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Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

The Story of the First Christmas

It was morning in the little white town of Bethlehem. The sky was still gray, for it was very, very early. Only one bright star made a path of light in the streets. And the star shone down upon the stable of the inn.

Along the road that led to the gate in the wall of Bethlehem came the shepherds. They had left the hill where they tended their sheep. They were coming in great haste, for a message from God was in their hearts. When they came inside the gate, they asked whomever they met about it.

"Where shall we find the Christ Child who has come to earth?" the shepherds asked of the people who were stirring in the streets.

"We do not know," they said.

"But a message came to us saying that we would find Him lying in a manger," the shepherds said. And this seemed still more unreal to the people. They shook their heads, but they followed the shepherds.

In front of the shepherds in the narrow streets of Bethlehem was the light of the Christmas star. They followed it to see where it would lead. When they had passed the houses of the rich, and the houses of the happy, they came to the inn of Bethlehem. Over the stable of the inn the star shone so brightly that the shepherds stopped. They went softly inside.

It was like the stables that we know, cold, and dark, and full of dumb beasts. Joseph and Mary, who had come from Nazareth, were there. Although Mary was so tired, there had been no place for her except in this stable. Now, she was no longer weary, but full of joy. Lying beside her was her baby, the Holy Child. The shepherds knew that it was He, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.

So the shepherds kneeled down on the floor of the stable. They worshiped the new-born Babe. The people of Bethlehem came, also, to worship their Christmas gift, the Holy Child. Although his coming was lowly, He made our first Christmas. And Christmas means that, now. It means the coming of God to us, through the Holy Child in the manger of Bethlehem.

And they came with haste, and found both Mary and

Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger.

— Luke ii. 16.

Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift.

—2 Corinthians ix. 15.