December 24, 2013

Sunday Thoughts: What's the Big Deal about Jesus?

*Here on SOM, we talk about the things that matter most to us--for many of us that includes our faith and religious beliefs.  I hope that we can all show respect and learn from each other's perspectives, even if they are different from our own.  Thank you for allowing me to open my heart to you!*

By Amy 

Happy day, Christmas is coming! :)

Even though it can feel a little stressful and expensive--and I never get everything done that I want to (...yeah, I didn't get a Christmas card done this year. Oops!)--the Christmas season is magical. The beautiful decor, the lights, thinking of others, picking the perfect gift, cozy blankets/hot chocolate/Christmas movies, carols...and the love.  And of course, the reason for the season: a time to celebrate the birth of Christ!  And most people, even if they're not Christian or religious, feel and show increased love and service for others.  We all try to be a little more loving and kind at Christmas time. It's so great  :)

I was thinking the other day about how gift-giving is a tradition at Christmas time because the wise men gave gifts to Jesus to honor Him.  I love that they gave him the fanciest gifts, too!  It seems kind of funny from a mom's point of view.  Really, gold?  What is a baby going to do with that?  And frankincense...isn't that some kind of perfumed oil?  He'll either drink it when you're not looking, or spill it all over his swaddling clothes.  And myrrh....whatever that is, it doesn't sound like a toy.

But, even though those aren't like your typical baby gift, the gifts of the wise men were actually very fitting.  I mean, this wasn't a baby shower, this was the birth of the Son of God!  And though he was a tiny little infant, they knew that He was the most important infant to ever be born.  So they gave Him highly treasured, valuable show reverence and honor for who He was.

Isn't this so beautiful!?  "The Holy Night" by Carlo Maratta
But the wise men didn't give the only gifts.

Christ gave a gift too.  He came down from His Heavenly throne and was born here on earth into the humblest of circumstances.  I mean, He was born in a barn and laid in the cattles' hay manger!  He came, knowing that He would suffer and give His life to fulfill His Father's plan; He came for all of us. His life was a gift to us too, an example of love, purity, and obedience.  His teachings were a gift to the whole world, giving us the path to follow and the right way to live.  And ultimately, the greatest gift He gave was his life.  He suffered pain and sorrow that would have killed any of us, and didn't let it end until He had paid the full price; that's when He told the Father while hanging on the cross, "It is finished." before dying.  He lay down his perfect, unblemished life as the only acceptable, worthy sacrifice to pay the price so that we can repent and become clean.  And He loves each of us, collectively and one by one.  John 15:13 says, "Greater love hath no man than this, that He lay down His life for his friends."

God gave a gift too!

His gift, we also celebrate every Christmas, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)  His gift was also motivated by love and required a great sacrifice; to send His beloved son into the world, knowing that He would suffer greatly and then die at the hands of evil people.  His pure, good, kind son!  He could have stopped it all so easily and sent an army of angels to squash those Roman soldiers and the Jewish leaders who were condemning His son (well, Jesus could have stopped it too!) but, God loved US enough to let it happen.  Wow, what a choice!  I don't know if I could ever let my son suffer and die, even if I knew his death would save others.  It must have been agony for the Father.  He must love us SO deeply.  Each and every one of us.

Sometimes people will ask a Christian, "What's the big deal about Jesus?"  

I remember asking the same question myself when I was a teenager.  But, now I know: Our Father sent Jesus to atone for our sins, so that we can be clean if we chose to follow Him!  That is the only way we can return to live with God after we die and receive all of His blessings.  So, that's the big deal about Jesus and Christmas: the greatest Gift is the chance to return to God and have eternal life.  And we celebrate Jesus, because he made that possible.  And, I know it can be hard to comprehend, "How can we even know that there's a God?  What is the proof?"

But I know it's true, cause I've felt it many times and I can't deny it.  I know that God is there.  I've felt His love in quiet ways that are powerful witnesses to me.  I've felt my heart expand and swell when learning about Jesus Christ, and I know those feelings are the Spirit testifying to me that this is REAL!  It's all real!  There is a God, and He sent His Son who gave His perfect life for me.

