While prophets and apostles have long encouraged Church members to place Christ at the center of their Christmas celebrations, this year affords an especially meaningful opportunity to do just that, as Christmas Eve falls on the Sabbath Day.
A letter from the Office of the Quorum of the Twelve to local Church leaders pertaining to Christmas Eve and New Years Eve celebrations this year contains one paragraph about Christmas Eve observance on the Sabbath: "Christmas Eve falls on Sunday this year. The full block of Sunday meetings should be held that day."
With a bit of advance planning, the occurrence of Christmas Eve on Sunday can be both memorable and enjoyable. In addition to attendance at the full block of Sunday meetings, here are some suggestions of other things that might be done as individuals and family to enhance the Sabbath-day Christmas Eve observance:
- Plan to attend all meetings, arriving at meetings on time, and prepared spiritually to be edified. Partake of the sacrament with full purpose of heart, reflecting upon the great gift of Christ's atoning sacrifice. Pay particular attention to the words of the Christmas hymns that will undoubtedly be sung, and try to discover their deeper meaning.
- At gatherings with immediate or extended family members, pray together and invite the presence of the Holy Spirit to bless the occasion.
- Read from the scriptures. The birth of Jesus is recounted in Luke 1-2; the visit of the wise men is retold in Matthew 2. In addition to these familiar accounts, consider reading other passages. In the Book of Mormon, Helaman 14 tells of the prophecies of Samuel the Lamanite concerning the birth of the Messiah; chapter 16 tells of events leading up to it, and 3 Nephi 1 tells of the fulfillment of the prophecies of Samuel.
- View Church-produced Christmas movies available on videocassette, such as "Mr. Krueger's Christmas" starring James Stewart and "Nora's Christmas Gift" starring Celeste Holm.
- Help younger children to re-enact the events of the birth of the Christ child.
- Incorporate uplifting music into the observance. Sing together as a family the spiritual hymns and carols that are found in the Church's hymnbook, in the Children's Songbook and in other sources. Play recordings by the Tabernacle Choir and other artists that might help foster a spiritual and joyous atmosphere for the observance.
- If you live within convenient distance of Church temples or visitors centers that are decorated with lights or Nativity scenes for the holidays, consider visiting them as a family.
- Reach out to others who might be away from loved ones for the holidays, and include them at Christmas Eve gatherings.
- Remember family members who are away from home to serve missions or for other purposes. Pray for them. Consider writing letters or making an audio tape to send to them.
- Remember neighbors and others who might be socially isolated, and reach out to them.
E-mail: [email protected]