Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas Talk

So my husband and I were asked to speak in church today about Christ and Christmas.  My friend asked me to post my talk on the blog for your reading pleasure.  Haha!  Here you go, Christine.  :)

Christmas Talk 2015

Last week, while sitting in sacrament, I was thinking about this week’s Christmas program and about how amazing it was going to feel to just sit and enjoy the Christmas program from the audience. This would be the first year I could even remember not being part of a musical number.  Then, after sacrament, the bishop asked us if we would speak today.  I guess there’s no rest for the wicked.  I have to admit, I felt a little overwhelmed when I considered all the final Christmas preparations I had on my last-minute to-do list to which I would now have to add, prepare a Christmas talk, which to me is a big deal.  So, it has remained on my to-do list and in the back of my mind as I have been marking things off of my list all week. 

Each year at Christmas, my favorite tradition I do with my little family is that I handwrite a letter to each of my kids and to Cameron (and to our parents) to put next to their stockings to be read on Christmas morning.  Being several years since I graduated from school, I don’t hand-write many things any more so this tradition is really taxing not only on my time but on my hand!  That’s a lot of letters to write!  But, of all our traditions, I love this tradition the most (even though it requires quite a sacrifice on my part), because it sets the tone immediately on Christmas morning as everyone begins the day by reading their letters as they enjoy the treats in their stockings—it is a tone of love and gratitude and it is a gift I can give to my loved ones that they can keep forever.  As I was working on my letters for this year, I was still contemplating the talk I needed to give and the thought came to me that I should write a letter to my older brother, Jesus Christ, since He too is a dear loved-one and it is His birthday afterall.  So, in lieu of a more traditional format for a talk, I would like to instead share with you my Christmas letter to Him:

My Dearest Big Brother-

You know, you are the only one I get to call my big brother, since I have no earthly brothers.  It sure is nice to know that I have an older brother to protect me and to be such a good example for me.  You are, by far, the best big brother a girl could ask for—literally! I want you to know how much I love and appreciate you.  There are truly no words to adequately express the deep love I have for you.  Yet, I know that you know me perfectly and that, of all the people in my life, you are the one who truly does understand the depths of my heart.  So know this:  that I love you beyond measure and earthly expression.

This year I have been thinking a lot about all you do for me and have been overcome by the magnitude of your love for me.  Being that it is Christmas time, I’ve been thinking specifically about your birth and about child-birth in general.  Do you remember when Ben was born?  Remember how strong the Spirit was in that hospital room?  Do you remember the angels that were there assisting me throughout that horrible labor?  I will never forget them.  The nurses didn’t know how to describe the Spirit they were feeling but it was so palpable that they couldn’t ignore it either and every nurse that entered the room commented on the peace they felt.  It was one of the most spiritual moments of my life.  Thank you for allowing me to have that undeniable experience.  It gives me a small glimpse into what it might have felt like the day you were born.  I can only imagine the strength of the Spirit in that stable and the numerous concourses of angels that were no doubt there, helping Mary, your earthly mother through that labor, that literal labor of love to bring you, love incarnate, into this world. 

Being that this is your season—Christmas season,—I have all my nativities set up all over the house.  They are my favorite Christmas decoration.  I love to see the various renditions offered by each artist of your birth story.  But, what I love most of all, is to watch as my children set up the nativities.  I love how every character, every animal, every piece in the nativity is always facing you, even if that means we cannot see any of their faces.  It forces me to look at and focus on you too, on you as a tiny infant.

I’ve been pondering why we celebrate this particular point in your life—your birth—the time in your life when you were a newborn infant.  I shared this thought with my sister the other day and she was telling me about something Elder Nelson had mentioned:  about how it is interesting that Christmas is a celebration of the only time in your life when you were entirely selfish—as all infants are and must be—and how you then went on to live an entirely selfless life.  This is a really interesting concept to consider.  I can’t help but think about how I too am a selfish infant—a spiritual infant—who must learn to become entirely selfless.  And, as I pondered that process, I was reminded that it is only made possible through your grace.  Thank you.  Thank you so much for your invaluable and eternal gift of grace—both your saving power and your enabling power.

