Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Christmas Story

Here it is in the Midwest around 8:00 PM on Christmas Eve. The day has been hectic, likely that way for a large number of us. What does one say for a blog at this hour? It was actually quite easy to decide. I'll share The Christmas Story from my favorite Bible translation to read and think about, The Contemporary Engllish Version.

Luke Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 Verse 40

Luke 1
(1) Many people have tried to tell the story of what God has done among us. (2) They wrote what we had been told by the ones who were there in the beginning and saw what happened. (3) So I made a careful study of everything and then decided to write and tell you exactly what took place. Honorable Theophilus, (4) I have done this to let you know the truth about what you have heard.
An Angel Tells about the Birth of John
(5) When Herod was king of Judea, there was a priest by the name of Zechariah from the priestly group of Abijah. His wife Elizabeth was from the family of Aaron. (6) Both of them were good people and pleased the Lord God by obeying all that he had commanded. (7) But they did not have children. Elizabeth could not have any, and both Zechariah and Elizabeth were already old. (8) One day Zechariah's group of priests were on duty, and he was serving God as a priest. (9) According to the custom of the priests, he had been chosen to go into the Lord's temple that day and to burn incense, (10) while the people stood outside praying. (11) All at once an angel from the Lord appeared to Zechariah at the right side of the altar. (12) Zechariah was confused and afraid when he saw the angel. (13) But the angel told him:
Don't be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayers. Your wife Elizabeth will have a son, and you must name him John. (14) His birth will make you very happy, and many people will be glad. (15) Your son will be a great servant of the Lord. He must never drink wine or beer, and the power of the Holy Spirit will be with him from the time he is born.

(16) John will lead many people in Israel to turn back to the Lord their God. (17) He will go ahead of the Lord with the same power and spirit that Elijah had. And because of John, parents will be more thoughtful of their children. And people who now disobey God will begin to think as they ought to. That is how John will get people ready for the Lord. (18) Zechariah said to the angel, "How will I know this is going to happen? My wife and I are both very old."

(19) The angel answered, "I am Gabriel, God's servant, and I was sent to tell you this good news.(20) You have not believed what I have said. So you will not be able to say a thing until all this happens. But everything will take place when it is supposed to."

(21) The crowd was waiting for Zechariah and kept wondering why he was staying so long in the temple. (22) When he did come out, he could not speak, and they knew he had seen a vision. He motioned to them with his hands, but did not say a thing.

(23) When Zechariah's time of service in the temple was over, he went home. (24) Soon after that, his wife was expecting a baby, and for five months she did not leave the house. She said to herself, (25) "What the Lord has done for me will keep people from looking down on me."

An Angel Tells about the Birth of Jesus
(26) One month later God sent the angel Gabriel to the town of Nazareth in Galilee (27) with a message for a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to Joseph from the family of King David. (28) The angel greeted Mary and said, "You are truly blessed! The Lord is with you."
(29) Mary was confused by the angel's words and wondered what they meant. (30) Then the angel told Mary, "Don't be afraid! God is pleased with you, (31) and you will have a son. His name will be Jesus. (32) He will be great and will be called the Son of God Most High. The Lord God will make him king, as his ancestor David was. (33) He will rule the people of Israel forever, and his kingdom will never end."

(34) Mary asked the angel, "How can this happen? I am not married!"

(35) The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come down to you, and God's power will come over you. So your child will be called the holy Son of God. (36) Your relative Elizabeth is also going to have a son, even though she is old. No one thought she could ever have a baby, but in three months she will have a son. (37) Nothing is impossible for God!"

(38) Mary said, "I am the Lord's servant! Let it happen as you have said." And the angel left her.

Mary Visits Elizabeth
(39) A short time later Mary hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea. (40) She went into Zechariah's home, where she greeted Elizabeth. (41) When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, her baby moved within her.
The Holy Spirit came upon Elizabeth. (42) Then in a loud voice she said to Mary:

God has blessed you more than any other woman! He has also blessed the child you will have. (43) Why should the mother of my Lord come to me? (44) As soon as I heard your greeting, my baby became happy and moved within me. (45) The Lord has blessed you because you believed that he will keep his promise.

Mary's Song of Praise
(46) Mary said:
With all my heart

I praise the Lord,

(47) and I am glad

because of God my Savior.

48He cares for me,

his humble servant.

From now on,

all people will say

God has blessed me.

(49) God All-Powerful has done

great things for me,

and his name is holy.

(50) He always shows mercy

to everyone

who worships him.

(51) The Lord has used

his powerful arm

to scatter those

who are proud.

(52) He drags strong rulers

from their thrones

and puts humble people

in places of power.

(53) God gives the hungry

good things to eat,

and sends the rich away

with nothing.

(54) He helps his servant Israel

and is always merciful

to his people.

