The simple greeting, “Merry Christmas,” has been the subject of one of the biggest battles society in general has faced in recent years.
In fact, in many places and in many situations, that greeting has been replaced by the all-inclusive, yet far less meaningful, “Happy Holidays.” That, however, removes the meaning of what this season is all about.
It is not just about being charitable or sharing warm and fuzzy feelings. It is not about toys or shopping for that special gift. It is not about cookies or a big home covered with hundreds of colored lights or a holiday feast. All are important parts of the holiday, but, remember, the day itself is a birthday.
Today, Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in a stable in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago. It is the remembrance of the beginning of a life that left an indelible mark on the world that is celebrated.
Here is the account of that birth according to the Gospel of St. Luke:
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Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.
This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.
Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.
While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.
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 flock by night.
And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly 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.”
When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”
So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.
When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.
And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.
The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.