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Advent Daily Devotional: December 23

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December 23 by Dennis and Carolyn Vanderburg

Reading: Matthew 2:1-4

1Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

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For Mary and Joseph, the journey to Bethlehem must have been tiring and exhausting. The shepherds traveled by starlight across rocks and fields being guided by the music of angels. And the great distances of the wise men traveling in search of the king of the Jews would have been difficult.

We have a large family and we are fortunate that they don't have to travel far to celebrate Christmas with us and the journey is not difficult. Our family celebrates a week before December 25th allowing everyone to enjoy the season without competing with other Christmastime activities.

The aroma of turkey with all the fixings fills our home. Each family arrives in their “Sunday best”-the table is adorned with the lace tablecloth and napkins. The china and silver sparkle by candlelight. As the grandchildren arrive bringing their gifts for one another, the tree overflows with the promises of surprises and excitement.

After the dinner is eaten and the Christmas cookies are gone, the children prepare for the Christmas play. Grandpa composed a play from the book, The Tail of Three Trees. Each grandchild gets busy gathering their props and lining up as the oldest cousin prepares the narration. The parents hustle to get the best seat for pictures as the children listen for their cues! The excitement and noise of laughter is a wonderful message in itself.

As we watch the final scene of the first tree that became the manager, then the second tree that became the boat carrying Jesus across the Galilee, we anxiously await the child bringing the third tree that became the cross, pointing upwards to the heavens. Our nativity sets come to life as we honor this as the Greatest Gift of the Christmas season.

The evening ends with the sharing of our gifts to one another as a reminder of the most precious gift given to us for our Christmas celebration.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son...”

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