One of my favorite Christmas stories is about the six Herdman children: Imogene, Gladys, Leroy, Ralph, Ollie and Claude. It is a heartwarming tale of six juvenile delinquents who end up teaching us some very important lessons about Christmas…in a very unconventional way.
Known for shoplifting, cussing, drinking and all manner of other unsavory behaviors, the Herdmans bring a special spirit to Christmas that I will never forget. It is a touching story for many reasons. Most importantly, for me, the Herdmans show us that everyone has something to contribute, despite their shortcomings and imperfections.
As seen in the six Herdman children, none of us is perfect and we all fall short of perfection. Without the atonement of Jesus Christ, we would be forever lost to the binding chains of sin and death. But Christ, our Savior and our Redeemer, by way of his atoning sacrifice, broke the bonds of sin and death. Because of Him, we will all live again and through His grace, we are saved.
In my congregation this morning, I observed that the spirit of the Herdman children lives on in my own imperfect ward. When I look to the right and left of me, I see a multitude of imperfect people. They’re in front of me and behind me, too. The chapel was filled with imperfection—even on the stand—and the overflow in the gym was also teaming with imperfect people. I am one of the imperfect, but thankfully, I am welcomed back every week.
As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland observed in the October 2017 General Conference, “We are in the telestial kingdom; that is spelled with a t, not a c.” As imperfect as this world and those of us living in it may be, we all have something to contribute and something to give to others.
During this Christmas season, I hope that we will remember that we are not perfect people, but that we are all in a state of becoming. Yet, despite these imperfections, we are daughters and sons of a loving Heavenly Father. And, by extension, we are all brothers and sisters.
We are bound together in a common hope and with a common bond of faith. We believe in and worship the same God and His son, Jesus Christ. We are all members of His church.
In the spirit of Christmas, may we set aside our differences and focus on those things that bring us together. And like the Herdmans, may we make this the best Christmas ever.