Have you noticed that there is Christmas tinsel all around right now? Flashing lights crowd evergreen trees, Christmas carols fill the air, malls are humming with people and they seem to be jubilant in their expectation of a joyous Christmas Day. These are the days when memories are made and so I pause to ponder what memories I will help to make for those all around me right now. They must surely go beyond a plastic toy, a new shirt, an intriguing novel or a favorite food. Lasting Christmas memories are those that touch your soul and the souls of others.
Have you also noticed that there are the poor and needy all around right now? They are not just those living under overpasses, begging on the streets or tapping on car windows; when you listen with your heart you will find that they really are all around right now. Perhaps your own mother is one of those who is in need, not of money or food but of a visit and a comforting word. As you throw a fleeting glance out of your kitchen window you may have an impression that your neighbor would be blessed by a visit right now from you and yes, giving even a coin to the passing poor should not be excluded. Responding to the promptings of the Holy Ghost to reach out to serve and help others creates lasting spiritual moments that you can call upon to fortify yourself spiritually again and again.
King Benjamin asked his people, 'For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have...O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another' (Mosiah 4: 19, 21). It is our blessing each Fast and Testimony Sunday to impart of our substance by giving a generous fast offering to bless the lives of those in need all around right now. I add my testimony to that of others who have found that poverty is not a barrier to this act of giving and of the rich blessings, physical and spiritual, that come from doing so.
In the 25th Chapter of Matthew we read:
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, 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.
My prayer this festive season is that we will be reminded as we look all around right now that we are all in need and that many of our needs will be met as we become true givers. Surely giving is the great lesson of our Redeemer this Christmas season for He gave His life that we might be receivers of life eternal.
Merry Christmas to one and all.
Elder Ian S. Ardern