Tuesday, December 18, 2018

President Thomas S. Monson on lessons from 'A Christmas Carol'

President Thomas S. Monson (1927–2018) was sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1963. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency with Presidents Benson, Hunter, and Hinckley and then became Church president in 2008. He led the Church for almost a decade until his passing in January 2018.
"As we remember that 'when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God' (Mosiah 2:17), we will not find ourselves in the unenviable position of Jacob Marley’s ghost, who spoke to Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickens’ immortal A Christmas Carol. Marley spoke sadly of opportunities lost. Said he: 'Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunities misused! Yet such was I. Oh! such was I!'
"Marley added: 'Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!'
"Fortunately, as we know, Ebenezer Scrooge changed his life for the better. I love his line, 'I am not the man I was.'
"Why is the story A Christmas Carol so popular? Why is it ever new? I personally feel it is inspired of God. It brings out the best within human nature. It gives hope. It motivates change. We can turn from the paths which would lead us down and, with a song in our hearts, follow a star and walk toward the light. We can quicken our step, bolster our courage, and bask in the sunlight of truth. We can hear more clearly the laughter of little children. We can dry the tear of the weeping. We can comfort the dying by sharing the promise of eternal life. If we lift one weary hand which hangs down, if we bring peace to one struggling soul, if we give as did the Master, we can—by showing the way—become a guiding star for some lost mariner.
"Because life is fragile and death inevitable, we must make the most of each day."
- Thomas S. Monson, "Now Is the Time," General Conference October 2001
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Persident Monson often used familiar, down-to-earth stories and analogies in his messages. In this general conference address about the importance of service to others, he used a familiar Christmas example—the story of A Christmas Carol that he considered to be an inspired message. Jacob Marley's heartfelt regret was to have lived a selfish and unserving life, caring only for his own needs and pleasures and not for the good of those around him. President Monson encouraged us to learn from the message of the story, and to raise our eyes "to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode":

The blessings that come from an unselfish life are rich and deep. President Monson lists ways that a life of service is magnified, filled with joy and laughter and opportunities to ease suffering and pain. We not only follow the star, but we "become a guiding star" for others as we live that kind of life..

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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