Hi, I'm Tim Coombs, co-pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Scotia, NY and a member of the network of biblical storytellers. To learn more about its mission, go to nbsint.org.
The nativity of Jesus, or the story of Jesus' birth is found in two of the four gospels, Matthew and Luke. Now Matthew's version is the story about how Joseph and Mary are engaged. Joseph finds out that Mary is with child and was gonna divorce her, but an angel comes to him in a dream telling him that the child is of the Holy Spirit and that he should call the child Jesus. And so Joseph decides to marry Mary, and they have the child. And what follows, in Matthew, is the story of the coming of the Magi or the 3 kings. Now the Lukian story is told more through the lens of Mary. And this is the story perhaps we're more familiar with. It begins with the census, and they have to travel to Bethlehem because Joseph is of that House and lineage. And while they are there, it says, Mary has the child. Now notice that. Sometimes we think of Mary and Joseph just getting into town and that night Jesus is born. But those words ""while they were there"" — they've been there. How long is that? I don't know — 2 days, 2 weeks? So they have a place to stay. Now the baby is born, they wrap him in swaddling clothes just like every other baby and lay him in a manger which would actually be in the house. Animals were kept in the house in order to protect them. Now the second part of the story occurs out in the fields with the shepherds, who are visited by the angel who announces Jesus' birth. And so the shepherds leave the fields and go to Bethlehem and have to find this baby, and they do and they share what the angel told them. So each of the evangelists tell the story of Jesus' birth in a slightly different way, but the important part is that God becomes one of us. Emmanuel, God is with us, he is called. And that is the story on Jesus' birth.