Monday, December 14, 2015

Hugh B. Brown on the Spirit of Christmas and of Christ

Elder Hugh B. Brown (October 24, 1883–December 2, 1975) was called as an Assistant to the Twelve in 1953, then as an apostle in 1958.  He served as a counselor to President David O. McKay from 1961 until President McKay's death in 1970, then for five more years as a member of the Quorum of Twelve until he passed away.
"To catch the real meaning of the 'Spirit of Christmas' we need only to drop the last syllable of the word, and it becomes the 'Spirit of Christ.' It beckons us to follow Him and become worthy of the blessedness which He promised to the most unlikely people—the poor in spirit, the sorrowful, the meek, the seekers after righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peace makers, and even the persecuted and the oppressed.
"It is a blessed spirit and is available to all, not alone to the rich, the influential, the heralded or popular. It may pervade the humblest cottage or the palace of the king, but only when it is in the hearts of men.
"Let each man examine his own heart as he gives thanks for the peace of this Christmas and try to discover his true feelings toward his fellow men, toward those who are his neighbors, his brothers in the Church, his new friends of an allied country. Let him vigorously weed out all envy, jealousy, greed, and hatred and undertake to radiate the spirit of goodwill, of love of fellow men, not for the season only but throughout the year. 
"If this formula for happiness—love one another—is effective for one day, may it not work at other times, at all times? If by giving we receive, and by dividing we increase, why not make happiness permanent by carrying the Christmas spirit throughout the year? May we all enjoy the spirit of Christmas for the next 365 days."
- Hugh B. Brown, "The Abundant Life," pp. 305-307

President Brown was one of the beloved leaders of my youth, and I still recall the calm assurance of his teachings and testimonies. I'm not sure if he was the first to suggest this linkage between the "Spirit of Christmas" and "Spirit of Christ" but he certainly taught the idea effectively:

For those of us blessed to live in relative peace, he encouraged that "each man examine his own heart" as a part of the Christmas season, to ensure we have no inappropriate feelings towards other individuals or groups. Instead, we must "radiate the spirit of goodwill, of love" — at Christmastime and throughout the year.

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