Luke 2:1-20 (NIV)
The Birth of Jesus
1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
“Jesus was born in the reign of Augustus. After a long period of wars which had racked the Mediterranean and its shores, political unity had been achieved and the Roman Empire had become roughly coterminous with the Mediterranean Basin. Here and there it was soon to spread beyond it. Augustus was the first Emperor. Building on the foundations laid by his uncle, Julius Caesar, he brought peace and under the guise of the chief citizen of a restored republic ruled the realm which for several generations Rome had been building. The internal peace and order which Augustus achieved endured, with occasional interruptions, for about two centuries. Never before had all the shores of the Mediterranean been under one rule and never had they enjoyed such prosperity. The pax Romana made for the spread of ideas and religions over the area where it prevailed.”
–Kenneth Scott Latourette
2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.
HERE is Annie Lennox singing “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
This is a trip of some 80 miles — no small distance in those days.
6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Colossians 1:15-20 (New Living Translation)
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
for through him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.
He existed before anything else,
and he holds all creation together.
Christ is also the head of the church,
which is his body.
He is the beginning,
supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So he is first in everything.
For God in all his fullness
was pleased to live in Christ,
and through him God reconciled
everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
The Shepherds and the Angels
8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
HERE is Christmas for the whole earth! From Handel’s Messiah — “Glory to God.”
15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
from Monday Moments,
by Dr. Michael A. Halleen
Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened . . . (Luke 2:15)
Here are seven things to include for a joyful journey to Christmas . . .
- People. Attend services and other events that celebrate the day, even if you are far from home. This trip is best taken in the company of others.
- Tradition. What “makes” Christmas for you? Handel’s Messiah? A special ornament on the tree? For many, it’s the food. (I can’t imagine Christmas Eve without meatballs, rice pudding and lingonberries.) Some tell stories, some re-enact the stable scene. Honor your traditions—hold on to them. They add warmth to the journey.
- Music. Turn off the television and put on some of the great music of the season. We’re on a road meant to be filled with singing. Let your voice be added to the chorus.
- Generosity. Obey any impulse to be generous, even to those who are not expecting generosity from you. “When in doubt, shell it out,” one of my crazy uncles used to say, and he was right. Tip freely. Christmas is a time for liberality. It makes the way to Bethlehem easier for others and more enjoyable for you.
- Healing. Take the opportunity to restore a lost personal relationship, to mend a broken friendship. Take the initiative without worrying about who was right or wrong in whatever it was that divided you. Get past it, and forgive. Best to travel light on this road, without the baggage of unresolved conflict.
- Discipline. Keep your wits about you. Do everything in moderation, the Bible says, like eating, for example—or drinking, or driving. We can overextend ourselves in a hundred ways at this time of year, thinking other people’s joy somehow depends on us. In fact, we simply add hazards—for ourselves and others—on what’s meant to be a journey of peace and joy.
- Smiles. Erase the frown from your brow for the season. Think about what children see when they look into your face and consciously make it a smile. Determine that only kind words will come out of your mouth—no criticism, no complaints. Decide to let more love into your life—love for God, for God’s children, for life itself. You’ll be blessed, as will the others you meet along the way to Christmas.
Let’s go to Bethlehem !
I say this is good advice for living today and every day with Christmas joy! — Rebecca
16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
Acts 4:20 (New Living Translation)
“We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”
The shepherds told their news. Who are you telling about Jesus?
19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.