During the first century the Roman Emperor called Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census, (an official count of all the people in the population) should be taken of the entire Roman world.
And everyone went to his own town to register.
A man called Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem…with him he had Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and she was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born.
Mary gave birth to her firstborn child, a son. She gave him the name Jesus, which means the LORD saves, and it was said that ‘he will save his people from their sins’.
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, (the trough from which all the animals ate) because there was no room for them at the inn.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ (a Greek word meaning the Anointed One) the Lord.
This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
… glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,
“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
Three men from far away in oriental lands also saw the brilliant star in the sky and they made their way to see the new baby born to Mary and Joseph in a stable at Bethlehem. (Matthew 2: 1 – 12)
They are sometimes known as the Three Kings from the East or the Three Wise Men…
…they do not arrive to see the child for themselves until thirteen days after the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere, the day when the earth is the furthest from the sun, which is on the twelfth day.
This is a day put aside to celebrate Christ’s birth and baptism with a Feast, which is called the Epiphany and it is celebrated on the 6th January each year.
The star the three men had seen in the eastern sky went ahead of them, until it stopped over the place where the child was…
…on coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.
Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold incense and of myrrh…These were the first Christmas gifts and together, they represent the three roles of Jesus as the Messiah.
His kingly office is represented by gold; his divinity.
His priestly office is represented by frankincense and his manhood by myrrh, a precious oil often worn around the neck in a small bag as a talisman, as well as used to anoint bodies at death
“They offered him incense as their God; gold as their king; and myrrh, as united to a human body, subject to suffering and to death.”
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2013
This text has been edited from Luke’s Gospel and Matthew’s Gospel with additions