[Symbol] – Gifts
[A Symbol related Story]
Gifts for the Saviour
By Scott and Angelle Anderson
One December we gathered together for a family meeting. We began by asking our 11-year-old son how he would feel if on his birthday we gave presents to everyone but him. He didn’t like that idea at all. We went on to ask if there is a holiday when we give gifts to others but not to the person whose birthday we are celebrating. It didn’t take the children long to realize we were talking about Christmas. We decided to start making Christmas more meaningful by giving gifts to Jesus Christ, whose birthday we are celebrating.
Our children wondered what they could give the Saviour. We talked about what He desires of us. We discussed His Atonement and His desire for us to give up our sins and be obedient. We talked about how He wants us to give of ourselves by serving and sharing our talents.
That year, we had each family member write on slips of paper the gifts they planned to give the Saviour and place the slips in a box. On Christmas morning, before we opened the other gifts, we had family prayer and shared with each other the gifts we were giving the Savior for the coming year.
As the years have come and gone, the tradition of giving gifts to Jesus Christ has helped our family focus on the real meaning of Christmas and on our love and gratitude for Him.
[Song] His Endless gift of Love
[Scripture] Luke 6:38
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
[Challenge – Gifts for Jesus] – giving a gift is an act of love. When Jesus was born, the wise men brought gifts to honour Him. When Jesus died, He gave us all the gift of everlasting life because He loves us. He has told us to give with a willing heart. Make this Christmas a special one by filling a box for baby Jesus of every act of kindness, love & service you do. Start today by doing a random act of kindness.
[Article relating to the challenge]
“When we keep the spirit of Christmas, we keep the Spirit of Christ, for the Christmas spirit is the Christ Spirit. It will block out all the distractions around us which can diminish Christmas and swallow up its true meaning.
“There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus Christ.
“Because He came to earth, we have a perfect example to follow. As we strive to become more like Him, we will have joy and happiness in our lives and peace each day of the year. It is His example which, if followed, stirs within us more kindness and love, more respect and concern for others.
“Because He came, there is meaning to our mortal existence.
“Because He came, we know how to reach out to those in trouble or distress, wherever they may be.
“Because He came, death has lost its sting, the grave its victory. We will live again because He came.
“Because He came and paid for our sins, we have the opportunity to gain eternal life.” (President Thomas S. Monson, 2011 First Presidency Christmas Devotional)
The Christmas season is a time to reflect and act upon the blessings and opportunities we have because of the birth, life, Atonement, and Resurrection of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. As our Heavenly Father “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16), we express our love toward one another and toward God and his precious Son by giving of ourselves.
Media link: [The Christmas Spirit]
10th Anniversary Advent Throw-Back :
[A Favourite from Previous Advents]
Finding the Christmas Spirit
by Sandi Schureman
Time was running out. It was December 24, Christmas Eve, and I still hadn’t found that magical feeling, the spirit of Christmas. I had done the things I thought would bring it—attended my children’s school performance of Christmas carols, decorated our tree, baked, shopped, wrapped. Yet nothing seemed to spark the Christmas spirit within me. I had resigned myself to the fact that this just might not be a very good Christmas.
My husband, Steve, a firefighter, was on his routine 24-hour shift at the firehouse, which meant he would not be home for either Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. Our four children and I were eager to spend what time we could with him, so we all drove down to the station.
As we arrived, the firefighters had just returned from a first-aid call to a nearby motel, where they had rendered care to a young boy with a fever and other symptoms. My husband expressed to us his feelings of concern and his desire to do something more for the boy and his brother and their mother.
They had fled an abusive, alcoholic situation and were now hundreds of miles from home, with one change of clothes each, very little money, and now an ill child on Christmas Eve.
Steve looked at me and at each of our children and asked, “What else can we do to help them? We picked up a small tree on the way back to the station that we want to decorate for them, but what more can we do this late?” It was 9:25 P.M.
Our children began a clamour of ideas. My daughter was sure a toy store somewhere was still open. My oldest son, then fifteen years old, offered a prayer and asked Heavenly Father to guide us to a place where we would find the gifts we needed. This filled the children with hope that we could find a toy store still open. I didn’t share their hope, largely because even if we did find a store open, I didn’t know how we would pay for anything we found.
I wanted to share, as much as my children did, but this Christmas was already our leanest ever. Our own children were receiving only two gifts each. Still, we drove eagerly around looking for anything open, planning to meet Steve and the other firefighters back at the motel room before the little family returned from the hospital, where they’d gone for medicine.
Every store we saw was closed. Then one of my sons said, “Hey, I know somewhere that’s open.” “Yeah, and they’ve got presents already wrapped!” declared the other son. Wondering what they were talking about, I pulled the car to the side of the street, and in frustration I turned to the kids and asked, “Oh, yeah, just where is this great place?” Their answer was so enthusiastic and genuine that it instantly ignited within me the flame of the Christmas spirit. “We can go to our house,” they chimed together. “The presents are already wrapped and under the tree.”
I asked them each if they really wanted to do this, and their eager response was, “Yes! Yes! Now hurry!” Once we were home, I watched with wonder as each pulled name tags off of their presents and each picked certain ornaments from our tree. At first, I was surprised to see that the ornaments they picked were the ones they themselves had made over the years. Then I realized that they were giving of themselves, and these had special value.
Two of my boys came out of their bedroom with their baseball gloves, their “pride and joy” mitts. We loaded the presents, some tree lights, and candy and goodies that were our family’s stocking stuffers, and we were off to the motel. The manager let us into the austere little room, and we set right to work with the firefighters, who had also brought things.
We set the tree on the table-top and adorned it with lights and the ornaments. Some of the firefighters hung candy bars and twenty-dollar bills on it with paper clips. Presents were in place under the tree, canned goods stacked in the corner, and clothes for the mother and children folded neatly on the nightstand. The room had been transformed.
On each of the bed pillows lay a somewhat used baseball glove from our boys, and I saw my fifteen year- old place between the mitts one of his most prized possessions. It was his home run baseball. I doubted that the little boys receiving this prize could possibly know what a sacrifice this was or what a revered spot it had held in my son’s room for the past six months. But that moment I knew that in my son’s heart, the spirit of Christmas flamed brightly, lighting that little room even after we turned off all the lights except the diamond-like ones on the tree.
I had almost given up on finding that precious spirit of Christmas. But it was given to me by my dear husband who recognized a need when he saw it, my children who so eagerly responded, and my Saviour, whose love for all mankind serves to remind me that I’ll never need to be without the Christmas spirit again. I realize as never before that the Christmas spirit comes to us as we give of ourselves to others.
What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb.
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part,
Yet what can I give Him?
Give my heart.”
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