Mary was a young woman from Nazareth in Galilee who was espoused to a good man called Joseph. One night Mary was sitting in her bedroom when she heard a very strange noise, as if a great bird were flying through the air at a great pace. Suddenly a glowing white winged figure flew into Mary's room and stopped only a metre in front of her and stared into her eyes. Mary immediately moved back in fear and raised her hands to cover her face. “Fear not Mary” said the large white figure, “I am the angel Gabriel, sent to give you a message from the Almighty God”. Mary lowered her hands slightly just to see the head of the angel and with a shaky voice replied to Gabriel saying “a message... from Almighty God...for...me?”. The angel smiled and responded with comfort “Yes Mary, the message is for you. You have cause to rejoice for you have found favour with God. You will conceive and have a son and..” Mary, in a moment of bravery, stopped Gabriel mid sentence, bursting out with “But I am a virgin!” Gabriel smiled and answered Mary's question: “Mary, The Holy Spirit will come upon you as you sleep, and you shall conceive a son, not of man but of God and you will call him JESUS - he shall save his people from their sins”. Mary could barely contain the knowledge of what she had learnt, holding back tears of excitement and joy she said to the angel Gabriel “I am the Lord's humble servant” and in an instant Gabriel, the angel of the Lord departed from the room leaving Mary staring at the wall, trying to take in everything that had happened.

A few months later, Joseph could no longer avoid what he had been thinking for a while, that his beloved Mary was with child. Joseph did not want to do wrong in anyone's eyes so he planned to hide Mary from everyone while she bore the child. One night however, when Joseph was sleeping, an angel appeared to him and told him not to be worried about Mary, for she was carrying the Son of God inside her. Joseph awoke and rejoiced and from that moment on worried no more about the situation.

The months past, until the emperor in those days Caesar Augustus decided that everyone, everywhere should be taxed. To be taxed meant returning to the town of your birth. For Joseph and Mary, they had to travel from their home in Nazareth, Galilee to their place of birth in the town of Bethlehem in Judaea.

It was a very long journey for Joseph and Mary, especially because the time for Mary to give birth was getting closer by the day. Joseph ensured Mary was as comfortable as possible throughout the journey, having her sit on a donkey while Joseph led the way on foot.

On the night Joseph and Mary entered Bethlehem, the town of their birth, Mary was very close to giving birth. Joseph went around Bethlehem with urgency trying to find a place for them to stay the night, where Mary could give birth. Every inn Joseph tried was completely full. Bethlehem was a lot busier than normal due to everyone that was born in the town having to return to pay their taxes to the emperor. Joseph was relentless in trying to find a place to stay – he had Mary and the soon coming baby to think of. Joseph soon realised that there was no place for them to stay. In a last attempt he went back to the first inn he had tried and asked them again, explaining the situation with Mary and saying they were prepared to stay anywhere. The inn keeper looked at Mary and smiled saying he really did not have a room available for them to stay the night, but he could see they were desperate and said Joseph and Mary were welcome to use the stable a short distance from the inn if they wished and handed them some blankets and towels. Joseph and Mary thanked the inn keeper for his kindness, took the blankets and towels and headed to the stable.

That night, the greatest event that had ever happened on the earth took place, for in the early hours of the morning, not in a great palace made of gold, not in a wealthy house of nobility, not even in a common inn, but in a humble stable, the Saviour of all mankind, the Son of God, Jesus Christ was born.

In the hills, not too far away from the town, shepherds were watching their sheep to keep them from any harm. For them, it was a normal night, dark, quiet, uneventful. That was about to change however. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared in front of them and the whole place shone with the Lord's glory all around them. The shepherds were terrified and did not know where to run. The angel spoke to them and said “Do not be afraid! I bring you good news of great joy. This very evening, in the city of David a Savour is born which is Christ the Lord. You will find the baby in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes.” (swaddling clothes were clothes that kept a baby wrapped up tightly and secure). As the angel finished speaking the place around the shepherds filled up with a whole host of angels singing and giving praise to God: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will to all men.”

Once the angels had all gone, the shepherds rushed to Bethlehem to find the child the angel had spoken of. Just as the angel had said they found the stable with Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus in. The shepherds were overcome with joy and went around telling everyone what they had seen and heard, giving praise to God.

A very bright star shone in the sky that night, a star that had not been there before. This star was a sign placed in the sky by God to mark the birth of his Son Jesus. This star was noticed by a group of very wise men from a land far away. These men studied the stars and noticed the new star and how bright it was compared to all the others. The wise men knew the star marked something very important and set on a long journey, a journey that would take them two years to reach the place where the star was hanging over. The wise men took with them gifts fit for a king: gold, francinsense and murr.

In that quiet night in a stable in Bethlehem the world was changed..forever. Mankind needed a Saviour, that night, Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came to make everything new entered the world. That baby laying in the manger would grow up without ever sinning, something that was impossible for a man, but this was no mere man, this was the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who one day, would hang on a cross and die – for YOU, to pay the price for your sins, to take on all your sicknesses..why? Because God loved you that much. God knew that there was no way we could ever be holy and without sin by ourselves, so rather than us paying the price for our sins – Jesus came down and took our place.. the most amazing act of love that was ever made. Jesus was raised again on the third day and is now in heaven, sending down the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us on the earth.

Every story, even a true one, has an ending or conclusion and this one is no different. Jesus may be in Heaven now, He may have paid the price for our sins and given us the greatest gift possible - but it does not end there. One day Jesus is coming back for His children, to purge the earth of evil forever, to enter Jerusalem and take over the leadership of the World for eternity. As it is written in the book of Revelation there will be a new Heaven and new Earth, the New Jerusalem will descend and we will live in complete peace and happiness for all eternity.

Remember Jesus this Christmas, remember his birth, remember his life and remember his sacrifice. Remember he is coming back for you one day!

Remember God loved you so much that he sent his Son into the world for you.

May God bless you this Christmas.

Written by David Milton.

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