Published 12:00 am Friday, December 25, 2015

Mary was played by Tiffany Dean; Joseph was portrayed by Matthew McCollough and angel was Callie Caldwell.

The nativy scene as depicted by Westview Baptist last weekend. Mary was played by Tiffany Dean; Joseph was portrayed by Matthew McCollough and angel was Callie Caldwell.

Local pastors share beliefs

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.”

Local ministers shared the true reason for Christmas isn’t the nice presents under the tree, but God’s gift of his son to save the world.

The Rev. John Hunt, pastor of Andalusia Full Gospel Tabernacle, spoke of the miraculous gesture God gave when sending his son here.

“When I think about this season of the year, I am overwhelmed by the thought that God, himself, would take on the form of man, as a babe and come to us,” he said. “Wow. Why would the son of God, which created the heaven and earth, leave his throne for a stable?”

Luke 2:7 says, “And (Mary) gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”

“A stable! Filled with sheep, cattle, hay, cobwebs, rats and smells that would make even a country boy wrinkle his nose,” Hunt said. “The ground hard, conditions rough, and a feed trough manger, that was never intended to be used as a cradle for a newborn. Yet, he came to us.”

Hunt said the Jesus traded angels bowing before him and worshipping him to become so obscure, with no host of friends or great reception.

“No parade to celebrate his arrival. If it were not for the shepherds, there would not have been anyone to celebrate with them that night,” he said. “If not for the wise men, there would have not been any gifts fit for a King, but he came to us.”

Luke 2:15-20 discusses a visit to the manger by shepherds.

“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherd said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.

“And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning the child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard.”

Mathew 2:1-12 details the visit of the wise men.

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 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.’

The Bible says that when Herod heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him, and he assembled the chief priests and scribes and inquired about the Christ to be born.

Hunt said that they called Jesus Immanuel, which means God with us.

“God himself stepped to the earth he created,” he said. “Why? Because he knew our need. Since the Garden of Eden, when man first disobeyed, there had been a separation between God and man. But now that had come to an end. When we could not get to him, he came to us.”

Cindy Howard, rector at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church said the time leading up to Christmas can be so tiring, stressful and exhausting for many.

“On that night when heaven and earth came together, when God and humankind were born together, united miraculously in the person of Jesus, God used a baby’s cry and the songs of angels to speak to tired, stressed people,” she said. “The news was that God was doing a new thing – a thing that would turn the world upside down – a thing that would give rest and peace to those who were weary and carrying heavy burdens. And that is what Jesus continues to come to give us today.

“Our ears need to be open to the baby’s cry and the songs the angels sing,” she said.