The First Gift of Christmas

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Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there was a King who was very powerful. He was so powerful that He could do anything. Not only did He possess incredible power, but He also knew everything and had the ability to be everywhere all at the same time. He lived in what we might call a castle, but it was really a Temple with so many rooms that it was impossible for anyone to know just how many there were.

It was a beautiful, beautiful place with hangings on invisible walls, while the floor was as soft as velvet but made of pure gold so that you might want to just curl up on it. There were other things to see, however, like the wall hangings and other decorations that were utterly incredible. The hangings really looked like velvet, and oh, the colors, they took your breath away. There were purples and blues and reds and greens of all shades and they blended into a fantastic rainbow that hung above your head and could be seen from every corner of the Temple. Do excuse me for saying ‘corner’ because there actually were no corners in the Temple. How the King managed for the Temple to be so without corners, and so beautifully curved, so spacious and yet so warm was one of His majestic secrets. Everywhere one looked something was decorated with the sparkle of precious jewels that twinkled like stars.

(Sigh), so, so inviting.

I must tell you now that one day the King called all His people around Him to share with them the upcoming schedule. It was time, and He wanted everyone to know what was to happen quite soon. To be honest, there had been rumors floating about that something was soon to be revealed, and everyone was excited and curious. I must excuse myself for using the wrong words again. ‘People’ and ‘everyone’ are not really the correct words to use here because you see, the King was more than a King and His people weren’t really ‘people’ as we are accustomed because in reality they were angels. Now I suppose that will let you know exactly who the King was. As for the angels, there were big angels and small ones and some  in between ones too; and some were warriors who were cherubim. They protected the realm because there were some outside the Temple who would do damage to those within if they had opportunity. The other angels were seraphim. They were singers. They knew all the songs and could create new ones instantly when needed. All of the angels could sing. It was how they expressed their love and admiration for the King, and it was a means of worshiping and praising Him.

As they entered into the presence of the King, he was sitting upon His throne, surrounded by light. They approached Him in humility for they were awed to be in His presence. They waited quietly and reverently for Him to speak, and as He waited He viewed them with fondness and said, “my children,” and He paused. Some said that He fought tears, but others said, no, He was just gathering His words. All eyes focused on Him as they waited.

“We have come to the most important event in the existence of the world, and unfortunately to the heavenlies as well. You remember the circumstances I’m sure, how Satan insinuated himself into the directions for purity and influenced the first humans to sin. Consequently, he was included with man in the curse of sin. Everything was so perfect in that Garden,” He reminisced, “and I walked with Adam in the cool of the evening as we enjoyed the trees and the flowers that were blooming. The flowers filled the air with such fragrance; and the sound of the water as it flowed so peacefully through was idyllic, as if it accompanied in song the beauty that surrounded us.”

He heard their murmurs, “the evil one, the evil one.”

“Yes,” He said. “You are correct. I don’t like to remind you of his arrogance, but he has continued to cause multiple problems in the world. Adam and  Eve have not been his only casualties. I have been working these many years  since that time to implement the solution so that my work will always be without partiality. Satan’s aim has been to destroy all  that has been built. This type of work requires growth and time, and time is the catalyst that controls action on earth. All that I am able to reveal to you at this time is that he will not succeed!”

Cheers swelled among the angels and filled the assembly with joy.

The Father continued “He spreads his wicked poison to destroy the good hearts and intents of the humans who long to be with us here someday.  The time has come.  All is in readiness.  Prepare to say good-by to my Son.  No, no, don’t leave, He will come to you.”

The angelic host looked at each other in amazement.  It was unheard of that the Son would come to them.  They would gladly have gone to Him, but as another pointed out, there was no other place as large as the assembly room; and the angel who had spoken added,

“I expect He wanted to express Himself to all at once, don’t you?”  And there were murmurs of agreement.  Another whispered for all to hear,

“The Son has such a tender heart, He will be sad to leave.”  And another whispered,

“But why do you suppose our Father did not share the specifics of what is to happen as He usually does?  Surely we have our responsibilities to carry messages…”

But the voice of another angel interrupted and he was recognized as Michael, one of the archangels.  The assembly grew quiet to hear what Michael had to say.  In his calm, clear voice he continued,

“Are we not angels?” he asked, and he observed the nods of agreement.  “As you recall our former co-worker, Satan, is also an angel though he is fallen.  On this assignment you will be told only what is necessary to complete your task.  This will serve as a safeguard against any further knowledge of intent spreading to the evil one.  Don’t forget that he can change himself into an angel of light.  Be alert and continue to praise the Father.

