• Today is St. Stephen's Day, December 26th. It is also known as the Feast of Stephen. I don't know how well you know your Christmas Carols but one of the old ones is about today! It's called "Good King Wenceslas." If only you could hear me humming it now!

     

    It's a long story, but King Wenceslas ruled briefly over Bohemia, which was located within today's Czech republic. His father was Christian and his mother was a pagan. His father died when Wenceslas was 12 years old, but he could not reign as king until 18, so his pagan mother sat on the throne of Bohemia for a time. During those years, his grandmother smuggled priests into the castle to teach her grandson Christianity. Under the cover of darkness the future king learned about the Bible.


  • Perhaps when you hear the words of Luke, chapter 2, you think of the moment in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” where Linus quotes the words of the Christmas story. But, I want you to notice something about this TV cartoon that you may never have noticed before. In the middle of quoting this Bible passage about the birth of Jesus, Linus drops his blanket.


  • Luke 2:12 NIV reads: "This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 

    But, the King James Version is more familiar: "And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." 

     

    This shall be a sign. I've always taught, for over 40 years now, that the sign the shepherds would find would be a baby placed in a feeding trough - called a manger. You don't see that kind of bed for a baby every day! So, this would be the sign that they would identify the right baby - the Messiah - a baby born among animals. 

     

    But, I've only taught half the truth all these years. You see, the swaddling clothes were just as important, if not more so! The two unique features of the angelic announcement were both signs that the shepherds would recognize. But it was not just a sign to them, but to us as well!