Christmas is definitely a time of present shopping, hustle and bustle, concerts, and numerous other unexpected and compounding activities. The truth of the matter is that we really have to force ourselves to think upon the true reason for Christmas and maintain that process of thought throughout the season.
One way, that I have particularly enjoyed, is a live nativity. I have heard of two examples of live Nativities being offered to the public. There may be more out there, but in both instances they were first started by families. These families simply wanted to feel the true Christmas season, and found a way to offer those feelings to the public. The amount of work necessary to put something like this together—find volunteers, costume them, and ask them to perform for one week in December— requires someone who has a firm conviction in the worth of what he/she is doing.
And I thank all of them.
If you are so inclined, I would encourage anyone, who is able, to put together a humble depiction of the coming of the Savior of the world and share it with neighbors, community, church, and the general public. Can you just imagine what that would do for people during this special time of year?
Our experience happened in downtown Salt Lake City in Liberty Park. For years, Echoes of Christmas has offered us a glimpse of what it might have been that Christmas over 2000 years ago. I’d like to share with you one thing that touched me deeply. That feeling has come back to me repeatedly this entire season.
The priest (who’s costume was magnificent, by the way) spoke of his anticipation for the Christ Child. His enthusiasm for the hope in this event struck me differently than the typical “We are grateful Christ came to earth” celebration.
This priest, who would have lived in the time of Isaiah, told us how excited he was that this “Wonderful, Counsellor..mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6) would be born to save us all. It made me think how this birth HAS BEEN ANTICIPATED FOR SO LONG, not for the birth itself, but for what He would grow up to do for each one of us.
It was the faith of the people, who lived thousands of years ago, that shouted Hallelujah at His coming. It was the belief, of every being (including animals, and the earth itself) that His atoning sacrifice would be the hinge that would cast our hopeful bodies into the first kingdom of heaven. Without Him that would be impossible.
If He had not been born there would be no Atonement, because no one else was willing to do it, as the Father needed it done.
Without the Atonement, we would have to pay for our own sins. But even after paying for our own sins, we still would not be able to enter the kingdom of God. King Benjamin taught that we “becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord.” (Mosiah 3:19) The Atonement is what saves us, cleans us, restores us, and purifies us. Moroni taught the same thing: “by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ” (Moroni 10:32).
The gift of His birth leads to the gift of His Atonement, which is offered to “every one that thirsteth.” He calls out to all “he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (Isaiah 55:1)
“For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift. And again, verily I say unto you that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same. That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself…cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. Therefore, they must remain filthy still.” (D&C 88:33-35)
The gift of the Christ child is freely given if we anticipate His complete gift. It is for us to live a life of humility, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, accepting His atoning sacrifice for the Wonderful, Mighty, Everlasting, Peaceful gift that it is, that He may wash us His.
This is the complete gift of Christmas that must be anticipated, remembered, and testified to all who feel to sing praises unto Him.