We are another week closer to Christmas and the excitement is setting in. It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Nicaragua. We have the normal Christmas stuff: lights on tin houses (half don't work and most strands are up all year long), roundabouts with large Christmas trees (instead of a large star you find Sandanista political party propaganda), people selling Nacatamales and coca cola (the Christmas jam of Nicaragua), and Spanish Christmas music in the streets. Ha ha, it is different but it feels like home. Kind of strange how it all seems so normal now.
The Christmas season brings many scenes from Christ’s life to my mind. Perhaps the most common image that I longer on is that of the Savior wrapped in Swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. I think of how peaceful he would have been in that small cradle. How very different was His life in that moment than only a little time before. Several lines from a famous Christmas song capture my thoughts and reflections today:
What Child is this, who, laid to rest?
Do we remember adequately the importance of that singular day when Jesus Christ was born? Who was this small baby boy resting in the arms of Mary?
Why lies He in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
What made the God of this world give up mansions and thrones and glory to be wrapped up in something so unfitting of his eternal majesty?
On Mary's lap, is sleeping?
Nails, spear, shall pierce Him through,
The Cross be borne, for me, for you.
Maybe this of all nights would be the most restful. He would spend his life serving others, taking upon himself much suffering and heartache. His cross and ours He would bear willingly.
So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh;
Come peasant, king, to own Him.
What gift can we really give the king who had it all but gave it all up?
Joy, joy, for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!
What joy comes into our hearts as we think that through His sacrifice we can be clean from sin! We can live with God again because Christ came to this Earth. If we can but have faith in His name, repent, and keep His commandments and endure to the end, the importance of the birth of Jesus Christ and his life take on their full effect.
Serving as a missionary for the Lord in this holiday season is priceless. I wouldn’t want to do anything else. This week I read a wonderful verse in Doctrine and Covenants that I would like to share.
Lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, proclaiming the truth according to the revelations and commandments which I have given you.
It is a pleasure to serve the King of Kings. I am thankful that He chose to come. I know that He was born of Mary, a virgin, and that He is literally the son of God. Were it not so I could not have received the remission of my sins in his name nor would I have seen so many others experience the same. I know that He live and died for me and that He was resurrected the third day. He loves us and just wants us to obey him. May we do so is my prayer.
Elder Grant Russell