It’s been many years since it really felt like Christmas to me. I lost that childlike sense of wonder and anticipation as a pre-teen. Ever since I have had a love-hate relationship with the holiday. I look forward to the secular aspects of Christmas like wassail and home baked goods, festive decorations and procuring presents for loved ones, listening to my favorite Christmas music (which can also be a spiritual experience). But the holiday never feels quite right. I tend to be snippier and prone to outbursts or terseness. The commercialism depresses me. I often feel a let down or anti-climax on Christmas Day.
For the first time in many years, while reading the Book of Mormon this morning, I felt something well up in me that I can only describe as the true spirit of Christmas.
In Helaman 5, the brother-prophets Lehi and Nephi begin their joint ministry among the Nephites and Lamanites. They recall a specific teaching moment from their past in which their father bore a powerful testimony of Jesus Christ.
9 O remember, remember, my sons, the words which king Benjamin spake unto his people; yea, remember that there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, who shall come; yea, remember that he cometh to redeem the world.
10 And remember also the words which Amulek spake unto Zeezrom, in the city of Ammonihah; for he said unto him that the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins.
11 And he hath power given unto him from the Father to redeem them from their sins because of repentance; therefore he hath sent his angels to declare the tidings of the conditions of repentance, which bringeth unto the power of the Redeemer, unto the salvation of their souls. (Helaman 5:9-11)
There is no better way to get in the true spirit of Christmas than to read the Book of Mormon (and serve others, perhaps through #LightTheWorld). The Book of Mormon teaches us how to access the Atonement of Jesus Christ, more about God’s plan of happiness, the need for repentance, examples of prophets and others who exemplify Christ-centered living.
As I read about Christ’s saving power, I felt the need deep in my heart to celebrate the greatest gift ever given.