31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 27 – Simeon and Anna in the temple

Rembrandt painting of Simeon at the Temple, painted in 1631

The first revelation that the Messiah had been born was told to the shepherds. Next, before the Wise Men arrived, the Messiah baby was recognized by Simeon and Anna in the temple. Mary and Joseph had traveled to Jerusalem, about six miles north of Bethlehem, to present the baby Jesus to the Lord. Luke tells us their story.

When the days of their purification (40 days) according to the law of Moses were finished, Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (just as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every firstborn male will be dedicated to the Lord) and to offer a sacrifice (according to what is stated in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons) – for a poor family.

There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple complex. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law, Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said:

Now, Master,
You can dismiss Your servant in peace,
as You promised.
For my eyes have seen Your salvation.
You have prepared it
in the presence of all peoples—
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and glory to Your people Israel.

His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about Him. Then Simeon blessed them and told His mother Mary: “Indeed, this child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed— and a sword will pierce your own soul (testifying that Mary would suffer at seeing her son’s crucifixion)—that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (those of the Pharisees, Sadducees and others).

There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and was a widow for 84 years. She did not leave the temple complex, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. At that very moment, she came up and began to thank God and to speak about Him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

– from Luke chapter 2

May you get to know this Jesus, the One that was sent as the Messiah to all the world.

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 26 – The shepherds tell their story

shepherds-with-mary-joseph

Christmas Day may be over but the Christmas story is just beginning. From the start of Genesis when sin was first introduced into the world, God has been telling us about the Savior. Not a day has gone by where there was not hope of a Messiah to come. It started with the Abrahamic covenant where God promised Abraham that all of the world would be blessed through his offspring. Then the Davidic covenant is where God promised that the Messiah would come from the line of David. Next, the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and Micah prophesied about the coming of the Messiah 700 years before it happened. And now we have the shepherds testimony.

And the shepherds came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.  Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them (from the angels) concerning this Child.  And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
Luke 2:16-20

May you believe in this season of miracles, from the virgin birth to the angels visiting the shepherds, and ponder them in your heart just like Mary. For with God, the Creator of our world, nothing is impossible – then or now.

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 25 – The angels announcement to the shepherds

christmasangelannouncingthebirthofjesus

“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

The angels first proclamation of the good news was to the shepherds who lived out in the fields of the same country, watching their flock at night. The angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone all around them.

When the angels had left, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”
From the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2

Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice,
Let the sea and what fills it resound;
Let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.
Psalm 96:11-12

Blessings to you this Christmas day!

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 24 – The birth of Jesus

jesus-joseph-and-mary

On a quiet unsuspecting night, the Savior came into the world. And the world has never been the same.

While Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough—because there was no room for them at the lodging place. – Luke 2:6-7

As the Christmas rush begins to quieten down, the stores are closing, the gifts are bought, and the world prepares to stop for a day, remember what this simple but profound birth means to our world.

No matter what you may be dealing with this Christmas season, and so many of us are, I pray that you will stop for a few minutes on this Christmas Eve and ask Jesus to surround you with His love and peace and hope. For Jesus truly is the reason for the holiday.

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 23 – Celebrations

Christmas Tree and Forest --- Image by © Jim Craigmyle/CORBIS

“I am Yahweh who sets you apart, the One who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God; I am Yahweh.” – Leviticus 22:32-33

God is to be revered and holy, but God also wants us to have joyful celebrations so that we may remember His good deeds and provisions, and to pass those traditions down to our families. God gave the Israelites many festivals and holy days in the Old Testament to set them apart as a people and to proclaim the glory of God to all. There were festivals for Passover, the Festival of Trumpets, the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Day of Atonement, Purim, and the Festival of Firstfruits just to name a few. Jesus also continued many of those traditions, and much of our tradition and culture today have those same roots.

The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated as a holiday on December 25th was in 336 AD, during the time of the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine.

The 16th century German preacher Martin Luther was thought to be the first one to bring a Christmas tree into the house for decoration. He said that seeing a star on the tree reminded him of Jesus, who left the stars of heaven to come to earth at Christmas.

The first Christmas card was started in the United Kingdom in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole who was interested in how the new public post office could be used by everyone.

The poinsettia flower and leaves are thought of as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. The white leaves represent his purity.

St. Nicholas was a Bishop in 4th century AD in Asia Minor, now called Turkey. His parents died when he was young and left him a lot of money. He had a reputation for helping the poor and giving secret gifts to people who needed it. What a legacy!

The custom of giving and receiving presents reminds us of the presents given to Jesus by the Wise Men – gold, frankincense and myrrh. And of course, the biggest present of all is Jesus! God loved the world so much, that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him may not be lost but have eternal life. John 3:16

May you remember the origins and traditions of the Christmas holiday as a way to celebrate the joy and life that comes from God.

* Merry Christmas *