[Symbol] – Wreaths
[A Symbol related Story]
By Mylinda LeGrande
(Based on a true story)
Spring was on its way. Flowers pushed their way through the thin layer of snow on the ground. Lyndsey’s mom hung a yellow berry wreath on the front door.
One day, Lyndsey came into the kitchen where Mom was cleaning. “Mom, what are those scratching sounds?” Lyndsey asked.
“I don’t hear anything,” Mom said. “Where do you hear them?”
“They’re coming from the front door,” Lyndsey said.
“It’s probably just the wind blowing our wreath against the door,” Mom said.
Over the next few days, mysterious noises kept coming from the front door. Lyndsey’s sister, Sarah, noticed a couple of robins flying back and forth from the front porch carrying twigs and bits of paper. Lyndsey’s brother, Westley, noticed the birds chirping loudly at him whenever he played basketball in the driveway.
A couple of weeks later, the weather outside grew warmer. Daffodils nodded their golden heads. The strange noises stopped. Everyone forgot about the mystery.
Mom wanted to replace the berry wreath on the front door with an Easter decoration. She lifted the wreath off the door and carried it inside. Lyndsey was coloring at the table. Mom started to lay the wreath on the table when she suddenly stopped moving.
“What’s the matter?” Lyndsey asked.
Mom gently put the wreath on the floor and leaned it against the wall. “Lyndsey, there is a bird nest on top of the wreath,” she said.
Lyndsey hopped out of her chair to look. As she stepped toward the wreath, she saw something at her feet. On the floor lay three tiny blue eggs. But there was still one egg that hadn’t fallen out of the nest. Mom put on her cleaning gloves. She carefully picked up the three eggs and put them back into the nest with the fourth. Then she hung the wreath back on the front door.
Over the next few days, Lyndsey, Sarah, and Westley peeked into the nest. They noticed that there were only three eggs. When they asked what had happened to the fourth egg, Mom said she would explain during family home evening that night.
After dinner, the family gathered in the living room. They were going to have a lesson about Easter. Dad explained that Jesus Christ died so we might live again with Him and Heavenly Father someday. Heavenly Father loves all of us, including all of the creatures on the earth. He even notices when a little bird falls from its nest.
Dad asked Sarah to read Matthew 10:29–31: “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”
Mom explained that when the eggs fell out of the nest, one of them had broken and the bird was not able to survive. But the other three eggs were fine.
“If Heavenly Father loves that little bird that died, imagine how much He must have loved us to send His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ,” Mom said. “He sacrificed His perfect Son so we could live with Him again someday.”
Lyndsey, Sarah, and Westley watched the birds hatch and grow strong. The mother and father robins helped their babies learn to fly. Finally, they left the nest. But the little robin family stayed in their yard all summer, singing happily to Lyndsey’s family.
So, Matt, you’re saying that even though God loves the sparrow, he loves us more than many sparrows?
Media link: [His eye is on the sparrow]
[Song] Deck the Halls
[Scripture] Romans 5: 35-39
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
[Challenge – Embrace] – The Circle shape of the wreath is a symbol of something, that has no beginning or end. The Christmas wreath is a symbol of God’s love for us, which is Eternal, or lasts forever, and like a circle, has no beginning and has no end. Today think of anything that is keeping you from feeling God’s love and take time with Heavenly Father, that you may feel and embrace His love for you.
[Story relating to the challenge]
Peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high.—D&C 121:7-8
Adversity can sweeten, prolong, and even heighten our awareness of Christmas joys.
Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendour, woven of love, by wisdom, with power. Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the Angel’s hand that brings it to you. Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, or a duty: believe me, that angel’s hand is there; the gift is there, and the wonder of an overshadowing Presence.1
[Christmas Greeting attributed to Greville MacDonald, son of Christian novelist George MacDonald]
As a young boy, Elder Dallin H. Oaks learned how adversity can bless and strengthen the faithful. He remembers his mother quoting the scripture, “thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain” (2 Nephi 2:2).
He recalls: My mother loved that scripture and lived its principle. The greatest affliction of her life was the death of her husband, our father, after only 11 years of marriage. This changed her life and imposed great hardships as she proceeded to earn a living and raise her three little children alone. Nevertheless, I often heard her say that the Lord consecrated that affliction for her gain because her husband’s death compelled her to develop her talents and serve and become something that she could never have become without that seeming tragedy. Our mother was a spiritual giant, strong and fully worthy of the loving tribute her three children inscribed on her headstone: “Her Faith Strengthened All.”
The blessings of adversity extend to others. I know it was a blessing to be raised by a widowed mother whose children had to learn how to work, early and hard. I know that relative poverty and hard work are not greater adversities than affluence and abundant free time. I also know that strength is forged in adversity and that faith is developed in a setting where we cannot see ahead.
Alan Barnes relates (as told to his wife, Kathleen Barnes) how a difficult Christmas from his childhood made the family truly appreciate being together.
10th Anniversary Advent Throw-Back :
[A Favourite from Previous Advents]
It is a good thing to observe Christmas day… But there is a better thing than the observance of Christmas day, and that is, keeping Christmas.
Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you; to ignore what the world owes you, and to think what you owe the world; to put your rights in the background, and your duties in the middle distance, and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground; to see that your fellow-men are just as real as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy; to own that probably the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of life, but what you are going to give to life; to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe, and look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness—are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.
Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and the desires of little children; to remember the weakness and loneliness of people who are growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask yourself whether you love them enough; to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear on their hearts; to try to understand what those who live in the same house with you really want, without waiting for them to tell you; to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you; to make a grave for your ugly thoughts, and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open—are you willing to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.
Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world—stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death—and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love? Then you can keep Christmas.
And if you keep it for a day, why not always?
But you can never keep it alone. [From the Spirit of Christmas by Henry Van Dyke]
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