Once upon a time, long, long ago, there lived a young lady named Mary. Mary was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph. Before they were married, and while she was still a virgin, Mary was found to be with child. God sent an angel named Gabriel to explain to Mary what was happening. Gabriel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.” Mary asked, “How can this be since I have not known a man?” And the angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”

Joseph, being a just man, and not wanting to make Mary a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Now it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered to pay taxes. Everyone went to the city they were from to be registered. Joseph went from Nazareth, in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David. Mary accompanied him. So, while they were there in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to deliver her baby. Because so many had come to Bethlehem to register, there was no room for Mary and Joseph in the inn. So, Mary brought forth her first born Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger.

Now there were in the same country shepherds out in the fields watching over their sheep by night. An angel of the Lord appeared before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were greatly afraid. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall 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 a sign to you. You will find a Babe wrapped in saddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 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!”

After the angel left them, the shepherds went to Bethlehem to see this great thing that had happened. Just as they had been told, there they found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they told everyone what they had been told about this Child. All who heard them marveled at those things. The shepherds returned home glorifying and praising God for what they had seen and heard. Others, including wise men from the East, came to see Jesus too.

While many fun and interesting stories have sprung up around Christmas, this is the real story of Christmas. I wish each and every one of you a blessed merry Christmas.

— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal Wednesday edition. Visit brobillybob.com for more information.

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