Sunday, December 25, 2011

Once in David’s royal city

About 2000 years ago, in the town of Nazareth, lived a young and God fearing woman named Mary. She was betrothed to Joseph, a descendant of King David. One day an angel appeared and told her that she will be blessed with a child. She was terrified and asked how that could be possible as she was unmarried? To which the angel said that she has found favour in the eyes of God and she would bear the son of God. Mary, jubilant yet fearful, accepted God’s will.

When Joseph came to know that Mary was pregnant, he was worried and thought that he would break off the engagement quietly as he was a righteous man. But that night an angel appeared before him in dream and told him to take Mary home as his wife as she was with the Holy Spirit. The angel said that Mary would give birth to a son and they were to call him Jesus. Joseph obeyed and took Mary home as his wife.

Caesar Augustus announced that a census would be taken, of the whole empire. Judea in those times was a province of the Roman Empire and so Joseph set out with Mary to his hometown of Bethlehem, the ancient royal city of King David, to register their names. The journey was long and tiring as Mary was nearing the term of her pregnancy. At last they reached their destination and to their dismay they found that every inn had been filled up and there was not a single room left for them to stay. Seeing the state Mary was in, an innkeeper told them they could stay in the manger, where they would be sheltered from the cold night and there would be hay to sleep on. So they went into the manger, made themselves comfortable and during the night Mary gave birth to baby Jesus.

Just then, out in the pastures, some shepherds were keeping a watch over their flocks. The angels appeared before them and announced the good news of great joy for all people, that in the town of David, a savior had been born. They hurried off and found the baby, with Mary and Joseph, in a manger.

Meanwhile in Jerusalem, King Herod was in a state of anxiety as he heard the news that wise men from the east countries ware looking for a newborn child who would be the king of the Jews. King Herod was not well liked by his subjects. He was fearful that any news like this would pose serious threat to his position. So he summoned the wise men to ask them about their search. They told him that they had been reading the stars and had seen a sign that portended the birth of the king of Jews and they had come to honour him. King Herod was afraid and thought of killing the baby but he told the wise men to inform him of the child so that he too could worship him. So they went in search of the baby Jesus following the star they had seen which came to rest above a manger in Bethlehem. They found the baby being worshipped by the shepherds and they join in, honouring him with precious gifts fit for a king.

With no news from the wise men, as the angels had informed them of the king’s intention, King Herod ordered the killing of all children under the age of two as he meant to do away with a powerful threat to his throne. Meanwhile, Joseph had escaped with his family to Egypt and stayed there till Herod’s death.

All these came to pass as foretold in the Holy Scriptures. The Son of God was born in a lowly manger in the town of David, surrounded by terror, with wondrous display of God’s love for his children.

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