The first Christmas

Published 10:23 pm Tuesday, December 17, 2019

By Myrtle Virginia Thompson

Just imagine: No Santa, no beautifully shaped tree, no gifts around it, no snow, no bells ringing, no wreaths, no Rudolph, no red, green, silver, blue, red bows, balls or banners, no holly, no mistletoe, no music, no visitors, no Christmas shopping, no crowded malls or parking lots, no excited children wanting special gifts, no lights in windows, no Amazon, no shopping online…in fact, nothing of how we view Christmas today.

Let’s do a reality check. The story starts in Genesis 12 when God chose Abraham and told him what He was planning. Millennia would pass before Matthew and Luke wrote the genealogy telling us Jesus came through Abraham’s line. The people God had promised to bless turned away from Him and were being led away captive. The prophet Isaiah had a message from God. In chapter 9, he writes the prophetic history. He says God’s loving care for the nation has not ceased. They will not be left desolate. A child would be born to save his people from their sins, a prophecy about the coming of the Savior. Isaiah’s word came true. Jesus was born.

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So why do I, why should we celebrate? We have heard the history. It is His Story.

Christmas is the one time when the whole world must acknowledge something special happened 2,000 years ago. Even though not all Isaiah was told has been fulfilled, I joyfully remember the promised Savior Jesus was born. There is more to come. One day we shall have peace on earth. I remember and say “Merry Christmas” for the wonderful work God accomplished through the willing heart of a young girl who called Him “my Savior.” I also call Him my Savior.

For just a moment let’s imagine what that first “Christmas” was like, imagine what Mary and Joseph experienced compared to how we celebrate.

Imagine — this profound mystery about God. Galilee in the city of Nazareth was an insignificant place of unimportant people. Mary and Joseph were not celebrities.

Imagine — a young girl, Mary, engaged, not yet married to Joseph, both of the tribe of Judah and in the lineage of King David. The angel Gabriel visits her. She has been chosen but is given scant details. She will carry in her body the holy One from Heaven, thus fulfilling God’s plan and purpose. He will grow up and identify with everyone around Him. Mary reminds Gabriel she has not slept with Joseph or any man. God reminds her and also Joseph this is His plan.

Imagine — the ruling King Herod is taking a census. Although unmarried, Joseph must claim Mary as his wife. They obey Herod’s edict and make the long trip to Bethlehem to register. They arrive but there is no room in the inn. The birth time is nearing. Why did not God reserve a room for this auspicious event? They are offered the stable. Was it another identification with the lowliest of people? With you and me?

Hoping to bed down for the night, they find themselves instead working together to deliver Mary’s baby, a birth seen by the angels who announced it to lowly shepherds, the very message we have today. Handel’s Messiah will again ring out the Hallelujah chorus this Christmas, continuing the story retold for hundreds of years, still going around the world. All was fulfilled according to what God had said and planned. Jesus was born to give His life a ransom for our sins. He spent 33 years on earth, then died to fulfill what God promised.

Imagine Christmas. Read the historian’s account in Luke and Matthew. Remember the One Who came from Heaven, then celebrate Jesus the Savior!

Myrtle V. Thompson, 91, is a retired missionary, educator, Bible teacher and writer. Email her at