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Posts tagged ‘Nativity of Jesus’

What Star Did the Magi See?.


Matthew 2:2 adds a detail that has baffled and intrigued Bible scholars and astronomers for 2,000 years: “We have seen his star in the east, and have come to worship him.” What was “his star in the east”?

Over the years there have been four main theories:

  1. Halley’s Comet: Unfortunately, the nearest appearance was in 11 B.C., which is simply too early for the birth of Christ.
  2. Supernova: This is an exploding star that suddenly fills the sky with light in a brilliant, blinding flash of light. These are unpredictable and very rare, and there is no record in any astronomical records of a supernova in the years surrounding the birth of Christ.
  3. Conjunction of Planets: This is probably the most popular theory. One version suggests that in 7 B.C. Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn came together in a very rare conjunction that only occurs once every 125 years. Another possibility is a conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in 2 B.C. (This last possibility is the one suggested by the “Star of Wonder” presentation at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.) The conjunction theory has this to favor it: It would explain why the Magi saw it and the people of Israel didn’t. Conjunctions don’t attract the attention of people who don’t normally watch the skies. They aren’t highly-visible phenomena like comets or supernovas or meteor showers. But to anyone who watched the stars regularly, a “triangular” conjunction like the one in 7 B.C. would certainly attract extraordinary attention.
  4. A Supernatural Light: This theory suggests that the “star” was not a natural phenomena at all, but rather was a light placed by God in the atmosphere especially for the Magi to see. Those who hold this view (which I myself lean to) point to the shekinah glory of God in the Old Testament. At certain points in history God revealed himself as a bright light in order to guide his people. In this context, we might think of the pillar of fire with which God led Israel in the wilderness.

Excerpted from “We Three Kings” from Keep Believing Ministries (used by permission).

Dr. Ray Pritchard

The Unopened Gift.


For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4

Recommended Reading
Proverbs 3:5-6 ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs%203:5-6&version=NKJV )

We expect a lot from December: Christmas songs, yummy Christmas cookies, decorations, good food, and time with those we love. As we rush to buy last-minute gifts, we try to remain calm amidst the crowds and busyness. It shouldn’t surprise us that we tend to overlook the one gift that can help us keep perspective during the month of December: God‘s Word.

Listen to Today’s Radio Message ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/radio.aspx?tid=email_listenedevo )

When we open the Bible, we find encouragement for those times when our expectations remain unmet. The birth of Jesus lacked most of the comforts we now associate with Christmas. Mary did not expect to give birth to her first child in a barn. Joseph did not expect Mary to become pregnant before they wed. They were alone and far from family. Despite their difficult circumstances, Mary and Joseph trusted God. They had received the gift of God’s voice and they followed His directions.

We too can hear from God. Scripture reminds us of what is important. It speaks to our deepest needs and keeps us focused on God and His will during each season of life. Let’s not forget to open this gift this Christmas and throughout the year. God’s Word has the counsel, wisdom, and power we need. Open it today.

Read-Thru-the-Bible
Galatians 1-3

By David Jeremiah.

Are Americans Prioritizing Scrooge and Ralphie Over Jesus?.


'A Christmas Story'
A survey found that while 30 percent make a tradition of watching the 1983 film ‘A Christmas Story,’ only 15 percent say reading the Bible’s account of the birth of Christ is part of their holiday traditions. (Facebook)

A new Christmas poll finds less Americans are actually reading the Bible’s account of Christ‘s birth for Christmas, especially in comparison to those who make watching Christmas movies a tradition.

According to the results of a survey released Wednesday, 94 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas. For most, this will be a time for traditions. Whether it is watching a classic movie, reading a Christmas poem or short story, or opening up the pages of Scripture, traditions will play an integral part of their holiday celebrations.

The new survey commissioned by the American Bible Society and conducted online by Harris Interactive in November among more than 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and up found that while 30 percent make a tradition of watching the 1983 film A Christmas Story and 28 percent look forward to watching a film or TV version of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, just 15 percent say reading the Bible’s account of the birth of Christ is part of their holiday traditions.

“There is nothing wrong with enjoying some of the great Christmas films that have been made over the decades,” says American Bible Society Chief Communications Officer Geoffrey Morin. “It is just important that Christians don’t make holiday celebrations more about Scrooge and Ralphie than about Jesus.”

