Read the following story of the birth of Jesus and see how many Christmas carols you can circle. Those were the instructions for our Sunday School Class yesterday, but I’m sharing it with you for your listening and reading pleasure. The carols are highligthed and linked to MIDI files from various sources. You’ll find we may miss the mark in a couple of instances, but, hey, we’re amateurs!
THE FAITHFUL OF ISRAEL
O come, O come, Emmanuel! We have been waiting for you for thousands of years! Since God promised our first parents, Adam and Eve, that the Seed of the woman would crush the serpent’s head. Come, thou long-expected Jesus!
All our prophets have spoken of you. We have been watching for you to be among the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, through the tribe of Judah and the family line of King David. As for his birthplace, the prophets wrote that this honor goes to you, O little town of Bethlehem.
Mary was engaged to a carpenter named Joseph. One day, an angel appeared to her and told her that she had been blessed and would have a baby that would be God’s Son and he would be named Jesus. Joseph was very upset about this until an angel visited him. Then he understood how special this baby would be. He realized that Mary would soon bear the Child that they had all been waiting for. The baby Jesus is the Messiah for which his people, the Israelites, had been waiting for a very, very long time.
ROYAL ROAD TRIP
Before the baby was born, Caesar made a law that everyone had to return to the city of his family’s birth to be counted so he could pay taxes. Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem, the birthplace of King David. It was time for her son to be born. But the baby wasn’t a normal child. This baby, whose name would be Jesus, was the Son of God, not the son of Joseph, or any other man. He was God in the flesh. Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem. There was no room for them because so many people had come to Bethlehem to be registered. A kind Inn keeper let them stay in his stable. It was a silent night, holy night and a very special night to remember. O holy night! Tonight, the Savior would be born!When Jesus was born, there was not a comfortable cradle in which to lay him. The baby Jesus rested in a manger, a feeding trough for cattle! It was right there, away in a manger, where Jesus spent his first night in the world which he created.
In a nearby field, while shepherds watched their flocks by night, angels from the realms of glory, came down to speak to them. The angel told the shepherds about a Savior that was born in the City of David. They wondered, “What child is this?” How could one small child bring such joy to the world? They finally understood that it was the birthday of a king! God had sent his Son to deliver Israel! “Hark!” The herald angels sing, “Glory to God in the highest! Peace on earth, good will to men!” The shepherds thought, “How Great Our Joy!” to be visited by angels with this most wonderful news.
THE SHEPHERDS WORSHIP
The shepherds rushed to Bethlehem to find Jesus. They were so excited when they found Mary, Joseph and Jesus. They fell down and worshiped. They were so very joyful, joyful! “We adore thee!” the shepherds told the baby Jesus. The shepherds told Mary and Joseph about their visit from the angels. One of the shepherds explained. “Angels we have heard on high told us about your holy child!” The shepherds told Joseph and Mary how they had wondered, “What can I give him?” They also told them how they hurried to find the place where he was born, to find the Savior where the angels said he would be.
THE SHEPHERDS SPREAD THE WORD
They left the stable and spread out to tell everyone about the birth of the Messiah. They went in many directions. Some went to go tell it on the mountain, some went to the desert. As they found others that believed God’s promises, they told them, “O come, all ye faithful, and worship the Savior!”
THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD
But God wasn’t going to keep the Good News of the birth of the King of the Jews from the rest of the world. On the night when Jesus was born, in a land faraway to the east, a Wise Man was studying the stars, when he suddenly asked one of his friends, “Do you see what I see?” The Wise Men saw a star that they somehow knew was a sign that the King of the Jews had just been born. This was the way God got the Good News to the Gentiles on the night of Jesus’ birth. These men showed they were truly wise by selecting valuable gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to present to the King of the Jews after they follow the star to worship him. Today, wise men all over the world still seek to worship the King of the Jews. Are you one of them? What gifts would you give him? He deserves your whole life!