Merry Christmas: The Birth of Jesus

My husband didn’t know this story, so today I thought I would retell the story behind Christmas, it’s a story I’ve known for as long as I can remember (I am quite proud to say that when I was eleven years old, I played the character of Mary in my school Christmas performance!). Merry Christmas, everyone…

Over two thousand years ago in the land which we now call Israel, an angel with an important message appeared before a young woman. Mary was from a small town and engaged to marry a talented carpenter, Joseph. Joseph was a good man and Mary loved him very much. In fact, Mary was daydreaming about her upcoming marriage when she got the shock of her life!

“Peace be with you”, said Gabriel as he appeared before Mary, surrounded by the golden aura you usually find around angels. Completely stunned, Mary couldn’t say a word.”Don’t be afraid, I have a message for you. You will become pregnant, give birth to a son, you will name him Jesus and he will be God’s own son”. Mary gathered her courage and replied to the magnificent angel, “how can this be? I am yet to be married”. Gabriel comforted the frightened young woman with a smile, “trust in God, with God nothing is impossible”.

Mary became pregnant, just as Gabriel had foretold. Poor Joseph grew suspicious, how could this be? Joseph was starting to think he should cancel the marriage, when an angel came to him in a dream. “Do not be nervous to take Mary as your wife, she is carrying God’s child and this child with be our saviour”. When Joseph woke, he ran to Mary immediately and apologised for doubting her loyalty and Mary and Joseph were married the following day.

The newlyweds started to prepare for the birth of Jesus, but circumstances changed. This small town belonged to the Roman empire, and the emperor wanted to take a census to make sure every soul living within the Roman world paid their taxes. Joseph was from a town far away, a town called Bethlehem and was required to travel back there for the census. Mary was now heavily pregnant, but they had to go otherwise they would face serious consequences.

When Mary and Joseph finally arrived, Bethlehem was full of other travellers who had also came for the census. Mary struggled to walk, exhausted with swollen ankles, they couldn’t find anywhere to stay. Joseph tried so hard to find somewhere for his wife to stay and be comfortable. Joseph banged on the door of the last inn and pleaded with the inn keeper who shook his head. Seeing Mary in pain, the inn keeper told them that even though his inn was full, they could stay in the stable where he keeps his animals. It wasn’t very comfortable but it gave them shelter for the night.

Several miles away, a group of shepherds were guarding their sleeping sheep, led on their backs and looking up at the dark sky. Without warning the silent night exploded into song, the heavens burst open and a chorus of angels started to praise the Lord Jesus who had just been born in Bethlehem. The shepherds, shocked and amazed, looked up at a star the had never seen before, shining in the skies over Bethlehem.

Mary gave birth to Jesus in a stable, wrapped him in cloth and placed him lovingly in a manger upon the hay. The light from the new star covered Bethlehem in a holy blanket of silver. Wise men in far off lands saw the star, it had been foretold that the birth of a new star would mean a great ruler had just been born, bearing gifts they followed the star to the little baby in a stable.

When the shepherds and wise men arrived in Bethlehem and saw baby Jesus, they were overwhelmed with joy and fell to their knees in worship. They left Bethlehem to spread the news, the son of God has been born on Earth!

Merry Christmas

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Poinsettia: The Christmas Plant

Every year, my family attend a special Christmas service held in a small village Church. During the service, carols (Christmas songs and religious hymns) are sung and stories about the birth of Lord Jesus Christ told. The Church had been beautifully decorated, as always, with candles,holly, ivy and a huge Christmas tree stood next to the altar.

church christmas

christmas tree

Christmas tree 2014!

 

Here is the Church font, a font is usually full of holy water which is used to Christen babies (I was actually christened in this font when I was a baby!)

Here is the Church font, a font is usually full of holy water which is used to Christen babies (I was actually christened in this font when I was a baby!)

During the service, between the carol singing, the rector (priest) took some time to tell us about the poinsettia plant and it’s significance at Christmas. This plant with it’s striking red leaves is always sold in supermarkets and florists during Christmas, featured in Christmas cards and decorations; and I’ve never known why. I just assumed it was because their amazing red colour was so, well, Christmasy. Just before I left India, I was surprised to see poinsettia for sale in a garden shop! They are everywhere!

Here is my retelling of the story of the Christmas plant…

The legend of a small girl called Maria has been told in Mexico since the 16th century. Maria was too poor to give a gift to the Church to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, this distressed her so much she wept for days. A beautiful angel wearing golden robes came down from heaven to comfort the weeping child,’The most precious gift you can give is your love”. Maria smiled through her tears and lovingly gathered the small weeds around her, she tied them together as neatly as she could and ran to the Church. The child placed the weeds on the altar and squeezed her eyes tightly together in prayer, when she opened them, to her amazement she saw her weeds had spouted crimson leaves in the shape of the star of Bethlehem. The star of Bethlehem is the Christmas star, the star which appeared when Jesus Christ was born. A gift given with love is the most beautiful of all. 

Source: wikipedia

Singing in Church is a form of worship, and going to the Christmas service was delightful and nostaglic. Christmas is a magical time of the year, I thought it would be nice to share a video of one of the Christmas carols we sang on Sunday, Merry Christmas

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him”

-Romans 15 v 13

P.S. I just had to share the photo I took two years ago at the same service, I think this photo is particularly beautiful because the sun hadn’t set, so you can see the beautiful stained glass window next to the Christmas tree!

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012