The survey also found that knowledge of the biblical account of Christmas was lacking. Fewer than half of Americans (42 percent) were able to correctly identify what the Bible says brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem for Jesus’ birth—reporting for a census. Worse still, just 28 percent of those ages 18 to 34 knew the right answer.

“Everything we know about Christmas comes from the pages of the Bible,” Morin says. “I hope these survey findings will encourage people to take a step back and consider making the biblical account of Christmas part of their celebrations.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Homage.


Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, - Matthew 2:1

That was the most wonderful birth that ever occurred in this world. It is not strange there were so many remarkable events accompanying it , that angels came down to announce it and to sing their song of rejoicing, and that wise men came from afar to pay their homage. It was the Son of God incarnate that slept His first sleep in the manger of Bethlehem.

This is so great a mystery that we cannot understand it; yet we know that the same One who then became flesh had been from all eternity with God, that He was God, that He made all things, that in Him was the fountain of all life and blessedness. That a child should be born was not a strange thing; a child is born in this world with every heart-beat. That a child should be born in a stable was not a remarkable occurrence in that country. But when we remember who it was that was made flesh that night, we find ourselves in the presence of the most stupendous wonder of all ages.

We should certainly come with the shepherds and the Magi to pay our homage at the cradle of this same glorious child-King. The Magi came hundreds of miles to find Christ. The journey was difficult and perilous, and very costly.

We ought to count no toil or sacrifice too great to find Christ. We ought to be ready to go thousands of miles, if need be, to find Him. He is the pearl of great price, and we shall be well repaid for our quest, though it cost us the loss and sacrifice of all things, and though we even have to lay down our lives to gain Him.

We notice also that it is not always those who are nearest to Christ who first see His glory. He was born right among the Jews, but nobody went out from Jerusalem to worship Him. Shall it be so with us? Shall we miss the blessing of seeing the Savior who is so near?

By Vine.


Bible In A Year: February 1st…

By Book Old Testament New Testament Proverbs & Psalms
Leviticus 7-9 Job 22-24 Matthew 21:18-32 Proverbs 3:21-35

The 1st Recorded Celebration of Christmas.


The 1st Recorded Celebration of ChristmasToday is Christmas day (Christ’s mass). But for the first 300 years ofChristianity, it wasn’t so. When was Christmas first celebrated? In an old list of Roman bishops, compiled in A. D. 354 these words appear for A.D. 336: “25 Dec.: natus Christus in Betleem Judeae.” December 25th, Christ born in Bethlehem, Judea. This day, December 25, 336, is the first recorded celebration of Christmas.For the first three hundred years of the church’s existence, birthdays were not given much emphasis–not even the birth of Christ. The day on which a saint died was considered more significant than his or her birth, as it ushered him or her into the kingdom of heaven. Christ’s baptism received more attention than his birthday in the January 6th feast of Epiphany.No one knows for sure on what day Christ was born. Dionysus Exiguus, a sixth century monk, who was the first to date all of history from December 25th, the year of our Lord 1. Other traditions gave dates as early as mid-November or as late as March. How did Christmas come to be celebrated on December 25th? Cultures around the Mediterranean and across Europe observed feasts on or around December 25th, marking the winter solstice. The Jews had a festival of lights. Germans had a yule festival. Celtic legends connected the solstice with Balder, the Scandinavian sun god who was struck down by a mistletoe arrow. At the pagan festival of Saturnalia, Romans feasted and gave gifts to the poor. Drinking was closely connected with these pagan feasts. At some point, a Christian bishop may have adopted the day to keep his people from indulging in the old pagan festival.

Historian William J. Tighe offers a different view, however. When a consensus arose in the church to celebrate Christ’s conception on March 25th, it was reasonable to celebrate his birth nine months later.

Many of the pagan customs became associated with Christmas. Christian stories replaced the heathen tales, but the practices hung on. Candles continued to be lit. Kissing under the mistletoe remained common in Scandinavian countries. But over the years, gift exchanges became connected with the name of St. Nicholas, a real but legendary figure of 4th century Lycia (a province of Asia). A charitable man, he threw gifts into homes.

Around the thirteenth century, Christians added one of the most pleasant touches of all to Christmas celebration when they began to sing Christmas carols.

