Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

Above is a short (approximately 2 minute) video from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on the meaning of the birth of Christ.

This second video, The First Christmas Spirit, is slightly longer (6:41 minutes) but interesting as it explores how Joseph may have reflected back on raising the Christ Child. The language is in Aramaic, I presume, but anyone familiar with the scriptures about Christ's early life should be able to follow the events without trouble.

From Chapter 2 of Luke, we read:
 1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
     2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
       3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
         4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
           5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
             6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
               7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
                 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
                   9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
                     10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
                       11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
                         12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
                           13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
                             14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
                               15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
                                 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
                                   17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
                                     18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
                                       19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
                                         20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
                                         In Timothy Stoner's book, Crucify! Why the Crowd Killed Jesus, the author explains that Christ's earthly ministry was not one that brought peace--as in an absence of war or sin--to the world, but brought a message and way for an individual peace to his or her own soul. "[T]he Messiah's primary mission will be to free people from internal chains, not political bondage." Stoner also writes:
                                        ... He had not come to Israel for judgment. They were currently in that season of growth and development in which "fruit" will manifest the reality of what is in the heart. But though judgment is not yet at hand, it is inescapable. He has not come to eradicate judgment, but to help people survive it. Everyone will face divine scrutiny. His mission is to show how to avoid the calamity of severe punishment and be granted access into His heavenly kingdom.
                                        In this season of exchanging gifts, remember that the gift or sacrifice that The Lord seeks of each of us is that of "a broken heart and a contrite spirit."  (See D&C 59:8; Psalms 51:17).

                                        Merry Christmas, and may God's blessings be upon you all.

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