I’ve been thinking about the miraculous and symbolic nature of mortal life—how it allows us to witness and experience this life cycle that begins in infancy—and about how much and how naturally we love infants and how we sacrifice all for their well-being.  We not only risk our physical lives, give our blood, and endure extensive amounts of pain (both physical and emotional) in order to give these infants mortal life and to love and sustain them, but we sacrifice our individual desires and identities so that we can dedicate our entire lives—our time and our intents—to raising those infants.  That’s what your parents did for you.  And, it’s what you did for me, isn’t it?  You not only gave your life, and your blood, and endured unimaginable amounts of pain, but also dedicated your mortal and eternal life to raising me—raising me up to your eternal glory—to give me, a spiritual infant, eternal life, didn’t you? 

An infant does not have the skills to live and support itself in the world.  An infant’s action cannot save him.  I am realizing that I too, in my own infantile state, cannot save myself no matter how hard I try.  Thank you for your gift.  Thank you for giving your life to me—for using your Godly heritage to live it perfectly—so that you could give it to me again in Gethsemane and Golgotha, so as to satisfy the demands of justice allotted to me—to save me from the fall and from myself.  Thank you for saving me by that saving power of your grace.  Thank you for saving my parents and for saving my children and for saving my husband.  Thank you for being my protective older brother so that we can all be together again.

Thank you for not only protecting me, but for teaching me and molding me by your example—for changing me with your enabling power.  When I hold darling little infants in my arms, I am reminded of how little they know, of how much growth and development they have ahead of them.  I too have so much to learn, so much growth and development ahead of me.  There have been so many times in my life when I have stumbled, with you always there to catch me and help me try again—to teach me how to walk through this mortal journey.  There have been so many times when I have been stubborn and thought that I could do it on my own.  I am sorry for all the times I have pushed you away.  Thank you for always staying nearby—for always being there, ready to help when I realize I can’t do it alone. There have been so many times when I know I could not have done what was required of me by my own efforts—that it was your enabling grace that made those things possible.  I think that when you said, “suffer the little children to come unto me,” you were referring to me—a little spiritual “child”.  I am learning to come unto you.  I am seeing your handiwork in my life.  I hope I can always remember that just as Mary’s agency was required to allow you to be born into mortal life, that it is my own agency that is required to allow you to be born into my heart, to allow the transformed “me” to be born into my own eternal life.  Thank you for changing me and molding me and transforming me into the person I want to become so that I will feel at home when I finally return home to you.

My dear, sweet brother, you have taught me so many things.  It is truly overwhelming to consider all the symbols of the season as I contemplate your birth and life and death and companionship.  I want to thank you for all the things you are teaching me as I rededicate myself to transforming into the woman you are molding me to become.  I love that we celebrate your infancy as we usher in a new year.  As we usher in this new year, I hope to also usher in the new being within myself—to commit afresh to changing by way of your enabling power—to recommit to transforming from my selfish infantile state into a selfless eternal being.  Thank you for teaching me to honor the Sabbath—for providing a day, set apart, to partake of the sacrament.  I love that the Sabbath ushers in the new week—a time when I can partake of the sacrament and remember my baptismal covenants to be reborn, committing again to begin afresh with the new week.  As I remember you being born on that Christmas night, so too will I commit to being reborn this Christmas season as my gift to you.

I love you so much and am so grateful to have you in my life,
Your loving Little Sister

Brothers and Sisters, this letter is my testimony of our Savior this Christmas Season.  I know that he is the true and literal son of God and that he is our true and literal protective older brother, not just a nice story passed down through the generations.  And, that it is through his mortal birth and life that we can gain our own spiritual birth and eternal life, because of His grace.  I say these things in His name, amen.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! This is so beautiful!I loved the analogy of an infant dependent on his parents to us as mortal beings. I will love being able to remember that concept each Christmas season. This really brought the Christmas spirit to my heart. Thank you!