No one is sure just when the Christmas tree came into the picture. It originated in Germany. The 8th century English missionary, St. Boniface, Apostle to Germany, is supposed to have held up the evergreen as a symbol of the everlasting Christ. By the end of the sixteenth century, Christmas trees were common in Germany. Some say Luther cut the first, took it home, and decked it with candles to represent the stars. When the German court came to England, the Christmas tree came with them.

Puritans forbade Christmas, considering it too pagan. Governor Bradford actually threatened New Englanders with work, jail or fines if they were caught observing Christmas.

In 1843, in Victorian England, Charles Dickens published his novelette “A Christmas Carol.” It became one of the most popular short works of fiction ever penned. Although the book is more a work of sentiment than of Christianity, it captures something of the Christmas spirit. The tightfisted grump, Ebenezer Scrooge, who exclaimed “humbug!” at the mention of Christmas, is contrasted with generous merry-makers such as his nephew, Fred and with the struggling poor, symbolized by Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim. The book’s appeal to good works and charitable contributions virtually defines Christmas in English-speaking lands.

Whatever the ins and outs of Christmas, we are still unwrapping the gift of God’s Son–and what an incentive to generosity and joy that gift is!

Bibliography:

  1. “Christmas.” Encyclopedia Americana. Chicago: Americana Corp., 1956.
  2. “Christmas.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 1967.
  3. “Christmas,” “Dionysius Exiguus,” and “Philocalian Calendar.” Cross, F. L. and Livingstone, E. A.The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford, 1997.
  4. Hutchinson, Ruth and Adams, Ruth. Every Day’s a Holiday. New York: Harper, 1951.
  5. People’s Almanac. Edited by David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace. Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, 1975.
  6. Veith, Gene Edward. “Why Decemebr 25?” World (December 10, 2005) p.32.
  7. Tighe, William J. “Calculating Christmas.” Touchstone, December, 2003. http://www.touchstonemag.com/docs/issues/ 16.10docs/16-10pg12.html

Last update June, 2007.

By Dan Graves, MSL

Why Do Christians Celebrate Christmas on December 25?.


Why Do Christians Celebrate Christmas on December 25?Photo: Tom Grill / Getty Images

Question: Why Do Christians Celebrate Christmas on December 25?
A reader asks:When is our Savior’s real birthday? Is it December 25? If not, why do we celebrate his birth on Christmas?The date of Christ‘s actual birth is unknown. It is not recorded in the Bible. However, Christians of alldenominations and faith groups, aside from the Church of Armenia, celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25.

Answer:

The History of Christmas

It is believed that the first celebrations of Christ’s birth were originally grouped together withEpiphany, one of the earliest feasts of the Christian church observed on January 6. This holiday recognized the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles by remembering the visit of the Magi(wise men) to Bethlehem and, in some traditions, the baptism of Jesus and his miracle of turning water into wine. Today the feast of Epiphany is observed predominately in liturgical denominations such as Eastern OrthodoxAnglican and Catholic.Even as far back as the second and third centuries, we know church leaders disagreed about the appropriateness of birthday celebrations within the Christian church. Some men likeOrigen felt birthdays were pagan rituals for pagan gods. And since the date of Christ’s actual birth had not been recorded, these early leaders speculated and argued about the date.

Some sources report that Theophilus of Antioch (circa 171-183) was the first to identify December 25 as the birth date of Christ. Others say that Hippolytus (circa 170-236) was the first to claim that Jesus was born on December 25. A strong theory suggests that this date was eventually chosen by the church because it aligned closely with a major pagan festival,dies natalis solis invicti (birth of the invincible sun god), thus allowing the church to claim a new celebration for Christianity.

Ultimately, December 25 was chosen, perhaps as early as A.D. 273. By 336 A.D., the Roman church calender definitively records a nativity celebration by Western Christians on this date. Eastern churches maintained the January 6 commemoration together with Epiphany until sometime in the fifth or sixth centuries when the 25th day of December became the widely accepted holiday. Only the Armenian church held to the original celebration of Christ’s birth with Epiphany on January 6.

Mass of Christ

The term Christmas appeared in Old English as early as 1038 A.D. as Cristes Maesse, and later as Cristes-messe in A.D. 1131. It means “the Mass of Christ.” This name was established by the Christian church to disconnect the holiday and its customs from its pagan origins. As one fourth century theologian penned, “We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of Him who made it.”Although it is true that many traditional Christmas customs find their origins in pagan practices, these ancient and forgotten associations are far removed from the hearts of Christian worshipers today at Christmastime. So much so, it seems a pointless concern. If the focus of Christmas is Jesus Christ and his gift of eternal life, then what harm can come from such a celebration? Moreover, Christian churches see Christmas as an occasion to spread the good news of the gospel at a time when many unbelievers pause to consider Christ.

