If you want to read the Christmas story out loud this season but don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place! Reading the nativity story (or listening to the audio version) is a wonderful way to take a moment away from the bustle and reflect on what Christmas is truly about.
Some families read the story just before they open gifts as a way to put Jesus first, other families like to read the story a bit at a time in the lead up to Christmas. I have an Sticker Advent Calendar which includes a Christmas story book and 40 stickers to add to the calendar as you read the story.
The new testament books Luke and Matthew tell the story of Jesus’ birth. It might be a familiar story, but when you think about it, it has mystery and intrigue—the makings of any good story! Mysterious happenings like angels and a miraculous pregnancy. A hard journey, with no place to stay, visitors from near and far who confirm the miracle and then lastly, the family has to escape a plot against Jesus’ life.
1. An angel speaks to Mary
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 even 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.
2. An angel reassures Joseph
19 Joseph was a good man and did not want to embarrass Mary in front of everyone. So he decided to quietly call off the wedding.
20 While Joseph was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The angel said, “Joseph, the baby that Mary will have is from the Holy Spirit. Go ahead and marry her. 21 Then after her baby is born, name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 So the Lord’s promise came true, just as the prophet had said, 23 “A virgin will have a baby boy, and he will be called Immanuel,” which means “God is with us.”
24 After Joseph woke up, he and Mary were soon married, just as the Lord’s angel had told him to do. 25 But they did not sleep together before her baby was born. Then Joseph named him Jesus.
3. The journey to Bethlehem, Jesus is born and some shepherds get a surprise
2 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.
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.
4. The evil king and the wise men
2 When Jesus was born in the village of Bethlehem in Judea, Herod was king. During this time some wise men from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and said, “Where is the child born to be king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard about this, he was worried, and so was everyone else in Jerusalem. 4 Herod brought together the chief priests and the teachers of the Law of Moses and asked them, “Where will the Messiah be born?”
5 They told him, “He will be born in Bethlehem, just as the prophet wrote,
6 ‘Bethlehem in the land
you are very important
among the towns of Judea.
From your town
will come a leader,
who will be like a shepherd
for my people Israel.’ ”
7 Herod secretly called in the wise men and asked them when they had first seen the star. 8 He told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, let me know. I also want to go and worship him.”
9 The wise men listened to what the king said and then left. And the star they had seen in the east went on ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 They were thrilled and excited to see the star.
11 When the men went into the house and saw the child with Mary, his mother, they knelt down and worshiped him. They took out their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh[c] and gave them to him. 12 Later they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, and they went back home by another road.
13 After the wise men had gone, an angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Hurry and take the child and his mother to Egypt! Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is looking for the child and wants to kill him.”