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THE NATIVITY STORY

The Story Of The Nativity
The actual story of the Nativity can be found in the Biblical Gospels of Matthew and Luke. It begins at the end of the inter-testament era – the 100 or so years between the time of Judas Maccabeus and the birth of Christ. 

The story begins with the King Herod (client king of Judea under Caesar Augustus) and his fear of the Old Testament prophecy of the Messiah. Paranoid he will lose his kingdom, he orders the infamous Massacre of the Innocents – the slaughter of all male children under two years old in the city of Bethlehem.

Following the trail of the prophecy, the film then flashes back one year to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem where Zechariah, a pious priest, receives a vision from God instructing him that his wife "will bear him a son and he shall be a prophet, preparing the way for the Lord.” As Zechariah's wife Elizabeth is past her child-bearing years, he expresses disbelief and is struck dumb.

Meanwhile, in Nazareth, a town oppressed by the devastating taxation practices of King Herod, a teenage Mary is told by her parents that they have arranged for her to marry Joseph. Distraught by the idea of marrying "a man I hardly know, a man I do not love,” Mary takes refuge in an ancient olive grove to collect her thoughts. There, she is visited by the angel Gabriel, who tells her that she has been chosen by God to bear his son and call him Jesus, and that he will be a Saviour for his people. Mary accepts this news, but is overwhelmed by this annunciation and has no idea how to tell her parents.

Back in Jerusalem, King Herod begins to feel threatened as word spreads of a prophecy that a new King will soon arrive. Herod orders his troops to kill anyone who might be this "man of power, this Messiah.”

In Persia, another group of men are following the prophecy, but with great excitement. The three Magi – Melchior the scholar, Gaspar the skeptical translator and Balthasar the Ethiopian astronomer – have studied the ancient documents and feel that a celestial event (what we now call a planetary convergence) is about to occur, which will signal the birth of the Messiah. Melchior convinces his comrades to undertake the long journey to Judeah, following the "star.”

In Nazareth, Mary, in an effort to understand her situation, goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth, assuring her parents that she will be back for the harvest. Mary is relieved that what Gabriel told her is true: Elizabeth is in the midst of a miraculous pregnancy due to her advanced age. Elizabeth provides Mary encouragement and shares in her joy. Following the birth of John the Baptist, after which Zechariah regains his speech, Mary is emotionally ready to return to Nazareth.

Her homecoming is less than warm: as she climbs off the wagon in Nazareth's town center, her coat slips open and her pregnancy is clearly revealed. She is scorned by the locals and faces a difficult confrontation with Joseph and her parents, who do not believe her: "An angel told you this? That you would bear the Son of God?” The following night, Joseph has a dream in which he is visited by the angel Gabriel, who confirms Mary's story. He tells her he will stand by her, no matter what the others say: "You are my wife. I am your husband. That is all anyone need know.” For the first time, Mary starts to realize that Joseph is, as her mother said, "a good man, a strong man.”

Shortly thereafter, following a decree from Rome, King Herod orders everyone to return to the town of their birth for a census which he craftily believes will help him find the Messiah. This forces Mary and Joseph to begin a long trek to his birth home of Bethlehem. Crossing treacherous mountain passes, swift-flowing rivers and barren deserts, Joseph walks the entire way, doing everything he can to live up to his promise to Mary's parents: "I will protect your daughter and the child, with all that I am.” Mary's apprecia

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