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The night there were shepherds

The night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.
Luke2:9-20
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them.
They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid! he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.
The Savior-yes the Messiah, The Lord has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others-the armies of heaven-praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph.
And there was the baby, lying in a manger.
After seeing him the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.
All who heard the shepherds story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.
The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.
It was just as the angel had told them.
[We must remember a part of this story is the shepherds were marginalized people. Not what we could call credible witnesses and yet; the people listened and believed them.
I wonder if God knew they were to be chosen so the story could be told in an amazing way through those who normally would not be listened to by others.
Value is always given when God has a hand in a chosen moment. They were given value and purpose and a reason to share. Isn’t that hopeful for others who seem to think they have no voice?]
The night there were shepherds staying in the fields and their lives would be changed forever.

When Joseph woke up from his dream

When Joseph woke up from his dream he did what the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.
But he did not have relations with her until her son was born and Joseph named him Jesus. (Matthew 1:24)
Luke 2 we learn of the birth of Jesus.
At the time of Jesus birth there was a census that was called and all the people were to return to their ancestral town to register for this census.
And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem, in Judea David’s ancient home.
He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.
While they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first born child, a son.
She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available to them.
[Now let’s stop here for a second.]
There was no lodging available because of the census and there were many people in the town.
Also it sounds so simple the way Luke writes it but I would imagine it was not that simple.
If I think of both Mary and Joseph; they would be tired after all that traveling and perhaps feeling a bit desperate to settle in for the night.
Maybe Mary was already in labor and giving Joseph the full details of what she had shared and experienced with Elizabeth while watching John’s birth.
We can only guess and imagine what it was like for this young ‘mommy’ to be and this dad who would be responsible for the ‘Son of God.’
Both were chosen and both were given a role like no other and a place in history for ever.
When Joseph woke up from his dream he knew what he needed to do and he married his wife Mary.

A few days later after the angel met

A few days later after the angel met with Mary, she hurried to the hill country of Judea to see Elizabeth.
I am not sure how far that was to walk but it says she hurried, so it was a fast exit out of Galilee to Judea.
The story unfolds like this in Luke 1
When Elizabeth saw Mary and greeted her, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Elizabeth gave a good cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.
Why am I so honored, that the Mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy.
You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”
Now let us stop for a second.
This is Elizabeth, a relative of Mary’s who has known her all her life. Can you imagine the moment between them?
Mary’s response to her was amazing.
It is called the Magnificat: Mary’s song of praise
Found in Luke 1:46-56
When she was finished with her praise and honor she stayed with Elizabeth; about three months and then went back to her own home.
I am not sure about her own family, or her responses from Joseph or even if HE knew or not.
What I do know is the angel met with Joseph. In the book of Matthew chapter 1 vs 19
Joseph, her fiancé was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.
“Joseph, Son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
(fulfilling prophecy from the Old Testament)
A few days later after the angel met with Mary she saw Elizabeth.
Perhaps even stayed there long enough to see John born, the time frame would certainly be about right for the delivery.

When Elizabeth was six months along

When Elizabeth was six months along with John, an angel met with Mary who was engaged to be married Joseph.
Gabriel appeared to her in Luke 1:28 and he said, “greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you.!”
Now we must stop for a second and remember she was only 16, not quite a woman; but God knew.
It said she was, Confused and disturbed as she thought about what the angel had said to her.
Wouldn’t that be the normal response when hearing a greeting like that?
The other thing to remember women who were pregnant and not married were often stoned to death.
It was a serious issue not only for her, Joseph and the families involved.
She must have had many questions and concerns.
Then the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God!
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.
He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High.”
Mary asked the angel, “How can this happen? I am a virgin.”
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
So the baby to be born will be holy, and will be called the Son of God.
What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age!
People used to say she was barren, but now she is in her sixth month.
For nothing is impossible with God.”
Mary’s response to the angel was, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true,”
Then the angel left her.
{I truly think the angel brought the news about Elizabeth to Mary so she would believe more intensely and with more reality. She knew Elizabeth was old and barren. She also knew she must go see her and see for herself what the angel had said.}
When Elizabeth was six months along with John, Mary went to visit her.

When I think of the Christmas story

When I think of the Christmas story; I am in awe and in amazement of the amount of players that were used to create the scenes.
It is orchestrated like a screen play with every one doing every little part to make the whole, story complete.
God was so wise to use a simple teenager, and a humble man.
It was perhaps a love story that would be tested from the moment the angel met with Mary.
She was a teen, so young and being told. “You are to be the chosen one.”
She had a tender heart full of acceptance and honor.
Can you even imagine how it started? Being startled by an angel in the room?
Don’t be afraid. (Of course he would have to say that!) I would be terrified.
I have always been amazed over the fact that the angel spoke in a language Mary could understand.
I wonder if sometimes WE get an angel among us telling us things that we hear, but not realizing Who was telling us?
Mary was the chosen one to be the Mother of Jesus.
In Luke 1: The story is written and played out and it unravels with each and every character.
The beginning of it began with Zechariah and Elizabeth who were relatives of Mary.
It was the miracle before the miracle.
Their son, John would be born before Jesus.
Elizabeth was barren for many years and then Zechariah was told they would have a son.
He didn’t believe the angel and so the angel told him to be quiet until the birth took place.
I don’t blame him for doubting, that would be the reaction of many in the same situation.
But God… can do miracles.
A miracle before the miracle.
When I think of the Christmas story I am always in awe of the details and the obedience.
It was all taking place so the day of delivery could happen.