Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Centering Christmas on Christ

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to give my third talk in the same ward in two years.  I think Heavenly Father is trying to tell me that I need the practice.  This talk was on Centering Christmas on Christ and I am really thankful that they asked me to give it.  I learned a lot while preparing it, but more than that we actually changed how we do a lot of things around our house.  It is hard to center Christmas on Christ, but we have been really working at it this year, and it has made a big difference already. We still have a long way to go, but every effort helps.  I thought I would go ahead and post the talk just in case there is anyone interested.

How to center Christmas on Christ

With Christmas quickly coming I want to ask you how much time you have spent thinking about the birth of our Savior?

Let me ask you another question.  How much time have you spent shopping for presents?  What about baking?  Decorating?  How much of your conversation focuses on the commercial aspects of Christmas and how much of it is actually about Christ?

Hopefully you spend more time focusing on the Birth of our Savior then you do on those other things but just in case you don’t I am going to talk about how we can change that.

First we each need to figure out what things in our life are blocking us from thinking about the savior? 

If we have so much shopping to do that we don’t have time to tell our children the story of how Christ was born then our priorities are messed up.

Lets each of us make a goal this year to really center Christmas on Christ.

Centering Christmas on Christ might mean to cut back on other things.  We don’t need all of the commercial things that come with Christmas.  Getting the perfect gifts for our children and family, baking all of the Christmas treats and setting up the best Christmas lights on the block might seem like important things to you or your children now.  But Focusing on Christ is what is going to bless your life in the long run.  

I know that last year Tucker got a ton of presents and he was really excited about them.  But now that it is a year later many of them are lost or broken and the ones that aren’t he barely plays with.  I wish I would  have spent more time last year teaching him about the Savior and how to live a Christlike life.  I know in the future he isn’t going to remember very many of the gifts he receives but what he is going to remember was the special feeling we had in the home around Christmas.  He is going to remember that he has a testimony of the birth of the Savior.  And he is going to know that his parents do to. 

So, so what if our lights are sloppy.  If our children’s friends get more presents then our kids do.  If we don’t gain 10 pounds eating Christmas food.  Because what we have is better.  We have the chance to build our testimonies and really get to the true meaning of Christmas.

President Uchtdorf made a promise to us when he said, “I promise that if we unclutter our lives a little bit and in sincerity and humility seek the pure and gentle Christ with our hearts, we will see Him, we will find Him—on Christmas and throughout the year.”

I am going to take that and turn it into a challenge.  A challenge for everyone to unclutter their lives and to seek Christ.

For most people it is not really realistic to cut all of the commercial things out.  What I have done is to just cut back but also to get things done early.  I tried to get all the presents bought wrapped shipped whatever but done early on in December.  I’m going to be honest and say that while I was doing those things it was hard for me to think about much else.  But that is ok because I did it so early that now I have time to think about what is really important.  I won’t be rushing around last minute trying to get everything ready.

My hope is that this Christmas Eve we can have a nice quiet evening worshiping the Savior.

While preparing for this talk we sat down as a family and came up with a list of things we can do to live more like the savior.  We titled our list “Presents for Jesus.”  A couple of ideas we have thought of include:

Service- we have a big piece of paper and every time we do some kind of service that we wouldn’t normally be doing we call it a present for Jesus and we get to put up a sticker on the paper.  This is just a fun way for the kids to visually see how we can give presents to Jesus.           
We made a special Christmas card for Jesus
Read the story of His birth (We started doing this with Tucker at the beginning of the month by the time Christmas rolls around we will have read it with Tucker about 8 times.  I have a feeling that he is going to not only understand it but also remember it.
My family also likes to take one special night, usually Christmas Eve to read the story in Luke of the Saviors birth. 
Choose a family or two that your family can help out and do something nice for them such as bring them a treat anonymously or invite them over for dinner. 
Another idea is to take the money you would have spent on just one gift and pay a little extra in fast offering or tithing.
One of the best things we have done this year is to just talk to Tucker about what Christmas is.  We keep it simple and tell him that Christmas is Jesus birthday.  We have been constantly thinking and talking with him about thing he would want for his birthday.  It is so sweet when we were coloring a picture and Tucker was saying how he like to color and then he got all excited and said “I know we can give the markers to Jesus for his birthday!”  Even though we can’t really give markers to Jesus I at least know that Tucker knows that Christmas isn’t about him getting presents.  We haven’t even talked to him about what he is getting only what he is giving. 
When I grew up we used to make lists of things we wanted for Christmas.  I know that lists can help the giver come up with ideas but I look back on it now and it just seems like such a selfish thing to sit and think about everything we want this year. 
A much better idea is to sit down and make a list of gifts we have already been given.  I think doing this will leave a person happy and with a heart full of gratitude.  While the other list will only leave someone wanting or even coveting what they don’t have.
In closing I’d like to remind everyone that the only way we can return to live with God is through the Savior Jesus Christ.  And the other things that come along with this holiday although fun and good in moderation are not important. 

I’d now like to quote both Harold B. Lee and President Monson. “Life is God’s gift to man. What we do with our life is our gift to God.”  
"May we give generously to Him, as He has so abundantly given to us, by living and loving as He and His Son have so patiently taught, is my earnest prayer. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."


DerrK said...

I thought you did a fine job in sharing your talk with us. It stuck with Dave too. I said something about Christmas and Dave says, "Kari, is that centering Christmas around Christ?"

Bob said...

I still think it is great that Tucker is not asking what he is getting for Christmas yet, He is more worried about not telling what he got mom or dad.

James said...

You guys are great. Thank you Doranda for being such a great mother and wife. I am blessed to have you as a daughter in law. I really wish we could be with you guys this Christmas.

Love Ya!!!!!!!!!

Gandpa W