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In the midst of poverty, violence, oppression and entrenched injustice, people hope. They live in the tension between the world’s injustice and God’s justice because it is the very presence of that tension that is the source of hope. People hope for a day when God’s justice will triumph over injustice, a day when God’s peace will win out over violence, a day when God’s abundance will overturn poverty, a day when God’s healing will transform suffering. And that is why there are all those strange Bible passages that talk about a day of judgment. They aren’t talking about the end of the world; they are talking about the end of an unjust and unfair world, and the birth of a better one.

That is why at the time just before Jesus’ birth, people were longing for a saviour. They were hoping for something and someone who would bring about, in some small way, the birth of a new world.