I would normally write about a principle of the Constitution for my post tonight. However, I feel that I should write something for Christmas Eve. The people of the world, including many so-called Christians, have fallen to the allure of the commercial side of Christmas and forgotten the true reason for this season. Jesus Christ is the reason that we celebrate Christmas, and tonight I had a glimpse of the heaven that He desires for me.
My younger son brought his wife and daughter over to my house, and we called our family in Salt Lake City on Facetime. My older son and two daughters, along with their spouses and children for a total of eighteen people, met together tonight for their annual Christmas Eve celebration. They held their get-together a day early this year because my son has to work Christmas Eve as an emergency room doctor. We were grateful to have the opportunity to join their celebration this year because we are having a quiet Christmas this year due to my daughter-in-law fighting brain cancer and have too small of group to do our usual nativity.
We did the nativity, watched the children decorate graham cracker houses, visited, and generally had a wonderful time together. I witnessed heaven as I saw and heard the love expressed between siblings and their spouses and watched the grandchildren play and interact with each other with love. The experience tonight is all I need for a wonderful Christmas.
This family activity came about because a Baby was born in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago and grew to be a man capable of overcoming death and hell. We do not celebrate Christmas because a baby was born; we celebrate it because that Baby brought to pass immortality for all mankind and eternal life for all who will follow Jesus Christ and keep His commandments. In other words, we would not celebrate Christmas if there had been no Easter.
President Gordon B. Hinckley shared his thoughts about the birth, ministry, and atonement of Jesus Christ at a First Presidency Christmas Devotional in 2001. He begins his talk by greeting everyone and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and then explains the reason for being together that evening.
… We are met tonight to pay homage to our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, whose life and death mean so very much to each one of us. This is a gathering for prayer and song and speech, in tribute to the Master of all, the Lord Omnipotent, who condescended to come to earth, to be born in a stable, in a conquered nation, under the humblest of circumstances. He was the Prince Almighty who left the royal courts on high and came among us to teach us and to lead us in His quiet and wonderful way….
So it is. When all is said and done, when all the legions of the ages have passed in review, when man’s terrible inhumanity to man has been chronicled, when God’s great love for His children has been measured, then above all stands the lone figure of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world, the Savior of mankind, the living Son of the living God, the Prince of Peace, the Holy One.
He was the lowly babe who came to earth in the meridian of time and brought to us the gift of Christmas. He was the Resurrection and the Life, who brought to us the wonder of Easter. And it was He who in this most glorious of dispensations was introduced to the boy Joseph by His Father, the Almighty Elohim, the God of the universe. And this same Joseph has become the preeminent witness of His living reality in this season of earth’s history.
Is it any wonder then that there is only one day between the birthdate of Joseph Smith and the day that we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ? The Savior was born in Bethlehem as a wee Baby. He organized His church on earth in the meridian of time and gave His life that all mankind could live again. He appeared to Joseph Smith in 1820 and began the process of restoring His gospel to the earth. He will come again to earth in the near future to gather the faithful followers of the House of Israel. We love Him. We honor Him. We praise Him, We worship Him. Above all, we are grateful that Heavenly Father saw fit to send His Beloved Son to earth as a Baby who grew to become the Savior and Redeemer of the world.