I am a lover of story especially a well-crafted, historical story. The way the characters are woven through the plot of the story; the emotions felt; the well thought out deeply insightful conversations; and the way the story concludes leaving me satisfied or leaving me to want even more. Each piece of the story plays a vital role in the telling of the story.
Can you think of some of your all time favorite stories? Why do you love them so much? Do they leave you feeling satisfied or do they leave you aching for more…wanting to spend just a little bit longer with the characters as you get to know them more intimately?
I have so many stories that I love, but my absolute favorite story comes straight out of the pages of the Bible: Jesus’ birth, life and death. Today, I am going to focus solely on the true story of Christmas as we find ourselves dwelling in the season of Advent.
The story begins with a humble mother: Mary. Here she is a virgin woman, engaged to be married, and she is told she will bear a child. Talk about a little bit of scandal. This virgin woman can NOT be “with child” yet she is! As a single woman myself, I know that people would think I was crazy if I told them that an angel had told me that I was going to bear a child….and not just any child…but the Messiah. Yet God sends one of God’s messengers to Mary to calm her fears. I love the simple words of the angel as she utters “Do not be afraid.”
“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 his kingdom there will be no end.'”–Luke 1:30-33
Enter another important person, the husband and soon-to-be father, Joseph. Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem where Mary is to give birth to this precious holy child. They arrive and find out there is no room for them in the inn. Mary gives birth to Jesus in the most unlikely of places; in a manger. Despite the circumstances, Mary and Joseph welcome their son into the world with joy.
“In those days a
decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.
This was the first registration that took place while Quarinius was governor of
All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from 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 deliver her child. And she
gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him
in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”–Luke 2:1-7
After Jesus’ birth, an angel appears to the shepherds who are
keeping watch over their flock. Upon seeing the angel, the shepherds are terrified.
Who could this be? And what news are they bringing us? The words that follow
are one of my favorite words from this beautiful holy story because they remind
us of the power of God and God’s love for all God’s people.
“But the angel of the Lord said to them, ‘Do not be
afraid; for see–I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:
to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the
Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth
and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of
the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest
heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.'”–Luke 2:8-14
The shepherds travel and find Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus lying
in the manger. They then tell everyone what they have seen. The people are
amazed at what the shepherds tell them. The shepherds glorify and praise God
while Mary treasures and ponders all these things in her heart.
This story is a story that sticks with me! It is a story that
I want to continue to tell over and over again. It is a story that calls each
of us to shout “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those
whom he favors.” It is a story that we too shall ponder and treasure in
our own hearts during this Advent and Christmas season because it indeed is one
of the greatest stories ever told!
And this greatest story ever told sticks with me because of my family especially my mom. My mom has lived most of my life with a mental illness yet this is one of her most favorite seasons of the year. Growing up, she always immersed my sister and I in hearing the story of Advent/Christmas. It is a story that I never tire of hearing over and over again. It is a story that brings me great joy and hope because like I stated earlier, I have always loved a good story and it doesn’t get any better than the Advent/Christmas story!