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The Christmas Story Long ago, about 2000 years, when King Herod ruled Judea (now part

of Israel), God sent the angel Gabriel to a young women who li ed in the northern town of !a"areth# $he girl%s name was &ary and she was engaged to marry Joseph# $he angel Gabriel said to &ary' %(ea)e be with you* God has blessed you and is pleased with you#% &ary was ery surprised by this and wondered what the angel meant# $he angel said to her %+on%t be afraid, God has been ery ,ind to you# -ou will be)ome pregnant by the Holy .pirit and gi e birth to a baby boy and you will )all him Jesus# He will be God%s own .on and his ,ingdom will ne er end#% &ary was ery afraid but she trusted God# %Let it happen as God )hooses#% .he replied to the angel# Gabriel also told &ary that her )ousin, /li"abeth who e eryone thought was too old to ha e )hildren, would ha e a baby boy whom God had )hosen to prepare the way for Jesus# &ary said goodbye to her family and friends and went to isit her )ousin /li"abeth and her husband 0e)hariah# /li"abeth was ery happy to see &ary# .he ,new that &ary had been )hosen by God to be the mother of his .on# 1n angel had already told 0e)hariah that /li"abeth%s baby would prepare people to wel)ome Jesus# He was to be )alled John# &ary stayed with /li"abeth about three months and then returned home to !a"areth# Joseph was worried when he found out that &ary was e2pe)ting a baby before their marriage had ta,en pla)e# He wondered if he should put off the wedding altogether# $hen an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and said' %+on%t be afraid to ha e &ary as your wife#% $he angel e2plained that &ary had been )hosen by God to be the mother of his .on and told Joseph that the baby would be named Jesus whi)h means %.a iour% be)ause he would sa e people# 3hen Joseph wo,e up, he did what the angel had told him to do and too, &ary as his wife# 1t this time, the land where &ary and Joseph li ed was part of the 4oman /mpire# $he 4oman /mperor 1ugustus wanted to ha e a list of all the people in the empire, to ma,e sure they paid their ta2es# He ordered e eryone to return to the town where their families originally )ame from, and enter their names in a register (or )ensus) there# &ary and Joseph tra elled a long way (about 50 miles) from !a"areth to 6ethlehem, be)ause that is where Joseph%s family )ame from# &ost people wal,ed but some lu),y people had a don,ey to help )arry the goods needed for the 7ourney# Joseph and &ary tra elled ery slowly be)ause &ary%s baby was due to be born soon#

3hen they rea)hed 6ethlehem they had problems finding somewhere to stay# .o many people had )ome to register their names in the )ensus, that e ery house was full and e ery bed was ta,en in all of the Inns# $he only shelter that they )ould was a stable or )a e with the animals# In this poor pla)e &ary ga e birth to Jesus, the .on of God# In those days it was the )ustom to wrap newborn babies tightly in a long )loth )alled %swaddling )lothes%# Jesus% bed was the manger that the animals ate their hay from# In the hills and fields outside 6ethlehem, shepherds loo,ed after their sheep through the long night# 1s the new day began, suddenly an angel appeared before them and the glory of God shone around them# $he shepherds were ery, ery s)ared, but the angel said, %+on%t be afraid# I ha e good news for you and e eryone# $oday in 6ethlehem a .a ior has been born for you# -ou will find the baby lying in a manger%# $hen many more angels appeared, lighting up the s,y# $he shepherds heard them praising God singing' %Glory to God in highest, and pea)e to e eryone on earth#% 3hen the angels had gone the shepherds said to one another, %Let%s go to 6ethlehem to see what has happened#% .o the shepherds went to 6ethlehem and found &ary and Joseph# $he baby Jesus was lying in a manger as they had been told# 3hen they saw him, they told e eryone what the angel had said and e eryone who heard the story was astonished# $hen the shepherds returned to their sheep, praising God for sending his .on to be their .a ior# 3hen Jesus was born, a brand new bright star appeared in s,y# .ome 3ise &en in faraway )ountries saw the star and guessed what it meant# $hey were ery )le er men that studied the stars and had read in old writings that a new star would appear when a great ,ing was born# $hey set out to find the new ,ing and bring him gifts# $he 3ise &en followed the star towards the )ountry of Judea and when they got to the )apital )alled Jerusalem they began to as, people' %3here is the )hild who is born to be ,ing of the Jews8% Herod, the ,ing of Judea, heard this and it made him ery angry to thin, that someone might be going to ta,e his pla)e as ,ing# Herod sent for the 3ise &en to )ome to him# He told them to go on following the star until they had found the baby ,ing# He said' %3hen you ha e found him, let me ,now where he is, so that I )an go and worship him%# 6ut Herod did not tell them that he really had an e il plan in mind to ,ill the new ,ing#

$he 3ise &en followed the star towards 6ethlehem (where it said that the ,ing would be born in the old writings)# It seemed to stop and shine dire)tly down upon the pla)e where Jesus was# $he 3ise &en entered the house where they now li ed and found Jesus with &ary, they bowed down and worshipped him# $he 3ise &en spread the gifts they had brought before Jesus# $he gifts were gold, fran,in)ense and myrrh# $he 3ise &en were warned in a dream, by God, not to go ba), to Herod# .o they returned home to their )ountries in the /ast by a different way# 3hen the 3ise &en had gone, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream# %Get up,% the angel said, %ta,e Jesus and &ary and es)ape to /gypt# .tay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to sear)h for Jesus to ,ill him#% .o Joseph got up, too, Jesus and &ary during the night they left for /gypt, where he stayed until Herod died# 3hen Herod reali"ed that he had been tri),ed by the 3ise &en, he was furious and he ga e orders to ,ill all the boys aged two or younger in 6ethlehem and the surrounding area# $his was to try and ,ill the new King, as his plan to find the lo)ation of the new ,ing from the 3ise &en had failed# 1fter Herod had died, Joseph had another dream in whi)h an angel appeared to him# $he angel said, %Get up, ta,e Jesus and &ary and go ba), to Israel, for those who were trying ,ill Jesus are dead#% .o Joseph got up, too, Jesus and &ary and they went ba), to Israel# 6ut when he heard that Herod%s son was now ,ing of Judea, he was afraid to go there# .o instead they went to Galilee, and li ed in their old town of !a"areth#