(55) The Lord made this promise

to our ancestors,

to Abraham and his family


(56) Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months. Then she went back home.

The Birth of John the Baptist
(57) When Elizabeth's son was born, 58her neighbors and relatives heard how kind the Lord had been to her, and they too were glad.
(59) Eight days later they did for the child what the Law of Moses commands. They were going to name him Zechariah, after his father. (60) But Elizabeth said, "No! His name is John." (61) The people argued, "No one in your family has ever been named John." (62) So they motioned to Zechariah to find out what he wanted to name his son.

(63) Zechariah asked for a writing tablet. Then he wrote, "His name is John." Everyone was amazed. (64) Right away, Zechariah started speaking and praising God.

(65) All the neighbors were frightened because of what had happened, and everywhere in the hill country people kept talking about these things. (66) Everyone who heard about this wondered what this child would grow up to be. They knew that the Lord was with him.

Zechariah Praises the Lord
(67) The Holy Spirit came upon Zechariah, and he began to speak:
(68) Praise the Lord,

the God of Israel!

He has come

to save his people.

(69) Our God has given us

a mighty Savior from the family

of David his servant.

(70) Long ago the Lord promised

by the words

of his holy prophets

(71) to save us from our enemies

and from everyone

who hates us.

(72) God said he would be kind

to our people

and keep

his sacred promise.

(73) He told our ancestor Abraham

(74) that he would rescue us

from our enemies.

Then we could serve him

without fear,

(75) by being holy and good

as long as we live.

(76) You, my son, will be called

a prophet of God

in heaven above.

You will go ahead of the Lord

to get everything ready

for him.

(77) You will tell his people

that they can be saved

when their sins

are forgiven.

(78) God's love and kindness

will shine upon us

like the sun that rises

in the sky. (79) On us who live

in the dark shadow

of death

this light will shine

to guide us

into a life of peace.

(80) As John grew up, God's Spirit gave him great power. John lived in the desert until the time he was sent to the people of Israel.

Luke 2
The Birth of Jesus
(Matthew 1.18-25)
(1) About that time Emperor Augustus gave orders for the names of all the people to be listed in record books. (2) These first records were made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. (3) Everyone had to go to their own hometown to be listed. (4) So Joseph had to leave Nazareth in Galilee and go to Bethlehem in Judea. Long ago Bethlehem had been King David's hometown, and Joseph went there because he was from David's family.
(5) Mary was engaged to Joseph and traveled with him to Bethlehem. She was soon going to have a baby, (6) and while they were there, (7) she gave birth to her first-born son. She dressed him in baby clothes and laid him on a bed of hay, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds
(8) That night in the fields near Bethlehem some shepherds were guarding their sheep. (9) All at once an angel came down to them from the Lord, and the brightness of the Lord's glory flashed around them. The shepherds were frightened. (10) But the angel said, "Don't be afraid! I have good news for you, which will make everyone happy. (11) This very day in King David's hometown a Savior was born for you. He is Christ the Lord. (12) You will know who he is, because you will find him dressed in baby clothes and lying on a bed of hay."
(13) Suddenly many other angels came down from heaven and joined in praising God. They said:

(14) "Praise God in heaven!

Peace on earth to everyone

who pleases God."

(15) After the angels had left and gone back to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see what the Lord has told us about." (16) They hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and they saw the baby lying on a bed of hay.

(17) When the shepherds saw Jesus, they told his parents what the angel had said about him. (18) Everyone listened and was surprised. (19) But Mary kept thinking about all this and wondering what it meant.

(20) As the shepherds returned to their sheep, they were praising God and saying wonderful things about him. Everything they had seen and heard was just as the angel had said.

(21) Eight days later Jesus' parents did for him what the Law of Moses commands. And they named him Jesus, just as the angel had told Mary when he promised she would have a baby.

Simeon Praises the Lord
(22) The time came for Mary and Joseph to do what the Law of Moses says a mother is supposed to do after her baby is born. They took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem and presented him to the Lord, (23) just as the Law of the Lord says, "Each first-born baby boy belongs to the Lord." (24) The Law of the Lord also says that parents have to offer a sacrifice, giving at least a pair of doves or two young pigeons. So that is what Mary and Joseph did. (25) At this time a man named Simeon was living in Jerusalem. Simeon was a good man. He loved God and was waiting for God to save the people of Israel. God's Spirit came to him (26) and told him that he would not die until he had seen Christ the Lord.
(27) When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple to do what the Law of Moses says should be done for a new baby, the Spirit told Simeon to go into the temple. (28) Simeon took the baby Jesus in his arms and praised God,

(29) "Lord, I am your servant,

and now I can die in peace,

because you have kept

your promise to me.

(30) With my own eyes I have seen

what you have done

to save your people,

(31) and foreign nations

will also see this.