And I can't remember what it was like to be in God's presence, but I've had glimpses--those moments when I've felt the closest to Heaven.  When my son was born.  When I cuddle with my sweet little family.  Times when I've been heart-broken, crying myself to sleep, praying for relief...and He comforted me.  Being at church and hearing a beautiful song or talk and feeling the desire welling up in me to be more loving, more patient, more like the Savior.  And the simple little moments, like seeing the sun sparkling on the frosty trees and I'm so happy for a beautiful world.  Or when I get home from teaching art classes in the evening, I walk through the door, and my son starts running to me and yells, "MOMMA!"  Oh man, my heart is about to explode!  These little snatches of soul-filling joy are just little tiny glimpses of the joy we will feel in the presence of God.  It's going to be more amazing than we can ever imagine; the greatest and warmest happiness...if we could only remember how it felt to be with Him, we'd long to be back.  And He longs for us to return to Him!  That's why He could let His first-born suffer and die, cause He knew it was the only way for His other precious Sons and Daughters to get to return to Him again.

I know it's true.  I feel it so strong!

And I can't perfectly understand everything and I know I have a long ways to go, but I know what I know, and I'll depend on faith for the rest.

So, our loving Father and His Son already gave us the perfect gifts.  That's kind of a hard gift exchange!  How do you repay the PERFECT gift?  We can't.  Anything we could give them would be like us receiving a Lamborghini, and giving a little hot wheels car in return.  Ha!  But we can still give our heart.  We can do our best to follow him and keep His commandments, teach and love our children, and reach out to others.  Like He said, "Feed my sheep."  I try to live like the Savior the best I can, though I trip up a lot.  (Um, I have a toddler, so yes, I lose patience.  Like 500 times a day. *sigh...)

So, this Christmas, even though anything I could give would be hopelessly small in comparison to His gifts to me, I wanted to give something to my Heavenly Father.  And I wanted it to be something that He knew I was holding back from Him.  I didn't know what to give, so I prayed and asked.  As I pondered my question, the thought that came to my mind.

I need to give Him more meaningful prayers.

I felt a little ashamed at myself when that answer came, cause I knew it was true.  I've had times in my life when I was much more deliberate and thoughtful in my prayers, and I felt closer to God.  I mean, having quality conversation with anyone will deepen a relationship, and I was missing that.  Lately, I wake up by my son yelling, "Momma!" from his crib, so my morning prayers are either rushed or forgotten.  Prayers at meals are usually said quickly, finished before Hayden starts flinging food.  And at night time I'm exhausted and thinking of bed, so my prayers are not as real as they should be.  And I've been busy and distracted from the little, quiet through-out the day prayers that I used to send Him.  This is sad to me.  I know that God could be guiding me more in my life, but I am not seeking His help like I use to.  So, that is my gift to Him.  It sounds meager, but I want to figure out when to take a few minutes for a heart-felt prayer, right after I put my son down for a nap, turning off the music when I'm in the car to talk to my Heavenly Father, even praying in the shower!

I love the story of the little drummer boy playing for the Savior: that was all he had to give and he gave his best.  Our heart-felt efforts are seen and appreciated by our Father and the Savior.  (Read this incredible post from Momastery--it inspired me SO much!  I wish I could explain things like her!!)

I'd love to hear from you....what are your favorite parts of Christmas?  What do you want to give to Jesus this year?

I am so glad for this time of year, even though I suck at baking and I didn't get out Christmas cards.

I love all of you!  I hope you have joy and love this holiday season!  You are loved. :)


  1. Awesome. You always make me cry! It is hard with kids to have the quiet times to pray, meditate, and read the Bible or Book of Mormon. That will be a good goal for me as well...more meaningful prayers :)

    1. Thank you! (sorry I made you cry) :) is hard for me too, figuring out time for prayers and scripture study! Right now I read during breakfast while Hayden's eating too. I can usually get a page in before he's dumping cereal on the floor! :)


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