When we speak of taking Christ into our lives and not leaving Christ in the cradle, what we're saying is don't focus your attention on what the Christmas story is all about simply in terms of a manger scene.
We need to be sure we've taken Christ from that infant state into His grown-up state with His teachings, with His example and that we remember that in addition to "Away in a Manger," there is a song "There is a green hill far away, Without a city wall, Where the dear Lord was crucified, Who died to save us all." (Please see Hymns #194.)Turn to the second chapter of the book of Luke and read the brief experience that the shepherds had, because there are two lessons that we can draw from that particular story. (Please see Luke 2:8-17.)
One, once the message had been given to them, the announcement that the Christ child was there, they "came with haste." They didn't deliberate about it. They simply went immediately. They responded to the call.
The second message that we can learn is once the message about the birth of Christ had been made known to them they went out and made that message known abroad. They shared with others. There's a great lesson in that in terms of, "Are you going to take the gospel to others?"
I would challenge each of us to make the spirit of love, compassion, caring, giving, forgiving a part of our year-round Christmas experience. That's really what the Christmas spirit, of bringing Christ into your life, is all about. Every day as you go through life look for some way of lifting another person, helping another person even though there may be some degree of inconvenience yourself.
"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Please see Matt. 25:40.)
All of you, I suppose, participate in the "Sub for Santa" program, once a year, during the month of December. But wouldn't that be a wonderful thing if we could participate in a "stand-in for the Savior" or do a service-for-the-Savior-type of program 12 months out of the year.
We can read a few scriptures from the New Testament that give a smattering of counsel in this regard. The whole chapter, Matthew 5, we could read, but I'm just going to pull out one verse, and that's verse 44: "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."
All of us have those kinds of experiences, I suppose, on an ongoing basis with people at work, or public servants, or people out in the crowd or even neighbors or family members who are delightful to be around.
But when we really take the counsel of the Savior to heart, we go the extra mile, turn the other cheek, pray for them and try to make a difference. It will have an impact.