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Music & the Spoken Word: Friendship at the heart of Christmas

At Christmastime, people tend to think of others a little more kindly and feel more generosity and compassion toward neighbors and strangers, Lloyd Newell observes

Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This will be given Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023.

Friendship is at the heart of Christmas. On that first Christmas night, angels declared it to be a time of “peace [and] good will” (Luke 2:14). That spirit has persisted to this day. At Christmastime, we tend to think of others a little more kindly; we feel more generosity and compassion toward neighbors and strangers.

As Charles Dickens wrote in his beloved story “A Christmas Carol,” “I have always thought of Christmastime … as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people … as if they really were fellow-passengers” (see “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens, published in 1843, page 14).

Every journey is more enjoyable with good company. So perhaps Christmas is a good time to try to be better traveling companions, better “fellow passengers” for each other. The Savior, whose birth we celebrate this season, made friendship a cornerstone of His life. He taught, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13) and: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall [everyone] know that ye are my disciples” (John 13:34-35). He is our Friend. And He wants His disciples, His followers, to be friends to others.

The Savior of the world came to earth as the babe in a manger. But it’s His life and teachings, not just His birth, that make Christmas a season of peace and goodwill. It’s more than a time for merrymaking and exchanging gifts. It’s a time to contemplate eternal things and higher purposes, like brotherly love and friendship. It’s a time to follow Jesus’ counsel to do unto others as we would have them do to us (see Matthew 7:12). If we can try that — if we can just open our hearts enough for “the dear Christ [to enter] in” (“O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Hymns,” no. 208). He can fill us with a spirit of love that will extend to all of our fellow passengers. That kind of friendship is at the heart of Christmas.

Tuning in …

The “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL News Radio 1160AM/102.7FM, KSL.com, BYUtv, BYUradio, Dish and DirecTV, SiriusXM (Ch. 143),  tabernaclechoir.org, youtube.com/TheTabernacleChoir and Amazon Alexa (must enable skill). The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. Mountain Time on these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.com/viewers-listeners/airing-schedules.

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