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Merry Christmas! Why We Celebrate.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created. In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We saw his glory the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father.

Now a decree went out from Caesar Augustus to register all the empire for taxes. Everyone went to his own town to be registered.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David. He went to be registered with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him, and who was expecting a child.

While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

There were shepherds nearby out in the field, keeping guard over their flock by night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were absolutely terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; listen carefully, for I proclaim to you good news that brings great joy to all the people: Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord.

"This will be a sign* for you: you will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger." Suddenly a multitude of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom he is pleased!"

When the angels left them and went back to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, that the Lord has made known to us."

So they hurried off and located Mary and Joseph, and found the baby lying in a manger. When they saw him, they related what they had been told about this child, and all were astonished at what the shepherds said. (But Mary treasured up all these words, pondering in her heart what they might mean). So the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; everything was just as they had been told.

At the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the time of King Herod, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem saying, "Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."

When King Herod heard this he was alarmed, and all Jerusalem with him. After assembling all the chief priests and experts in the law he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem of Judea, they said, "for it is written this way by the prophet: "And you, Bethlehem, are in no way least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel."

Then Herod privately summoned the wise men and determined from them when the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and look carefully for the child. When you find him, inform me so that I can go and worship him as well."

After listening to the king they left, and once again the star they saw when it rose led them until it stopped above the place where the child was.

When they saw the star they shouted joyfully. As they came into the house and saw the child with Mary his mother, they bowed down and worshiped him. They opened their treasure boxes and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. After being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back by another route to their own country.

Now when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, Joseph and Mary brought the baby (Jesus), up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, (just as it is written in the law of the Lord, 'Every firstborn male will be set apart to the Lord'), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is specified in the law of the Lord, a pair of doves or two young pigeons.

Now there was in Jerusalem a man named Simeon who was righteous and devout, looking for the restoration of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

So directed by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple courts, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what was customary according to the law, Simeon took the baby in his arms and blessed God, saying, "Now, according to your word, Sovereign Lord, permit your servant to depart in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples: a light, for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel."

Joseph and Mary were amazed at what was said about the baby. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, "Listen carefully: this child is destined to be the cause of the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be rejected. Indeed, as a result of him the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed and a sword will pierce your own soul as well!"

There was also a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old, having been married to her husband for seven years until his death. She had lived as a widow since then for eighty-four years. She never left the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment, she came up to Joseph and Mary, and began to give thanks to God and to speak about the child to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

So when Joseph and Mary had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom, and the favor of God was upon him.

Wise men still seek him.

Merry Christmas

Brian Bishop, Publisher; James Hale, Lead Reporter; Joey Helmer, Editor/Reporter; Alan Hitchcock, Staff Reporter; Tobi Neidy, Staff Assistant & Reporter; Chris Joseph, Oklahoma High School Football Expert; J.R. Ross, Columnist; Mike DellaVecchio, Site Lead Moderator; and the OU Insider staff.

*The strips of cloth were the 'sign.' These were swaddling, (or burial cloths), were a 'sign' to men that this baby was born to die, so that we may live.

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