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We are a nondenominational Christian chapel, open to Holidayopolans of all persuasions.
THE CHRISTMAS STORY
“AWAY IN A MANGER”
The Nativity of Jesus
from the Gospel according to Luke
King James Version
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and lineage of David); to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
In Christian traditions, the period of preparation leading to the celebration of Christmas is called Advent. This period begins on the Sunday four weeks prior to Christmas Day (December 25 in most traditions; in the Orthodox church, January 7). Although the secular calendar celebrates New Year’s Day on January 1, the first day of Advent is, to Christians, the first day of the year. You may hear Christmas carols at the mall and on television all through December, but the one place you won’t hear them is in a Christian church—Advent is its own season; Christmas hasn’t begun yet.
Although in the northern hemisphere the days are still growing shorter and the nights longer, many Christians celebrate Advent by bringing more light into their homes and churches by means of the Advent Wreath. This is usually a circle of greenery into which four candles are placed: usually, three are purple (the color associated with royalty, suitable for the coming of a king) and one pink (symbolizing joy). Each day during the first week of Advent, one purple candle is lighted; during the second, two purple candles are lighted; beginning on the third Sunday, the pink candle joins the two purple candles; then, on the fourth Sunday and the remaining days until Christmas, all four candles are aglow.
In some traditions, a fifth candle, white in color, is lighted in the center of the wreath beginning on Christmas Eve; in others, the four colored candles are replaced by white ones. Whatever the colors, and whether the wreath is lighted only in church or on a family’s table before dinner each evening, the wreath reminds us that light will overcome darkness, and the celebration of Christmas will come very soon.