Family Advent – Day 24

[Symbol] The Camel

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[A Story relating to the Symbol]

The Camel Had Wandered

By Janet Eyestone Buck

Our family has always enjoyed a Christmas tradition of setting out a ceramic Nativity scene—complete with Wise Men, camels, shepherds, sheep, and, of course, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. Each season the Nativity scene was the same.

One year when my children were young, I carefully unwrapped each piece and set them up to represent the first Christmas. The children gathered around to watch. We talked about the birth of Jesus and the visit of the shepherds and the Wise Men. Then I cautioned the children, as always, not to touch the pieces, explaining that they were fragile and easy to break.

This year, however, the temptation was too great for my two-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. The day we set up the Nativity scene, I noticed several times, with some irritation, that a camel had wandered from its appointed place or a sheep had strayed from the watchful care of the shepherd. Each time, I returned the piece to its rightful place, then tracked down the culprit and admonished her to leave things alone.

The next morning, Elizabeth awoke and went downstairs before I did. When I walked into the living room, I noticed right away that the manger scene had been disturbed again. All the pieces were clumped together in a mass, as tightly as they could be fitted together.

Impatiently, I stepped forward to put things right; but I stopped short as I realized that some thought had gone into this new arrangement. All twenty-three figures were grouped in a circle, facing inward, pushed together as if to get the best view possible of the figure resting in the center of them all—the baby Jesus.

The Spirit touched my soul as I pondered the insight of a two-year-old. Certainly, Christ should be the center of our holiday celebrations. If we all could draw in around our Savior—not only during the Christmas season, but during each day—what a better perspective we would have. The love he offers to each of us would be easily shared with others who have not ventured so close.

I left the Nativity scene arranged according to Elizabeth’s design that year. It served as a simple reminder during the rest of the season of what Christmas is all about.

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 [Song] Wise men still seek Him {Different From CD}

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwJpoksTasY

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[Scripture] Matthew 24:13

He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

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[Challenge – Endure] – Camels have a lot of physiological adaptations that allow them to withstand long periods of time without any external source of water.  Camels are able to withstand changes in body temperature and water consumption that would kill most other animals. The camels carried heavy packs on their backs for their long journey. They had to simply endure the trail day by day in all conditions. They helped the wise men cross the dessert and reach their destination, which was were the young Saviour was. Find one thing today that you can be patient with and endure, having faith that there is goodness and wonder at the end of the trail.

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 [Article/Story relating to the challenge]

Shining Moment: A Memorable Christmas

Contributed By Rey Johnson, Church News contributor

As a University of Utah student from 1956 to 1961, I was associated with the LDS institute and the LDS social organization, Lambda Delta Sigma. Among our many memorable activities was the annual Christmas caroling outing. This wasn’t just your ordinary neighborhood group. Lambda Delta Sigma was a large organization, and we typically had a hundred students participating in those caroling sessions.

The highlight of the evening was always the visit to President David O. McKay’s home on East South Temple in Salt Lake City. Their home featured a large front porch, and each year we would assemble in the front yard and sing while President and Sister McKay would stand on the porch and listen and then graciously thank us for our visit.

Christmas 1960, however, was a bit different. As a consequence of advancing years, the McKays moved into a suite in what was then the Hotel Utah, now the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. You don’t take a hundred bundled-up carolers into the limited confines of their suite. Instead, we went to the home of President J. Reuben Clark, then a counselor to President McKay. President Clark’s home, located in the “avenues” in Salt Lake City, was a modest home with a front yard just large enough to accommodate a hundred carolers. At this time President Clark was bedridden and his bed was adjacent to an upstairs window overlooking the front yard.

His window was opened, and we sang. Then he spoke to us from his upstairs window. I don’t remember all that was said, but one line hit me powerfully. He said, “I pray every day that I will have strength to endure to the end.”

Here was a man who was a distinguished attorney, author, former U.S. ambassador, former assistant secretary of state, an Apostle for over 26 years, and a counselor to the President of the Church! And his prayer was that he would stay true to the course. And of course President Clark stayed true. He passed away the following October, having touched my life in a very personal way. He left me with a challenge that I too may have strength to endure to the end.

This experience has caused me to reflect on the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his “A Psalm of Life”:

Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time.

 

Media link: [Wise Men Still Seek Him – Modern-Day Story of The Wise Men ]

https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2011-12-019-wise-men-still-seek-him?

