Christmas 2000. What a significant landmark in the history of the world! Following the dating of calendars now in use, we observe this year the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master. Two millennia have passed since His birth in a Bethlehem stable; we stand on the threshold of the third millennium since that unparalleled event.
By the time this week's issue of Church News is delivered to most readers the Christmas season celebrated by the world will have passed. Presents will have been distributed; many people already will have removed their Christmas trees and packed away ornaments and other seasonal decorations for another year.
However, Christmas is more than a one-day event. We ought to remember every day the significance of the beginning of the Savior's mortal sojourn and what it heralded for every man, woman and child who ever lived or will live on earth. The following account was submitted to Church News recently: "During a Christmas Primary presentation, the children were encouraged to give a gift to Jesus in celebration of His birthday. One of the 4-year-old Sunbeams raised his hand and said, 'Wouldn't it be great if we could have Christmas every day?'
"While this innocent comment was amusing to the other children, it also taught both the leaders and children what the perfect present would be. What better gift to give Jesus than to make every day of the year just like Christmas." (Submitted to Church News by Richard Pugmire of Sandy, Utah.)
Christmas is all about Jesus; we should remember and honor Him every day of the year, not just one day set aside during the month of December.
He is the Creator who came to mortality as the Infant of Bethlehem. The King of kings and Lord of lords who was and is greater than all, He descended "below all things." (See Doctrine and Covenants 88:6; 122:8.)
We might wonder about those who could have provided an environment more suitable than a stable for the birth of the Christ Child. Did any who turned Mary and Joseph from their doors realize who was born in Bethlehem that night of nights under such humble circumstances? But how could they have known? Who knew that the Lord of hosts was coming to earth as a helpless baby? Who knew that the Creator of all things would come forth in the state of infancy?
The angels knew. One proclaimed "good tidings of great joy," saying that "unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11.) A multitude of the heavenly host joined in "praising God" for that momentous event. (Luke 2:13.)
The newborn Son would be known as Emmanuel, "which being interpreted is, God with us." (See Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23.)
Humble shepherds, who probably had never read a single line of scripture, heard the angelic proclamation. With faith greater than scholarship, they knew that the Baby in a manger was the promised Messiah, and decided to "go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us." (Luke 2:15.)
Wise men, who most likely not only had read but also studied and expounded upon much of the scripture, knew who He was. They followed the new star in the east, taking Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. (See Matthew 2:1-12.)
Prophets from ancient times foretold His birth. Although Herod didn't know the details of when and where, he knew that the Messiah had been born; hence the decree that went out to put to death all children in Bethlehem and the surrounding territory who were under two years of age.
Although some of the scribes and elders derisively referred to Him as "the carpenter's son" (Matthew 13:55), certainly a few of them knew of His divinity by the time His mortal ministry began. Perhaps some even recognized the signs of His heavenly lineage from the time of His birth but lacked the courage to stand by their convictions.
Here we are, two millennia after that Divine happening in Bethlehem. We testify that He was the Only Begotten Son who came forth into mortality to live a life without sin in order to redeem us all, to give up His life on the cross of Calvary and to emerge from the Garden Tomb in order to bring us the gifts of resurrection and eternal life. He to whom the wise men brought gifts two thousand years ago gave the greatest gift of all. May we always observe Christmas.