I was asked to prepare a talk for church this week - the week we celebrate Christmas. My topic was "wise men still seek him", and this is the result of my ponderings.
If you ask any adult their favourite part of the Christmas season, chances are high that you’ll hear about the food. But, we all know Christmas is about children. Laura Ingalls Wilder said that “we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time”. And if you ask any child about their favourite part of Christmas? It’s all about the presents.
The sharing of presents is linked to the story of the Wise Men, found in Matthew 2.
1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
The wise men knew the Christ child would be born, and were watching for the sign, and were prepared to seek Him once they saw it.
3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judæa: for thus it is written by the prophet,
6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
Herod’s priests and scribes could tell him of scripture that taught of Christ’s coming, but we all know his reaction to the information - he asked of the wise men: “when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.”
9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
The wise men sought the Saviour to worship him, to bring him their treasures.
From Old Testament times, prophets have looked for the coming of the Saviour.
When the angels visited the Shepherds to proclaim his birth, “the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go … And they came with haste”.
Simeon prayed to have his life extended long enough to see the Redeemer he was waiting for, and Anna, the prophetess, after seeing the Christ child “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”
Throughout his mortal life, many more would seek him. Multitudes of thousands, to hear his words. A woman who touched the hem of his robes, to be healed.
Just over 30 years from the sign of his birth, in America, “the people began to look with great earnestness” and “he did truly manifest himself unto them”.
In the early 1820s, Joseph Smith wanted to know which church he should join, and sought Jesus Christ.
After Christ speaks with the woman at the well, and bids her to bring others, they say “Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” As we seek for the him, we come to know him, and we can come to be like him.
One of my new favourite Christmas Carols, which I heard for the first time at our stake sacred music night asks:
Do you have room for the Savior? And do you seek Him anew?
Have you a place for the One who lived and died for you?
Are you as humble as a shepherd boy, or as wise as men of old?
Would you have come that night? Would you have sought the light?
Do you have room?
The Saviour asks, encourages, pleads with us to seek Him, to come to Him.
“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.”
“will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?”
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
“and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out”
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”
As we come unto the Saviour, we will find joy, peace and rest.
Christmas is a time of giving presents to those we love. To show that we know them, to bring them joy, to share our love.
What shall we give to the babe in the manger?
King Benjamin taught “that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.”
He has given us so much, and when we do what he asks, he blesses us even more. What can we give?
Another carol I love expresses this idea as well.
Great kings have precious gifts
And we have naught
Little smiles and little tears
Are all we brought.
Fortunately, that’s all the Saviour asks us to bring him.
“And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit”
He asks us to bring him our pain, our sins, our humility. He loves us - he wants to be a part of our joys and successes, but more than that, he wants to help us through our sorrows and failures. As we seek him, we will include him in more of our life, and become more like him.
Of course, there is one more gift we can offer him. The clue is in Matthew 25:40 “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”
Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol says “Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!”
This Christmas season, and throughout the year, let our hearts be filled with love towards others of Heavenly Father’s children. Christ wants us all to come unto him. Through the atonement, crucifixion and resurrection, we all belong to Christ. Let us show our love for Him, by keeping our covenants to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, by finding ways to help and show love to all those in our acquaintance. Let us show our love for him by looking after those he loves.
This Christmas season, and throughout the year, “Oh come, let us adore him”.