And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to 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. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
- Luke 2:1-20 (KJV)
Some scholars will take exception to 25 December being the birthday of Jesus. I read an article a day or two ago about the date being in April, about. If you go to bethlehemstar.com, Frederick Larson puts the date in June of 2 BC. Oddly enough, he pinpoints the date of the magi giving their gifts as 25 December 2 BC. Mr. Larson’s DVD is the only DVD that I ever repeated while teaching the Video College of Biblical Knowledge. Looking at the stars, and seeing something that could have been ‘the star’ was fascinating.
It would be deliciously appealing to me if Mr. Larson was right. Many think that the Western Christian church looked upon the pagan practices of Saturnalia and tried to make it a Christian holiday, some think to cut down on the debauchery of the pagan practices. Yet, the Yule log and gift giving were carried over from Saturnalia into the Christmas celebration. My sense of humor would jump for Joy if 25 December was actually the date that the wise men gave their gifts. From the wise men bearing gifts to the pagan Saturnalia to the modern day celebration of the original gift giving. The only people who know for sure are in heaven, and when I get there, I’ll probably be too busy saying, “Thank you for leaving the door open” that I’ll forget to ask.
But let’s agree that we celebrate the birth of our Savior on 25 December.
When I was nine years old, I got a Kenner deluxe construction set. It was made out of plastic and press wood. There were girders and beams, walls, roofs, floors, and road sections (curved and straight). If I had a few of the sets, I could have built an entire town. I got other things that year, but the other big toy set escapes my memory. I remember there were two big things that lasted for years, but the construction set is all that remains in my leaking brain. I can guarantee a few things every year. My mother always got me underwear and socks. Her mother always got me the same types of candy. One of those was chocolate covered cherries. But the construction set occupied Christmas day.
The point to this is that I completely lost track of time constructing, demolishing, and rebuilding something else. I was finally ordered to go to bed.
In looking back at that Christmas in time, my parents had moved into town from the farm. We’d lost the turkey farm the year before, and our farm house was now someone else’s home. My parents had built a home next to my mother’s parents before they moved to the farm. So, when my sister came home from college, she got one bedroom. My brother was a freshman in college that year. When visiting, my brother and I shared the other bedroom, an arrangement that he made known that he did not like. On the farm, he’d had a palatial room to himself. And my parents had closed in the breezeway between the house and the garage to form their bedroom.
With everyone in bed, I couldn’t sleep. We always read the Bible before bed, but I had been too busy and my parents had let the time slip away. After quite some time, I went to the former breezeway and woke up my mother.
I said, “Mom, I can’t sleep. Ever since I can remember, we’ve read a few chapters in the Bible before going to bed. We didn’t read the Bible tonight. I don’t think I can go to sleep until we celebrate Jesus’ birthday with Jesus.”
My mother argued, but I had answers to each of her protests.
Finally, my Dad growled at the ceiling and said, “Kathlyn, if we don’t read the Bible, I won’t get any sleep! I’ll go wake up the other two.”
When Dad returned with my much older and very angry siblings, my mother handed me the Bible and turned it to Luke 2. My mother insisted that I read. After all, waking everyone else was my idea. My siblings protested.
Remember, I was nine. I am an introvert, and at that stage of development, reading out loud caused me to get tongue tied. As for silent reading, I was tested ahead of my grade by a few years, but I was below average when I opened my mouth. I read the King James that night (the reason for using KJV instead of NIV for this post), so there were a lot of strange words.
My brother and sister rolled their eyes. You would think that rolling your eyes does not make a sound, but that night, I could hear it, each time. My eyes were glued to the page in the Bible, but they rolled their eyes often that night. Of course, the foot tapping and the sighing were actually audible. I was starting to mentally freeze.
My sister said about halfway through, “Mom, take over. If he reads the whole thing, the sun will come up before we’re done!” or words to that effect.
That caused me to start sweating, and actually slow my pace. From panic, not my usual obstinacy.
Then, my mother, being true to her nature when it came to me, muttered softly, but loud enough for me to hear. If I could hear eyes rolling from across the room, I could hear a whisper from three feet away. She whispered through gritted teeth, “You’d think he’d be able to recite it from memory without reading. We’ve read it so many times at home and at church.”
At that point, I developed a stutter. I found it hard to read through the tears. I had tears, but I knew that my Dad would be disappointed if I cried. I manned up and soldiered on, but my mother said that I was finished after the 20th verse.
I slept well that night, a short night. I was awakened extra early for breakfast, as punishment. There were no livestock to feed, but I needed a lesson in going to bed on time and going to sleep once there. I still have problems with that last part.
The night of 26 December, we were back on our regular schedule of Bible reading, with other people reading out loud.
Today, I can lecture for twenty minutes or five straight eight hour days (with breaks every hour) if I have enough knowledge of the subject, but ask me to read a page of a textbook that I wrote? It will be panic city, all over again. It’s like I am two different people when that is concerned.
The reason for this trip down memory lane?
Keep Christ in Christmas. Whether it is the day of Jesus’ birth, the day the magi gave Jesus the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, or just a day for a holiday, it is a time for us to remember that God loved us so much that He gave His only Son so that Jesus could pay the penalty for our sins and give us eternal life if we believe and completely trust in Him.