Christmas is that time when Jesus was born as a baby to Mary and Joseph. This was no ordinary birth! An angel had told Mary she would bear a special baby the son of god who would be born through the intercession of the holy spirit. Joseph her husband-to-be, did not believe her at first.Then an angel told him in a dream that it was true!.
Just before the birth of Jesus they had to travel from their home in Nazareth to Bethlehem (near Jerusalem), to register their names with the ruling Roman government.
In Bethlehem there was no room for them to stay at the hotel. The only space available to them was a stable - the animal house for travellers' donkeys and horses. Jesus was born that night in the stable, and as they had no bed for him, they used an animal feeding box filled with the dry grass as his crib.
The shepherds are frightened
That night there were some men looking after sheep in the fields nearby.Suddenly they saw a great light. It was an angel, who said, 'Don't be afraid. I have good news for you, and for all people. Someone great has been born today. He is Christ, the great King you have been waiting for. He will save you from all that is wrong and evil. You will find him dressed in baby clothes, lying on a bed of dry grass.
The story of the wise men
After Jesus was born, wise men came to look for Him, from an area which is now in either Iran or Saudi Arabia. Although they are often called the "Three Kings", the Bible does not say how many there were, or that they were kings. Three is only a guess because they brought with them three gifts. They were certainly men of learning - probably today we would call them philosophers or scientists. They had seen an unusual new star in the sky, and knew that it told of the birth of a special king. (The star they saw was probably a exploding "supernova" and is known from astronomical records.) They followed the direction of the star- East - and eventually found the place where Mary, Joseph and Jesus were staying. To bring honour to the child, they brought rich gifts: gold, frankincense (a resin which burns with a beautiful smell), and myrrh (plant oil with a very strong sweet smell).
The gifts tell us three key things about Jesus:
Gold: a gift fit for a King
Frankincense: burnt in worship of God
Myrrh: a sign of mortality - it was used to bury the dead
Jesus was not a white European, and Christianity is not a Western religion. Christmas cards from different countries often show Mary, Joseph and Jesus in the landscape of that country, and with the racial appearance of that nationality, be it black African, Indian, or Japanese. This is good and right - Jesus came to identify with every racial group. He is "Everyman" for us all.
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