Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Single Holidays

I've been trying really hard to remember the true meaning of Christmas this Holiday season.
I promised myself I wouldn't get caught up in the hustle-and-bustle of the holidays in newspaper-land. Nor would I overwhelm myself with Christmas shopping, an abundance of gifts or stresses that don't relate to the birth of our Saviour.
To start, I've been listening to a lot of Christmas music. That's one of the things I love about this time of year: the tunes. It's not just the hymn-based ballads proclaim the birth of Kings and proclamations of angels, either. I love everything that reminds me of the holidays, whether it be through red men in suits, shiny-nosed reindeer, frosted snowmen, Grandma's house in the woods or anything of the like.
But most importantly, I love being able to think of Christ the whole time.
On the Sunday before Christmas, my Singles Ward had every LDS ward's annual Christmas Sacrament Program. The spirit was immense, and the choral performances were modest, yet well-intentioned. I've complained in the past about my ward choir being a bit too ambitious in song selection, and throwing off the rhythm and spirit of the occasion. But yesterday their choices were spot on, and I found shivers running down my spine on multiple occasions.
The stake also offered a Youth Christmas Fireside that night. Normally, I avoid full stake activities, since I belong to a family stake, and attending activities with families makes me feel inadequate and overly cognizant of my 'single' status. It's not that I don't appreciate the church's role and influence on the family; it's merely that I don't like being perpetually reminded — even when unintentional — that I am an outsider in most Mormon halls. After all, I'm closer to 30 than 20, and I haven't come close to finding an eternal companion.
But last night was different.
The music was phenomenal. Certainly, some of the performers were traditional youth musicians — those who sing or play an instrument only because their parents force it on them. But there were equally as many — perhaps more — who had true talent, and some who I can see using their talents in brilliant ways throughout their lives.
I was reminded at every turn of the Babe Born in a Manger, of whom this holiday season pertains. I was also reminded that He was more than a child; he was our Saviour, our Redeemer and the literal Son of God — born of the Father in Heaven and an earthly mother, the only one capable of laying down his life and taking it up again so that we all might do the same someday.
As our hearts and minds turn to Him as this week progresses, and as the stresses and tremors of the season begin to weigh us down, I pray that we not only remember that blessed day more than two millenia ago when he was born — but also the even more blessed day when he was reborn, freed from the Garden Tomb that held his corporeal form for three days.
Christ Lives; I know he does. And because of him, we will all live again.

Merry Christmas!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Merry Mormon Christmas

The mic went out today while the Elders blessed the sacrament.
It didn't matter. 
The solemn quiet and reverent echo of the Priesthood holders' words were enough to focus my mind on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. No crying children. No texting youth. No impatient YSA slithering his head atop his shoulders in cosmic Mormon mating ritual. The chapel felt like it was me, alone, with only my thoughts of Christ to accompany me.

Yet another reason why I'm reluctant to leave the singles' ward.

Speaking of Christ ...
The Christmas season is upon us. What better time to refocus our thoughts and efforts on the Savior? I love the gift-giving, the holiday ham and the constant aroma of pine trees to the utmost extreme. But I also love the opportunity to remember the birth of Him who was foreordained — from the foundation of the world — to save us from our sins. 
Because of the babe born in a lowly manger two thousand and ten years ago, we can repent and draw ourselves to God. 

He lives. He is the Light of the World. May we all come closer to Him to whom this holiday belongs.

Merry Christmas

To get you into the true spirit of the holiday season, a spirit unencumbered with credit card balances and discount shopping, here's a message from the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In celebrating the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, our thoughts turn to that sacred occasion when He was born "The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). He promised: "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12). Truly, Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer who was "wounded for our transgressions … and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).
Our prayer this Christmas season is that the light and testimony of the Savior's divine mission will come into our hearts and be reflected in our lives and in our homes.
May each of us be blessed, not only at this Christmas season, but also throughout the coming year. May our faith in Jesus Christ increase as we follow His example in all we do and say.
--Thomas S. Monson, Henry B. Eyring, and Dieter F. Uchtdorf.