The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.
The Birth of Jesus
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered.
Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered, with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace, good will toward men
When 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.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
Wise men from the east came to Jerusalem and asked of King Herod, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising and have come to pay him homage.”
When Herod heard this he was frightened and asked the wise men exactly what time the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”
When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage.
The wise men placed before him gifts of gold, and having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
After the shepherds had seen him, they too went and spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what they said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
The shepherds returned to the manger, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
And so it has been down through the ages…all the way up to this day, with celebrations each year over the birth of a child who came to be known as The Prince of Peace…
And so it is as well in the year 2016.
This is the true story of Christmas.
May each of you have a blessed and Merry Christmas!