Nativity: The Christmas Story, Which You Have Never Heard Before

The Nativity of John the Baptist and the Church’s quarterly Christmases
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2 in 5 UK millennials can’t identify baby in Bethlehem Christmas story

Mary did not ride to Bethlehem on a donkey. Nowhere in any Gospel does it say that Mary did anything but walk. The whole journey is given in three lines: Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem and while they were there, she went into labour. No mention of transportation.

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Now you will say, well, what about the sheep? Luke says Mary put the baby Jesus in a manger but the place where she gave birth was not necessarily a stable. Mixed-use space, where domestic animals such as sheep and cattle shared living and eating quarters with humans, was the norm in the area at the time. James sets the birth in a cave the couple pass on their way rather than a domestic space. Joseph leaves Mary in the unoccupied cave and goes off to find a midwife.

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Finally, the famous ox and ass enter into the scene, bowing down to worship Jesus. This well-known scene is still immortalised on Christmas cards thousands of years later — but it was never included in the Bible text. Some of these apocryphal stories go even further. If ordinary animals worshipping the Christ Child seems impressive, how much more extraordinary is it that Pseudo-Matthew includes wild animals, including lions, leopards — and even dragons — coming to pay homage to the baby Jesus.

Pseudo-Matthew writes :. And behold, suddenly many dragons came out of the cave … Then the Lord, even though he was not yet two years old, roused himself, got to his feet, and stood in front of them. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.

He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. Revelation 21, A Slightly Different Christmas Story Some relations of mine live on the outskirts of a small town in southern Germany. Just a few hundred metres away there is a farm with horses, dogs, cats and other animals. When I last visited them I took a walk to the farmyard.

A large dog came towards me. We greeted one and other and he allowed me to ruffle his fur. Whilst I was paying attention to him one of his comrades joined us.

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This new dog was just as big as the first. New greetings had to be exchanged. There are three of us now. Sitting between these two great animals, I talk to them, stroke and ruffle them. We learn to trust one and other. In my mind I can hear my wife saying, "One of these days you are going to get bitten At this point I recall the story of Daniel sitting in the den of lions.

None of the animals harm him there. A Slightly Different Christmas Story. Of course this is a questionable connection. A few tame dogs are nothing in comparison to wild, hungry lions. And yet a certain question remained to occupy me, "Why was Daniel not bitten by the lions?

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Editorial Reviews. About the Author. Richard Racy was raised a conservative Methodist and. Nativity: The Christmas Story, Which You Have Never Heard Before. Richard R. Racy. AuthorHouse™. Liberty Drive, Suite Bloomington, IN

Daniel 6, 17 Back to my question: "Why was Daniel not bitten by the lions? I would like to take my question back to the story of creation: Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the fields and all the birds of the air. Genesis 2, a God brings his creatures to the man. None of the animals run away from him. They neither eat each other nor do they bite the man. And the man is allowed to name each creature: "You are to be called lion, and you elephant, and you horse etc..

There is much more connected to giving a name or a new name: Abraham, Israel, Paul In a sense it means a claim to possession or the acceptance of responsibilty, love, trust, caring and many other things which could be named here. Perhaps this will be easier to understand when we remember what it is like when God calls us by our own name by saying, "I have called you by your own name, you are mine". God assigned the task of naming HIS creation to the man.

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Here is another text from the Old Testament: The Lord then said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Genesis 7, I recall the pictures I saw at Sunday School: The wooden Ark and the animals going into it: elephants, giraffes, cattle, dogs, cats and all other creatures. And again the same question arises: Why didn't any of the animals bite Noah? Why did they go into the ark with him and not run away from him? Why didn't they eat each other up whilst they lived together in the ark?

And why were they satisfied to eat what Noah had stored up for them in the ark? These three biblical stories witness that: God himself was nearby in each case!

Beyond 3D — making the Christmas story real

The curse of sin and debt was not present at the time when Adam was allowed to name each creature. And in the cases of Noah and Daniel neither sin nor debt were apparant or evident. In a Christmas Carol written by Isaac Watts to a tune from George Frederik Handel there are the words: All sins and debts were paid by Him and peace shall rule the land For God's salvation frees us all And His rich blessing fills the world Removes the curse of sin.

In this verse I find myself in the centre of the Bible text where God is again very close to people - to us - to me: At the birth of His son: In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. Luke 2, Again God is close to people.

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The upcoming generations of the West are not only growing up in a post-Christian culture. The Gospel According to St. Beginning with , Matthew shows a clear interest in identifying Jesus as "God with us" and in later developing the Emmanuel characterization of Jesus at key points throughout the rest of his Gospel. Would the Romans, then, have ordered a census in the dead of winter? Readers like you contribute to Aleteia's Mission. It came without tags! There are three of us now.

It is - just as the artist has shown in the picture Daniel - once more the clarity and the light of God that is shining around the shepherds. And again the angel of the Lord is present. But there is also the dirty stable with horse dung and cow manure, the drooled over manger in which the Saviour of the world is lying. Yet despite all that the Evangelist John can still say: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

John 1,14 There angels sing for joy and speak to people about this wonderful thing that has happened.

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Verses 1 and 2 say: "After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 'Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. They replied: "In Bethlehem in Judea," verse 5 and quote a prophecy about where the Messiah the world's savior will be born.

Many scholars who knew the ancient prophecies well expected the Messiah to be born in Bethlehem. Verse 7 and 8 say: "Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, 'Go and search carefully for the child.

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As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him. The story continues in verses 9 and "After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.

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Then the Bible describes the Magi arriving at Jesus' house, visiting him with his mother Mary, worshiping him, and presenting him with their famous gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Finally, verse 12 says of the Magi: " Over the years as people have debated whether or not a real star actually appeared over Jesus' home and led the Magi there, some people have said that the star was nothing more than a literary device -- a symbol for the apostle Matthew to use in his story to convey the light of hope that those who expected the Messiah's arrival felt when Jesus was born.

During the many centuries of debates about the Star of Bethlehem, some people have surmised that the "star" was actually a bright angel in the sky. Angels are messengers from God and the star was communicating an important message, and angels guide people and the star guided the Magi to Jesus. Also, Bible scholars believe that the Bible refers to angels as "stars" in several other places, such as Job "while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy" and Psalm "He determines the number of stars and calls them each by name".

However, Bible scholars don't believe that the Star of Bethlehem passage in the Bible refers to an angel.