New International Version
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
While they were there, 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.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
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."
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,
and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.
The ABC's of CHRISTMAS!
A is for Angels with Halos so bright
Whose carols were heard on the first Christmas Night.
B is for Baby, the Christ Child so dear,
We celebrate Christmas, His birthday each year.
C is for Churches where candles burn bright
And shed a warm glow on Christmas Eve Night.
D is for Doorways with garlands of green
That make Christmas merry wherever they're seen.
E is for Evergreen garlands galore
That we hang on our windows and fireplace and door.
F is for Frosty the Snowman so white,
Who helps make the season merry and bright.
G is for Greetings, a merry Hello!
With a heart full of love for people we know.
H is for Holly with berries so red,
To make garlands to hang over your head.
I is for Ice on snow-covered hills,
Where sledding is fun along with the spills!
J is for Jingle Bells merrily ringing,
Filling the air with the joy they are bringing.
K is for Kris Kringle, so merry he stands,
That's what they call Santa in some other lands.
L is for Lanterns, whose bright shining light
Helped Mary and Joseph on the first Christmas Night.
M is for Music, much joy it will bring
On Christmas Eve as sweet carolers sing.
N is for Noel the Angels did sing
To herald the birth of Jesus our King.
O is for Ornaments hung on the tree,
To sparkle and glitter for all to see.
P is for Presents in packages gay,
All under the tree on Christmas Day.
Q is for Quiet Christmas Eve night,
With the snow-covered hills glistening bright.
R is for Reindeer who help Santa carry
Presents to make all the children so merry!
S is for Shepherds who first saw the Star
Over Bethlehem's manger and followed afar.
T is for Tree that we decorate bright
Then wait for Santa on Christmas night.
U is for Universe - the whole wide world,
May Christmas bring joy to each boy and girl.
V is for Vixen, a happy reindeer,
Who helps Santa bring all those presents each year.
W is for Wise Men who brought gifts so rare
And knelt down and worshiped the Christ Child there.
X is for Xmas, some spell it that way,
But we prefer Christ at the head of our day.
Y is for Yule Logs whose bright sparks fly high
And give a warm welcome to friends passing by.
Z is the last of the Letters and yet,
It's the only one in the whole Alphabet
That doesn't stand for something you see
And usually find on a Christmas tree!
But we have to include it to make things complete,
So here at the end let us repeat,
What Santa said as he drove out of sight...
"MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL
AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!!!"
Each December I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience. I had cut back on nonessential obligations: extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending.
Yet I still found myself exhausted, unable to fully appreciate the precious family moments, and, of course, the true meaning of Christmas.
My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six-year-old. For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's Winter Pageant. I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the production.
Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher who assured me there would be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then.
Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise. So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early and found a seat in the cafeteria. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats.
As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.
Because the public school system had stopped referring to the holiday as "Christmas" I didn't expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment: songs about reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes, and good cheer. So when my son's class rose to sing "Christmas Love" I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.
Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, who were adorned in fuzzy mittens and red sweaters, with bright stocking caps on their heads.
Those in the front row, center stage, held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing "C is for Christmas" a child would hold up the letter "C." Then, "H is for Happy," and on and on, until each child holding his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love."
The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly we noticed her: a small, quiet girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down. She was unaware that reversed, her letter "M" appeared as a "W."
The audience of first- through sixth-graders snickered at this little one's mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, and she stood tall, proudly holding her "W."
Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together.
A hush came over the audience, and eyes began to widen. In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos there was a purpose for our festivities.
When the last letter was held high,the message read clear: "CHRIST WAS LOVE."
And I believe He still is.