Luke 2:1-20 from The Message
The Birth of Jesus
2 1-5 About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.
6-7 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.
An Event for Everyone
8-12 There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
13-14 At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
15-18 As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
19-20 Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!
Christmas is Coming! As you and Linus read the story of Christmas (above) from Luke 2, I can’t help but notice that last sentence. “It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!”
You see, people were literally waiting for Jesus’ birth for thousands of years. God promised it to lots of people recorded in the Old Testament. Moses predicts a virgin giving birth to Jesus, and even Noah (the ark guy) predicts that Jesus the Messiah will decend from Noah’s Son, Shem. And it happened.
This story isn’t just about December 25. It’s about every day before it and every day after it. Here are some interesting things about the “manger scene” as we know it:
Jesus could have been born in the kitchen of his grandparents’ home. Joseph’s hometown was Bethlehem and-even though space was tight-the Bible simply says Jesus was placed in a manger (feeding trough for animals); no barn was mentioned. It wasn’t unusual to bring the animals (and their feeding trough) into the house at night to keep them warm. Crowded, smelly, but super cozy.
The ox and the donkey are symbols!? Maybe. They are usually included in manger scenes (and who doesn’t love singing Away in a Manger?). We aren’t sure they were there with newborn Jesus, but these animals represent the Jews and Gentiles; Jesus and Paul both talk about ALL being part of God’s family, no matter your race, ethnicity, or background. The ox and donkey are symbols of unity, just like Jewish shepherds and Pagan (other religions’) Wise Men. It’s a tension of Jesus being for ALL not just the Jews, a bold statement. Practically, the donkey was probably ridden by Mary as transportation, and the ox could be sold to sustain the holy family.
There’s your history lesson-ish.
Now let’s talk cookies…YOU GUYS. You baked and sorted and wrapped (and rapped!) and made some amazingly beautiful cookie trays! And we totally reached our fundraising goal…$1400 or so…wow! You did such a great job! Special thanks to Allison & Nels (+ B&A) for coordinating such a successful event. We are on our way to raising money for the mission trip and Triennium…woo hoo!! (And don’t worry…we all ate too many cookies this week. It’s ok.)
LASTLY…….COCOA & CAROLS THIS SATURDAY (in 2 days!!) PLUS OUR UGLY SWEATER YOUTH CHRISTMAS PARTY!!!!!!
Very Important Details:
Meet at the Youth House, dressed in your Ugly Sweater at 5:30 pm on Saturday, 12/19; we’ll drink cocoa & Carol around the neighborhood and head over to the Carlsons’ house together
Bring a White Elephant gift for our party (Either wrap a random/strange gift that you already had or spend no more than $5 on something ridiculous. So fun!)
Come hungry and ready for the best night!! Friends are welcome! Pick-up at the Carlsons’ at 10:00 pm (Text Laurel for the address; a separate email will be sent.)
But wait, there’s more….
- Monday, Dec 21 – Kids’ Day Off: Youth, come help play with kids, make crafts, decorate Christmas cookies, play in the gym and have lots of fun with some great kids! Email/text Laurel if you’re available for all or part of 11:00-3:00 (includes setup and cleanup). Thanks!! Free lunch.
- Tuesday, Dec 22 – High School Youth, if you’re available to serve dinner at our Young Adults Christmas Dinner, that would be so great! Hang out with Valley college and young adults who are in town for Christmas. Dinner is provided. 6:00-8:00 pm in the Youth House
Let’s be very aware of God’s holy gift of Jesus this week. He is literally Peace on Earth. And our Earth could use a little peace right now.
You are loved. By God and by us.