Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Christmas Message

Today is the morn of Christmas Eve. Church isn't until 1:00pm. Normally, I have other meetings starting at 8:00am; however, being Christmas Eve, all other meetings have been canceled except for our 3 hour block of meetings. I could have stayed in bed; but, I was wide awake; so, I got up at my normal time. My wife is busy catching up on some last minute sewing, and my daughter and son are still in bed. My older son and his girlfriend will be coming over later this morning to go to church with us. For a while, I have a bit of time to myself; so, I thought I might share my thoughts on Christmas.

First of all, as a Mormon, I do not believe Jesus Christ was actually born on December 25. Although, this idea was not new to me when I joined the LDS church. When I was a young boy, years before I became a Mormon, I would hear people say that Jesus was likely born in the Spring time. Their reasoning? Shepherds do not watch their flocks by night in the dead of winter. Over the years I've heard various theories as to why we celebrate the birth of the Savior on December 25th. The important thing, however, is that it doesn't matter when Jesus Christ was born. What matters is that he did walk upon the Earth, He gave us His Gospel, He suffered and died for our sins, and He brought about the resurrection from death.

So, what does Christmas mean to me? I think the best way to illustrate my thoughts is to talk about my favorite Christmas Story. While many people like to read about the story of the Nativity, as told in the Gospel of Luke, my favorite Christmas story is a fictitious account of a 4th wiseman named Artaban. I don't know if this story is copyrighted or not (I first read it in one of the "Especially for Mormon's" books). So, rather than repeat it here, I'll just post a link.

The Other Wise Man

Artaban spent his entire life searching for the Christ child. He dedicated his life to serving others whom he came across during his travels. As his life neared its end, he finally came to the realization that, by serving others, he had found his Lord, Jesus Christ.

One of my favorite scriptures is in the Book of Mormon where King Benjamin says:
And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.
Mosiah 2: 17
So, for me, the spirit of Christmas is about service to others. The thing I love about Christmas is the small acts of service we see all around us. It just seems like everyone smiles a little more during this season. Everyone is just a little nicer. In our modern society, Christmas has become all about gift giving. But, even that speaks of service if done in the right spirit: Spending time searching for the perfect gift and then presenting it to a friend or loved one can be an act of service. Talking with family or loved ones on the phone is an act of service. Spending all day in the kitchen making a nice Christmas dinner for the family is an act of service. Helping clean up the kitchen afterwards is an act of service. True, these are small, almost, insignificant things; but, as the Lord tells us:
You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.
D&C 123: 16
May we all have the Christmas spirit of service to others throughout the year.

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