Advent is the season in which we reread and relive the experience of ancient Israel as it longed for the coming of the Messiah. It is also a time to reflect on the infancy narratives of Jesus which have enriched the lives of believers through the centuries. As an extension of Israel's longing for the Messiah, the infancy accounts serve as overtures to the writings of the evangelists, and stand as bridges connecting the Old and New Testaments. Advent of the Savior focuses on this connection of past to present so that we may deepen our longing for the Messiah's coming again and ask God in our own day to be Emmanuel, "God with us." Advent of the Savior interprets the Gospel texts as they have been provided by the inspired authors, and illuminates what the evangelists have taught about the identity of Jesus and about the meaning of his coming. By directing us back to the people and events of the old covenant and by leading us forward to the main body of the Gospel, the new covenant, the infancy narratives are a proclamation of the good news of salvation for all of humanity. Though these narratives may be legitimately excerpted from the Bible and studied individually, they merit further reading and study in their context and in how they relate to other scriptural text. Stephen Binz directs Bible study groups, teachers of religious education, and individuals involved in personal study, to reflect on the Gospels which the infancy narratives introduce, as well as the other Christian writings which expand their message. The Advent and Christmas texts also convince us of the necessity to study the Old Testament, for as Binz stresses here, it is only in studying the writings of our ancestors in Israel that the richness of God's plan of salvation can be understood. The infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke express the basic truths about the divine and human mystery of Jesus Christ. Advent of the Savior reminds us that it is through these truths that we are called to move from longing for our Savior to hope in his coming again.
Stephen J. Binz is the editor of God's Word Today magazine and author of numerous books and articles. He is a popular speaker, biblical scholar, and clinical counselor. He has graduate degrees in social work, theology, and biblical studies, studying in Rome and Jerusalem. Information about his work can be found at www.Bridge-B.com.