And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2: 8-11)
As we pause to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, into the world and what that means to all of us — not only in this life but also throughout eternity — we are filled with deep reverence and gratitude for the great gift of His life.
From John we read, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Within those few, inspired words is our Heavenly Father’s plan to save us from the inevitable sin we would incur (while in mortality) and bring us back into His presence, clean and pure, to live the same kind of life that He enjoys as an exalted and resurrected Being of glory. That is our destiny as children of the covenant.
Heavenly Father, “gave” us His Son (the promised Messiah – King of all Kings) in the same way each of His children, you and I, enter mortality: through birth of a mother. As prophesied and witnessed by ancient prophets we learn first, through Isaiah’s biblical account:
“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
From the Book of Mormon, Nephi, shares his sacred vision of the same:
And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look!
And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms.
From these two witnesses, (and there are more) we learn that Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God, both spiritual and physical.
The birth and life of Jesus Christ, as recorded in Holy Scripture, tells of the greatest love story ever told. It is a story about family – the family of God. The covenant mission of the Christ child, born in a lowly stable, symbolizes the extreme gulf between each of our own dire circumstance here in mortality (with physical and spiritual death looming) and our great hope of eternal life in the mansions of our Heavenly Father.
Jesus Christ is our only hope of being reunited as families to live in the presence of God, once again, for eternity. Because of His Atonement wrought while here upon the earth (the reason for His birth) each one of us by making and keeping sacred covenants can rejoice with assurance that our exaltation in the Kingdom of Heaven is fixed and immovable – and in this we rejoice!
Without Christ, there would be no Christmas. Void of the mission of Jesus Christ at its center the giving and receiving of gifts would not convey the intended message; the “Good News.” Rather, it would simply be frenzied shopping for others and selfish accumulation of material goods in the name of ‘fun.’ In fact, nearly everything we associate with Christmas, its symbolism, would be absent.
As we gather as family and close friends, which is what these holy days (or holidays) provides and what we all look forward to with our many delightful traditions surrounding the blessed event there is something inside of everyone of us that longs for these types of gatherings and relationships to continue beyond this life. How could we feel the spirit of joy that we do at this time of year if these times together had a known end?
Evergreen Christmas trees that remind us of eternal life — His greatest gift! Or the star atop the tree that reminds us of the great Light that came into the world on that first Christmas night — The Light of the World! And Christmas lights, too! Think of all the beautiful Christmas carols that we sing each year, such as “Oh Holy Night”, “Silent Night”, “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”, “Joy to the World”, “The First Noel”! Each of these songs is a song of praise and joy for His coming! Christmas music fills our hearts with the Spirit of Christ. Why, without Christmas carols — these songs of the heart — who can even imagine Christmas? I could go on, but I think you get what I’m trying to convey here. For the most part, the majority of our traditions point to Jesus Christ and what He means to the entire world – not only those who profess Christianity.
To me, Jesus Christ means eternal families — my eternal family. Without the possibility to be with my family beyond this life, nothing else has much meaning. I have a deep testimony of the mission of Jesus Christ — who He is, what His mission here upon the earth accomplished, and His perfect love for each one of us. That great love is part of the greatest love story ever told, which resulted in the greatest gift to all humanity! And that is what CHRISTmas is all about. It is the celebration of His birth — of Him who came into the world to save us from our sins and make it possible for us, through Him, to overcome this world and be lifted to greater heights!
Christmas is so much more than what commercialism and the world have done with it — even with the many attempts to ignore its origins. And what I love most is that even with all the modern-day commercialism of Christmas, it is still impossible to ignore the true meaning of Christmas! It’s all around us, in all of the symbolism that is CHRISTmas and the undeniable Spirit that permeates the world at this time of year!
About Christmas, Gordon B. Hinckley said this:
“He whose birth we commemorate this season is more than the symbol of a holiday. He is the Son of God, the Creator of the earth, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, the fulfillment of the Law of Moses, the Redeemer of mankind, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace.
I thank our Eternal Father that mankind in these latter-days has been so blessed to know of Christ with added certainty and added knowledge. I rejoice with thanksgiving that he has reaffirmed his matchless gospel truths in their fulness, and that he has restored his priesthood power and church to prepare a people and make ready for his eventual coming in great glory and power in the opening of the Millennial era.”
The world needs Jesus Christ. Each one of us, need Jesus Christ. Only through Him, our one Hope, can we as individuals overcome this life, with its many challenges.
Families need Jesus Christ. Only through the power of the Atonement, like us as individuals, can our families also be healed.
For many, Christmastime is difficult for one reason or another. Mortality tends to separate us from those most important in our lives. For some, we mourn the absence of those passed through the veil. For others, relationships are in need of mending. Challenges having to do with health can often rob us of the joy we are intended to experience in this life.
Nevertheless, as we personally seek for Jesus Christ in our individual lives and allow His Grace and mercy to carry us — knowing with full assurance that whatever adversity we are called to bear in this life is temporary — we will find the sweet peace that only His Gospel brings. And for this, and many many more reasons, we celebrate at Christmas the sacred birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and what His life and mission mean to the entire world!
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