St. Mary's Slough

Picture of the inside of St. Mary's Church used in header of pages

The Birth of Jesus

The Gospels of Saint Matthew and Saint Luke tell us about the birth of Jesus. Gospels are books written by Jesus' students and followers. Their name derives from the Old English word God-spell, which means good news, or God's news.

In the second chapter of the Gospel of Saint Luke we are told that Jesus was born to Mary in Bethlehem in Judea, and that the birth of the Son of God took place in a manger 'because there was no room for them at the inn' (Gospel according to Saint Luke, 2.9). Jewish prophecies tell how the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, and Saint Luke's story tells how it was a Roman census requiring each citizen to return to their ancestral home - forcing Joseph and Mary to travel from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem - that led to the fulfillment of this prophecy.

In the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem pilgrims can still see a grotto where tradition locates the place of the birth of Jesus. Shepherds would have kept their sheep in such grottos rather than in stables, unlike our Carols and Christmas cards suggest. Eastern icon painters show the birth of Jesus in such a grotto, as our picture of the icon in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem shows (see right).

In Luke's Gospel we can read how the Good News of the birth of Jesus was first told to the shepherds of Bethlehem, poor people who had to make a living from herding other peoples' livestock. Right at the outset of his Gospel, therefore, Saint Luke tells how the coming of Jesus among us was a sign of great joy for the poor and outcast. Similarly, in Matthew's Gospel we read about how three foreigners were made welcome. Wise men who did not share the faith of Mary and Joseph had made their way from the East to seek the child Jesus and to pay homage to him (Gospel according to Saint Matthew, 2.1-12). Clearly, the Gospel writers believed that Jesus was born for all people, whatever their race, religion or social standing.

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St. Mary's logo - the Christian Fish



Updated: August 29, 2006