Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas!

As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ over two millennia ago, may I offer you my testimony of the reality of his matchless life and infinite virtue of his great atoning sacrifice?
 None other have had such a profound influence on all who have lived or will yet live upon the earth.
 The wondrous story of Christ's birth is told all over the world in song, poetry, and voice. Why? Because it is central to all human history. 
It neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary.
 Under the direction of His Father,
He was the creator of the earth. “All things were made by
him; and without him was not any thing made that was
made” (John 1:3). 
 He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. 
He is the light, the life and hope of the world.
 Though sinless, He was baptized to
fulfill all righteousness. He “went about doing good”
(Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a
message of peace and goodwill. 
 He entreated all to follow
His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing
the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He
taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal
existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential
for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.
 He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only
Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.
 He rose from the grave to “become the firstfruits of them
that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited
among those He had loved in life. 
 He also ministered
among His “other sheep” (John 10:16) in ancient America.
In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the
boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised “dispensation
of the fulness of times” (Ephesians 1:10).
 Of Him the Prophet Joseph Smith declared: “And now, after the
many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the
testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and
we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only
Begotten of the Father—
“That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds
are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are
begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:22–24).
 Christ's priesthood
and His Church have been restored upon the earth—
“built upon the foundation of . . . apostles and prophets,
Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone”
(Ephesians 2:20).

  He will someday return to earth. “And
the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall
see it together” (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of
Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall
bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before
Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according
to our works and the desires of our hearts.
 Modern day prophets and apostles declare:
"We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—
that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God.
He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the
right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the
hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to
happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.
God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son."

 Thoughts were taken from 

If you would like to strengthen your faith 
and understanding of Christ see
Receiving a Testimony of Light and Truth

Last night Elder Johnson and I performed in the Miracle of Christmas.
As our director prayed prior to the performance on the last night, he asked that the music would play through us and not just from us. His prayer was answered. Elder Johnson sings tenor and I was part of a bell choir. There were also a full orchestra and children's choir totaling about 140 performers with probably another 50 working behind the scenes. The church had seating for 1000 people and it was probably 75% full the first night and full the second night. It has been months of intense practice but so worth it. What an honor for both of us. The Spirit was sweet and strong throughout the night.
(This picture was taken at a rehearsal. We had more professional dress for the performances.)

Elder Johnson also sang in the Messiah a few weeks ago. Both programs pulled performers from the surrounding community not just members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Messiah was held at the Catholic church here in Nauvoo and The Miracle of Christmas was held at the LDS Church close by. The Nauvoo Temple stands bright next to them both and symbolizes to me the love of the Savior for each of us.

We send our love and may you have a wonderful Christmas this year. See He Is the Gift

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