Remembering the Gifts of the Savior

nativityThe beautiful message and gift of the Savior doesn’t have to be enjoyed, treasured, and remembered only once a year at Christmas. It can become a permanent fixture in our souls. It is something of great worth and substance that can permeate our very being.

In a world that considers the transitory, the disposable, and the brief good enough, Christ is the very best gift that has ever been given in the entire history of mankind.  The gifts He gives to us are everlasting and eternal. It is in remembering, receiving, and giving those gifts of the Savior that lives are transformed. Christmas reminds us to keep our promises to God.

At a 2010 First Presidency Christmas Devotional President Henry B. Erying stated, “The celebration of Christmas helps us keep our promise to always remember Him and His gifts to us. And that remembrance creates a desire in us to give gifts to Him.”

Within a span of approximately 33 years lived a man, but he was not just a man. In the gospel of John it states from the very beginning He, the Savior, dwelled with His Father, God, and that He was a God Himself. He was a God that created with His own wisdom, great power and majesty, literally everything. “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3). Yet despite His rightful ownership of all His creations, and being the Master and King of this world that He was, he chose a selfless path.  He offered Himself as the sacrificial “lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29).

In Matthew 22:42 we find Jesus asking the Pharisees a very probing and pointed question, “What think ye of Christ?” It is something I myself have thought about very seriously.  A weighty matter of this magnitude requires deep introspection and contemplation, its answer not inconsequential. By logic alone and without added spiritual insight, what would anyone think of a person who was willing to give their own life for someone else? And who would be foolish enough to lightly consider, or even to devalue the offering of such a gift?

A very striking and poignant scripture for further consideration is in Doctrine and Covenants 88: 35 which asks this question: “For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.”

Persisting in an attitude of indifference to or even ignoring what the Savior has to offer can place us in a difficult or vulnerable position that limits our spiritual progression. We are wise to grasp hold of the gifts of the Savior’s teachings and example. When followed, they will give us the most happiness, and the abundant blessings he promises us. Baby Jesus

When we think about babies, their innocence and purity, their softness, their dimpled cheeks, and their eyes looking around in wonder and amazement, we think of the newness of life, and it makes us smile.  An infant is a tiny bundle of endless possibilities. When we hold one in our arms and gaze down upon its little personage, most likely we’ll think about what that baby has the potential to become. Babies are very cherished gifts. The Christ child lying in a manger was a cherished gift. He then grew, “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52). He developed desirable and divine attributes that were manifested in him from a very early age.

Just as the boy Jesus astounded the priests, scribes, and rabbis in the temple in Jerusalem at age 12 with quick answers to their questions, children are sometimes more in tune with spiritual matters than even adults. They are easy conduits through which evidences of the Lord’s gift of love flows unfettered.  We marvel at their thoughts and expressions of His love. President Monson recalled a sweet scene that once took place at the Salt Lake Temple. “Children, who had been ever so tenderly cared for by faithful workers in the temple nursery, were now leaving in the arms of their mothers and fathers. One child turned to the lovely women who had been so kind to them and, with a wave of her arm, spoke the feelings of her heart as she exclaimed, “Goodnight, angels.”

Throughout innumerable passages of scripture we read of Christ as the giver of gifts of peace, love, charity, justice, and forgiveness. And who can easily forget his miraculous gifts of healing wherein the blind were made to see and the lame could walk again?  It wasn’t just in physical infirmity alone that he restored wholeness. Christ was a God of mercy and compassion as well. He calmed troubled spirits, and mended broken hearts. He asks each of us to nourish within ourselves these exact same divine attributes. He distinctly declares, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” (John 14:6). He has “marked the path and led the way.” He implores all to “Come follow me.” (Luke 18:22).

Moroni tells us in the Book of Mormon that by coming unto Christ, we can “be perfected in Him.” (Moroni 10:32). With great clarity it is shown in holy writ over and over again how Christ can become our greatest benefactor. He is the bestower and giver of “every good gift,” (James 1:17), offered freely and without price. We can in turn earnestly show our love for the Savior by following in His footsteps, and sharing His gifts with others. By doing so, we give gifts of appreciation back to Him.

