Today is December 21st. Four days until Christmas day.
I’ve thought a lot about what I wanted to write for today, and I do mean a lot. I had a lot of drafts that I went over in my mind, debated, discussed with myself, and eventually discarded. I even debated sitting down and writing this all out in advance. But … I never quite did. Instead I waited until this exact moment to write this out, because while I knew what I wanted to say, wasn’t sure how I wanted to say it, what method I wanted to use to present what’s taking this week’s place from Being a Better Writer. I spent a lot of time thinking over it, weighing the various things I could say, the topics I could tie in—and make no mistake, there were plenty of those this last year. More than anything else, now, I think the world needs the message that the celebration of Christmas reveres and brings once more. This last year has seen hatred piled upon hatred, vitriol on vitriol. The world at large … well, it wouldn’t have us think kind things, or even good things. The message from it has been that we must hate those that disagree with us, and revile against those who are different then us.
It’s sad. Now more than ever, I think, we need to remember what Christmas is truly about.
Last weekend, my sister invited me to attend the annual Christmas concert by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City. I went, and as one would expect, it was wonderful. The Motab, as it’s commonly nicknamed, has also been dubbed “America’s Choir” by no less than an active President of the United States, so it should come as no surprise that their performances are both phenomenal and profound. When you combine that level of talent with the Salt Lake Symphony Orchestra and a number of award-winning guest singers from the Metropolitan Opera, the result is going to be beyond spectacular. And it was. Their rendition of Carol of the Bells sent chills down my spine.
But part of the beauty of the concert wasn’t just in how the music was performed, but the why. The concert never lost sight of the reason, the true reason, that we celebrate Christmas once a year. We don’t just celebrate it because we like gifts, or hot cocoa, or dragging a tree a mile through the woods to set it up in our home and decorate it with festive lights. We don’t just celebrate Christmas because we like the music, or because we get a week off from work. Granted, those are all fun things, and I’m not saying there isn’t plenty to enjoy about candy canes, hot chocolate, caroling, and the rest of the shebang. They’re all a wonderful part of Christmas, but to think of them and only them is to truly miss the real core of the season.
Christmas isn’t just about the gifts we give one another. It’s about the gift that was given to the world, the ultimate gift. A Savior of mankind, and the concert never forgot that. The Son of God, sent with healing in his wings to lift the broken-hearted and liberate the captive. On December 25th, as we gather with our families and loved ones, we commemorate the birth of the Savior, God’s gift to us, and remember who He was and why He came.
Two-thousand some years ago, as prophesied for more than a thousand years in advance, the Son of God was born in a lowly stable, the long-awaited promise of a Savior finally fulfilled. And today, two-thousand-odd years later, we celebrate that birth as a reminder of Him and what He stood for. Yes, sure, it’s not the original day. Big deal. What’s important is that we don’t forget what we’re holding it in memory of.
Two thousand odd years ago, God sent his only begotten, the Savior Jesus Christ, into this world. He came in humblest of circumstances, yet was rightful king over all the Earth. His birth was not heralded by the world at large, but yet outlasts the memory of all the kings that ruled over the nations of the Earth at the time.
Of course, there’s more to it than that. There’s the teachings He brought and the ultimate message of living one’s life as He asked, but if I wanted to write about those, well … I wouldn’t ever be able to write anything else. As was written by one of his apostles, if all the things that Jesus did for mankind were written, not even the world itself could contain all the books that would be created (John 21:25, for those curious).
For today, I don’t think I need to go that far. For today, all that needs to be said is for us not to forget that small, simple birth two-thousand odd years ago and the message of great joy that it brought to all mankind. As we celebrate with friends, family, Netflix, Xbox Live, or whatever your preferred method of Christmas Day cheer may be, let us not forget the why, and what that means for each and every one of us.
The Christmas Concert I saw didn’t forget that. It spoke of joy, of kindness. Of the many lessons of the Savior and how through the ages men and women have struggled to follow those teachings and live as he did, and of the great joy and help they brought to those around them.
May we not forget that and forget where we are or what we’re celebrating this Christmas season. May the spirit true of Christmas be with us all.