Why Do We Celebrate Christ’s Birthday?

The same reader posed this question:God didn’t tell us to celebrate Christmas, so why are Christians doing this?

I am compelled to respond with a few simple questions of my own: Why do we celebrate a child’s birthday? Why do we celebrate a loved one’s birthday? Is it not to remember and cherish the significance of the event? What other event throughout all time is more significant than the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ? It marks the arrival of Immanuel, God With Us, the Word Become Flesh, the Savior of the World—his is the most significant birth ever. It is the central event in all of history. Time chronicles backward and forward from this moment. I find myself wanting to ask, how can we fail to remember this day with great joy and reverence? How can we not celebrate Christmas?.

By , About.com Guide

Standing With Persecuted Believers During Christmas.


persecuted believer
With temperatures falling below freezing, refugees are now living in make-shift tents instead of the homes they once lived in with their families.

As many Christians in the West are preparing to go to their safe, warm churches to celebrate the birth of Christ and sing Christmas carols, beleagueredSyrian Christian refugees in Lebanon are wondering how they will survive the brutal winter weather.

“We came from Homs,” said a Syrian believer as he held his baby girl in his arms. “We fled from Homs because of daily fighting and shooting. When we left, our house was still intact, now we don’t know if it is still there.”

With temperatures falling below freezing, refugees are now living in make-shift tents instead of the homes they once lived in with their families.

Believers from Syria and other countries where Christians are persecuted are coping with all the hardships that come with persecution, rather than being able to enjoy the Christmas season with their fellow Christians and families.

However, the gifts from the Gift of Hope Catalogue from Open Doors USA can help bring joy to these believers. There are numerous life-changing gifts that can be given to a persecuted Christian. By supplying a survival pack for a destitute believer, people can provide a believer in need with food, medicine and other basic necessities–all for just $9.

“We are so thankful for your help with food, clothing, toiletries and now school fees for our children,” says one persecuted widow. “You really put a smile on my face and on the face of my children.”

There are various other gift options to meet the multiple needs facing persecuted Christians this Christmas. Gift No. 6 in the Gifts of Hope Catalogue provides a teenager with his or her own youth Bible for $19. Gift No. 17 helps provide a safe house for a persecuted believer for $75.

Other options in the catalog include supporting an orphan, training a church leader for a month, encouraging an isolated Christian woman through satellite television, providing vocational and literacy training and help with rebuilding a damaged church. There are 27 possible gift selections.

“Whether you put a Bible in someone’s hands, train a struggling pastor, help somebody learn to read the Bible or provide practical help for a martyr’s family, you will find there are many gifts you can provide to bring hope where faith costs the most,” says Open Doors founder Brother Andrew. “While life can be painful and unjust, your gift sends this message: ‘You are not alone. You are loved and remembered by me.’ Your gift will give them hope.”

These Gifts of Hope can be given in honor of someone as well. Cards are available in a PDF format to give in someone’s honor and are available when giving a gift at http://www.opendoorsusa.org.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

How Should We Celebrate Christmas?.


Luke 2:1-18

Christmas was first celebrated around 98 AD. It was adopted 40 years later as a Christian festival. Not until the fifth century was the date permanently fixed to December 25. Up until that time it had been observed at various times of the year.
Not everyone looked favorably on Christmas celebrations. The Pilgrims Fathers condemned all church festivals.
Christmas is celebrated around the world; but in different ways.
France: Children put their shoes in front of the fireplace so that Father Christmas can fill them.
Spain: People dance and sing in the streets after midnight mass on Christmas Eve.
Italy: The family prays while the mother places a figure of the Christ-child in a manger.
Denmark, Norway, Sweden: Christmas dinner includes rice pudding that has a single almond in it. Tradition says that whoever gets the almond will have good luck throughout the year.
Australia, New Zealand: December comes during the summer. So many people celebrate Christmas by going to the beach.
How should we celebrate Christmas? I think we need to look at those involved in the Christmas story and see how they celebrated the birth of Christ.
1. HOW THE SHEPHERDS CELEBRATED CHRISTMAS.
1. The message they received.
These were not ordinary shepherds and these were not ordinary sheep. These shepherds cared for the sheep that would be offered for sacrifice. V. 10-11
They celebrated Christmas with good tidings and great joy. The deliverer had been born.
-John 1:11 indicates that He w …

By Rex Yancey.

