Take a moment if you can and maybe read the story here. I truly believe that stories can change people. They can redirect attention, give grace, and become a moment of meaning. So simply read the Christmas story to your family, friends, or on your own. But read it and be reminded of why we have Christmas, and maybe even be changed through it:
Mary, a virgin, was living in Galilee of Nazareth and was engaged to be married to Joseph, a Jewish carpenter. An angel visited her and explained to her that she would conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit. She would carry and give birth to this child and she would name him Jesus.
At first Mary was afraid and troubled by the angel’s words. Being a virgin, Mary questioned the angel, “How will this be?” The angel explained that the child would be God’s own Son and, therefore, “nothing is impossible with God.” Humbled and in awe, Mary believed the angel of the Lord and rejoiced in God her Savior.
Mary must have reflected with awe on the words found in Isaiah 7:14 foretelling this event, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
While Mary was still engaged to Joseph, she miraculously became pregnant through the Holy Spirit, as foretold to her by the angel. When Mary told Joseph she was pregnant, he had every right to feel disgraced and ashamed. He knew that the child was not his own, and Mary’s apparent unfaithfulness would shape his community’s opinion of him and her. So Joseph decided to quietly break off the engagement seeking to spare Mary as much shame as possible. Joseph was a righteous man and sought to act with grace even in difficulty.
But God sent an angel to Joseph in a dream to confirm Mary’s miraculous story and reassure him that his marriage to her was God’s will. The angel explained God’s amazing plan that the child within Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit. That the child was the Messiah, and was to be named Jesus meaning God with us. When Joseph woke from his dream, he willingly obeyed God and took Mary home to be his wife, in spite of the public humiliation he would face.
Joseph too must have wondered in awe as he remembered the words found in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
At that time, Caesar Augustus decreed that a census be taken, and every person in the entire Roman world had to go to his own town to register. Joseph, being of the line of David, was required to go to Bethlehem to register with Mary. While in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to Jesus. The Inn was full so she gave birth to Jesus in a manager, on their own, on the outskirts of town. She wrapped the baby in cloths and placed him in a manger.
Out in the fields, an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds who were tending their flocks of sheep by night. The angel announced that the Savior had been born in the town of David. Suddenly a great host of heavenly beings appeared with the angels and began singing praises to God. As the angelic beings departed, the shepherds decided to travel to Bethlehem and see the Christ-child.
There they found Mary, Joseph and the baby, in the stable. They praised God for the miracle of the birth of the Messiah. They went on their way still praising and glorifying God. But Mary kept quiet, treasuring their words and pondering them in her heart.
After Jesus’ birth, Herod was king of Judea. At this time wise men from the east saw a star, they came in search, knowing the star signified the birth of the king of the Jews. The wise men came to the Jewish rulers in Jerusalem and asked where the Christ was to be born. The rulers explained, “In Bethlehem in Judea,” referring to Micah 5:2. Herod secretly met with the Magi and asked them to report back after they had found the child. Herod told the Magi that he too wanted to go and worship the babe. But secretly Herod was plotting to kill the child.
So the wise men continued to follow the star in search of the new born king and found Jesus with his mother in Bethlehem. They bowed and worshipped him, offering treasures of gold, incense, and myrrh. When they left, they did not return to Herod. They had been warned in a dream of his plot to destroy the child.
This is the story of Christmas. Merry Christmas, enjoy the day, and Jesus’ presence!!