Friday, December 22, 2017

The Holy Day

This year's Christmas card photo,
featuring two of my grandchildren

Merry Christmas!

We’re celebrating a holy day, to honor our Savior Jesus Christ. We’re asked to become more like Him.

So, what does that mean? What does a life look like, when following His example? We can get some of these qualities from scriptures, among them the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, and in I Corinthians 13, which defines His love:

·         Loving
·         Kind
·         Meek
·         Humble
·         Seeking righteousness
·         Merciful
·         Pure in heart (honest, integrity, without guile)
·         Peacemaker
·         Longsuffering
·         Without envy
·         Not easily provoked
·         Seeks truth
·         Avoids iniquity
·         Gentle
·         Self-sacrificing
And we could add a few extras that don’t come up as often:

·        He sees a person’s heart, always knowing what a person really means or intends, and works with that person, as a friend would, to encourage living better.
·        He always knows God’s will and makes that His own will.
·        He combines truth and kindness, but He doesn’t modify the truth to avoid offending.
·        He doesn’t mollify. He doesn’t accept evil, even when He deeply loves the person doing the evil.

Imagine if all the people on earth lived the way Jesus did—or at least were earnestly striving to. On the Spherical Model, Jesus Christ leads to way to Civilization. He moves us ever northward, toward Him.

One of my favorite speakers, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, says, 

Considering the incomprehensible cost of the Crucifixion and Atonement, I promise you He is not going to turn His back on us now. When He says to the poor in spirit, “Come unto me,” He means He knows the way out and He knows the way up. He knows it because He has walked it. He knows the way because He is the way.[i]
Above all other lives, His birth, life, death, and resurrection, are most worth celebrating.

His birth story shows us beauty in humble circumstances. Many of my favorite Christmas carols tell the story. I’ll share just a few verses.

This is the final verse of the Alfred Burt carol, “We’ll Dress the House with Holly Bright”:

And ye who would the Christ Child greet,
    Your heart also adorn,
That it may be a dwelling meet
   For Him who now is born.
Let all unlovely things give place
To souls bedecked with heavenly grace,
That ye may view His holy face,
   With joy on Christmas morn.

Here’s another Alfred Burt carol, the ending of “Some Children See Him”:

O lay aside each earthly thing,
And with thy heart as offering,
Come worship now the infant King,
‘Tis love that’s born tonight!

I’m noticing endings of a lot of songs. This is the final verse of the Christina Rosetti poem, “In the Bleak Midwinter”:

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am? —
If I were a Shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part, —
Yet what I can I give Him, —
Give my heart.

As a family, we’ve been retelling the nativity story as part of our Christmas Eve tradition for thirty years. We have a script. We dress up in costumes, and we all take part. Every time there’s a new baby, we use a real baby instead of a doll to be the baby Jesus.

My Christmas card is always a depiction of some part of the nativity story. This year we had my new granddaughter and her big brother play the parts of the baby Jesus and a shepherd (above).

Many of my Christmas decorations are depictions of the nativity. I like the goodies and presents and fun as much as the next person, but the real celebration is what is at the core of this holy day, and that is Christ.

If you want a beautiful visual retelling of the Christmas story, spend eight minutes on this video, produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

[i] Jeffry R. Holland, “Broken Things to Mend,” Ensign, May 2006, p. 71.

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