“He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born” (Luke 2:5-6).

“When the time was fulfilled…” what a redeeming power there is in these words! We are concerned day in and day out with lesser or greater matters that we are to serve God and His cause. We work sometimes until we are weary and yet we see so little fruit. Does everything remain as it was? Haven’t we gone forward at all? Where is there a trace or a glimpse of the goal we long for? What are all our efforts against the apparently indestructible powers of misery and evil? It is well that at such hours the light is shining from the stable at Bethlehem and that we can sense what it means that the kingdom of God was born as a little child when the time was fulfilled. Christmas did not come after a great mass of people had completed something good, or because of the result of any human effort. No, it came as a miracle, as the child that comes when His time is fulfilled, as a gift of the Father which He lays into those arms that are stretched out in longing. In this way did Christmas come; in this way it always comes anew both to individuals and to the whole world. You have perhaps waited for years to be freed from some need. For a long, long time you have looked out of the darkness in search if the light, and have had a difficult problem in life that you have not been able to solve in spite of great efforts. And then, when the time was fulfilled and God’s hour had come did not a solution, light, and deliverance come quite unexpectedly, perhaps quite differently than you had thought? Because of the noise and activity of the struggle and the work, we often do not hear the hidden gentle sound and movement of the life that is coming into being. The time is being fulfilled and the light shall shine, perhaps just when it seems to us that the darkness is impenetrable.

Adapted from “Watch for the Light” (Eberhard Arnold)