A New Year’s Invitation

Jesus issued this invitation, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Mt.11: 28). It was also He that spoke from heaven, "I am the Root and the offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star" (Rev.22: 16). Jesus, the ascended Lord, linked two important events that took place on Christmas. The oracle of Balaam, "I see him but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel" (Nu.24: 17). Jacob blessed Judah, "The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until it comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his" (Gen.49: 10). Then there was the remarkable fulfillment by the Magi. "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews (Judah)? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him" (Mt.2: 2). Let us note, were the Magi expecting to find the baby king in king Herod's royal palace?

How Christmas Began #10

I am Rachel of Ramah and mother of Joseph and Benjamin. I am weeping with Leah, my sister of Bethlehem, mother of the Jews (Judah). Yes, we are crying because our daughters are crying for their children that were taken from us by the brutal hands of Esau's son Herod. They were taken from us before they could become boys, teens and young men. They left nothing to remember them for, nor can we honor their names. They might as well never have been, nor caused us pain when they were born. You ask us, "Who or what has caused us such sorrow?" It happened because we kept our Christ Child and Christmas and our hope of redemption alive. We sacrificed our children so that "Jeshua" could complete His mission. You ask, "How can you weep when you no longer live?" But, we do live in the spirit and see what mortals do not. That is why we weep with the mothers whose hearts are being pierced by their losses.

A Dad for Christmas

We are thinking of Joseph, husband of Mary and surrogate father of Jesus. He is a forgotten or overlooked person that played the most important role in the birth and early life of Jesus. What kind of a man would it take to care for a child that posed a threat to the establishment, in particularly to king Herod? And why do we hear so little about Joseph at Christmas?

How Christmas Began #9

We were fascinated by the stars and spent our lives studying them. We believed that every important event in history had its leading star. We also believed that the Gods were guiding these stars. Most of the stars were not visible to naked human eyes. We were able with mirrors to penetrate deeper into the galaxy of innumerable stars. We observed that some of the more distant stars would travel closer to the earth and display a greater brightness. Over the years, we got to know quite a few stars. In fact, we were prepared to travel anywhere in the world by just following the stars. We were professional students and traveled in groups to discourage bandits and marauders. That was how we made our living and we were handsomely paid for our service. We were advisors to kings and queens. We were highly regarded and even called "Magi" or "Great Ones."

How Christmas Began #8

I was called Anna, but my real name was Hanah. It was sort of descriptive of me. In the language of my Hebrew ancestors my name stood for "grace." Believe me, I had to learn to be gracious. It was not easy. I was a very young bride and after seven years of marriage I lost my husband. Now I am eighty-four. All these years, I remained a widow. I was not able nor was I interested in a second marriage. Good men were scarce and bad ones were unfaithful and unreliable. My husband gave his life for the freedom of Israel. He had believed in the redemption of Israel but he followed a false deliverer. He was not of God. Had he been then the death of my husband would have been reward enough. So many of our men were being misled and ended in an early grave. The Romans were too many and too powerful to be driven from our land. What we needed was another Moses or another King David.

How Christmas Began #7

I am Simeon. I was named after my ancestor and founder of the tribe of Simeon, second son of Jacob and Leah. My name means, "the Lord has heard." Indeed, He heard the prayers of Leah, the mother of my tribe, but He also heard my prayers. All my life, I hoped that the Lord would let me see His Deliverer. I had devoted my life to righteous living. I opened my heart constantly to the prompting of God' Spirit. I always sensed His presence. There were times I even could hear Him whisper. It was a message of reassurance that I should believe Moses and the Prophets. God would send us a man with His Spirit who would bring comfort (relief) to my people Israel. But my concern was, "when Lord, when Lord will you send us such a man?" How long must we wait before deliverance shall come? I was disturbed with the way my fellow men had obliterated the Law and the Prophets. Foreigners were running our country and our leaders profited from the poor. We had a king that detested us and hunted down anyone that wanted reform or to a return to the days of our great and godly king David. King Herod, our self-imposed king, kept up killing babies that were suspected to be the rightful heirs to the throne of David, especially in the surrounding area of Bethlehem where David came from. Those were some of the reasons why I wanted a sign that the Lord God would once more step into our nation's destiny and deliver us from this grave evil.

How Christmas Began #6

It all happened unexpectedly. How was I to know what heaven had planned for my place? Caesar had ordered our people to return to their place of origin to be counted for taxes. I could not possibly pay all the taxes for the people that had left Bethlehem, the birthplace of King David. I liked what the Roma Emperor had ordered. It was a good and fair decree regarding taxation. There was another reason I had not given much attention. It was the rumor that our Redeemer was on His way and that He would arrive in Bethlehem. Both the Romans and our false King Herod were keeping watch over us. I did not expect that my humble place would attract the Prophet Moses had promised would come. Then, why would He come as a simple man from Galilee with a young pregnant wife riding on a donkey? What better disguise could anyone have used in order not to arouse suspicion?

For Christmas, Jesus wants more of us!

Magi worshipped the baby king, "Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh" (Mt.2: 11). In Church we sang often, "I want more of Jesus." What more do we want of Jesus? Has He not given us all He was and had? He left heaven to come to earth and die for our sins on a shameful cross (Phil.2: 6-11). What are we giving Jesus for Christmas?

How Christmas Began #5

It was a cold and starry night. Several of us huddled together for shelter and safety. We were shepherds. We guarded our flocks by night from larger animals like wolves and lions. It was a proud profession. Our great King David was a shepherd. From him we learned that it was dangerous to watch sheep alone. We were not as brave as David was when he faced a lion. But several of us deterred lions from attacking our sheep. We also had dogs that assisted us in watching. We felt quite safe and did not expect any diversions.