The Story of Christmas: Part I

The angel Gabriel appears to the virgin Mary in 1898′s ‘The Annunciation’ by Pennsylvania artist Henry Ossawa Tanner

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, even as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses of these happenings. (Luke 1:1-2) For as with one, death entered into the world, so too with One, life was returned. (Romans 5:12) It is upon these events that all our hope rests.Over two thousand years have passed since these accounts took place, in the distant land of Judea. Yet these occurrences have changed the course of all life upon the face of the earth. For it was upon this night that hope returned to a fallen race, destined for destruction.

The night was cool and fair. Shadows were cast about the room as the moon rose to meet the starlit sky. A gentle breeze blew in through the open window as the young girl lay quietly upon her mat. Suddenly a light grew in the heavens, moving swiftly toward the town of Nazareth in Galilee, and to the little house where the virgin slept. The burnished rays drew near until the radiance filled the room.

Mary, this young girl, promised in marriage to the man Joseph, this Mary, feeling a stirring in her soul, sat up. Light suffused her dwelling, driving the shadows from her room. She was moved at the strangeness of the moment. Her heart began to race; her breath came up short. Before her stood an angelic being, imbued with consuming splendor.

Entering in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

She took in a ragged breath as a tear escaped her eye, her mouth gapping as she began to tremble. His saying troubled her, as she considered what manner of greeting this was.

Then the angel spoke, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” His voice, rich and textured in beauty, flowed sweetly from his lips, caressing the air with its velvet resonance. The sound of her name spoken filled her with the warm feeling of being well known, as though this angelic personage had been by her side since she had taken her first breath.

Gathering her courage, Mary found her voice and spoke softly, “Who are you, lord?”

“I am Gabriel, sent by God. I am he who serves the Lord who is to be born. Five hundred years it has been since I gave this message to the man Daniel. I am here to proclaim that the time is now fulfilled.”

Mary let out the breath she had been holding. In awe and wonder she looked into the glory of the light.

Again the angel spoke as he smiled down at the trembling girl. “I come with a message of peace and hope for all peoples. You, my child, shall conceive and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus, a Savior to His people.”

As the angel spoke the name Jesus, a wave of peace flooded Mary’s soul; at the sound of this name, power entered the room, and she perceived that this name was not like any other she had heard. It was as freshness to the spirit, a cool breeze that engulfed her very being with newness and hope.

“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end. It is as the prophet spoke.”

“For unto us a Child is born,

Unto us a Son is given;

And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of His government and peace

There will be no end.”

                                                ~ Isaiah 9:6

Mary began to tremble, and in amazement questioned, “How can this be? For though I am betrothed to the man Joseph, I have not known him?”

And the angel answered and said to her, “This child born, this Son given, shall be conceived by the Holy Spirit, his body by direct creation pure and holy, the Son of the Living God. God manifest in the flesh, for with God nothing will be impossible.”

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:

The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son,

and will call him Immanuel.”

~Isaiah 7:14

So Mary, in submission and faith spoke, “Behold the willing servant of the Lord; let it be unto me according to thy word.”

Then the angel departed. Mary sat upon her mat in the darkness of her room, her hand resting upon her abdomen in expectant apprehension and thought of all that was to come. Softly she whispered, “Emmanuel, God with us.”

~ Susan