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StoryTime


The Nativity

In those days the government decided that they should count everyone that lived in that area of the world.  So Joseph had to take Mary to his town, Bethlehem to register.

It took Mary and Joseph a long time to get to Bethlehem.  They didn't have cars back then, so it probably took them a lot longer to get there.  This was very tiring for Mary because she was soon going to have a baby.

When they reached the town, all the hotels were full and there was nowhere that they could stay.  Finally, someone felt bad for them, and offered them a place to stay.

The Bible doesn't say for sure where they stayed but most people think that they stayed in a small barn where animals were kept.  In any case, doesn't it seem strange that Jesus, the King of the Jews wasn't born in a fancy palace or even a hospital?

Mary and Joseph were thankful that they at least had a place to lay down.  It was warm, and there was plenty of straw to lay on.

That night an exciting, wonderful thing happened.  Mary and Joseph had a baby!  But it wasn't just any baby, it was Baby Jesus!  The creator of the whole world, the King of Kings, the one who would save the world.

The little baby boy fell asleep in Mary's arms and she wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger on some clean straw.

Mary and Joseph soon fell asleep, they were so glad to have this special baby join their family.

Some shepherds who lived near Bethlehem, were out at night in their fields watching over their sheep.  They were worried a bigger animal might come and hurt the sheep, so that sat on a hill visiting and watching their sheep together.

Suddenly there was a bright light.  Now this wasn't just any bright light The light was so bright that they had to close their eyes for a minute because the light hurt their eyes.

When they opened their eyes to see what was going on, a beautiful angel was standing in the air just above them with his arms opened wide.

The shepherds looked at each other in disbelief, but realized it must be real, because they were all seeing the same thing.  All at once they were very afraid, but they didn't run because they were too stunned.

Then the angel spoke to them.  "Do not be afraid.  I'm here to bring you good news for all people.  Today in Bethlehem a baby has been born, He is the one that will save the world.  You will know the baby because He will be wrapped in cloths, and laying in a manger."

Suddenly, just as quickly as the first angel came, there were a large group of angels, and they said together, "Glory to God, and peace to all people on earth."  After they spoke, they floated away.

The shepherds were amazed and excited, did everyone know this news, or just them?  They had to go see this baby the angels were talking about.

They ran as fast as they could, and soon found Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus.  The shepherds fell to their knees when they saw Jesus, they were filled with joy that they had found the Lord.

During the time when Jesus was born there was a very mean king who ruled the land His name was King Herod.  Remember his name, because we will talk about him later.

Soon after Jesus was born, wise men were traveling on their camels. One night they noticed a very strange star in the sky.  They knew that this star meant that the King of the Jews, the One who would save the world had been born.

When the mean King... (What was his name again?) Herod heard this he got very worried.

He called a meeting with all the other important people in the area and asked them where this special baby had been born.  The people replied, "In Bethlehem." The knew this because they heard that one day a special person would come from there and take care of all the people.

Then King Herod called the wise men to a secret meeting and found out from them exactly where they saw the star.  He then told them, "Go and find this child.  As soon as you find him, tell me, so that I can go and worship him."

After they had spoken to the King, the wise men left to find the baby.  They didn't know exactly where the baby was, but at night they followed the star in the east.  They followed the star until it hung right over the very place where Jesus was.

Since it took the wise men a while to get to baby Jesus, they probably didn't arrive the day Jesus was born but sometime later.  When they finally had arrived they were very excited and happy.  They found Jesus laying in Mary's arms, and they bowed down and worshipped him.

They opened the gifts they had brought Jesus.  The gifts were gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  These were very expensive gifts. Gifts that you would give to a King, not to a baby.

The story of Christmas is special, full of miracles and strange visitors all coming to visit a King and someday the Savior of the world.

 


 

Have you ever had a friend who disobeyed their parents?  Their parents had given them instructions on some important task and instead of doing it they ignored the task or ran from it?  Well, that is exactly what Jonah did!

God had given Jonah instructions to go to the city of Nineveh which was a very large and important city. Jonah was to go there and tell the people who lived there to stop living evil, wicked lives and not serving God.  Instead of doing as God had instructed him, Jonah went the opposite direction!  Jonah boarded a ship to escape from what he should be doing. 

But God did not let Jonah run! God sent a huge storm. The storm was so big it even scared the sailors. To help save the ship and their lives, they began throwing things overboard.  During all of this, Jonah slept.  The irritated captain woke Jonah up and asked him to start praying to his God for their safety.  The other sailors were praying to their heathen, pagan gods. Because the captain and sailors understood the storm to be a religious matter, they began to ask Jonah questions.  So Jonah began to tell them about his mission and from his answers, they determined that Jonah was the reason for the storm!  They were totally appalled at Jonah’s disobedience to his God and asked what could be done to appease God’s anger.

What did Jonah tell them?  “Throw me over the side!”  Knowing how strong the storm was, they all knew this would surely kill Jonah.  So as an act of kindness, they attempted to row the ship to the rocky shore.  However, they soon realized the only way to stop the storm and save them all was to throw Jonah overboard.  So, over he went!

As Jonah sank beneath the waves, the sea began to calm down and the winds stopped.  This immediately proved to the sailors that Jonah’s God is the only TRUE God!  But was the TRUE God so upset with Jonah that he left him to drown?  Of course not!

To protect Jonah, God sent a giant fish to swallow him.  For three days and three nights Jonah lived in the belly of that giant fish!  Don’t you know it was wet and dark and smelly???!!  GROSS!!

But, after the three days, the fish spit, well actually vomited Jonah onto the dry ground…ALIVE!  So not only did God protect Jonah from drowning in the stormy sea, but then after those three yucky days in the great fish, God placed him on dry land! Although Jonah had disobeyed God and then had to be in the fish's belly all that time for God to get Jonah's attention, God showed him grace and mercy - God did not make Jonah swim to shore, but caused the fish to vomit him out on dry land.

So once again, the Lord told Jonah to go to the city of Ninevah.  This time, Jonah obeyed – he ran straight there!  When he arrived, he began to tell the people their city was going to be destroyed in 40 days because of their sin.  Just like the sailors, the people and the king believed the God of Jonah. So they declared a fast and did not eat or drink and did not even feed their animals to show how sorry they were to God.  When God saw their reaction to Jonah’s news and knew that their actions were real and not pretend, God did not destroy the city.  The city was saved!!

This made Jonah happy, right??  NO!  Instead of rejoicing in God’s mercy, love and forgiveness for these people, Jonah got angry.  He told God he would rather die than live!  He was so angry he left the city and went on a hill to make  a shelter for himself where he could be alone and watch what happened in Ninevah. Once again, God provided for Jonah by having a plant grow to provide shade from the sun.  Jonah was thankful for the plant, but did not see that his behavior and attitude toward God was wrong.  The next day a worm ate the plant and it began to die. Then as the sun came up, it shined right on Jonah’s head and once again, Jonah was miserable and angry!

All Jonah had to do was go into the city of Ninevah and worship God with the people for God’s goodness and mercy and forgiveness for their wrong doing.  But Jonah would not go.  His lack of compassion and mercy kept him from worshipping God for the great thing God had done. Unfortunately, Jonah completely missed the lesson God had just taught him through the days in the fish’s belly – his bad attitude kept him from really understanding God’s mercy and grace.  

Sometimes we are just like Jonah.  We disobey what God wants us to do, but God doesn't give up on us just because we make a bad decision.  God always will try to have us change our attitude, but it is still up to us, just like it was Jonah.  We should use the lesson of Jonah to learn to be thankful for God's compassion on us - and others!





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