Monday, December 05, 2011

The Gift of Life

It’s Christmas time and we go about looking for gifts, enjoying store front windows filled with items of interest and trimming the tree to create a pleasant atmosphere in our homes.  My wife and I attended a simple Nativity re-enactment this past Saturday, Journey Through Bethlehem, one which required an hour’s drive to the country; but  set the tone we wanted as we approach Christmas.

Yesterday the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints presented its annual Christmas Devotional.  Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Councilor in the First Presidency of the Church shared his thoughts as he reminded us, “Christmas is about Christ”.  He related a story from when he was a young boy enjoying magical visions created by a candle he’d held in his hand as the energy from it danced behind a curtain in the front window.  The magic of that moment turned to horror as the curtains caught on fire.  He wondered if he’d destroyed Christmas as his parents pulled the burning fabric from the window and put it out.

Before President Uchtdorf could finish his story my mind immediately knew where it was going; the young boy holding the magic of the flame as it danced before him made my stomach tighten.  He was describing my own youth, a boy sitting at the dinner table watching a candle flicker while his mother took dishes into the kitchen after our evening meal.

I’d been entranced by the flame as it beckoned further attention.  Passing my finger through it permitted a line of carbon to form, a line which rubbed off easily and didn’t hurt.  It would be neat to leave similar trails on my paper napkin; dragging it carefully through the flame.

In only a moment the napkin flashed into a ball of flame startling my ability to control its decent as it fell from my hand and landing on the table.  I should explain; my father was a furniture salesman and our dinner table was a fine Cherry wood piece polished to near perfection.  In only a moment the flames from the napkin ignited the gloss finish as a wave of blue flames pushed from one end of the table to the other quickly and yet; at the same time, in stop action moments stacked one against the other, a never ending nightmarish reality.

Mom ran from the kitchen and put out the flames and if any words were said I don’t remember them.  My feelings of guilt and horror required compassion rather than scolding as she gathered me in her arms.  I don’t recall ever hearing my father scold me; but I know the pain it must have caused, destroying a piece of furniture was secondary to nearly burning down the house.  It amazes me to this day I survived the moment, that he let me live.

Along the way to adulthood I’ve tested my folk’s ability to keep me alive; and to my amazement they still are pleased to call me Son, go figure.  How does this tie in with Christmas?  Have you always been this slow?

Our Father in Heaven has given us His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.  He is our Savior and mediator with the Father.  He gave us life in this mortality and beyond that, eternal life.  He is easy to forgive our frailties and remembers them no more.

“I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable  servants.”   Mosiah 2:21

This Christmas as we search for gifts, pleasing packages with items that will bring a smile or a hug, let us not forget the Lord; His only requirement is a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  Merry Christmas.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

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