"Do not be afraid!" the angel said to Mary. "God has found favor with you. You will have a baby boy, and are to give him the name Jesus. The Holy Spirit will perform a miracle, and because of this your baby will be called the Son of God."
"Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. The child Mary is going to have is God's son, and you are to give him the name Jesus."
The angel of the Lord also visits the shepherds guarding their flocks in nearby fields and brings them good news of great joy: "To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord." The angel tells them they will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger. The angel is joined by a "heavenly host" who say "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!". The shepherds hurry to the manger in Bethlehem where they find baby Jesus with Mary and Joseph.
O come, all ye faithful,
joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye
Come and behold Him,
born the King of angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ, the Lord.
A star reveals the birth of Jesus to three wise men who travel to Jerusalem bringing gifts of gold...
And there around the manger, they all bow and pay homage to our newly born Savior...
Who will take away our sins and promise us eternal life with Him.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled."
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.
The cattle are lowing, the Baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky,
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.
Joy to the world! the Lord is come:
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing.
He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders of his love.
Now wasn't that fun? Didn't that put you in better mood? It's so awesome to be reminded sometimes of the simple gifts that we are given, and Jesus is the greatest gift of all!!!
Well, let me explain the "simple gift" I was given that is related to the photos above...I'll see if I can make this short and sweet...
~Shopping with my sister Penny the night before Thanksgiving.
~She grabs my arm in the parking lot, squeezes it (hard) and she screams. Everyone turns to look at us. (yep, she left a bruise) Well, I s**t because I think someone is about to hurt or mug us. Not hardly...
~We are here and in the entrance, she sees the nativity set (above) of her dreams! She buys it...ALL 11 pieces. BUT she can't bring all of the pieces home in her Honda. My son loads half of it in his suv and delivers it to her house about 70 miles away on Thanksgiving Day.
~The day after Thanksgiving, (while Penny and her dear hubs are picking up the other half of the nativity set), I am putting up her Christmas tree with her wonderful son Kristian and her daughter Payton. Oh we have a BLAST! They soon return and we all gather and finish up the tree...
and the mantel...
and the front entrance...
~Then on Saturday, two days after Thanksgiving... MY sweet husband and I head back to Penny's house where her dear hubs is finalizing the last minute touches on the manger that he custom built just for HER beautiful new nativity set. Oh...it's a family affair of the love of this nativity set now...
~We placed the pieces, and rearranged. Placed the pieces again, and rearranged. When SHE was happy where they were, we secured them to the ground, added and spread the hay, and strung the electrical wires for lights. We managed to finish right before night fall..and viola! It's gorgeous!!!!
If we wouldn't have laughed and cut up so much, we would have finished a lot earlier...but what's the fun in rushing right?
I want to let you in on a couple of our laughs...
Don't you think the donkey looks like "Donkey" in the movie Shrek?
And don't you think Penny's lighted palm tree looks like something from a Corona commercial?
Penny just loves that palm tree. I know I shouldn't be telling you this but...One year, she even used it as a Christmas tree in her house! I know...don't tell anyone, she's going to kill me when she reads this. But, it was sooo unforgettable that her kids have a photo of it on their cell phones! Unforgettable. That's my word to describe it and I'm sticking to it ;)
Moral of the story:
We buried my Dad only 2 days before I received this "simple gift" above. Even though this is not MY nativity set, or even when I thought that I had nothing more to give nor much to smile about, OR even when I thought I nothing to be thankful for during the Thanksgiving holidays, I quickly realized that I have the "gift" of a beautiful family and I have MUCH to be thankful for! Shame on me for ever thinking I had nothing to be thankful for, but grieving the loss of a loved one may sometimes put you in a whole other crazy world of mixed, sometimes not-so-positive feelings. If you are honest with yourself, then it's easy to admit it. And if you can admit it, then you can work towards making the loss of a loved one more positive.
Celebrating the Christmas season made me realize that Mom & Dad are with our Savior as promised above!!! I think the meaning of Christmas should be celebrated year around as I for one sometimes tend to forget the TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS. Those 4 days were such a wonderful reminder!!!! :)
Those 4 days above was a simple gift that was unknowingly at the time, given to ME...
~watching my college son willingly give the gift of his time to help and be with family without me having to ask, orchestrate commands, or beg...I'm so proud of him (however...it did take a burrito to seal the deal!) :)
~spending precious moments with my 16 year old niece and soon to be graduating Pharmacist nephew that still likes to hang out with Auntie Jodie :)
~feeling the love and compassion that Penny's husband had in building the manger and trying to make her nativity set dream come true (many many points earned there!) :)
~seeing through Penny's eyes how excited she was that her nativity set was coming to fruition, especially since this is the first Christmas in their new home. I am happy because she is happy :)
~and last but not least, appreciating the time that my husband spent with me and with my sister's family to help make all of this possible (& making us laugh the whole way through) :)
I have a new appreciation for nativity sets, especially Penny's!!!!
So what's your Christmas Story???