Sunday, December 25, 2005

Once Upon a Time...

... there was a woman named Elizabeth, who was thought to be barren. However, through miraculous circumstances she became pregnant. In the sixth month of her pregnancy, an angel visited her cousin, Mary. The angel told Mary that Elizabeth was already pregnant and that Mary soon would be. This was startling news, so Mary went to see Elizabeth. While there, she confirmed that Elizabeth was pregnant and that so was she. Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months.

Now, Mary was engaged to a man named Joseph and when she returned he was quite startled to see that she was three months pregnant. He thought about quietly divorcing her, but an angel appeared to him in a dream and told him not to worry. So they went ahead with the marriage plans. However, about that time, there was a census and Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem to register. Due to the traffic, and the fact that they traveled slowly (Mary being pregnant and all), they arrived late at night and all the hotels were filled. One innkeeper kindly allowed them to stay in a barn. Mary gave birth to their first-born son and called him Jesus. Mary wrapped Jesus in swaddling clothes and laid him in a feed trough. (Later people would call him the Bread from Heaven.)

God was so proud of the birth, that He sent angels again, causing a great light in the sky. They announced the birth to shepherds. The shepherds were so excited, they ran to see. After the excitement died down and the census was complete, Mary and Joseph took care to perform the required rituals and were amazed by some prophecies that people made about the baby. Joseph prepared a home for his growing family in Bethlehem.

Now, when the angels lighted up the sky, magi from the East noticed. They spent some time gathering gifts and organizing a caravan, then set out for Jerusalem (where else would the King of the Jews be, but the capitol?) After nearly two years, they arrived at the palace and enquired about the new king. Herod's scribes told them they had missed it by a few miles and might want to check Bethlehem. They told Herod the time of the star and were surprised that it appeared again as they left the palace. The "star" led them to the house and they saw the young child, but did not return to Herod.

God also warned Joseph to flee, thereby escaping the slaughter of those under two by Herod. They stayed in Egypt for a while. Once Herod died, they returned to Israel and Joseph's original hometown of Nazareth. They stayed there until Jesus was ready for his Bar-Mitzvah. But that is another story.

Merry Christmas again.

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