O Holy Night

She had walked ninety miles over rough terrain.  Sometimes Joseph would place her on their little donkey, but in her condition it wasn’t all that comfortable.  Coming into Joseph’s ancestral home, Bethlehem, there was a bustle and hurry among the people, most here to pay their taxes to Caesar Augustus.  She and Joseph were pushed and shoved in the crowded streets.  She felt twinges of pain.  Her baby was due at any time. Where was she going to birth him?

From inn to inn they went looking for a bed for the night.  “No room, no room,” they were told over and over.  Then one inn keeper felt pity for the young couple and motioned them to follow him.  He took them behind his inn where a sort of cave held his animals.  At least it was out of the weather.  There was clean straw on the floor.  A couple of cows stood in their stalls.  Chickens  clucked softly on their roosts.  A few sheep baaed softly.  Mary looked around at the surroundings and thought to herself that this was not a place for God’s son to be born, but there was no where else to go, so she settled down in the hay.

The birth pangs became harder and harder.  Joseph rubbed her back and said soothing words.  Then the time came that she should be delivered.  The boy they had been promised came into this world among animals who watched curiously at this event that was happening.  Mary gazed at her baby’s face.  She was looking into the very face of God.  This tiny babe who would change everything.  Time would be based on his birth, BC and Anno Domini.  The world would not accept him.  He would touch thousands of people during his short time on earth.  Thankfully, Mary did not know what her baby boy would one day have to suffer to save this world of His.  All she knew was that she loved him more than anyone she had ever loved before.  She kissed his sweet, baby face and smelled the sweetness of his baby smell.  His downy hair stuck up.  He gurgled and cooed.  She held him to her breast.  All was calm.  All was peaceful in the stable.   Joseph found some rags and she carefully swaddled Jesus.  They were now a family.  Parents with a great responsibility for they were to raise God’s son.

Out in the fields surrounding Bethlehem, shepherds were watching their sheep.  Watching that no predators would come along and grab one to kill and eat.  It was a chilly night.  They pulled their garments close around them as they looked up at the starry sky.  It was such a clear night, so quiet and peaceful.  The sheep were grazing.  Lambs following their mothers up and down the hills.  Suddenly, right before their eyes in the dark nighttime sky, a light appeared.  A figure of great beauty appeared before them.  They began to shake with fear as the angel said to them, “Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to ALL people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David A Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign to you. You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly the skies were filled with hosts of angels,  a multitude of them, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace, good will to men.”

Suddenly it was a dark night again and the shepherds looked at one another.  Did we really see that, they asked themselves.  “We had better get down to Bethlehem and see this thing which the angels told us about.”  So, they left their sheep grazing on the hills and hurried down to the busy streets of Bethlehem going from place to place until suddenly, there they found a little family in a stall for animals, their baby swaddled and laying in a manger where the cattle fed.  Such a lowly sight and yet a glorious one.  A soft glow shone over the family. The shepherds bowed down and looked at this tiny baby who would change the world.

This year as you celebrate Christmas remember this.  It is about the gift.  The greatest gift of all.  God’s gift to you.  Just for you.  Jesus.  He came, not to condemn the world, but to save it because He loves us so much.  That little baby grew to be the savior of the world.  One day to die a horrible death on the cross taking your and my sins upon him.  Every last person on earth meant that much to Him.

Happy Birthday, Lord Jesus.  You are infinite.  Your birthdays will go on forever.  Welcome into our hearts today.  Merry Christmas, everyone and may you be blessed to know Jesus.  Bye.

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