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10th Anniversary Advent Throw-Back :

[A Favourite from Previous Advents]

Quote: [By Elder Richard L. Evans]

If we can give hope to a neighbour whose hope in an eternal future has been dimmed by a much too worldly present, we shall have given that which is of more worth than any gift that could be conveyed in coloured wrappings.

Looking forward with hope has defined Christmas since the beginning. For millennia, prophets anticipated the coming of the Messiah. Wise men looked to the heavens before they saw a bright new star. And Mary and Joseph must have earnestly anticipated the birth of the precious babe as they journeyed to Bethlehem.

Each year we, too, look forward with hope. Christmas is the sweet assurance that we can rest our hope in Christ and look to the future with faith. Christmas is marked by a spirit of hopeful anticipation, of joyful preparation, of earnest longing for good things to come. At Christmas, we fill the world with hope one child, one person, at a time.

This retelling of a story entitled Where Love Is, There God Is Also by Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) is about a man who, for a time, lost all hope.

Martin, a village shoemaker, lost his wife and then each of his children to a dreaded disease. He was stricken with grief. In his loneliness, he declared, “I am now a man who has no hope.” While despairing, Martin met a pilgrim, a man of God, who encouraged him to read the New Testament in the Bible. That very day, Martin bought a copy of the New Testament in large print and began reading. He could not stop reading. He learned about Jesus, about His life and teachings, and read until all the kerosene had burned out of his lamp. He read the next day and the next. As he read, his heart grew lighter and he began to hope again.

Every night, he would sit at his table by the fire and read. One night, he read about the Pharisee who invited Jesus into his home, after which a woman came and washed the Saviour’s feet with her tears. Martin wondered if he would be like the Pharisee, thinking about himself, or if he would be like the woman who humbly worshipped the Lord. While he was pondering, he put his elbows on the table and fell asleep. He wasn’t sure if he was dreaming, but he thought he heard the Lord just outside his door say, “Martin, Martin, look tomorrow into the street. I am coming.”

Martin woke the next morning filled with hopeful anticipation. The Savior was coming to visit him! He could hardly contain his excitement. He tidied his cellar house and straightened his workshop and looked out the window, watching and waiting for his special visitor. While Martin worked, he glanced up through the window. He noticed an old man scraping snow off the sidewalk. The man seemed very cold and tired. Martin left his workbench and walked up the stairs to the street. He invited the old man to sit by his fire. Martin warmed some tea for him, sat near him, and listened to the old man tell his life’s story. At last, when the old man left, he thanked Martin and told him that he felt refreshed in body and spirit.

Before too long Martin looked out his window again and noticed a woman trying to comfort her cold and hungry child. He noticed that she had no shawl and was wearing a summer dress on a cold and wintry day. Again, he climbed the stairs to the street and invited the woman and her child inside. The child was crying and could not be comforted. The mother’s hands, face, and feet were stiff with cold. Martin asked the young woman why she had no shawl to protect her from the cold. She said that her husband was a soldier, and she hadn’t heard from him in a very long time. Just the day before, she had sold her shawl to buy food. Martin reached for her child, held him, and played with him until the crying child began to laugh. Martin poured some hot cabbage soup for the woman to eat and rummaged through his trunk until he found a coat that would fit the little boy. When the woman stood to leave, Martin gave her some money to buy a shawl and made sure she had a place to stay.

The sun would set soon, but Martin was still hopeful. He looked through his window into the street and strained to see what was there. All he could see was an old woman selling apples. Just as Martin picked up the piece of leather he was sewing, a boy ran past the woman and stole an apple. The woman grabbed the boy by the hair and started yelling and beating him. Martin ran up the steps of his cellar, not even stopping to pick up the eyeglasses he dropped, and asked the woman why she was so angry. Martin talked to the boy and told him to apologize to the woman. Martin paid for the apple and gave it to the boy. He talked to both of them about forgiveness. Before long, the old woman and the boy walked away together, laughing and talking between themselves.

Martin still felt hopeful, but he knew that night had fallen and the Savior had not come yet. He sat at his table to read. Instead of turning to the page where his leather bookmark lay, he opened to another page and began reading. At the top of the page, he began to read, “And I was an hungered and thirsty, and ye gave Me to drink. I was a stranger and ye took Me in.” And a few verses later, he read, “Inasmuch as ye have done it to the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.”

Tolstoy closes the story: “And [Martin] understood that his dream had not deceived him, and that the Saviour had really come to him that day, and he had really received Him.”

[by Lloyd & Karmal Newell]

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[Colouring Page] – Right Click to Save.

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