Friday, December 15, 2017

President Joseph F. Smith on Christmas as a reminder of past and future

President Joseph F. Smith (1838-1918) was the son of Joseph's brother Hyrum. He was ordained an apostle in 1866 at age 28, and served as a counselor to Brigham Young and the three presidents who followed.  He became the 6th president of the Church in 1901, and served until his death in 1918 at age 80.
"Christmas, to the Latter-day Saint, is both reminiscent and prophetic—a reminder of two great and solemn events, which will yet be regarded universally as the mightiest and most wonderful happenings in the history of the human race. These events were predestined to take place upon this planet before it was created. One of these was the coming of the Savior in the meridian of time, to die for the sins of the world; and the other is the prospective event of the risen and glorified Redeemer, to reign upon the earth as King of kings."
- The First Presidency (Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, Anthon H. Lund), Millennial Star, 70:1 (January 2, 1908)
Click here to read the full talk

We typically do a lot of the "reminiscing" half of what President Smith and his counselors describe at Christmastime. But perhaps we don't do enough of the prophetic anticipation, looking forward to that second "most wonderful happening" for mortal existence:

It's good to consider how we might incorporate that second part into our Christmas celebrations, reviewing the prophetic descriptions of the upcoming second visit to earth, and pondering how best to prepare for that glorious time!

This is one of my favorite "Christmas scriptures," as a prophet anticipated the first coming. We can learn some things about our own anticipatory condition:
And now we only wait to hear the joyful news declared unto us by the mouth of angels, of his coming; for the time cometh, we know not how soon. Would to God that it might be in my day; but let it be sooner or later, in it I will rejoice. (Alma 13:25)
Alma was well aware of the prophecies of the coming Christ. In spite of opposition and disagreement from others who didn't understand, he held firm to his faith in the prophecies and knew of the joy that was to come for those who were prepared and ready. Alma was hopeful and eager for that event to come during his lifetime (unfortunately it didn't), but he knew it would be a time of "joyful news" regardless, and he was living in such a way that he was eager for the events to come. A great lesson for each of us!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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