Today we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in a manger in the small town of Bethlehem. His earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, had traveled there to meet Caesar's demand of appearing for a census for tax purposes in the place of birth of His father. They had arrived late and there was no other place to stay since all the inns were filled with travelers in town for the same reason. An innkeeper with no empty rooms offered the manger since it at least offered shelter from the weather and he graciously provided bedding to at least afford them warmth for mother and baby.
The life of Jesus on earth, begun in such a simple way, was one about which much of his lifespan is unreported. Certainly we know of His birth and the need for Him to be taken to Egypt to avoid being found by Herod the King, who saw Him as a threat and wanted Him killed. We know about His visit to the Temple at age twelve where He astonished the religious leaders with His grasp of knowledge never seen in a boy of that age, let alone in a grown man. But thereafter, there is not much information about Him except that He had taken up the carpentry profession of Joseph and that He was a kind boy and then man awaiting His call of service to show who He was and His purpose for being here on earth.
That time would come as He approached His thirtieth birthday and with it would come a three year intensive ministry where he would display His greatness, albeit in a life of modest living to teach and preach about God and His own God-given purpose for being here. That three year period, however, is where our Lord's amazing work took place and in that short time He changed the outlook of the world with His great teachings and sermons which spelled out clearly what God expected of us. He told parables, performed miracles and gave guidance on how to live the Christian life. His message took the Law of the Old Testament which formed a basis for orderly life and added to it the gift of hope and salvation as provided by the New Testament which would be written following His death on the Cross and Ascension to heaven. Not only that, but his message was to be offered not just to the Chosen People of God, the Jews, but the Gentiles as well with his followers called upon to spread the Word throughout the world.
Jesus, in human form but also the Son of God came to us in the form of a common man. He had none of the trappings of a King and didn't match the expectations of the rabbis and Temple leaders who expected one with wealth and regalia. For this reason, most refused initially to believe He was the Son of God. But his small band of original followers, also Jews, believed on faith and with Him were responsible for the foundation which which would grow after He was gone into beginnings of what would become the Christian Church and the number of followers would grow quickly. Despite persecution, pain and great suffering, his flock continued to expand and grow and its impact has been world changing. Those of us who are believers today are expected to do the same. And though we may face persecution, pain and maybe even death in a world that is rapidly becoming less godly, we can take comfort in knowing that by loving and believing in Him we will find the joy of life everlasting with Him in His Kingdom when this life is over.
So take joy in what today represents, the birth of our Savior, who as part of the Holy Trinity, offers us the gift of salvation through His grace and mercy. By worshipping Him, the Son of our Father in Heaven, we allow the Holy Spirit to enter us and serve as our guide and advisor to living the life that is expected of us. What a wonderful gift this day represents. Remember it, cherish it and use it to reinforce the strength that it gives us in all our thoughts and deeds.
Merry Christmas! And Happy Birthday, Lord Jesus. We ask you to stay in our hearts always.