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It’s that magical time of year again

Friday December 02, 2016 Written by Published in Church Talk
The familiar stories of Christmas, such as the tale of the three wise men still contain some surprises, says John Mateara. 16120106 The familiar stories of Christmas, such as the tale of the three wise men still contain some surprises, says John Mateara. 16120106

CHRISTMAS is a magical time.


It tends to bring back happy memories of family gatherings and charming traditions that have been passed down through the generations.

Christmas carols, gift exchanges and family feasts are just some of the enduring traditions that make the season one of the world’s favourite celebrations.

Christmas means something different to every person and family, but everyone appreciates a simple card or a message. Many families take a family picture to send with a card, but even if you don’t do that, text messages or even emails wishing families a Merry Christmas will make them feel special and remembered.

For your extended family that live far away, this might be the only time of year that they get to see your family, even if it’s just a photo, and they do appreciate receiving something from you.

Sending an actual card through the mail for the holidays can be a refreshing change for the recipient that can increase their happiness especially if their challenges in life are weighing them down.

Communication with our loved ones is a special part of the Christmas Season and Spirit, even better if we are able to personally meet with them. At this time of year, the transport systems throughout the world are at their busiest. Some transport networks are bursting at the seams with people trying to get home for Christmas. These eager travellers anticipating meeting up with their loved ones presenting a pleasant surprise and in some cases even shock when they show up unexpectedly.

“Christmas is full of surprises.”

Christmas poses a yearly challenge to those of us who have heard the Christmas story since we were children. After you have listened to the many Christmas sermons, and heard (and sung) every Christmas carol a few times, what more is left to be said that hasn’t been said before?

 If you know about Christmas at all, you know about Mary and the angel Gabriel, about the dangerous journey to Bethlehem, about Caesar’s decree, about Herod’s insane jealousy, about the inn with a “No Vacancy” sign, about the angels and the shepherds, and about the mysterious Wise Men from the east, and the last-second flight into Egypt. All of these stories are so well known that when we hear them again, we don’t really hear them at all because we’ve heard them all before. We hear, but we don’t listen.

That is indeed a challenge. Familiarity can breed, if not contempt, at least a kind of casual disinterest.

This is sad because the story of Christmas is actually full of surprises. There are unexpected miracles on every hand. And after all, it tells the most amazing story: The condescension of God from His Heavenly Realm to establish his place in human history in the form of a tiny, helpless baby.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”    (Luke 2:11,12)

Thomas S Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, expressed the following,

“Born in a stable, cradled in a manger, He came forth from heaven to live on earth as mortal man and to establish the kingdom of God. During His earthly ministry, He taught men the higher law. His glorious gospel reshaped the thinking of the world. He blessed the sick. He caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear. He even raised the dead to life. To us He has said, 'Come, follow me’.”

“As we seek Christ, as we find Him, as we follow Him, we shall have the Christmas spirit, not for one fleeting day each year, but as a companion always. We shall learn to forget ourselves. We shall turn our thoughts to the greater benefit of others.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of The Quorum of The Twelve Apostles says: “Part of the purpose for telling the story of Christmas is to remind us that Christmas doesn't come from a store. Indeed, however delightful we feel about it, even as children, each year it 'means a little bit more.'

And no matter how many times we read the biblical account of that evening in Bethlehem, we always come away with a thought—or two—we haven’t had before...I, like you, need to remember the very plain scene, even the poverty, of a night devoid of tinsel or wrapping or goods of this world. Only when we see that sacred, unadorned child of our devotion—the Babe of Bethlehem will we know why the giving of gifts is so appropriate.”

Spending the holiday season with loving friends and family is an enjoyable part of celebrating Christmas. The giving of gifts and enjoying old traditions or creating new ones is a special part of Christmas, which I believe when done with love and kindness, is also part of the true meaning of Christmas.

What Christmas traditions do you have? Maybe you have a special Christmas Tradition, if not, why don’t you create one?

It’s Christmas time…2016 !!

May the blessings of the season fill your life with joy and hope, that happy times and good fortune are headed your way this coming year.

            John Mateara

            The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints