I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and I hope you have a wonderful New Year.
In the outskirts of Jerusalem, shepherds gathered their sheep in for the night. The bleating lambs had found their way to their mothers. All was quiet for the night. The dews of the night were beginning to distill upon the ground. The stars in the sky shown bright in the heavens above. All seemed well, all seemed quiet for the night. The sheep were safe, under the watchful care of their shepherd.
Perhaps in the stillness, a shepherd or two had cast their eyes up into the heavens above. There they saw the majesty of night sky, and wondered at the vastness of God’s creations. They may have felt a little small and insignificant, compared to the immensity of the universe, and the endlessness of the works of His hands.
While gazing upon the night sky, they may have noticed a light appearing in skies above them, which continued to increase in brightness and glory until all of the shepherds cast upward their eyes, with awe and wonder at what they beheld.
Suddenly, within the light, a personage appeared before them, standing above them in the air. The angel wore a robe of the most exquisite whiteness, whiter than anything they had ever before seen. Not only was the robe exceedingly white, but the whole person of the angel was glorious and bright beyond description. The skies surrounding the angel were incredibly glorious, but not as bright as immediately around the angel. When the shepherds first looked upon him, they were afraid; but soon, the fear left them. (See Joseph Smith – History 1:30-33)
Then came the joyous announcement the angel had come to give:
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.The breathtaken shepherds hardly had time to take in this message, let alone ponder its deep and eternal meaning, when a yet another miracle appeared:
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (See Luke 2:10-11)
And suddenly there was . . . a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and singing, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (See Luke 2:13-14)Numberless concourses of angels sang from the heavens that night. The joy of the hosts of heaven was so great that they could not be kept from within the veil. For on that night the salvation of the Lord was at hand. Perhaps we, too, were among that heavenly host, singing with great joy and exultation. The very key of the plan of Salvation was about to be born upon the earth. The bonds of death and hell were about to be broken forever! The prisoners were soon to be free!
After a time, the heavenly hosts, and the angel that greeted them returned back into the heavens from whence they came. The brightness and glory that had overshadowed them, now gradually faded away. Once more, the night had returned to its usual still and still quiet state.
At first, the shepherds must have remained in a stunned silence. What were these miracles they had just beheld? They had never seen anything like it. Perhaps no one in the history of the world had ever seen anything like it. Yet it was to these humble shepherds that these miracles were made manifest. We know that faith precedes the miracle. And these shepherds must have been possessed of great faith. Faith such that they were privileged to hear the angles sing.
There was a greater miracle still, that they would yet behold that glorious night.
The angel had promised the shepherds that they could see the baby Jesus, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger. Quickly, and with haste, the shepherds went to that humble stall, where there lie the newborn Son of God -- even Jesus Christ.
Before them was the promised Messiah. The Savior of the World. Born of a virgin, to save the world one day. The Master and Creator of the heavens and the earth lie before them in that manger. Yet, in a few short years, the He would accomplish His mission. He took upon himself the sins of the world. He paid the price for each one of us, for all of our sins and mistakes. But this was not all.
And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.Not only did he pay for our sins, but he took upon himself our pains and sicknesses, and our infirmities of every kind; whether they be mental, physical, or spiritual. And then, after all this, he suffered death for us, and took up his life again. That through him we might have eternal life.
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
. . . The Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance. (See Alma 7:10-13)
Christ reaches out to every one of us. Hear His words:
Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?So if you feel weighed down by the pressures and anxieties of life. If your heart is not right with the Lord. If the burdens you carry seem hard to bear – Come unto Him. For he has said: “Come unto me all ye that labor, and I will give you rest.” Draw near to the Lord, for he will draw near unto you. He will send you His Spirit, and you will be strengthened and comforted. Repent and come unto him, and he will lift your burdens and grant unto you a newness of life. A new life filled with light and truth and love. A new life filled with purpose and meaning. A new life filled with faith and hope and joy.
Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me. (See 3 Nephi 9:13-14)
Just as miracles happened that night long ago to the Shepherds of the field, so too can miracles happen in our own lives. Lives that were once bruised and broken can be healed and made whole. And one day we too may be privileged, like them, to behold the Savior of the world, and to kneel before him with wonder and awe -- and worhsip Him.
I testify to you that Christ did come into the world. He was the promised Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. He shared with us the Good News of his gospel. He suffered for our sins, and died for us all.
Not only did he die for us all, but he died for you, and he died for me. He knows each one of us personally. He knows our names. He knows our hearts. He knows our lives and our woes. None of us is too small nor too insignificant for his watchful eye. He loves each us with a love that cannot fail, and will not end. He will never forget us, nor abandon us.
He is always there--
Waiting for us to come unto Him.
Waiting for us to choose eternal life, through Him.
If we only will.
Reach out to him. Open the door unto him. Let him into your life. Let him heal you.
That you and I -- like those sheep on that holy night so long ago -- may find safety in the arms of The Shepherd.