(A Christmas Message from my time as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines Quezon City Mission)
At the birth of Christ, as we are told, a new star appeared in the heavens. Learned and faithful men, “wise men” the scriptures call them, took note of this appearance. Though we don’t for certain know much about them, study suggests that these men were more likely spiritual leaders in their respective countries, rather than academics or astronomers (see BD: Wise Men of the East). Whatever their social role or standing, it is evident that these men were blessed with a knowledge of the prophecies concerning the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. They knew of the prerequisite appearance of a new star, and were attentive to note its arrival and respond immediately. In their attempt to find the Christ child, that they might worship Him, guidance and assistance were sought from King Herod, the ruler of the area and the bridge between the Jewish and Roman peoples. King Herod, however, being spiritually blind and a jealous ruler, could offer no more than a confirmation of the prophecies which were known, and a request that the wise men continue their search and send word if it proved to be successful.
As they left, Matthew tells us, this symbolic and literal light—the new star—moved before them to direct their path. “It came and stood over where the young child was.” We then read that these faithful men, “when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy” (Matt 2:10). It was a miracle that could not be overlooked, and their gratitude and delight were beyond expression. They had found, through their diligence and faith in the Lord, that which man alone had been unable to provide: direction to guide them and bring them to the presence of their Savior, the newborn Christ child.
In the world in which we now live, a fallen world laced with deception and despair, there is darkness all around and it is easy to fall victim to the traps of the devil that are continually laid before us. Even more perilous are the paths of those who don’t yet know their Savior, or the redeeming power of His Atoning Sacrifice. Many among these are those whom the scriptures say “are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it” (D&C 123:12). They cannot yet know the Savior, because they do not yet see the Star, or it is not yet lighting their path.
During this Christmas season, my dear brothers and sisters, each and every one of us is invited to become that Star. Christ himself has said, “I give unto you to be the light of this people” (3 Nephi 12:14), “therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold, I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do” (3 Nephi18:24). We who have been blessed with a knowledge of and a relationship with the Only Begotten of the Father, the Savior and Redeemer of the world, have been invited to share that blessing with all those around us. We have even been instructed how to go about so doing: follow His example.
We are blessed at this time of year to have an increased focus on the birth
and life of our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that this year, as we study, reflect, and ponder, we will make particular note of the character and choices of His perfect example. The 13th Article of Faith asserts that, as followers of Christ, we seek after all things that are “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy.” Or in other words, like the wise men of old, we rejoice “with exceeding great joy” in all things that bring us closer to our Lord.
As we seek to learn about and replicate the life and nature of the Savior, His light—the light of the sun, the moon, and the stars—will shine through us to illuminate the lives of others (D&C 88:7-11). “The way of the wicked is as darkness; they know not at what they stumble,” Proverbs states. “But the path of the just is as the shining light” (Proverbs 4:19,18).
In this season of love and worship, and the excitement of another new year, let us recommit ourselves to this great cause of truth. Let us hold up our light, the Light of Christ that is within us, and invite all others to come to Him. Let us help them to find their way. Let us become the Christmas Star. Christ has promised, “If it so be that ye should labor all your days…and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” (D&C 18:15). Though I haven’t yet reached the Kingdom of God, I know that this promise is true. Even here on Earth, we can rejoice with every other soul who is progressing with us toward salvation.
I love you all! Thank you for your wonderful examples to me, and all your prayers on my behalf! Merry Christmas!!