Here we are. December 24th, 2016. Right about now there are millions of people around the world taking part in Christmas festivities. While these Christmas celebrations are wonderful experiences, it's easy for the true message of the season to get lost amidst all of the hustle and bustle. So, let's take a trip 2000 years back in time- before the spiked eggnog that'll make you do things you'll regret, before Christmas became synonymous with Mariah Carey, and definitely before those children who whine about getting only 29 presents on Christmas morning.
It's a busy night in Bethlehem. Caesar, the Roman emperor, sent out a decree for a kingdom-wide census, so everyone in the land has been travelling back to their hometown over the past few days. You've seen many families journeying from far and wide, and the flood of new faces makes your mother and father very happy. They tell you the census means good business for the inn, and then rush you off to grab a few supplies from your family's stable. You set the supplies down on your father's desk, and sneak away to climb the hill next to the inn to do some stargazing, as you usually do. When you finally get to the apex, you take a moment to bask in the beauty of the view. The navy blue night sky stretches as far as the eye can see, and the city is dimly lit by the constellations. As the whispering of the wind slowly fades away, you roll your tattered shawl into a make-shift headrest, and gaze at the wonderfully illuminated night sky. You proceed to locate the constellations that your parents taught you when you were younger...Andromeda, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Cancer...but you happen upon a star that you don't recognize. It shines brightly- unusuallybright. Intrigued, you grab your shawl, and follow the star all the way down the hill. When you reach the valley, you notice that the star rests above your family's stable. Disappointed, you make your way towards the inn.
You've just about reached the doorstep of the inn, when you hear a man's voice calling out to you in the distance, "Hello! Is anyone there? Please, I need help! My betrothed is pregnant, and she's about to deliver! There are no available rooms at any of the inns in the city. Please, help her!" You run to the family, tell them that your parents own an inn, and that you might be able to accommodate them. You rush into the inn with the growing family, and tell your mother and father the news. With a heavy heart, your father turns to you and says privately, "Child, we have no more rooms left. We can't help these people." Shattered at the idea of turning away a woman in labour, your mother says to your father, "We can give them the stable in the back. It's not much, but we can't let her give birth in the streets." You run to the couple and tell them the good news. The man responds saying, "Thank you so much. We really appreciate it. My name is Joseph, and this is Mary." They follow you to your family's stable, and watch as you frantically try to clean up the place. You find a manger filled with food and hay. You quickly dump the contents out, and fill the manger with cloth that your mother hands to you. You step out of the stable with your father and Joseph, and wait patiently as your mother assists Mary in labour. Minutes later, you hear the crying of a baby, and your mother calls out to you, Joseph, and your father, "Come and see." You and your father carefully enter the stable behind Joseph, and find the baby wrapped in swaddling cloth, completely content in the arms of His mother. You sit down right beside Mary, and get a good look at the baby. He's the cutest baby you've ever seen. There's something special about Him, but you can't quite put your finger to it. You turn to Mary, and ask her, "What's His name?" Smiling, she looks up at you, and says, "Jesus."
Suddenly, you remember the star that you saw earlier tonight. You run outside of the stable to see if the star is still there- and there it is, shining as bright as ever. You look back at the baby and smile. He smiles back at you.
"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6