Saturday, December 30, 2006

Sacrament Meeting Talk from Christmas Eve

Before I came here today to share my time with you I wondered what I would say and what I could share with you. I thought "These people know so much more than me, what could I possibly share that they do not already know?" I am not going to read the Christmas story from the scriptures or amaze you retelling a special christmas miracle from my life. I am not sure I can teach you anything new about Christmas but hopefully I can help you remember Christ at this special time. I continually reflected on what the true meaning of Christmas was for me when Brother Inlayo asked me to speak. Preparing this talk has enabled me many times to stop, slow down and reflect upon the true meanings of Christmas. It is very easy to get caught up in the excitement of the season with all the cooking, housekeeping, wrapping, shopping. Is the madness worth it, I've hear some ask. This year I didn't make fruitcake and shortbread. I did not untangle the lights and spray snow on the windows. I did not watch endless christmas cartoons or dig out the flashing earrings. There are no elaborate decorations at our house. We aren't going caroling after church or feeding the homeless. We have however taken this opportunity to teach our children about generosity and gratitude and how we can strengthen our family relationships through service. I feel priviledged. We have so much. We are fortunate to have our immediate families close by to celebrate this joyous event. We have a comfortable roof over our heads and plenty of food to eat. Our joy will not be dependant on a picture perfect holiday. My children don't really care if there's turkey or pizza. We have already received so many gifts of the heart. My visiting teachers came and brought themselves, their beautiful spirits and cookies too. Our neighbors have show compassion, generosity, interest and heartfelt words in writing and with their actions. They have held the doors for me, carried things for me and smiled at me. President Thomas S. Monson 1st counsellor in the presidency of the church said that the Christmases remembered best usually have little to do with worldly goods and a lot to do with the spirit of caring, a spirit of love and a spirit of compassion. Christmas to me means gifts from the heart, warm smiles of strangers and letters of remembrance. President Monson also said, "The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of love, generosity and goodnessI What other time of the year do strangers reach out to each other so readily. President James E.Faust 2nd counsellor said at this year's devotional, "Christmas seems to make us better, kinder, more thoughtful and considerate of others." President Hinckley, our beloved prophet said in his calm loving voice, "At this marvelous season of the year we experience the mystique of Christmas love...Strong hearts are a little more generous. We are more inclined to strengthen the feeble...Children' hearts are made glad. There's an added magic in the air. There's a deep underlying current of happiness." Many remember their postmen, teachers, janitors, acquaintances, distant relatives with kind words and appreciation. It is wonderful and amazing to see how somany people reach out to those in need at this time of year. The love is stronger and people are more giving. Peace on Earth! Good will towards men. What I enjoy most about Christmas is the music! I love the many carols and hymns. I heard the bells on Christmas day! Hark the Harold Angels sing. Oh little town of Bethlehem, Silent Night and a host of others. The children's songs are fun too. Who could forget the children's songs-Jingle Bells or that hippopotamus song. I remember being fascinated with Rudolf and his story which was actually he'll go down in HISTORY and I couldn't get enough of MecaKalikiMaka. I love to imagine the songs of the angels at that blessed event. What an announcement the shepards received. I often wonder why they were chosen. Lowly shepards, probably minimun wage earners, maybe new immigrants, somebody has to do those jobs. Both the wise men and the shepard were the privileged ones, notto the kings Herod or Ceasar. Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord. What amazing news. I wonder if they really could comprehend it's meaning. Luke 2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly yost praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. The angelic hosts joined in to praise God. That sounds like a lot and there must have been music. I am sure in their excitement they dropped everything, immediately setting aside thethings of the world to follow our Savior. They were among the first mortals to bear witness to this miraculous event. It has been said that they must have confided to Joseph and Mary that they had seen angels. It blows me away to imagine the scene. Luke 2:17 'And when they had seen it they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.' These days it would be similarily broadcast but world wide. Luke 2:20 'And the shepards returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things which they had heard and seen, as they were manifested until them.' God sent the shepards to be witnesses, then he sent the wisemen, and others all lending their testimonies. Isaiah 9: 6 'For unto us a achild is born, unto us a son is given...and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.' Our Savior grew up to become a wonderful example, a teacher, a healer, one who showed love and compassion. The effect he had on the world is permanent. He brought salvation to all men and does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Without him repentance would be futile. Jesus came to Earth in the most humble experience. Even though there was no room for him at the inns I hope we can find room for him in our hearts. I imagine there travel must be slow and difficult. I thought I had a difficult time being pregnant and making several trips to the bathroom each night. I didn't have to ride a donkey and give birth, virtually unaided, outside with animals. Mary and Joseph must have had amazing faith and had to be spiritually in tune to receive the communications they did. I am amazed at how closely Heavenly Father and Jesus watch over us. How lovingly how generous they are with their guidance. What a gift our Savior's birth has brought us. Now that I have my own children I am more keenly aware of the the love and pride Heavenly Father must have for us. He sees us living independant of him in a new environment away from him. He's encouraging us and helping us even when we don't notice. The atoning sacrifice was made by Jesus because of the love they have for us. Without our Savior we would be unable to return and experience immortal life. Resurrection should be exciting.I pray we can each remember the true meanings of Christmas in our hearts and minds and carry it with us in our lives. As I read and contemplate the Christmas story, it becomes clear to me the story of the Saviour is unique. He humbled himself to come down in the most vulnerable state. He has given us so much. Is any other event in history so significant? What a treasured gift, his life,his work, his antonning sacrifice, his resurrection, his gifts of peace of hope of love of immortale life. President Monson's said, 'All that we hold dear, even our families, our friends, our joy, our knowledge our testimonies would vanish were it not for our Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.. Among the most cherished thoughts and writings in this world is the divine statement of truth:"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, thast whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'" I hope you all have time to reflect these things and know through the power of God how true these things are and that we can all take Christ into are hearts and receive his image in our countenances experiencing the mighty change in our hearts that the love of our Savior brings.
My son wouldn't sit still and came running up on the stage, clinging to me. He then stood quietly beside me. I hung on to him for support. Jessica and Patrick were sitting in the back. My mom helped me too. I wished i could see her better when I was at the pulpit. It was wonderful to have Patrick and the children with me at church even though it was a bit more stressful. This was the first time there was no anger after church. That was good. What a perfect Christmas Eve. We had fun in primary and later I was able to have a little nap and we went to Mark & Gen's for dinner. Giving a talk in sacrament meeting was easier than I thought. Probably because I relied on the Lord for help.

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