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Advent Devotional Icon-2

“I bring you good news of great joy, which shall be for all people.”

Hello. Allow me to introduce myself. I am an angel. I’m not Gabriel or Michael or any of the angels whose names you know. But, I am an angel you know something about. You remember the Christmas story? Remember how Luke talks about an angel of the Lord who appeared to the shepherds, out in their fields keeping watch over their flocks by night? Well, that was me. I was the one God chose to speak to the shepherds. I still remember my lines: “Fear not, for I bring you good news of great joy which shall be to all people. For, to you this day, in the city of David, a Savior is born; He is Christ the Lord.”

It was an exciting day when I spoke those words. We were all thrilled that Jesus was born! But, I remember that, even in the middle of all that excitement, there was one thing I wasn’t sure about. God told me to say that the good news of Jesus’ birth would be for all people. . . for everyone over the whole earth. I found that hard to believe because Jesus was just one little baby, all by Himself -- he was so small. And, Mary and Joseph were such humble people -- they weren’t kings or empresses or anything. How could such a small baby, born to such ordinary people, really be someone who makes a difference to all people everywhere? I wasn’t sure if it was possible.

Well, it was possible. And, today -- with the help of these children and some visitors -- you’re going to hear how it happened.

Hello. I am one of the wise men. I was one of the first people from another nation to hear about the new baby. My friends and I were led by a mysterious star over hundreds of miles across deserts and over mountains. Finally, that star led us to Bethlehem and to Jesus. When we saw the child, we worshiped Him and gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We knew that He was our King.

We were the first. But, since then, many other people from many other nations have heard about this baby. And, all of them have come to worship Jesus, just as we did.

AFRICA

We are from Malawi and we have heard the good news for all people. Malawi is in Africa -- the western part of Africa, to be exact. Life in our country is very different from yours. When you celebrate Christmas, in many parts of your country, it’s cold and snowy. In our country, it is sometimes 100 on Christmas day. We don’t have Christmas trees, either. And, we don’t hang up our stockings. But, you and I do share one thing: Just like you, we believe that the baby born in Bethlehem is our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, our Everlasting Father, our Prince of Peace. Jesus is our King, too.

The people in Africa were some of the first to hear the gospel. One hundred years after Jesus was born, there were many Christians in the northern part of Africa. And, since then, many missionaries and volunteers have worked to make sure that everyone in Africa hears the good news. Now, people in faraway places like Malawi remember Christmas. And, they sing their own songs to celebrate the birth of Mary’s Child.

ASIA

I have heard the good news for all people. We are from Japan. In our country most people are not Christians… Only about 1% are Christians.

Christmas was introduced in Japan by Christian missionaries, and for many years the only people who celebrated Christmas were those who turned to the Christian faith. But now, the Christmas season in Japan is full of meaning and is almost universally observed.

Almost everyone has a small desk top plastic Christmas tree in their homes which they often display in a place out of the way such as on top of the refrigerator.

Santa definitely comes to children’s homes but through their bedroom windows and he leaves just one present.

Christmas Eve in Japan has also developed into a romantic holiday for couples.

We also have some unusual traditions of eating Kentucky Fried Chicken. A favorite dessert is a sponge cake with strawberries and whipped topping.

The story of the birth of baby Jesus in a manger is fascinating to little girls in Japan for they love anything having to do with babies. The scene of the Nativity helps them to become familiar with a cradle for the very first time. Japanese babies never sleep in a cradle.

The first missionaries came to Japan in the 1500s and they faced an uphill battle. Some people believed in Jesus, but many others didn’t. And, some of the unbelievers were powerful people who began persecuting the church. Christians were tortured and killed because of what they believed. But some stayed faithful to the message. And, because of them, many Japanese people do celebrate Jesus’ birth and they sing their own songs of praise.

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