A profound line comes at the end of the Christmas carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”:
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee [Bethlehem] tonight.
How can both hopes (positive) and fears (negative) be “met” by one event?
“Met” has to mean two different things here. All mankind’s best hopes are fulfilled in the coming of Jesus—salvation, God’s presence, love, joy, a meaningful life, God’s just rule and peace on earth…some of these are still on the way! Without Jesus, none of this would be possible.
How are the fears of humankind “met” in the birth of Jesus? They are not fulfilled but they are dispelled! The worst fears would include death, hopelessness, war & fighting, loneliness—whatever is the opposite of the “hope” mentioned in the same line. In coming to earth, Christ has provided a way out from these for all who accept His gift.
Now, that’s the reason for joy at Christmas!