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Monday, December 5, 2011

The true meaning of CHRISTmas

painting of the Nativity by Carl Heinrich Bloch
The First Presidency Christmas Devotional occurred last night at 6pm in the Conference Center.  Among other things, President Thomas S. Monson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, "I, with you, have witnessed during the past few days and weeks what has become over the years the annual commercialization of Christmas.  I am saddened to see Christmas becoming less and less about Christ and more and more about marketing and sales, parties and presents.  And yet, Christmas is what we make of it" ("Make Christmas about Christ, LDS leader urges", Deseret News, Monday 5 December 2011, A1, A11).

What CHRISTmas is about
Holy Writ saith, "And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon [the shepherds], and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:9-11).  The physician of old here tells the world that Christmas is neither about Santa, Reindeer, Elves, nor shopping.  Christmas is about the Heavenly Gift given by God to the world in the Person of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus the Christ, the promised Messiah.  

In another place, we read, 

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Jud├Ža in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east. . . . lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.  And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh (Matt. 2:1, 9-11).

The Apostle Matthew here tells the story of the Magi who came to Jesus from the east.  Of the Magi, Elder Bruce R. McConkie stated that "it would appear they were true prophets, righteous persons like Simeon, Anna, and the shepherds, to whom Deity revealed that the promised Messiah had been born among men" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary 1:103).  It can most assuredly be assumed that these Wise Men, as they are now called, were either actual kings or of very high birth because of the costliness of the gifts they present the Child Jesus.  These gifts presented to the Babe were symbolic in nature: 1) Gold - referring to the price Jesus Christ would pay for all mankind's sins, and also an acknowledgement of His Kingship which carried the riches of eternity.  2) Frankincense - this aromatic resin, used to make perfume, has an odor which represents life; this is fitting, as Jesus announced Himself to be "the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (John 14:6).  3) Myrrh - symbolic of Christ's death, in that Myrrh was anciently used as an embalming agent on the body of the deceased.

"Light do a darkened world"
President Eyring stated, "The appearance of the long-promised Messiah brought light to a darkened world. . . . [God] gave us the gift of a Savior, His prefect Son, the Lamb without blemish" ("Make Christmas about Christ, LDS leader urges", Deseret News, A11).  Lastly, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf urged, "We, like the Wise Men of old, should seek the Christ and lay before Him the most precious of gifts: a broken heart and a contrite spirit" (Ibid.).

I know, as they say, Jesus is the reason for the Season.  Christ should be the light we hold to the world at this Christmas time.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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