This week I read the Christmas story in the second chapter of the gospel of Luke online. YouVersion Bible app’s Christmas Story Tracker follows the activity of people reading this passage across the world. The last I checked, more than 66 million people had done so this month. Remarkable — for one app! I love watching the globe virtually light up, star by star, as readers join me in my journey back in time.
In one particular version, I was struck by the repetition of a phrase: It came to pass.
It came to pass that angels visited ordinary men and women to ensure God’s perfect plan would prevail. It came to pass that Caesar Augustus issued a decree that obligated Joseph to travel with his wife, heavy with child on a dangerous journey to Bethlehem. It came to pass that a baby was born into the most humble of circumstances and yet his arrival was heralded from the highest heavens.
Was this supernaturally bright star the comet of the ages, a strategically aligned planet, or something else? We may never know but it had a powerful impact, along with a host of angels celebrating the good news with great joy. It came to pass that lowly shepherds tending flocks nearby and learned wisemen from afar were compelled to find and worship this child. They just couldn’t help themselves, given all that came to pass!
Perhaps we know the story so well that we take it for granted. Yet as dramatic and fantastic as they seem, these angelic visitations and heavenly proclamations in the midst of a Roman Empire census might have come and gone without our awareness — except for the babe. His arrival was a disruptive force extending far beyond his place and time. The way the Christmas Story Tracker lights up across the globe is a simple illustration of how everything changed when God came near.
This Christmas I’m especially thankful for my faith. It is a gift I did not earn and cannot repay. It grounds me every day midst the ebb and flow of local circumstances that often challenge me and global disruptions that sometimes frighten me, all of which are far beyond my control. I’m thankful for faith to believe that it all came to pass.
~ René Morley