Church News viewpoint: 'A little bit more'

“Every Who Down in Whoville Liked Christmas a lot. But the Grinch, Who lived just north of Whoville, Did NOT! The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season! Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason” (“How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” Dr. Seuss).

The Grinch, Dr. Seuss’ grumpy character from his classic children’s Christmas story, had a heart that “was two sizes too small.” However, as the Grinch realizes that Christmas is more than decorations and gifts, he changes and his heart grows.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said during his 2010 First Presidency Christmas Devotional address that the Grinch — and his story — are memorable because, if we are honest, we all may be able to relate to him.

“Who among us has not felt concern over the commercialization and even greed of the Christmas season?” President Uchtdorf questioned. “Who hasn’t felt overwhelmed by the packed calendars, the stress of finding gifts, the pressure of planning meals and events? ...

“We know what the Christmas season ought to be — we know it should be a time of reflection on the birth of the Savior, a time of celebration and of generosity. But sometimes our focus is so much on the things that annoy and overwhelm us that we can almost hear ourselves say in unison with the Grinch: ‘Why, for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now! I MUST stop this Christmas from coming! ... But HOW?’ ”

In his frustration, the Grinch goes to Whoville and takes everything — the trees and the candy and the presents — in an effort to stop Christmas from coming. Then the Grinch rides up the hill and waits to hear all of Whoville cry.

But as Christmas morning dawns, he hears a different sound.

“It started in low. Then it started to grow. But the sound wasn’t sad! Why, this sound sounded merry! It couldn’t be so! But it WAS merry! VERY! ...

“Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, Was singing! Without any presents at all! He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME! Somehow or other, it came just the same! … It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!”

“And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! ‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas ... perhaps ... means a little bit more!’ ”

President Uchtdorf said, “If we look for what is wrong with the Christmas season, we can surely find it. Like the Grinch, we can grumble and complain, becoming cold and cynical about what we see around us. … The Grinch saw the good in Christmas when he learned to look past its worldly trappings. … Our heart may not grow three sizes as the Grinch’s did, but our heart will change. Our eyes will open to the miracles all around us — at Christmastime and throughout the year.”

President Thomas S. Monson taught during the 2011 First Presidency Christmas Devotional that the Savior is the way to peace and joy. “Because He came to earth, …we [can] have joy and happiness in our lives and peace each day of the year. ... Because He came, there is meaning to our mortal existence.”

This year Church leaders asked us to honor the Savior’s life by doing the things he did during his mortal ministry — “in 25 ways over 25 days.” The effort is intended to help each of us come to understand that — as the Grinch learned — “Christmas means a little bit more.”

In a press release and video posted by Mormon Newsroom, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained why the initiative should be so important to Church members. “It’s the Christmas season,” Elder Bednar said. “We have lights — all kinds of lights on our houses, on our trees, on our dining tables. So if we link those wonderful traditions with the source of truth, even Christ as the source of light, it just made great sense to all of us that that would be the theme we would employ this year.”

The initiative, said Elder Bednar, is inspired by two scriptures from the New Testament, as well as a quote by President Thomas S. Monson. In the first scripture found in John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” However, in Matthew 5:14, during the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior told his disciples, “Ye are the light of the world.”

“The whole purpose of this initiative is to celebrate and share the light of Christ,” Elder Bednar said. “What we hope people will do is not simply think about the Savior during this Christmas season, or even just learn more about Him. What we hope is that they will come to know Him by doing what He did.”

While the calendar asked us to serve in 25 ways over 25 days, the real message is this: “Serve anyone you want, anytime you want.”

This year the First Presidency, in their annual Christmas Message, asked us to turn our focus to the Savior Jesus Christ — to His birth, life and sacrifice and to the gift He gave all mankind.

“Like the Wise Men, who sought the Christ child and offered Him gifts, we too should seek Jesus and lay before Him our most precious gifts — a broken heart and a contrite spirit, our love, and our willingness to take upon ourselves His name and walk the path of discipleship. ... We follow Him as we remember Him always, emulate His example, and go about doing good. ... He offers the gift of salvation to all of God’s children.”

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