Sunday, December 18, 2016

Elder Neal A. Maxwell on applying the Christmas message

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004) served as a Seventy from 1976-1981, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve until his death from cancer in 2004.
"No wonder the declaratory focus of the first Christmas was on 'a Savior is born.' What greater tidings could there be than those 'good tidings of great joy'? No wonder the reverential exclamation praising our planning and loving Father—indeed, 'Glory to God in the highest'!
"'Come, let us adore Him,' Jesus Christ. The ultimate form of adoration of Him is emulation! Come, let us glorify God with our daily lives!
"Like the wise men from the east, we too must travel a great distance in order to come unto Christ, the Light of the World. No matter—He waits for us 'with open arms' (Mormon 6:17). May Christmas cause us deeper contemplation and deeper determination to complete that journey of journeys—in order to experience that resplendent rendezvous."
- Neal A. Maxwell, The Christmas Scene (Bookcraft, 1994), p. 9

It's interesting to ponder the declaration of the angels to the shepherds in the field: good tiding of great joy. What do those words represent? In what ways did the coming birth merit such a description? Elder Maxwell's beautiful words and phrases about the "first Christmas" convey a beautiful reverence for those events and an understanding of their eternal import.

If we truly do "adore" the babe in the manger, and the man he became in mortality, then our greatest goal would be to follow Him, to emulate His teachings and example. We are then able to "glorify God" by the actions of our lives each day!

Elder Maxwell's challenge in this excerpt is to use the Christmas season to ponder and contemplate the love of God and of His Son, and then to resolve to more fully follow that divine example as we come unto Him. How eager He is to receive us!

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