Sunday, December 25, 2011

Celebrating the living Christ

Last year Burke and I decided that we would memorize "The Living Christ." It seemed like a monumental task, but we broke it up and memorized a paragraph a week. Unfortunately, around the time we were packing for our move to Virginia, getting ready for Christmas, and finishing up our jobs, we fizzled out on our memorization. This year we decided to pick it back up, and last night we shared it with Burke's family. 

Reciting it may have been the culmination, but we have been immensely blessed through the many months during which we have worked on memorizing. These words have come alive for us as we have grown to better understand who our Savior Jesus Christ is and our relationships with Him. Often, when I am trying to turn my heart and thoughts to Him, it is these words that come to my mind, and His Spirit fills my heart. 

Today on Christmas Day I add my testimony to that of His Apostles. I know He lives and that He is the Redeemer of the world. I know that through Him is all hope and all joy. "God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son."


Flourish image for decoration 
As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.

He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He "went about doing good" (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.

He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice. He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary's cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth.

We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.

He rose from the grave to "become the firstfruits of them that slept" (1 Corinthians 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered among His "other sheep" (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised "dispensation of the fulness of times" (Ephesians 1:10).

Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote: "His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:

"I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father" (D&C 110:3–4).

Of Him the Prophet also declared: "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!

"For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—

"That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God" (D&C 76:22–24).

We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth—"built upon the foundation of . . . apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone" (Ephesians 2:20).

We testify that He will someday return to earth. "And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together" (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.

We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son. 

Image of the signatures of the First PresidencyImage of the signatures of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

January 1, 2000

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Snow in Wisco!

Burke and I are enjoying a wonderful visit with Burke's family in Wisconsin. We decided to come sort of last minute, so nobody told Clark and Bonnie that we were coming. We flew into Milwaukee a 1/2 hour before Clark and Holly so Burke snuck up on Clark at baggage claim. Then we snuck in the front door and sat on the couch to surprise Bonnie. It was so fun to be the surprise!

3 years ago when I came to Wisconsin for the first time there was at least 1 ft of snow on the ground. This year there was none! Everyone was a little sad because a white Christmas is just completely expected around here. There was only a 10% chance of snow yesterday but sure enough, the afternoon brought some snow.

 It's been a nice week getting ready for Christmas and spending time together. We spent Wednesday and Thursday in Minnesota visiting Burke's aunt and her family. Cousin Anna is getting ready for a mission and so we were able to be with her as she went to the temple for the first time. We followed that up with an evening of Christmas songs and games.

Burke was one of the lucky prize-winners. He won some straw glasses!

It was fun to see Burke's cousins and meet little Lucas. He loves his Aunt Sarah! It was so much fun hanging out for a bit in Minnesota.

We've been playing games and basketball, watching sports, movies and funny stuff, and enjoying it all.
Tomorrow's the big day! It's always different being with Burke's family instead of my own, but it's so awesome that someday we'll be blending the traditions of our two families into our own. I've never been one to have or expect a white Christmas, but for Burke's family and many others it makes a difference having some snow on the ground. So if that's part of your Christmas tradition, may all your Christmases be white!