Featured Video Illustration

The House of Bread and War?.


The word Bethlehem has a double meaning. It signifies, “the house of bread” and, “the house of war.” Ought not Jesus Christ to be born in “the house of bread”? He is the Bread to His people! As our fathers ate manna in the wilderness, so do we live on Jesus here below! Famished by the world, we cannot feed on its shadows.

In that blessed Bread of Heaven, made of the bruised body of our Lord Jesus and baked in the furnace of His agonies, we find a blessed food! There is no food like Jesus to the desponding soul or to the strongest saint! The very meanest of the family of God goes to Bethlehem for bread—and the strongest man, who eats strong meat, goes to Bethlehem for it, too.

But it is also called, “the house of war” because Christ is to a person either “the house of bread,” or else, “the house of war.” While He is food to the righteous, He causes war to the wicked, according to His own words—“think not that I am come to send peace on the earth; I am not come to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, the daughter against her mother and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”

And now for that word Ephratah. That was the old name of the place which the Jews retained and loved. The meaning of it is, “fruitfulness,” or, “abundance.” It is fitting that Jesus was born in the house of fruitfulness, for where comes my fruitfulness and your fruitfulness but from Bethlehem?

Adapted from Spurgeon’s Sermons, The Incarnation and Birth of Christ (No. 57), by Charles Spurgeon.

By Charles Spurgeon

Christmas Words.


Words Associated With Christianity and the Christmas Season.

When we think of Christmas, certain thoughts and images instantly come to mind. Familiar sights, sounds, flavors, colors, and words each resonate with impressions of the season. This collection of Christmas words contains terms specifically associated with the Christian faith. I’ve begun this list as an ongoing project to be updated with new Christmas words each year.

Incidentally, the word Christmas is derived from the Old English expression Cristes Maesse, meaning “Christ’s mass” or “Mass of Christ.”

Advent

The distinctly Christmas word Advent comes from the Latin adventus, which means “arrival” or “coming,” particularly of something having great importance. Advent denotes the season of preparation before Christmas, and for many Christian denominations it marks the beginning of the church year. During this time, Christians make themselves spiritually ready for the coming or birth of Jesus Christ.

Angels

Angel StatueImage: © Bill Fairchild
Angels played a major role in the Christmas story. First, the angelGabriel appeared to the newly engaged Mary to announce that she would soon conceive a son by the power of the Holy Spirit. Next, just after her husband-to-be, Joseph, was stunned with the news of Mary’s pregnancy, an angel appeared to him in a dream, explaining that the child in Mary’s womb was conceived by the Spirit of God, that his name would be Jesus and that he was the Messiah. And, of course, a great host of angelic beings appeared to shepherds tending flocks near Bethlehem to announce that the Savior had been born.

Bethlehem

Church of the NativityPhoto: Getty Images
The prophet Micah foretold that Messiah, Jesus Christ, would be born in the humble town of Bethlehem. And just as he prophesied, it came to pass. Joseph, being from the family line of King David, was required to return to his hometown of Bethlehem to register for a census decreed by Caesar Augustus. While in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to Jesus. Bethlehem is perhaps the most treasured location in all of biblical history.

Census

CensusImage: © Bill Fairchild
One long-familiar census in the Bible held an important role in our Savior’s birth. Yet, there are several other censuses recorded in Scripture. The book of Numbers, for example, acquired its name from the two military censuses taken of the people of Israel. Learn the biblical meaning of census and discover where each numbering took place in the Bible.

Immanuel

Nativity PlayPhoto: Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images
The word Immanuel, first mentioned by the prophet Isaiah, means “God is with us.” Isaiah predicted that a savior would be born of a virgin and would live with his people. More than 700 years later, Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled that prophecy when he was born in a stable in Bethlehem. Discover how God lived with his people as Immanuel then and still does today.

