We hope your holiday is filled with every good thing. Thank you for spending some of your time with us this year!
Over the last few weeks I’ve sat on the sidelines watching the rhetoric escalate regarding the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Gardner at the hands of police. I just want to scream to everyone, “STOP IT!” It is Christmas, and the fighting back and forth is not helping anyone. That said, I’m not here to blame the men who died or the police – I don’t know enough about either situation to comment on blame, nor is this post about blame, or actually these very tragic situations.
Both of these situations, however, have prompted me to think a little deeper about life and the worth of the soul. In both cases protesters have chanted the phrase, “Black lives matter”, over and over again – to the point of being ridiculous.
The Lord has taught us, to “remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God” (see Doctrine & Covenants 18:10). Yes black lives do matter. But white, yellow, and red lives also matter. Every life matters to our Father in Heaven. And I have been particularly impressed with this thought as Christmas has approached.
All lives matter. All of them.
We know that all lives matter, because of the Plan of Salvation and the role that Jesus Christ played in that plan. The scriptures provide more insight into this. The book of Abraham tells us about the great council in heaven before the world was. We were there and the Lord knew us.
“Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good” (see Abraham 3: 22-23).
Advent is a time of preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ and the celebration of Christmas. This year my family and I have been celebrating the Festival of Advent with devotionals each Sunday night. Find our FIRST, SECOND and THIRD weeks devotionals by clicking the links.
One Christmas tradition we do in our family is to open a book each night in December and read it. It’s a good thing for me, because it’s the only time I am consistent about reading to my children. Although I will admit this week we’ve missed more than a few nights. Over time it’s my goal to replace the five copies of Clement Clarke Moore’s “Night Before Christmas” with books that center more on Jesus Christ and the events of His birth in Bethlehem.
The Festival of Advent is celebrated the four Sundays before Christmas. It is a time of preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ. This year, my family is celebrating Advent with activities and a devotional each Sunday night. Read about our first week HERE and our second week HERE.
Last night as we were setting up our Christmas tree, my six year old son asked me if we believed in the star on the top of the tree. I thought it was a very insightful question for a six year old to ask. I said yes we do believe in the Christmas Star and asked him, what does the star symbolize? He said, “It’s Jesus’ birthday star.”
We went on to talk about the signs of Christ’s birth, specifically the signs given to the people on this continent by the prophet Samuel the Lamanite. In Helaman 14, we read:
2 And behold, he said unto them: Behold, I give unto you a sign; for five years more cometh, and behold, then cometh the Son of God to redeem all those who shall believe on his name.
3 And behold, this will I give unto you for a sign at the time of his coming; for behold, there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto man as if it was day.
4 Therefore, there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign; for ye shall know of the rising of the sun and also of its setting; therefore they shall know of a surety that there shall be two days and a night; nevertheless the night shall not be darkened; and it shall be the night before he is born.
5 And behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you.
6 And behold this is not all, there shall be many signs and wonders in heaven.
7 And it shall come to pass that ye shall all be amazed, and wonder, insomuch that ye shall fall to the earth.
8 And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall believe on the Son of God, the same shall have everlasting life.
Today is the Second Sunday of Advent. Advent is a time for Christians to prepare for the celebration of Christmas. Our family is celebrating the Festival of Advent each Sunday leading up to Christmas with scriptures and stories. Last week’s devotional is HERE.
Today we’re focusing our readings on the Annunciation. In this important event, the Angel Gabriel appears to Mary and tells her that she will be the mother of Jesus Christ.
In Luke 1 we read about this event:
26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.
38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
The lesson for me is an important one. Mary asks, “How shall this be?” Gabriel answers, “With God nothing is impossible.” This is another example of the enabling power of the Atonement, and of Jesus Christ in our lives. We all have hard things given to us, and with God, nothing is impossible. And I’m sure Mary, even though she was willing, “be it unto me according to thy word”, was scared of the unknown. So many times I think we all face the unknown in similar ways. The Lord gives us trials to test us and to strengthen us, but if we allow His help, nothing is impossible. Our Father in Heaven loves us, because we are His children. He wants us to succeed. With God nothing is impossible.
Tonight, we will have the blessing of hearing from the First Presidency and leaders of the Church in the Christmas Devotional. In addition to beautiful music, we will have the opportunity to hear the testimony of the living prophets about our Savior Jesus Christ. I hope that you will take the time to watch with your family and to enjoy the Spirit of Christmas. You can watch the broadcast online at LDS.org or BYUTV.org, at 6 pm MST.
Happy Advent and Merry Christmas!