Suddenly  they realized that the Son was before them and they gave Him their devoted attention.

“It is true,” He said, “I will leave you for a while to fulfill the words of the Prophets of old. I must go to do this work for the Father, just as you do works for Him here. Be sure that you do not cause problems for Him while I am gone,” and again there was the smile, an indication of His love for them, and then just like a breath of sweet air that cannot be seen, He was gone.

One lone voice was heard to whisper, “but how is His work to be done as He is all alone?”  and the Father focused on the one who had asked and with His eyes He drew him forward, until he was sitting on His knee.

“Do not be concerned little, one, I will always be with Him, and I promise to share as much as it is wise to share with you regarding what is happening. As you understand already, I am sending my Son to those whose habitation is earth; He will show them of righteousness and goodness and will demonstrate for them the grace of God. He will also show them my love and let them know that I yearn for their return to me and for their steadfast loyalty.”

Cheers erupted in the assembly, and then another voice; “will they come back with the Son?  He will come back, won’t he, Father?”

And all sound quickly evaporated, not even the gentle wind whispered as they waited for an answer.

“Of course He will come back, but He will be there for a while so that those who want to know me will grow to understand  by what He shows of Himself, for who could possibly fail to see me through my Son, for we are One in mind and Spirit, as we are One in motivation and in goals.  His nature is my nature, yes, we are One in our ideals as well as in our goals,  well, you know, don’t you?”  He became silent as His voice trailed off and He remained quiet until several voices began to chant, “everyone will want to know Him, everyone will want to know Him, they will love Him and adore Him, they will love Him and adore Him.  Praise Him, praise Him oh you people!  Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Praise Him oh you people, and as the song ended, the seraphim softly repeated “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty!”

As the song ended the Father departed and Michael directed the last of the angels from the place of assembly.

As they all left their hearts were filled with satisfaction. A few retained the idea that there was a whole lot more to this story, but they also knew that when the time was right, they would be included in the marvelous events that were likely happening at this very moment.  Because of their trust in the Father they knew that all was well and in time the missing blanks would be filled in.  They just didn’t expect it so quickly.

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In the following days there was much hustle and bustle and as the cherubim and the seraphim kept things moving smoothly, it was noted that the Father wandered about as if He were looking for something, and they understood that He was lonely.  They decided to have a ‘sing-fest’ and began to gather one or two at a time at the foot of the throne where He was sitting, and they sang songs of praise and worship to their King.  He understood what they were doing and rewarded them by showing His own love for them and for their thoughtfulness.  It was a good time, and neither mentioned the absent Son.

And then one day they were summoned to an area of the temple where the King had been spending quite a lot of His time.  There was speculation not only about why they were called, but what the Father had been doing in the area.  As they entered they saw what looked like a leaning bar, a place to see beyond the darkness of the heavenlies in all its beauty with the twinkle of millions of stars, and they cherished the knowledge that it had been created for them.  The gathering at this bar was clearly awe-struck by this surprise and were eager to know more.  It was noted by all that there was ample room for the entire host of angels and they realized it had been created for them, but for what purpose they weren’t at all sure.

The King entered the room and began to explain.  At a signal from Him the heavens opened beneath them and they beheld the circle of the earth in all its blues and greens and browns.  There were ‘oohs’ and ‘awes’ and before they knew it the scene began to move rather slowly to a little town. They learned that this town was named Bethlehem, of Judea and that it was a part of the nation of Israel, but had formerly belonged to the wicked and idolatrous Canaanites. The scene began to move slightly until it reached a building for animals to feed and rest. In the middle of the barn was a manger from which the animals satisfied their hunger with hay that was provided for this purpose. As the angels looked around they became more an more amazed for they saw a cow, a goat, several sheep an a donkey, but most amazing of all is that beside the manger was seated a beautiful woman, and by her side a tall, bearded man both of whom gazed steadily into the manger. Suddenly one of the angels burst out “and…and…is that a baby? They turned to look at the Father and His voice said quietly,

“Keep your eyes on the scenes below, and do not turn away or you will miss something.  The ‘happenings’ have already begun. Down there”, He added, “they will call this ‘an advent. I will keep you informed in part, but please tell me after the happening is no longer visible if you know the identity of the child.”

