Every day is Christ's day

The date on this Church News issue is Dec. 24. Some will read this on Christmas Eve; others will read it a day or so later, or perhaps even several weeks into the new year. The subject at hand, however, is not limited to a date on a calendar, although much of the world would have us think so.

Celebrating Christmas should be a 365-day-a-year event. While we may not decorate a tree or send seasonal greetings to loved ones and acquaintances every month, we ought to be as aware on Jan. 30, March 5 or Sept. 12 as we are on Dec. 25 that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth to dwell among mortals.Christmas is about remembering the Christ child born in Bethlehem who "grew and waxed strong," who, at the beginning of His ministry in Galilee, said, "Come, follow me." It is about obeying, everyday of the year, His directives to "love one another," to "forgive those who trespass against thee," to "seek first the glory of God," and to "go, and sin no more."

For a few days every year, beginning in late autumn and continuing into the first days of winter, the name of Christ appears before us seemingly everywhere we look, but that sacred name is in the altered form of "Christmas." We sing of His royal birth and read again the stories of that blessed event in Matthew and Luke. Then, far too many among us put away thoughts of Christ and His great gift with the same ease as we put away for another year the ornaments and gift wrap of Christmas.

When the ancient prophets foretold that the Messiah would be born of a virgin, they did not say He would be the Only Begotten Son in the flesh for just a few weeks. When they prophesied that He would heal the sick and bless the poor, they did not say He would do so for only a few days at the end of the year. Why should we, then, suppose it is sufficient to remember and emulate Him during just December, or only at Christmas?

"If ye love me, keep my commandments," He said. He made no reference to how long He expected His commandments to be obeyed, but we understand it to be "always."

On that first Christmas, the angels sang, "Peace on earth, good will to men." The peace Christ brought, and still brings, was not intended for just one silent night and one glorious day.

President David O. McKay said: "At

ChristmastimeT more than at any other, we think of others and try to express either in word or deed our desire to make others happy. Herein lies the secret of true happiness. `He that will lose his life for my sake and the gospel's shall find it,' is sound philosophy, which the true Christmas spirit helps us to understand." (Gospel Ideals, p.36.)

These thoughts of Christmas as a year-long event have been expressed:

Christmas is not a day or a season, but a

condition of heart and mind.

If we love our neighbors as ourselves;

if in our riches we are poor in spirit

and in our poverty we are rich

in grace;

if our charity vaunteth not itself,

but suffereth long and is kind;

if when our brother asks for a loaf,

we give ours instead;

if each day dawns in opportunity

and sets in achievement

however small;

then every day is Christ's day

and Christmas is always near.

(Poem by John Wallingford; quoted by President Howard W. Hunter, "The Real Christmas," Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, 1993.)

Love for God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and for one another is a theme not just for Christmas. It would be a wonderful gift - to Him, to others and even to ourselves - if we extended our efforts to serve and enlighten others throughout the year.

In the last days of December, we put away the music and decorations of the Christmas season. But we keep before us the testimony that Jesus is the Christ. During the holidays, we sing carols about Jesus who was born in the humblest of circumstances in Bethlehem. Throughout the year, we sing of the Redeemer who willingly suffered in Gethsemane, gave His life on Calvary, and rose from the Garden Tomb in a majestic triumph over the grave.

If we accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God we will keep His commandments and bear testimony of Him at all times and in all places. If all the world would but accept Him, there would be peace on earth and good will toward everyone - every day of the year.

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