Family Advent – Day 11

[Symbol] – Gold

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[A Story relating to the Symbol]

For the Full Article see: https://www.lds.org/ensign/1995/12/tinsel-or-gold?

Tinsel—or Gold?

By Tracy Hogan Barrand

We had given our children the best our money could buy. But were these really the gifts that mattered most?

It was near midnight on Christmas Eve. My husband and I sat and stared at the heap of presents extending well out into the living room. They glittered like a mountain of foil. My husband turned to me and said, “We’ve got Mount Everest for toys, and Death Valley for a bank account. Look at this stuff. I feel sick.” We had a sinking feeling that we’d exchanged our Christmas gold for tinsel.

Christmas Day was no better. Although it was clearly a day to spend with the children, somehow we realized when it was over that we’d done about everything except spend time with our children. Something had to change.

We reflected on the genesis of Christmas gift giving. Wise Men honored the Christ child with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Those small but costly items were probably obtained at some sacrifice by each of the Wise Men. We suddenly realized that we had been caught up in the idea that gifts had to be costly—and in large quantities—to be acceptable. We had sacrificed our budget for the children. Was this the spirit of Christmas? Perhaps the idea behind the Wise Men’s gifts was their sacrifice, not only in terms of value freely given but also in terms of the significant amount of their time to journey to visit the child Jesus. This was a sobering idea to two parents seemingly overwhelmed by the demands of rearing several children and shouldering other responsibilities.

That Christmas season we determined to give our children more than things; from then on we would also give them the gift of time. We determined that Christmas Day would be an honest-to-goodness “Kids’ Day” at our house and that during the coming year we would also give each one a time period once a week for time alone with Mom or Dad. Spending time alone with the children has proved to be the best of all Christmas gifts for our family.

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 [Song] Rejoice the lord is King

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[Scripture] D&C 18: 10

Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;

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[Challenge – Value] –  Gold can be both a  colour and a precious ore. Usually gold represents something of great value. But gold can also symbolize power, strength & justice. Kings often wear gold to show that they are powerful, strong, just or fair. Gold was one of the three gifts brought by the wise men to the baby Jesus. Gold reminds us of the valuable gifts of love and eternal life that Jesus has given to us. It also helps us to remember to give Him something of great value in return. We are all precious in God’s eyes. What could be of more worth than treating each other as royalty? Let’s today see each other through God’s eyes and treat each other well.

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 [Quotes  relating to the challenge]

Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.—Mother Teresa

One of the miracles of Christmas is that compassion pervades our hearts and homes more fully. We think of others more often; we do for others more readily. Imagine what could happen if this compassionate spirit were in our hearts always.

Henry Van Dyke (1852–1933), author of the beloved Christmas story “The Other Wise Man,” encouraged compassion the whole year through:

Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people, and to remember what other people have done for you; . . . 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 try to understand what those who live in the same house as you really want, without waiting for them to tell you; . . . 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?

 

Media link: [The Reason behind Christmas]

https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2013-11-018-the-reason-behind-christmas?

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10th Anniversary Advent Throw-Back :

[An Angel in Deed]

by Amanda Rowe

When my eldest daughter, Lauren, started school, I looked forward to her afternoon account of the day’s activities. As Christmastime approached, her enthusiasm for the Nativity play was delightful.

Each day she would tell me of the various preparations being made for the performance. She sang me the songs and recounted the familiar story of the birth of Jesus with childlike wonder.

One afternoon she announced that she had been chosen to play the part of an angel. She went on to describe the beautiful white dress she would wear and talked excitedly about the golden tinsel that would garland her hair. Over the next few days, as the rehearsals became more intense, her excitement continued to grow, so I was slightly puzzled when she arrived home one afternoon and made no mention of the play.

A few days later, Lauren came home and immediately started rummaging through her box of dress-up clothes. I inquired what she was looking for, and she told me she needed a dull, plain dress to wear for the school play. Puzzled, I asked about her angel costume. She quietly explained that there was a little boy in her class who did not get along with any of the children. His difficulty in fitting in with the others had alienated him from his classmates. This young boy’s role in the play was to be part of the crowd of people in Bethlehem, but despite instruction and rehearsal his constant fidgeting on stage was disruptive. To help keep Charlie quiet, the teacher had asked Lauren to forgo her part as an angel and stand in the crowd scene beside him so that he would not disturb the flow of the performance. Lauren had quietly accepted the change of plans and was now looking for a costume— not only for her but also for Charlie in case he forgot to bring one.

My indignation rose as I absorbed what she was saying. Why should she give up her special part for a troublesome classmate? As I looked at Lauren, however, I held my tongue. Instead, I commended her for her thoughtfulness. Still, a nagging irritation stayed with me throughout the night.

The next day I broached the subject with Mrs. Roberts, her teacher. She told me that recently she had watched a relationship develop between Lauren and Charlie. As other children had scorned him and laughed at his clumsy ways, Lauren had begun to befriend him. It seemed that not only was Lauren helping him through the play but she had also been assigned to sit next to him in class. I related my concern that in looking after Charlie, perhaps my daughter would fall back in her own work. Mrs. Roberts smiled and assured me that Lauren was a bright little girl. “She gets on with her work quickly and efficiently and then spends time helping Charlie with his tasks while others are finishing,” she explained. “Lauren is patient and understanding with him, and his work has improved and his self-confidence has blossomed. By becoming his friend, she has done more for him in three weeks than I, a qualified teacher, have been able to do in three months!”

I left the classroom with a spring in my step. The Christ-like attitude of my five-year-old daughter was humbling. That evening, as the lights came up on the Nativity play, there was a general stir in the audience as the little angels in white dresses and sparkling tinsel halos came on stage. But one mother, at least, recognized the glowing inner beauty of a little girl in a dull blue dress standing in the middle of the Bethlehem crowd scene—holding tightly to Charlie’s hand.

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