As they turned in wonder to the scene before them they heard the voice of God, the one whom the Jews call Yahweh, and they recognized Him as their own King. There wonder increased, and they listened closely to what he said,

“It was written by the prophet Micah,”as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for me to be ruler in Israel.  His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.  Therefore He will give them up until the time when she who is in labor has borne a child.”

As you know, children, Bethlehem was David’s ancestral home.  It is appropriate that the King of kings was born in the city of David in Bethlehem a town whose name means ‘house of bread’ and to know that He was ‘cradled’ there since He is also known as the ‘bread of life’.

The King’s voice paused.

“And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

“In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flocks by night.  And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were trerribling  and frightened.  But the angel said to them,”

“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is ‘Christ the Lord’.  This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

“And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased.”  And when they were finished with this message, they went away from them into heaven.”

And the Father continued in His rich, deep voice by saying “Who is this child, my children?”

And as one they replied “It is the Son, it is the Son!” and the Yahweh, who is God continued,

“This is My Son, a Messiah to the Jews, the anointed One to the world, born of a virgin, Mary, descendant of David through Nathan.  His physical name is ‘Jesus’, His title is ‘Christ’.  In His physical family He will have four brothers, James, Joses, Judas, and Simon, as well as  several sisters. These will come from the union between Mary and Joseph. Joseph is also a descendant of David through Solomon, and in His life on earth Jesus will be reared by Joseph will teach Him the carpenter’s trade.”

Jesus will begin His public ministry at the time of His baptism by John the Baptist, who is His cousin.  The descent of a dove from heaven as He comes up out of the water will indicate that He is my Anointed One and I will further give authenticity by saying, “This is My beloved Son, in You I am well pleased.”  He will fulfill His Kingship as Isaiah, the servant of Yahweh described Him centuries before.”

“Behold, my servant, whom I uphold; my chosen one in whom my soul delights.  I have put my Spirit upon Him, He will bring forth justice to the nations.”

“This is how He will teach righteousness and goodness by His own example and also by parables and miracles so the people will believe.”

“And will they all believe?” someone asked.

The Father paused before He answered. “Some will, but others will not.”

“And when will He come home?” asked the one who had sat on His knee.

Again the Father drew the child to Him, and sat him again on the lap. When He answered He looked the child in the eyes and whispered in his ear, “He will come home when His work is finished.”

Satisfied, the young one hopped down and joined the other angels as they left the bar.

And the Father signed and thought of what His Son would endure before that time came. Even His death would be a stumbling block to many of the Jews who couldn’t let the Word into their hearts. Paul said it so well, “We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

And as He sat alone He reminded Himself that it would be out of the ugliness and agony of crucifixion that the greatest good would come – the redemption of sinners.

And that was how the world received the first gift of Christmas.

“This is how He will teach righteousness and goodness by His own example and by parables and miracles so the people will believe.”

“And will they all believe?” someone asked.

The Father paused before He answered.  “Some will, but others will not.”

“And when will He come home?” asked the one who had sat on His knee.

Again the Father drew the child to Him and sat him on His knees before He could answer, and when He did, He looked the child in the eyes and whispered in his ear, “He will come home when His work is finished.”  Satisfied the young one hopped down and joined the other angels as they left to bar to resume their positions.

And the Father sighed and thought of what His Son would endure before that time came.  Even His death would be a stumbling block to many of the Jews who couldn’t let the Word into their hearts.  Paul said it so well, “We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

And as He sat alone He reminded Himself that it would be out of the ugliness and agony of crucifixion that the greatest good would come – the redemption of sinners.  And that was how the world received the first gift of Christmas.

—author, Marie Hunter Atwood

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