From The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder, which has quickly become one of my favourite Advent and Christmas books:
Elisabet was confused by all the strange names but the angel [Ephiriel] explained, ‘The angel watch shows that 602 years have passed since Jesus was born. At this time, and throughout the Middle Ages, the Christian church had two different capitals. The one is Rome, and the other is Byzantium at the entrance to the Black Sea.’
‘But didn’t they believe the same things?’
‘On the whole, yes, but they showed it in slightly different ways. People have come and gone, and church traditions and services have come and gone too, even though the start of it all was something that happened one Christmas night in Bethlehem, the city of David.’
Impuriel ruffled his wings and said, ‘Yes, indeed! For there was only one Mary and only one Christ-child. Since then many millions of images of Mary and and the Christ-child have been painted and fashioned, and none of them are alike. For even though there was only one Christ-child, every person’s imagination is a little different.’
Elisabet hid these words in her heart. But Impuriel beat his wings and came right up to her.
‘God created only one Adam and one Eve as well. They were little children who played hide-and-seek and climbed the trees in the Garden of Eden, for there was no point in creating a lovely garden if there were no children who could play in it.
‘But these two children ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, and then they grew up. That was the end of playing in the world, but only for a short while, for soon grown-up Adam and grown-up Eve had children, and then grandchildren as well. So God saw to it that there would always be plenty of children in the world. There’s no point in creating a whole world if there are no children to keep on discovering it. That’s how God goes on creating the world over and over again. He will never quite finish it, for new children keep on arriving, and they discover the world for the very first time. Yes, indeed!’
And that is just a sample of how splendidly Gaarder describes the wonders of heaven spilling over into the world (and how wonderfully Elizabeth Rokkan translated it into English, too).