The first Christmas – series of posts

Front cover RGB (300)You are invited to follow the posts that tell the events leading up to and following the birth of Christ here on this blog. The posts are spaced a few days apart to help develop the feel of advent as well as to give the message time to settle on our hearts a little at a time as we re-experience the wonder of the birth of Jesus the Christ. A few posts are already up, so you may want to click here to find the first post. All posts are short so it won’t take long to catch up. Continue through the posts by clicking on the next title at the top of the post on the right (or the previous post title at the top left). Some of the posts will publish closer together beginning on Dec 23, to help re-enforce the moment-by-moment events in the Bible. To catch each post when it first come out, you may find it helpful to subscribe to the blog through your email using the sign-up window at the right.

Most of the illustrations come from the children’s book The First Christmas by Janice D. Green and illustrated by Violet Vandor. These posts are written with older children and teens in mind and include additional information that was omitted from the children’s book. These extra pages may have other illustrations or may go unillustrated.

Wise men present gifts to Christ Child and return home a different way

The First Christmas RGB28The wise men left King Herod in Jerusalem and started toward Bethlehem when they spotted their special star ahead of them in the sky.  Read it for yourself in Matthew 2:9-12.

What joy! The wise men were delighted to see their star, and it lead them to the very house where they found Mary and the Christ Child. They bowed down and worshiped the child and presented their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The wise men’s long journey and faithful search was rewarded as God led them directly to the Christ Child.

A careful reading of these verses tells us that when the wise men came, Mary and Joseph were living in a house, certainly better living quarters than the stable where Jesus was born. And it doesn’t take much reflection to realize that the wise men didn’t arrive the night Jesus was born. They saw the star from their homeland hundreds of miles away. There were no fast modes of travel in those days. We don’t know how long it took the wise men to make this journey. Reading ahead in the Matthew passage through verses 16-18, we find reason to believe Jesus might have been as much as two years old by the time the wise men arrived.

Click here for a video of The Three Wise Men. We love the many beautiful reenactments of the birth of Christ and the events surrounding the birth as they present the traditional story. But if we are serious about communing with God, we will not settle for what we learn from public media and traditional retelling. True wise men will seek God in the Scriptures that have held true through the centuries.

I wrote about Christmas hymns and carols in a post on another blog a few weeks ago pointing out more reasons why we need to trust the Bible instead of public knowledge about matters of our faith. Click here to read the post.

 

For younger children The First Christmas, by Janice D. Green, illustrated by Violet Vandor. Front cover RGB (300)

Wise men and King Herod

12 es flippedThe wise men traveled to Jerusalem and began asking the people where they might find the newborn king of the Jews. Read about this from the Bible in Matthew 2:1-8.

The wise men had traveled hundreds of miles across rugged country to the land of Judea. They eventually arrived in Jerusalem, the capitol city of the Jewish people where they asked where they might find the young king.

It didn’t take long for the power hungry King Herod to hear about these unusual visitors. He felt threatened with the very idea that a new king had been born. He called a meeting with the chief priests and the teachers of the law to learn where the promised king was to be born. They responded with a quote from the prophet Micah that the ruler would come out of Bethlehem in Judea.

King Herod sent word to the wise men and arranged to meet with them in secret. He asked them to search for the new king and then come back and tell him where he was so that he too might go and worship the child.

But it wasn’t worship that King Herod had in mind for the new king. King Herod was a very jealous man who had already killed his own sons because he considered them a threat to his throne.

For younger children The First Christmas, by Janice D. Green, illustrated by Violet Vandor. Front cover RGB (300)

Baby Jesus circumcised – prophets recognize him as the Messiah

33858610_sThe Christ Child was presented in the temple in Jerusalem when he was eight days old. He was circumcised and given the name Jesus. Two turtle doves were offered for a sacrifice for his purification. You can read about this in Luke 2:21-24.

We learn from the sacrifice of two doves that Mary and Joseph were poor. Had they been wealthy they would have sacrificed a lamb.

Two prophets recognized baby Jesus as the Christ while they were in the temple. One of them was Simeon, a righteous and devout man. The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he would not die before he had seen the promised Messiah.

You can read about Simeon in Luke 2:25-35. Simeon took baby Jesus in his arms and praised God. He told them that many people would love Jesus while many others would oppose him. And he told Mary that a sword would pierce her very soul.

The prophet Anna was a very old widow whose husband had died only seven years after they were married. From the time he died, she stayed in the temple day and night fasting and praying. She came along as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph; then she too began praising God and telling everyone about baby Jesus. You can read about Anna in Luke 2:36-38.

These prophecies must have been very encouraging to Mary and Joseph after what they had been through so far. God’s hand was there to reassure them that his promises would come to pass.

(Note: The wise men are still following the star to Bethlehem)

This passage was omitted from the children’s book, The First Christmas, by Janice D. Green, illustrated by Violet Vandor. Front cover RGB (300)