Epiphany

Orthodox Christians Celebrate EpiphanyPhoto: David Silverman / Getty Images
Epiphany, also called “Three Kings Day” and “Twelfth Day,” is commemorated on January 6. The word epiphany means “manifestation” or “revelation” and is commonly linked in Western Christianity with the visit of the wise men (Magi) to the Christ child. This holiday falls on the twelfth day after Christmas, and for some denominations signals the conclusion of the twelve days of the Christmas season. Although many different cultural and denominational customs are practiced, in general, the feast celebrates the manifestation of God in the form of human flesh through Jesus Christ, his Son.

Frankincense

FrankincensePhoto: Daisy Gilardini / Getty Images
Frankincense is the gum or resin of the Boswellia tree, used for making perfume and incense. The Hebrew word for it is labonah, which means “white,” referring to the gum’s color. The English word frankincensecomes from a French expression meaning “free incense” or “free burning.” But when the wise men brought frankincense to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem, it was certainly not free. Rather, this gift was a very costly and precious substance, and it held special significance. Frankincense predicted the unique role the ascended Jesus would play in heaven, on behalf of humanity.

Hallelujah

Hallelujah Chorus ScoreImage: © Bill Fairchild
Hallelujah is an exclamation of praise and worship transliterated from two Hebrew words meaning “Praise ye the Lord.” Although the expression has become quite popular today, it was used rather sparingly in the Bible. Nowadays, hallelujah is recognized as a Christmas word thanks to German composer George Frideric Handel(1685-1759). His timeless “Hallelujah Chorus” from the masterpiece oratorio Messiah has become one of the best-known and widely loved Christmas presentations of all time.

Jesus

Prince of Peace by AkianeImage Courtesy ofwww.artakiane.com
Our Christmas word list would not be complete without the inclusion ofJesus Christ–the precise reason for the Christmas season. The name Jesus is derived from the Hebrew-Aramaic word Yeshua, meaning “Yahweh [the Lord] is salvation.” The name Christ is actually a title for Jesus. It comes from the Greek word Christos, meaning “the Anointed One,” or “Messiah” in Hebrew. While most Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day (December 25), the exact date of his birth is unknown.

Joseph

JosephPhoto: Getty Images
Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, was a major player in the Christmas story. The Bible says Joseph was a righteous man, and certainly his actions surrounding the birth of Jesus revealed a great deal about his strength of character and integrity. Could this be why God honored Joseph, choosing him to be Messiah’s earthly father?

Magi

The Magi with Mary and Baby JesusPhoto: The Palma Collection / Getty Images
The Three Kings, or Magi, followed a mysterious star to find the young Messiah, Jesus Christ. God warned them in a dream that the child might be murdered, and told them how to protect him. Beyond this, very few details are given about these men in the Bible. Most of our ideas about them actually come from tradition or speculation. Scripture does not reveal how many wise men there were, but it is generally assumed three, since they brought three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Mary

Mary the Mother of JesusImage: Public Domain
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was only a young girl, probably just 12 or 13, when the angel Gabriel came to her. She had recently become engaged to a carpenter named Joseph. Mary was an ordinary Jewish girl looking forward to marriage, when suddenly her life changed forever. A willing servant, Mary trusted God and obeyed his call–perhaps the most important calling ever given to a human being.

Myrrh

MyrrhPhoto: Alison Miksch/FoodPix/Getty Images
Myrrh was an expensive spice used in ancient times for making perfume, incense, medicine, and for anointing the dead. It appears three times in the life of Jesus Christ. At his birth, it was one of the costly gifts presented to Jesus by the wise men. Learn a few facts about myrrh, a mysterious spice from the Bible.

Nativity

Nativity of JesusPhoto: Thomas Northcut / Getty Images
The word Nativity comes from the Latin term nativus, which means “born.” It refers to the birth of a person and also the facts of their birth, such as the time, place, and situation. The Bible mentions the nativity of several prominent characters, but today the term is used primarily in connection with the birth of Jesus Christ. At Christmas time “nativity sets” are commonly used to depict the manger scene where Jesus was born.

Star

The Star of Bethlehem DVDImage: © Courtesy Mpower Pictures
A mysterious star played an unusual role in the Christmas story. TheGospel of Matthew tells how wise men from the East traveled thousands of miles doggedly following a star to the place of Jesus’ birth. When they found the child with his mother, they bowed and worshiped the newborn Messiah, presenting him with gifts. To this day, a 14-pointed silver Star of Bethlehem in the Church of the Nativity marks the spot where Jesus was born.

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