(32) Your mighty power is a light

for all nations,

and it will bring honor

to your people Israel."

(33) Jesus' parents were surprised at what Simeon had said. (34) Then he blessed them and told Mary, "This child of yours will cause many people in Israel to fall and others to stand. The child will be like a warning sign. Many people will reject him, (35) and you, Mary, will suffer as though you had been stabbed by a dagger. But all this will show what people are really thinking."

Anna Speaks about the Child Jesus
(36) The prophet Anna was also there in the temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. In her youth she had been married for seven years, but her husband died. (37) And now she was eighty-four years old. Night and day she served God in the temple by praying and often going without eating. (38) At that time Anna came in and praised God. She spoke about the child Jesus to everyone who hoped for Jerusalem to be set free.

The Return to Nazareth
(39) After Joseph and Mary had done everything that the Law of the Lord commands, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. (40) The child Jesus grew. He became strong and wise, and God blessed him.

Now before we get to the videos today, hopefully everyone will remember to pass the blogs along to your friends. The Christmas Special blogs from TVP can help a lot of people. You can show them what we are doing by Clicking Here at this Link. They can also get in the Christmas Spirit by Clicking Here and reading about The Virtual Pew and our Christmas giving options. Also be on the lookout for my story of The Best Christmas Ever, which will be posted around Christmas Day. It is a heart tugging story, and a true testament to the power of Christmas and God. I am really looking forward to retelling this story that is true, and happened to me and my family. It has been published across the world, and I will redo the story, just for The Virtual Pew.

Now for those that do not know, make sure you check out the numerous articles and blogs by checking out the archives. If visiting The Virtual Pew or MySpace they are archived on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down to where you see newer or older listed under archives and then click there. There are numerous postings, and you will have to go into the archives to see the 100 plus postings over the last months.

Now I also want to remind you that you can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ and on the front page scroll down to the left hand side of the page where you sill see our store. Your purchases through our Amazon store provides needed funds to The Virtual Pew. If you do not see something on the page to buy, you can click on the search engine for the store, (do not put anything in the search box at this time) and you will then be taken to Amazon where you can search for anything you desire. Hopefully as you shop for Christmas you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew and/or at the very least shop our store. The items on the store page are highly recommended.

Now prior to checking out the videos for the day, here is that information, contact and contribution information regarding The Virtual Pew. Again, thanks for visiting, have a Merry Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate. Just remember though, from The Virtual Pew, we wish you a Merry Christmas.

Contact and Giving InformationOh Yea, here is that contact information again.
The Virtual Pew
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217
Or you van give on line via Pay Pal at: http://www.furches.org/donations/index.html
To become a part of The Virtual Pew, visit, http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ To learn more about me visit http://www.furches.org/ I am also active on MySpace at: http://www.myspace.com/mikefurches I have another blog at http://blog.myspace.com/mikefurches To visit the Hollywood Jesus group at MySpace with membership by numerous Hollywood Jesus reviewers visit: http://groups.myspace.com/hollywoodjesus For a more in depth weekly study and conversation you an visit: http://virtualpewsermon.blogspot.com/ where you can access deeper teaching and ultimately videos for viewing and teaching. You can also subscribe to the newsletter at http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ or see the newsletter on line at http://thevirtualpewnews.blogspot.com/ You can also sign up for the free newsletter from The Virtual Pew by visiting the main page for The Virtual Pew, or you can see the newsletters online by visiting this web site: http://thevirtualpewnews.blogspot.com/ You can contact me via email at mike@furches.org or mike@thevirtualpew.com For those interested in knowing more about my own story, contact me for a free e-copy of my book The Keystone Kid in pre-edit form.

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The Mr. Bean Christmas Party

Clintons Accoustic Christmas Special and Spoof

Amy Grant Breath of Heaven

Mary Did You Know Photo Montage

Gaither Vocal Band The Christmas Song

Cliff Richard Sweet Little Jesus Boy We're All One

Mary Did You Know

Go Fish, It's About The Cross

Away In A Manger Amber Thompson Kelly Nelon

Angela Lansbury Story of Jesus

Christmas Begins with Christ

Walking in the Light African Childrens Choir

Pipers Night Before Christmas Mark Lowery

Kathy Mattea Mary Did You Know

Don't Cross Christ Out of Christmas Dwight Mallory

Peace Child O Come Emmanuel The Normals

A Christmas Song Dave Matthews

Avalon We Are The Reason

Amy Grant Little Town of Bethlehem

Mogwai Christmas Steps Live

The Monkeys Christmas Medeley With Michael Nesmith

Christmas with the Kelly Family 1994

Anime Christmas Special

Chip & Dale Christmas

Zack Kim First Noel

Joan Crawford Christmas

Darlene Love on Letterman Baby Please Come Home

New Edition Christmas All Around The World

Mario Lanza O Holy Night

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