by June Friesen
Let us begin with the story so often shared in the Christian church as well as Christian homes around Christmas and on Christmas eve as well as on Christmas morning from Luke 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. 8-12 There were shepherds 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 shepherds 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 shepherds were impressed. 19-20 Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The shepherds 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 BLESSINGS TO ALL
18-19 The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they enjoyed their wedding night, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t know that.) Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.
20-23 While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” This would bring the prophet’s embryonic revelation to full term:
Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son;
They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).
24-25 Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream: He married Mary. But he did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus.
We often read the passages from Luke 1 and 2 when we think of the Christmas story, yet it is in Matthew where the Bible talks about Jesus’ earthly father. As we celebrate today and have been celebrating Jesus’ planned birth we sometimes forget the real truth and meaning of this story for everyone, as well as how it can have real meaning in each of our lives today. It is my prayer that as you read this today or what ever day you read it that you will find confirmation of your own faith walk with God, as well as be challenged to share with others how their faith walk can become more meaningful in their lives. Christmas blessings to all.
A CHRISTMAS STORY
by June Friesen
It has been said that God so loved the world.
It has been said that God created the world that He loved.
It has been said that God had a plan for the world He loved and created.
It has been said.
It has been said that God was pleased with all that He created.
It has been acknowledged that humankind disappointed God.
It has been acknowledged that humankind was also disappointed with choices made.
It has been acknowledged that there must be a plan.
It has been foretold by prophets of old of a promise that was to come.
It has been a promise long awaited by many.
It has been a promise expected to bring immediate deliverance.
It has been a promise overlooked and missed by many.
It was an event that was so unexpected.
It was an event that happened in the wrong place.
It was an event that happened at the wrong time.
Yes, it as an even planned by God.
It happened to a teenage girl; an engaged virgin at that.
It happened to a poor carpenter’s son in a remote village.
It happened that there was an unexpected trip necessary.
It happened that a pregnant girl needed to ride a donkey many miles.
It happened that the birth pangs started – maybe early, maybe not.
It happened that there was not a warm bed or room to be found.
It happened that in sympathy a barn was offered.
It happened that there was a baby born in that barn.
It was then that God’s joy was awakened.
It was then God sent angels to announce this earth-shaking event.
It was then God sent His special message to shepherds minding their sheep.
It was then God began to build a new bridge with humankind.
It was an invitation to come and worship.
It was an invitation to accept ‘peace on earth’.
It was an invitation to believe ‘blessings will come’.
It was an invitation to believe ‘God was visiting earth’.
It was then a star appeared to shine more clearly in the sky.
It was then that a light drew some to seek for a new message/messenger.
It was then that God revealed Himself as a God for all.
It was then a new beginning: God in His love sent a “love gift” to all.
Today God reminds us of His love for the world.
Today we are reminded that God created this world, and He loves this world.
Today we are reminded that God has a plan for this world He created and loves.
Today we are reminded of God.
Today we are reminded that God is pleased with the world He created.
Today we acknowledge we have disappointed God.
Today we acknowledge that we too are disappointed with choices we have made.
Today we acknowledge that there is a plan.
Today we recognize the promise told us by Biblical prophets has come.
Today we recognize this as a promise that was for many and all.
Today we realize that this promise does not necessarily mean immediate deliverance.
Today we realize this promise is often overlooked and missed by many.
Today we may see it as an event somewhat unexpected.
Today we may see it as an event that happened in the wrong place.
Today we may see it as an event that happened at the wrong time.
Yet, it is an event planned by God.
Today we may see it happen to one so young and innocent.
Today we may see it happen to one in a small quiet town.
Today we may see an unexpected trip that is necessary.
Today it may seem that one so troubled had to make a grueling trip of great distance.
Today it may happen that something new seems to be happening: maybe planned, maybe
Today it may happen that there is no help, hope, or support to be found.
Today it may happen that someone will offer the unexpected.
Today it may happen that something new will begin; even a new birth.
Today God’s joy will again be awakened.
Today God will send someone with a message of blessing.
Today God will appear with a special message to the least expecting ones.
Today God will begin to build a bridge to another.
Today there is an invitation to come and worship.
Today there is an invitation to accept ‘peace on earth’.
Today there is an invitation to believe ‘blessing will come’.
Today there is an invitation to believe ‘God is visiting this earth’.
Today this light will begin to shine more clearly.
Today this light will draw some to seek out this message/messenger.
Today God will reveal Himself as a personal God.
Today is a new beginning: God is giving you a “love gift” personally designed, signed, sealed and delivered by His Son. Will you receive His gift today? Every day is a new gift to you. Open each day and enjoy each new gift. 365 gifts are coming to you – one a day in the year 2023.
Photos and writing by June Friesen. Writing first written and shared in 2008. Scripture is from The Message Translation.
New Years and Epiphany Resources
As the year comes to a close, New Years and Epiphany are almost upon us. Check out our New Years and Epiphany resource lists for prayers, creative ways to celebrate as a family, and more! More info on our resource page: Advent, Christmas, New Years, and Epiphany or find resources in our shop!