem is in fact the King of angels. What a wonder that the creator of the entire universe came to live on this dusty planet—the third planet of a very ordinary star on the edge of the galaxy. What a wonder that his birth took place in a stable and he was laid in a feeding trough instead of being born in a palace and laid on the finest linen.
This devotional is an attempt to respond to this invitation and enter the mystery, wonder, and awe of the Christmas events. We invite you to journey with us. We will use art and poetry and scripture and prayer—all to prepare our hearts so that the wonder of these events might take root and blossom in us.
Are you ready to join us? Good! Now let me give you a few “rules of the road” for this virtual pilgrimage. Each meditation including scriptures will only take a few minutes to read. Most will include one or more optional scripture passages if you would like to read more. But simply reading the meditation is not the point. The point is to ponder the marvelous thing that God did when he entered history as a little baby. So, take time. Slow down. Use your imagination. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the miraculous that so easily gets lost in the rush of day-to-day life. These meditations were designed to be read over a two week period, one meditation each day. Of course, you can take this journey any way you like, but recognize that you will not get the most from this pilgrimage by rushing through it in one sitting.
Each meditation includes a piece of visual art. These pieces were carefully chosen because they reflect in some way the underlying meaning of the event. Artists throughout the ages have tried to capture the beauty, the mystery, and the meaning of these events; a beauty and meaning that cannot be expressed in just words. So these pieces will not be a literal “visual description” of the events as they transpired. Rather they have been chosen because they capture something more elusive: the profound meaning and significance of what happened. So, ponder them. Allow the visuals to draw you into their world.
Now, if you are ready . . .
O Come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!