Merry Christmas as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. For those of you who don’t remember the story, here is a synopsis.


Mary and Joseph were engaged to be married. According to Jewish custom, the betrothal or engagement period was about a year. The father of the groom paid a dowry to the bride's father.


Additionally, each partner had jobs to complete during this year. The man was to get the home ready for his new bride, and the woman was to prepare for her new home, making linens and so on. During this period, the bride and groom had no contact with each other.


Mary and Joseph were betrothed when the angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her that she was blessed among women and that she would bear the Messiah.


Naturally Mary was shocked! She and Joseph were not yet married and hadn't consummated their marriage, how could this happen? The angel assured her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and she would conceive the Son of God.


Mary accepted this and said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word.“ (Luke 1:38)


Cesar Augustus called for a census and all had to go back to their historical family home. Joseph's historical roots were in Bethlehem, so he and Mary went there, even though she was quite pregnant by now.


The trip was undoubtedly grueling, but we don’t read that Mary complained the entire trip.


Once the couple arrived in Bethlehem there was no place for them to stay. All of their relatives and those who rented rooms were full with other guests, so Mary and Joseph stayed with the animals. It would have been a warm place and offered shelter from the elements.


Baby Jesus was born that night, in Bethlehem, where the prophet had foretold in Micah 5:2: “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephratah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”


The new King was born and the angels took the joyful news to nearby shepherds, who would rejoice at his birth. Luke 2:10-14 states, “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be for all people; for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, 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, good will toward men.”


The entire Christmas story is found in Luke chapters one and two, if you’d like to read it for yourself.


God sent his perfect gift that first Christmas. Merry Christmas from our home to yours.


Janice Lynn Crose, a former accountant, lives in Crestview with her husband, Jim; her two rescue collies, Shane and Jasmine; and two cats, Kathryn and Prince Valiant.