The Story of Christmas

In those days Caesar Augustus(A) issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.(B) 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.)(C) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem(D) the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him(E) and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel(F) of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.(G) I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior(H) has been born to you; he is the Messiah,(I) the Lord.(J) 12 This will be a sign(K) to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,     and on earth peace(L) to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.(M) 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.(N) 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God(O) for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child,(P) he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.(Q)

Jesus Presented in the Temple

22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses,(R) Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”[b]),(S) 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”[c](T)

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout.(U) He was waiting for the consolation of Israel,(V) and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required,(W) 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,(X)     you may now dismiss[d] your servant in peace.(Y) 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,(Z) 31     which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,     and the glory of your people Israel.”(AA)

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother:(AB) “This child is destined to cause the falling(AC) and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

36 There was also a prophet,(AD) Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[e](AE) She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.(AF) 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.(AG)

39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth.(AH) 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.(AI)

–Luke Chapter 2

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  1. arizona today

    Merry Tifton: A modern day parable

    by Dr. D. James Kennedy,
    Coral Ridge Ministries
    used with permission

    Long ago and far away, there lived an incredibly wealthy and generous man named John Beresford Tifton. Mr. Tifton had the strange habit of donating one million dollars to individuals of his choice. He would send his secretary, Michael Anthony, to deliver the gift of $1,000,000 to an unsuspecting individual. That fortunate person would also be adopted into Mr. Tifton’s family and given his name, instantly elevating each one to a new level of prestige he or she could never had acquired alone. In his will, Mr. Tifton instructed that his vast estate be used to continue this practice down through the years. First dozens, then hundreds, and finally thousands all over the world benefitted from the generosity of Mr. John Tifton.

    As the centuries passed, those who had received the gift began to gather in groups to celebrate the birth of their great benefactor. The celebrations were so much fun that soon non-Tiftons began to celebrate Tifton’s birthday too. After all, it occurred in mid-winter, a very drab time of year, and the celebrations brightened things up a bit. Before long almost everyone was celebrating Tifton Day, and in some countries it even became a national holiday.

    Many years later, on a Tifton Eve, two gentlemen from Mr. Tifton’s native country arrived in New York. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could find a Tifton with whom we could celebrate tomorrow?” one commented. The other replied, “Ah yes! But it is highly unlikely that in so short a time we should be so fortunate”. (In Mr. Tifton’s home country the celebrations of his birthday had continued in their purity: only those who had received the gift entered into them.) Thus, the two Tiftons were quite unprepared for what happened next.

    As they walked down Fifth Avenue, they heard someone cry “Merry Tifton!” Startled to find another Tifton so soon, they turned to pinpoint the man. Suddenly, they heard a whole chorus of voices shouting, “Merry Tifton and a Happy New Year!” and before they knew it, they had been invited to a Tifton Eve celebration. They were amazed! Mr. Tifton had certainly been incredibly generous in the number of gifts he had bestowed upon America!

    The celebration was in full swing when the two Tiftons arrived. Inside they heard the tinkling of glasses, raucous laughter, and music blaring through loudspeakers. Wispy clouds of smoke wafted throughout the crowded rooms. Some of the guests were staggering about, actually drunk! The two Tiftons were bewildered. Mr. Tifton would never have approved of such conduct; it certainly did not honor his memory.

    They got the attention of the man nearest them and asked, “Excuse us, please. Pray tell us, sir, when did you receive your million dollars from Mr. Tifton?”

    “My million dollars? What are you talking about? I had to borrow $300 just to buy Tifton presents this year.”

    The friends looked at each other and said, “Could you tell us, then, why are you celebrating Tifton?”

    “Well, as I understand, Mr. Tifton’s life is written up in a book. Tifton made heaps of money and in this book he tells others how to do it. If we follow his techniques we’ll all be rich too someday. I’ve never read the book myself, but that’s what I’ve heard.”

    The Tiftons were stunned. They found another man to speak to. “Excuse us, sir, but could you tell us why you are celebrating Tifton?”

    “Why, Tifton is a wonderful, old tradition that I’ve celebrated all my life; that’s why.”

    Their perplexity continued, but they collared one more man in hope of finding out what Tifton Day meant to these people.

    “Excuse me, Mr. Tifton, my friend and I are Tiftons, and we would like to get a better understanding of your celebration in this country. It seems so…”

    “Tifton? My name isn’t Tifton. What a coincidence that both your names are Tifton. You must get kidded a lot this time of year.”

    “Yes, of course,” they replied. “But why do you celebrate Tifton?”

    “Well, some people claim there was this fellow Tifton who lived a long time ago, but the truth is that we really don’t know. In fact, we’re pretty sure now that he didn’t live at all. But anyway, Tifton had a habit of giving presents to people. It’s only a fable, but it’s a nice idea, so we picked up on it.”

    “So you don’t believe that Tifton lived and gave life-changing gifts to people?”

    “No, but like I said, it’s a nice idea.”

    Thoroughly bewildered, the two men heard a knock at the door. When no one answered, it opened, and in stepped the perennial descendant of Michael Anthony, briefcase in hand. The two friends looked at each other with joy. Tonight, at this party, someone was going to receive the gift! At least one person would come to know what Tifton Day was all about.

    Mr. Anthony said, “Excuse me, please,” but no one paid him any attention; the music was so loud he could hardly be heard. Trying to talk over all the laughter and hubbub of the party, he spoke again: “I beg your pardon, but I have here with me . . . ” His voice was drowned out. He stepped to the closest man, tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Pardon me, sir, but I represent . . .”

    The fellow interrupted, “Hey, we don’t do business on Tifton Eve. Here, have a drink and celebrate. Merry Tifton to you!”

    Dumbfounded by the disregard he received, Mr. Anthony left as unnoticed as he had entered. No one received the gift. The Tifton Eve celebration went on – undisturbed.

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