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This Christmas Night


A Night of Heavenly Hope Christmas is the most significant of all the days of the year.


A Glorious Hope!

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hristmas is not just a date on the calendar. It is the celebration of the event that set heaven to singing, an event that gave the stars of the night sky a new brilliance.

Eight hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Isaiah declared: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2). It was the promise of the coming of Christ and the light that was to dawn upon the world. It heralds the entrance of God into human history. It is heaven descending to earth. It is as though a trumpeter had taken his stand upon the turrets of time and announced to a despairing, hopeless, and frustrated world the coming of the Prince of Peace. The Hebrew prophets not only believed in God but they worshiped God. They believed that God could be seen in nature. They believed that He had made the world. But all through the centuries they seem to have been saying, “I wish that God would become personal.” A N i g h t o f H e av e n l y H o p e

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This is precisely what He did that first Christmas night. He became personal in Bethlehem. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). At a specific time and at a specific place a specific person was born and that Person was God of very God, the Lord Jesus Christ. From the lips of Jesus came these words, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Like piercing trumpets these words herald the breaking in of the Divine into human history. What a wonderful and glorious hope we have because of that first Christmas! — D e c i s i on , December 1985, “The Event that Set Heaven Singing”

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This Christmas Night


O L i t t l e To w n o f B e t h l e h e m

O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie! Above thy deep and dreamless sleep The silent stars go by. Yet in thy dark streets shineth The everlasting Light; The hopes and fears of all the years Are met in thee tonight. For Christ is born of Mary, And gathered all above, While mortals sleep, the angels keep Their watch of wondering love. O morning stars together, Proclaim the holy birth, And praises sing to God the King, And peace to men on earth!

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How silently, how silently, The wondrous gift is given; So God imparts to human hearts The blessings of His Heaven. No ear may hear His coming, But in this world of sin, Where meek souls will receive Him still, The dear Christ enters in. O holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us, we pray! Cast out our sin and enter in, Be born in us today. We hear the Christmas angels, The great glad tidings tell; O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel! —Bishop Phillips Brooks, 1868

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This Christmas Night


And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. — L u ke 2 : 1 – 7, n k j v


A S PE C I A L C H R I S T M A S S TO RY

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t had to be a very special time—the time when God’s Son came into the world. God had chosen the children of Israel to build a nation for His Son, and the town of Bethlehem as His birthplace.

But the Baby still had no family to care for Him. God was His father, but the Baby needed a mother. God searched among His people for a woman worthy to be the mother of His Son. Would she be a princess living in a palace: or a rich man’s daughter who wore bright dresses and jewels and had maids to arrange her hair and rub it with sweetsmelling perfume? God did not choose one of these. He chose instead a modest young girl named Mary, who lived in the little hill town of Nazareth in Galilee. He sent His angel Gabriel to tell Mary that she had been chosen to be the mother of His Son. At first, Mary was so amazed that she could hardly speak. But she had always loved God and tried to obey Him. And so she said to the angel, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to do whatever he wants. May everything you said come true.” A N i g h t o f H e av e n l y H o p e

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She was going to marry a kind, strong man called Joseph. Long ago a man named Jeremiah had told the children of Israel that the Savior, when He came, would belong to the family of David, and both Mary and Joseph were members of that family, descended from the great King David. Joseph took good care of Mary as the time grew near for her Baby to be born. (continued on page 31) — O u r C h r i st m as Story

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This Christmas Night


MARY

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ne evening in Jerusalem I looked out my hotel window and saw the lights of Bethlehem in the distance. For a long time I stood there and meditated on the events that had taken place over 2,000

years ago and which have transformed and changed our world. I thought about the angel Gabriel. He came to Mary, who was no more than a teenager, and said, “Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever: and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:30–33). At first Mary was fearful and deeply disturbed. She asked the angel, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow

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thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:34–35). Then Mary showed one of the most remarkable demonstrations of faith found in the Bible. Here she was, a virgin, engaged to a godly man by the name of Joseph, yet she was to be made pregnant supernaturally by the Holy Spirit. People would talk, shame could be attached to it, and Joseph might even reject her. But Mary by faith said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). I believe that one of the greatest demonstrations of faith in all the Bible was Mary’s answer to the angel in accepting God’s will for her life, no matter what the cost. — D e c i s i on , December 1986, “Responses to the Christ Child”

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This Christmas Night


Christmas is a time of miracles. The angelic chorus, lowly shepherds, a humble manger as the birthplace of deity— all are miraculous happenings. — K en n et h W. O s b e ck



This Christmas Night