December 26, 2016
Christmas has come and it has gone. What a wonderful time of year. I really love Christmas. Too bad it went by so quick this year. Thank everyone for all the kind gifts and cards, I really appreciate them.
And with today I would like to reflect on something I have learned on my mission. I’m torn between talking my experience with charity, or talking about what I learned about Christ this Christmas. But due to the time of the year I’ll talk about Jesus Christ. And you can expect me to talk about charity sometime soon.
I wish to talk about many aspects of Christ’s life here, why he was born, and what is our relation to Christ. So, expect me to talk about this a while. Anyways I’ll start with talking about one tradition that most people have on Christmas, which is the giving of gifts to loved ones. We all do it, and it takes up a lot of our minds thinking about what we are going to get, or what we “need” to get people.
These gifts we give are symbols of something that happened a long time ago, when our Savior was born—not the gifts of the wise men; no, even those are symbols of a greater gift, the greatest gift.—The gift Heavenly Father gave to all of us. The Prophet Isaiah writes in Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace
The gift God gave us is his son, Jesus Christ, to come into the world for us. This is one of the most amazing thing about Christmas. Jesus was sent to be perfect a perfect example for us and to open the way to return to Heavenly Father. This was his mission.
To further illustrate how amazing his task was let me share a scriptural story from the Book of Mormon. A little context: a group of recent converts to Christ, called the Anti-Nephi-Lehites (or the people of Ammon), had just broken off from a nation called the Lamanites, who wanted to kill them. The Anti-Nephi-Lehites had no way to defeat the Lamanites; they would be annihilated. The Anti-Nephi-Lehites fled to the people of Nephi, who worshiped Christ as well. The people of Nephi are asked what they will do with the people of Ammon, this is their response (Alma 27:22-24):
And it came to pass that the voice of the people came, saying: Behold, we will give up the land of Jershon, which is on the east by the sea, which joins the land Bountiful, which is on the south of the land Bountiful; and this land Jershon is the land which we will give unto our brethren for an inheritance. And behold, we will set our armies between the land Jershon and the land Nephi, that we may protect our brethren in the land Jershon; and this we do for our brethren, on account of their fear to take up arms against their brethren lest they should commit sin; and this their great fear came because of their sore repentance which they had, on account of their many murders and their awful wickedness. And now behold, this will we do unto our brethren, that they may inherit the land Jershon; and we will guard them from their enemies with our armies, on condition that they will give us a portion of their substance to assist us that we may maintain our armies.
The response of the Nephites is amazing. They not only welcome those foreigners, but they gave up an entire land to them. And not just any land, the land they gave up was their best land. And not only did they give the people of Ammon the best land but they also put guards around the Anti-Nephi-Lehites to protect them, from an enemy that the Anti-Nephi-Lehites could not defeat. And all they asked of the people of Ammon was for them to give part of their food to be guards, so the guards could better protect them.
If that is not a completely selfless offer I don’t know what is.
Those Nephites protected their new refugees. As recorded in the next chapter (Alma 28:1-6):
[B]ehold the armies of the Lamanites had followed their brethren into the wilderness. And thus there was a tremendous battle; yea, even such an one as never had been known among all the people in the land from the time Lehi left Jerusalem; yea, and tens of thousands of the Lamanites were slain and scattered abroad. Yea, and also there was a tremendous slaughter among the people of Nephi; nevertheless, the Lamanites were driven and scattered, and the people of Nephi returned again to their land. And now this was a time that there was a great mourning and lamentation heard throughout all the land, among all the people of Nephi– Yea, the cry of widows mourning for their husbands, and also of fathers mourning for their sons, and the daughter for the brother, yea, the brother for the father; and thus the cry of mourning was heard among all of them, mourning for their kindred who had been slain. And now surely this was a sorrowful day; yea, a time of solemnity, and a time of much fasting and prayer.
What price did the people of Nephi pay to protect the people of Ammon! How terrible, how destructive, how sad! Those people paid a huge almost uncountable loss, and a great day of mourning! And they suffered that loss for others, not for themselves!
This is exactly what Jesus Christ did for us. Like the Anti-Nephi-Lehites, we face a challenge that we cannot defeat, that will destroy us. Our only hope is to ask for help, and we ask Jesus Christ, as he is the only one who is capable. He is the only one who can make the offer, and protect us and keep us safe. And not only does he offer to protect us, but he gives the best blessing that he has, and the inheritance of living with Heavenly Father again.
And what does he ask of us? Follow him, keep his commandments, honor our covenants. And here is the kicker, all of the things he asks us to do is for our good.
He alone paid the price needed to defeat that which would destroy us; he atoned for us; he sacrificed himself for us. The world itself mourned his death. Heaven and Angels wept as he suffered on the cross, his disciples cried at the loss, and perhaps nobody felt more sorrow than Heavenly Father who saw perfectly the pain and suffering of his son; yet, had to allow it to happen so that we all could be saved.
We owe a great deal of gratitude for Christ, for the gift Heavenly Father gave us. For the inheritance we have been given. And we must remember that the gift of Christ is open to all who accept it. Let us accept this gift, and strive to honor the great sacrifice of him who died for us.
In the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Regards from Elder Alex Brown