The Story of Christmas – posted here at the GrandWorks Foundation’s Good for the Soul blog – was contributed by Pastor Jim Lillibridge, Lead Pastor of the Urbana (Ohio) United Methodist Church. He is originally from Coshocton, Ohio and holds degrees from Morehead State University (BME) and The Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MDiv). He and his wife, Tammy, have been married for 35 years and have two grown sons, Matt (Haley) and Josh, and one grandson, Jacob. Jim and his wife, Tammy, reside in Urbana.
Like you, I enjoy all things Christmas. The movies, especially the classics shown atThe Gloria Theatre. The music. The decorations. The general spirit in the air. Santa, Rudolph and all of the other residents of the North Pole. But as much as we enjoy these things, we should never forget the true meaning of Christmas. The Story of Christmas is one of the greatest of all time.
You know the story, but let’s explore it a little, starting with a Bible verse you are probably familiar with:
“While they were [in Bethlehem], the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:6-7 NIV)
One of my favorite stories as it relates to Christmas is about a Shah from Persia. Centuries ago the land of Persia was ruled by a wise and beloved Shah who cared greatly for his people and desired only what was best for them. One day he disguised himself as a poor man and went to visit the public baths. The water for the baths was heated by a furnace in the cellar, so the Shah made his way to the dark place to sit with the man who tended the fire. The two men shared the coarse food, and the Shah befriended him in his loneliness. Day after day the ruler went to visit the man. The worker became attached to this stranger because he “came where he was”.
One day the Shah revealed his true identity, and he expected the man to ask him for a gift. Instead, he looked long into his leader’s face and with love and wonder in his voice said, “You left your palace and your glory to sit with me in this dark place, to eat my coarse food, and to care about what happens to me. On others you may bestow rich gifts, but to me you have given yourself!”
And herein lies the mystery of The Nativity. The word, nativity, comes from the Latin term, nativitas, which simply means birth. So, the story of The Nativity is the story about Jesus’ birth – His coming into our world. And as we think about what happened on that first Christmas morning, we are able to echo that fire tender’s sentiments. What a giant step God took in sending Jesus to us—from heaven to earth, from the worship of angels to the mocking of cruel men, from glory to humiliation! Yet, he did it all for you and me! Amazing!
Yes, the story of Christmas--The Nativity—is an amazing story. Yet, more amazing than the story itself is what God is able to accomplish through the coming of His Son. As John reminds us: “To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13 NIV) Now that’s amazing!
I hope this story inspires you to give of yourself, whether you are religious or not, and if so moved, come and see us every Sunday at the place where we celebrate The Nativity—the coming of Christ into our world and the salvation He brings to all who would “receive Him!”
God bless you and Merry Christmas!
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