The Christmas Story
Around 2500 years before the birth of Jesus a prophet named Balaam who lived in the Middle East had prophesied that a great king would be born one day whose kingship would be an everlasting one. To confirm that Jesus was that king a new star appeared in the sky from the moment Jesus was born and remained there until its purpose was fulfilled.
Mary was a young pious girl living in the town of Nazareth in northern Israel who was engaged to a devout man named Joseph living in the same town but they were not yet married. God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary and told her that He had chosen her to be the mother of His son. When Mary inquired how a virgin unmarried girl would bear a child the angel Gabriel replied that the power of God would come upon her and that she would get pregnant bearing the son of God. Initially Mary was fearful because according to the religious law at that time any woman found pregnant before marriage was stoned to death publicly. However trusting in the power of God she humbly agreed. The Holy Spirit the power of God came upon her and she became pregnant.
When Joseph came to know about the pregnancy he decided to abandon Mary quietly since he was a good person. However sent by God the angel Gabriel appeared to him in a dream and explained to him the divine plan. Joseph humbly agreed to accept Mary as his wife and to take care of mother and child. Therefore he is known as the foster father of Jesus.
During the last month of Mary’s pregnancy the emperor of Rome Augustus ordered to conduct a census of the Roman Empire. All people were commanded to return to their native places and register their names. So Joseph with his pregnant wife Mary had to travel from Nazareth in northern Israel to Bethlehem in southern Israel which was his native place. Since they were poor the only mode of transport they could afford was a donkey. Since many people had returned home all the hotels and inns were full. When they reached Bethlehem the time for the birth of the child was near and it was night time but nobody was willing to give them place to stay. Finally they had to settle in a small crib where the animals like cattle, sheep, etc. were tied. So Jesus was born in a crib and placed in a manger for that was the only thing available.
There was a group of devout shepherds in the neighborhood guarding their flock during the night. A choir of a multitude of angels appeared to them singing glories to God and informed them that the promised saviour of God whom they were eagerly awaiting was born in Bethlehem. The stunned shepherds immediately left in search of the child and found him in a crib placed in a manger. They knelt before him and adored him.
The Three Kings
Three wise men from the east of noble lineage saw the star in the sky and realized that the prophecy of prophet Balaam was being fulfilled. They immediately left their homes and followed the star. They travelled by camels towards the west in search of the new king. The star led them to Bethlehem where they found the child Jesus. They bowed before him to pay homage due to a king and offered gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The Advent Wreath
The central white candle symbolizes Jesus who is the light of the world. The circle of green leaves symbolizes eternal life. The other 4 candles highlight the virtues of hope, faith, joy and peace.
The Good News
So God’s promise to the people of Israel that He would send the ‘Anointed One’ (‘Messiah’ in Hebrew or ‘Christ’ in Greek) to save them was fulfilled on the birthday of Jesus which is popularly known as Christmas. Everything that the prophets had prophesied was fulfilled in the life of Jesus. According to the plan of God Jesus lived a holy earthly life, offered himself as a sacrifice on the cross on behalf of all creation, died, was buried in a tomb and on the third day rose from the dead. After promising all his followers that he would come back to take them with him He went back to heaven. The Bible says whoever believes in who Jesus is and what he has done and accepts Him as his Saviour and God receives complete forgiveness of all sins and the gift of eternal life in heaven.
Everything about the life of Jesus was foretold by the prophets hundreds of years before his birth. To know the complete story of Jesus read the Bible.
Saint Nicholas was a pious follower of Jesus Christ who lived in the 4th century. He was the bishop of Myra in modern Turkey and was known for giving gifts to children secretly by night. He is affectionately remembered as Santa Claus.