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Personalized parts are in RED.
Christmas has always been a time of miracles great and small. On this Christmas Eve, Monique Johnson would be part of another miracle. She would become a character in the greatest story ever told.
On this special night, Monique was sitting on the floor near the Christmas tree. Along with her pet Dog, she gazed at the beautiful, shining star at its top.
Monique looked at the gifts placed under the tree. She thought about the wonderful surprises which always made Christmas so special.
Her daydreaming stopped as she heard the voice of Mom behind her. "Would you please help me set up the Nativity scene, Monique?"
Monique got up from the floor. She watched as Mom removed the Nativity items from a large box.
Mom lifted something from the box that looked like a building. In answer to the curious look from Monique, Mom said, "This is the stable."
Monique listened as she was told about the stable. It was a place where animals like horses were kept, like a barn.
"Why was Jesus born in a barn?" asked Monique.
As they put the stable in place, Mom answered the question. "When Jesus' mother and father came to Bethlehem, there was no other place for them to stay. There were so many people in the city at that time. The government had told all the people to go to their hometown to be counted."
"These were very difficult days, because it was so close to the time for Mary to have her baby."
Mom reached into the box and brought out the figures of the sheep and a donkey. These were placed in the stable. "Here is the figure of Jesus' father, Joseph. And, this is His mother, Mary," said Mom.
Monique took the figures and placed them in the center of the stable.
"While Mary and Joseph were in the stable that night, Jesus was born," said Mom.
Then Monique again reached into the box and unwrapped something labeled "MANGER". "What is a manger?" asked Monique.
Mom explained that people placed food for the animals in the manger. "But, on that special night long ago Mary and Joseph filled that manger with straw and laid the baby Jesus there," said Mom.
Searching through the box, Monique looked for the baby. Soon, she smiled as she gently lifted the figure of the baby Jesus. She placed the baby in the manger.
Monique wondered what it must have been like to be there.
As Mom reached back into the box, Monique watched as other figures were removed. Mom told her that shepherds, who raised sheep, were there also.
Monique felt her eyelids become heavy. She was very tired. Monique tried to stay awake. Her eyes blinked as she stared at the treetop star.
She tried to listen as Mom told about how the shepherds came to be there. Monique yawned. The star became a blur, and she could hear Mom.
"The shepherds were watching their flock of sheep that night. They were near the city of Bethlehem. While they were sitting around, something amazing happened."
Suddenly a flash of bright light forced Monique's eyes open. But, the star was no longer on a treetop. It was shining in the dark sky so much brighter than all the other stars!
In the midst of that flash of light, Monique saw the figure of an angel?
And then she looked at her clothes. She wore a robe, not blue jeans, sandals, or sneakers! her pet Dog, was now a sheep! And she was a shepherd!
It was clear to Monique that she was no longer in Orlando, Florida.
The angel spoke to Monique and the others, and said that there was some very good news. The baby Jesus had been born in Bethlehem!
This baby was to be very special. He was God's own Son! He was to be Christ the Lord. He was to become the Savior, like a hero for all people.
God had always promised that this would happen someday. Monique heard the excited voices of the others.
The angel faded into the night sky, and the star became brighter. It was as if it pointed to that stable in Bethlehem.
She heard the other shepherds say that they must go and see this great thing which had happened in Bethlehem. Before Monique knew it, she was standing with the others in the Bethlehem stable!
She could see Mary and Joseph looking down at the straw-filled manger. Resting in the center was the tiny baby, Jesus.
As Monique watched, it was as if Mary motioned for her to come closer. As she moved to the side of the manger, Monique could hear the others praying and praising God for this miracle.
Trying to see the face of the baby, Monique reached out and removed some of the straw.
As she did this, there was another flash of brilliant light. Monique heard Mom's voice "What a picture that will be!"
As her eyes opened, Monique again saw the treetop star. She saw the old familiar blue jeans, sneakers, and her pet Dog, but, there was something else!
Mom looked down at Monique's hand and asked, "Where did you get that straw, Monique?"
Unable to answer, Monique looked at the straw in her hand. Then she gazed again at the star atop the tree.
Without a word, Monique placed the straw beneath the tree. It was a sign of the greatest of all gifts, the reason Christmas is celebrated.
This Christmas would have new meaning for Monique Johnson. She has her own miracle ... one that would always remind her of the miracle of Jesus' birth.
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