Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Something for your Stocking: An Expert Textperts Christmas Quickie

The Expert Textperts are all busy with family, friends, and...their work (inside joke!), so creating an in-depth Christmas post tonight is a tall order. Instead, as a Christmas offering, I present the following, which is adapted from a narration I wrote for our ward's Christmas program last Sunday. This means it will be a lot less sarcastic than you may be used to seeing here--for that, I apologize in advance. Merry Christmas from your favorite political-philosophical-vaguely-LDS-themed blog!

There's a Primary song that asks: "How could the Father tell the world of love and tenderness?" There is no message humanity needs to hear more than this--to love one another, to love their Father in Heaven, to learn how to return home to him. Generations of men and women have lived on this earth without knowing where to find this love. They have lived in darkness, never knowing the light--kept captive by sin and ignorance. However, as often happens with the most profound problems, the answer was found in the least likely place; in this case, the birth of a tiny baby in a manger. And though the birth of every baby is a miracle, this one was particularly important, for that child was the Son of God, the prophesied Emmanuel--the Lord Jesus Christ.

"O come, o come, Emmanuel/ And ransom captive Israel." “Emmanuel” comes from Hebrew, and means “God is with us”--a fitting title, then, for the Son of God. It is first spoken of in the scriptures by the prophet Isaiah, who lived several centuries before the birth of the Savior. Isaiah was a man of righteousness, one of the great prophets spoken of in the Old Testament; and like all prophets in the scriptures, he looked forward to the glorious day when the Son of God would live among men and women, healing the sick, raising the dead, and restoring his gospel. In his writings, Isaiah gave his people hope in the deliverance that was to come. He wrote:

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

He also wrote,

“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.”

That same hope and excitement that was felt so keenly by Isaiah was echoed in the exultation of the angels, and the joy of the shepherds with whom they shared the blessed news of the birth of Christ.

The Gospel of John, however, declares, “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” In these words, we find a theme that can be traced throughout the entire life of the Savior. At his birth, the humble glorified and blessed him, while the proud took no heed of what was, to them, just another impoverished child. In his life, the obedient heard his words and followed his ministry, while the apathetic and the self-important alike ignored him or, worse, reviled him. In his death, the righteous mourned while the wicked mocked. In his resurrection, the daughters and sons of God found hope everlasting and peace to their souls, while the men and women of the flesh saw only another moral obstacle on the road to immorality. Today, some two thousand years later, Christmas can be a time for each of us to ask ourselves--if I were one of Bethlehem’s shepherds on that lonely night, or one of the wise kings from far-off lands, would I have rejoiced at the birth of this child? If he were born today, would I still sing his praise?

The birth of the savior was glorious in what it portended; the life of the savior was magnificent in what it presented; and the death and resurrection of the savior was inexpressible in what it demonstrated. Well do the words of the prophet Nephi take special meaning this time of year:

“And he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.”