Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Jesus the Christ

            My VIP for this week is Jesus Christ because He is the very most important person to have ever been born on earth. He is important for a multitude of reasons that begin with the fact that He is the literal Son of God. He is the Creator of the world. He is the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind.

            Christ was born in the humblest of circumstances that He might descend below all people. He took the pains, sicknesses, embarrassments, griefs, and sins of all of us that we might follow Him and become as He is. He did it all for me, and He did it all for you! All that He asks in return is that we remember Him and keep His commandments.

            Some years ago I decided that I would give a gift to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ for Christmas, and I decided that it would be an additional session in the temple. I have continued to do a special session in the temple each year as my gift to them, and I completed that gift a few days ago. I feel certain that many other people prepare themselves to give a gift to Heavenly Father and to the Savior.

            Marilynne Todd Linford is one of those individuals, and she shares some of her experiences with her readers in an article titled “Selecting a Christmas Gift for the Lord.” She begins her article by expressing the joy and ease of purchasing gifts for little children. She then explains some of the difficulties of gift giving to teenage and adult children.

            I could readily relate to her experiences because I had and still have the same ones, but I was fascinated with her next statement: “Every Christmas, I meet these same dilemmas in desiring to give a gift to Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son. I know I cannot surprise Them, but is it possible to delight them? Is there anything They, the perfect gift givers who have everything, want?”

            I realized that I had become too complacent in my gift giving because I did not invest any time in attempting to learn what They might want from me this year. I feel much like the person described in Christina Rossetti’s “In the Bleak Midwinter” as quoted by Linford:

What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man I would do my part. Yet what can I give Him? Give my heart.

            How do I go about giving my heart to God? The heart is associated with feelings of love, so I can give Him my love. It is one thing to consider giving Him my love, but how do I actually go about doing it? As a parent and grandparent, I am deeply grateful for those people who say or do anything that help my children and grandchildren in any way. I feel certain that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have similar feelings to all those who help Their children along the pathway of mortality.

            In this way, I feel certain that my gift of a temple session was acceptable to Them, but I wonder if it was what they really wanted from me this year. Elder Neal A. Maxwell spoke about something else that I can give.

The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give (As quoted by Linford).

            Elder Maxwell said that we should give our “will” to God. How does one go about doing so? One way is in our prayers. I offer daily prayers in pleading for God’s watchful care over my children and grandchildren. My oldest daughter recently made a business trip, traveling by car from Anchorage to Homer. She left Anchorage about the middle of a string of eleven days when we received measurable snow fall and had to travel over a dangerous mountain pass. She later reported that she could hardly see anything ahead of her at the pass and mainly followed the lights of the cars ahead of her on the highway. I pleaded with God constantly to protect her that day as she traveled and was relieved to hear that she had arrived safely. I continued to pray for her often until she returned safely to Anchorage. However, it was not until the final day that I actually delivered my will to God when I pleaded for His blessings upon my daughter and then added, “Thy will be done.” That is kind of a scary thing to do even with faith in Jesus Christ and His ability to know what is best!

            It takes courage and faith in Jesus Christ to actually give Him my will or to be willing to accept whatever way that He chooses to bless me and my family. So faith is another gift that we can give to God. Linford suggests others gifts in her article, such as honesty, mercy, service to others, repentance, and being a peacemaker.

            Another great gift that we could give to God is gratitude for the many blessings that He bestows upon us. I often express gratitude for fresh air and clean water because I am grateful for them. I was even more grateful for clean water after an earthquake hit Anchorage on November 30. The warning came out that we should not drink or cook with the city water until after it was tested because there were several breaks in the system. The water certainly looked clean, but I took the extra precaution to boil all the water that we used for drinking and cooking. Now I am even more grateful for the constant stream of clean water!

            Tonight in our home we will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and sing “Happy Birthday” to Him. We have held similar celebrations for more than forty years, and we always end with a birthday cake especially for Him. It is, of course, angel food cake. I recently discovered a tasty recipe that includes strawberries and whipped cream, but it is the angel food cake that is meaningful to me.

            However you choose to celebrate the birth of Christ, I hope that you will include your own gift to Him. I hope that you will make it something meaningful to you and something that will bring delight to both Heavenly Father – who gave His Son – and Jesus Christ – who gave His lift – that all of us may have eternal life with Them.

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