Tuesday Slice of Life : December 20, 2016.
We consider Christmas as the encounter,
the great encounter, the historical encounter,
the decisive encounter, between God and mankind.
He who has faith knows this truly; let him rejoice.
Pope Paul VI
Each year, I enjoy so many holiday traditions through which the Story of this season is woven: in music, greeting cards, decorations, children’s plays, and words spoken as I hug family and friends. This Story is the heart of the slices of my life, and I pause to share it today, weaving together the words of the Holy Bible.
This is the Story.
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things were made through Him,
and without Him nothing was made that was made.
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows:
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’
But when Mary saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”
Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”
And the angel departed from her.
And so before Joseph and Mary came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.
Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying,
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”
So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son.
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn Son,
… and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths,
… and laid Him in a manger,
… because there was no room for them in the inn.
They called His name JESUS !
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields,
keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, 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, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”
And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
Now when they had seen Him,
they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called
Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.
But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king,
behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”
Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”
When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.
And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.
And this is the record,
God hath given to us eternal life,
and this life is in his Son.
He that hath the Son hath life;
and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
as many as received Him,
to them He gave the right to become children of God,
to those who believe in His name:
who were born, not of blood,
nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man,
but of God.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus,
and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead,
thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness;
and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:
it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:
old things are passed away;
behold, all things are become new.
And I saw heaven opened,
and behold a white horse;
and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True,
and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
His eyes were as a flame of fire,
and on his head were many crowns;
and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood:
and his name is called The Word of God.
. . .
And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written,
King Of Kings,
And Lord Of Lords.
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I’m not a big fan of the holidays. Too much gets lost in the obligatory traditions: the buying, the baking, the decorating, the commercialism, etc.
Returning to the story of Jesus’s birth should be at the center of the season, but it isn’t.
I’ve tried over the past 15 years to make the holidays less about the “stuff” and more about the story. Your post is a welcome diversion from all the extraneous diversions.
Blessings to you, Glenda. May peace and joy fill our hearts and homes this holiday season and continue in 2017!
One of my favorite Christmas traditions is listening to the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College Cambridge. It brings peace to my heart to hear the story told and sung.Wishing you a very Merry Christmas.
Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas, Adrienne!
Without these happenings there would be nothing to celebrate. So many people forget the true meaning of the season. Merry Christmas to you and yours.
And a Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Thank you. This is the reason.
Yes, it is! Merry Christmas to you and yours.