Merry Christmas, may the Lord bless you today as ponder the gracious gift of salvation God has given you! One of the names attributed to Jesus is ‘Immanuel’ which means ‘God with us.’ Think about those three words: God. With. Us. What a wonderfully simple way of summing up the gospel message. We do not serve a God who chooses to remain hidden from us in some distant place. He was born in a manger; he swung a hammer and chiseled wood and stone in Joseph’s carpentry shop; he went fishing with his disciples; healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and made the lame walk. He became flesh and moved into our neighborhood. This is what we anticipate during the Advent season – the arrival of the ‘Pack Mule Express’ carrying Mary, his pregnant mother, and we await the ‘Welcome Wagon’ angelic announcement. By a sheer act of grace and mercy, God chose long ago to send his son to earth. As you sit waiting this season, take the time to thank God forces mercy and grace. Thank him that through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, God still lives with us!
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
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 cloths 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 heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
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. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.