President Erying gives further wise counsel and tells us how we can best do this by stating, “First, we can, out of faith in Him, give a broken heart and a contrite spirit. We can repent and make sacred covenants with Him. Within the sound of my voice are some who have felt His invitation to the peace His gospel brings but have not yet accepted it. You would give Him joy if you would act now to come unto Him while you can. Second, you can give Him the gift of doing for others what He would do for them. . . .  That is the spirit of Christmas, which puts in our hearts a desire to give joy to other people. We feel a spirit of giving and gratitude for what we have been given.”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf told this story in a General Conference in 2010: “During the bombing of a city in World War II, a large statue of Jesus Christ was severely damaged. When the townspeople found the statue among the rubble, they mourned because it had been a beloved symbol of their faith and of God’s presence in their lives. Experts were able to repair most of the statute, but its hands had been damaged so severely that they could not be restored. Some suggested that they hire a sculptor to make new hands, but others wanted to leave it as it was—a permanent reminder of the tragedy of war. Ultimately, the statue remained without hands. However, the people of the city added on the base of the statue of Jesus Christ a sign with these words: “You are my hands.” A most memorable and powerful quote from the address: “As we emulate His perfect example, our hands can become His hands; our eyes, His eyes; our heart, His heart.” we can emulate Jesus' example

For most of us Christmas is the season where we can freely “talk of Christ, rejoice in Christ, and preach of Christ.” (2 Nephi 25:26). There are some across the world who have strong desires to do so, yet cannot because of restrictions from governments and powers beyond their control. It is in full solidarity I stand in support of them. I know the Savior hears their cries. I trust the day will speedily come where there will no longer be any walls, boundaries, fences, or barriers that keep them away from the righteous desires of their hearts.

We can cherish His gifts, magnify the gifts we have received, and utilize them to bless the lives of all we encounter. There are many that anxiously but patiently await his second coming. The signs are everywhere, both in the heavens above and the earth below, that time is hastening on toward that wondrous event. When He comes again it will not be to a humble stable or on a manger bed. It will be a reception worthy of the most powerful of rulers and kings; a time He can and will rightly lay claim upon all that is His. Hosts of angels may then sing, “Glory to God in the Highest. The King of Glory and Prince of Peace has come and entered in. Make Him room, and let every knee bow, and every tongue confess that He is Christ the Lord.”

This is a beautiful and touching video by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir of the Christmas carol, “What Shall We Give?” As you listen to it, may it bring to mind thoughts of the Savior’s unending love for all.  And may it stir in you a strong desire and willingness to serve and be evidence of that love. It is in all humility, gratitude, and love for my Savior that I write this Christmas post. On a greeting card I received years ago was this anonymous thought written: “May hearts be open to all the generations of the children of men, that the circle of love and friendship may grow.” Merry Christmas!

 

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Susan Porter

Susan Porter

Susan is a native of Jacksonville, Florida and proud of her southern roots.She is a retired registered nurse that enjoys writing about politics and religion, specifically her Mormon faith. As a pianist and organist of many years, she enjoys music of all kinds, and has served in various music positions within her church. She loves to travel, especially all over the state of Montana and into Canada where lies her favorite vacation spot of Waterton, in southern Alberta.

Her hobbies include cooking (southern of course- please pass the cornbread with butter, no margarine please), and learning how to garden in a colder climate without killing a sweet pea. She is an avid reader of the scriptures and anything from British classic literature. Her favorite novel is "Our Mutual Friend," by Charles Dickens. With any spare time left over, a fun pastime is viewing and analyzing Korean/Taiwanese drama with English subtitles. She loves the sound of "kamsahamnida."Susan and her husband of 37 years live in Great Falls, Montana and are the parents of two grown children and the grandparents of two adorable grandsons.
Susan Porter