Christmas Series: The Parable of the Nativity

Guest post by Quimby

 

“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! And this is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us – That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness; that through him all might be saved.” (D&C Section 76)
nativityMy son was born on Christmas Eve. His birth came the year after our family’s most disastrous Christmas ever – a fairly remarkable statement, considering my extended family includes evangelical Christians, fundamental Muslims, and militant Atheists. My heart was still heavy with the events of 12 months prior when I cradled him in my arms and thanked a loving Heavenly Father for giving me this child, at exactly this moment, to soothe my troubled soul and let me find, once more, the beauty of Christmas. I looked into those slate-blue eyes and saw he already had all of the wisdom of the world, and he was anxious to share it with me. I kissed that soft spot on his head and cooed, “It’s alright, little one; we don’t have to worry about that just yet.”

Of course I couldn’t help but think of another mother, who had also cradled her newborn son one Christmas long ago. I marvelled at her courage and wondered if she did not rail at the injustice of it, that her child – so perfect – would have to carry such a heavy burden for us all.

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Christmas Series: God Loves Us More At Christmas

Guest Post by Erin Belanger 

Christmas aloneTwo years ago I was anticipating my first Christmas after my divorce. My finances were scant as I came home from a much needed Thanksgiving trip with my kids to Las Vegas where most of my siblings had gathered. The kids, ages 13, 11, 8 and 6, were excited about making wishlists and there was a slightly manic buzz about the idea of having two Christmases. I was not going to have them until the afternoon on Christmas day and my heart hurt a little bit at not spending Christmas Eve enjoying our rituals: fondue dinner, the annual nativity pageant put on with remnant fabric costumes and baby dolls, singing Christmas hymns, reading the goals we had set last year from the stocking for Jesus, putting cookies and milk by the fireplace, watching It’s a Wonderful Life with a cup of cocoa in hand. I was already tired trying to think how I was going to stretch the little bit of money I had to spend on Christmas to make this year not seem quite so different from all the others. I usually tried and failed to keep Christmas simple, but I was mourning the excess of year’s past. There was just no way I could see that Christmas would have quite the same magic when I had to do it on my own with limited means.

What I failed to remember is that God loves us more at Christmas. He softens hearts and inspires the whole of humanity to look around for someone in need or in pain to bless. At that time I was in both pain and need and heaven’s blessings were poured out upon my little home that Christmas season.

When I left Las Vegas I told my mom I was going to put a trampoline on layaway and that would be their only gift besides a few small things in their stockings. I wanted to do things on my own and I knew I would have a small paycheck from my new job subbing at the elementary school later that month that would cover the rest. I went the next day and put my $20 down and looked forward to buying it with my first earnings. I knew I was going to have to wait until the last minute for a tree, because they always marked them down the last week, but that was better than nothing. I usually had a small present that was opened by the child that found the *pickle ornament on the tree. Obviously, the trampoline couldn’t be wrapped, so I tried to think of something else I could give them that wouldn’t set me back. Stockings would be fruit and nuts and chocolate. They would be okay without the trinkets, that usually filled the leg of the stocking, right?

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Christmas Series: The Best Ward Christmas Party Ever

4870085601_bd3e4c2dc8_mAlmost everyone that I know has a decided opinion on the ward Christmas party.  I have discovered that what constitutes an ideal party varies so widely that it is absolutely impossible that everyone would be pleased.  Last week the woman who has been asked to organize ours called me.  She asked if I would be willing to put together a program for before the dinner, because she likes to have everyone gathered and busy in the chapel while food is set out and organized.  She feels it brings the Spirit, and she hates it when dinner is interrupted for singing songs or other things.

Unfortunately, my view is almost entirely opposite from hers.  Our ward is actually putting on a concert the night before in which I am heavily involved.  I told her that given my involvement in the other program I didn’t feel I had resources to put together a new program.  I put forward the idea that maybe we

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Christmas Series: Primary Nativity Program

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The Annunciation – Luca Giordano courtesy of www.metmuseum.org

 

If your ward is anything like mine, the Nativity program put on by the children of the Primary at the annual Ward Christmas Party is a highlight of the season!  Some years, the script seems like it might have been lifted from “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” others you may notice the absence of spoken lines for the beloved female characters.

Let’s call this an “equitable” Nativity script, then. With spoken lines for Mary, Elisabeth and Anna (in addition to the lines of a second angel and shepherd which may be cast as either gender), this Nativity script offers equal speaking opportunities for girls and boys alike.

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The Exponent Christmas Series: The Posts of Christmas Past…

We love Christmas here at the Exponent, which means we love Christmas posts!

noelBecause of this love, we are dedicating this week to a Christmas Series, complete with poetry, ward Christmas party hints, an excellent Christmas Nativity play, and even a Christmas book review, plus lots of love for the women who celebrated the First Christmas, Exponent Style. But it won’t end this week, we will sprinkle flakes of Christmas cheer throughout all of December, in celebration of Christmas.

“But wait!” You say, “This week is American Thanksgiving! We want Tofurky recognition!”

We know!  We do, too! We love American Thanksgiving …and Canadian Thanksgiving, and Australian Thanksgiving and any time a Thanksgiving Feast is offered.  (“Thanksgiving” was a term used in a celebratory feast when voyagers arrived at far off destinations, and was even a term used among Mormons at the completion of a new chapel’s construction.) So we are still having some delicious Thanksgiving posts as a part of the Christmas Series, to round out the season properly…. rather like a nutmeg-sprinkled happy sip of egg nog.

But before this series of fresh Christmas posts begin, we invite you to visit the ghosts of Christmas posts past. So, sit down, grab a cup of cocoa –or iced chocolate for those in the Southern Hemisphere– and put your feet up. Because we have some magical Posts of Christmas Past for you, such as:

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Relief Society Lesson 25: The Birth of Jesus Christ: “Good Tidings of Great Joy”

Click for French Translation/Traduction en français
Click for Spanish Translation/Traducción en español
Mary nativity

Mary nativity

 

To quote the Teachings of Joseph F. Smith manual:

“There is no story quite as beautiful, or which can stir the soul of the humble quite to the depths, as this glorious story can of the birth of our Redeemer. No words that man may utter can embellish or improve or add to the eloquence of its humble simplicity. It never grows old no matter how often told, and the telling of it is by far too infrequent in the homes of men.”

If I were teaching this lesson, I would do exactly – talk of the birth of Christ.  And not of the shepherds, or Joseph, or the wise men, but the person who was the intimately and physically involved in the birth of Christ: Mary.  In my experience at Christmas-time at church, we often want to gloss over the experiences of Mary as the mother and life-giver in favor of celebrating Christ and the meaning of his life and teachings.  I don’t think this is necessarily inappropriate, but since we (hopefully) devote the other 51 weeks of our Sunday worship to the teachings of Christ, I’d like to talk a little about the brave woman who gave Christ life.

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