Tidings of Great Joy

Elder David P. Homer of the Seventy, Second Counselor in the Asia Area Presidency

Elder Homer
Elder David P. Homer

Thousands of years ago, in a land far away, Caesar Augustus commanded that his subjects return to their ancestral hometowns.  In response, many traveled long distances to where they would be registered.  Among the travelers was a young man named Joseph, who traveled with his espoused wife, Mary, who was pregnant. 

They traveled to Bethlehem where they found no place to stay.  With no other alternative, Joseph arranged for them to lodge in a stable where, among the animals, Mary gave birth to the child and lay Him in a manger.[1]  For those who watched, signs appeared in the heavens the night He was born.[2]  To shepherds in the field, an angel announced, “I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”[3]

Good tidings. Great joy. All people. A Saviour. Christ the Lord.

Joseph and Mary

Many lived in the area where Jesus was born, but few noticed what had occurred.  In our day, it is much the same.  Many go busily about their daily lives without stopping to ponder the message of the season.  But, for those of us who believe, we know the season has great meaning.  We know our lives are better, our families happier and our futures brighter because of the birth of that baby boy.  He was the Son of God.  He lived.  He taught.  He set a perfect example.  He atoned.  And, after dying on the cross, He arose on the third day bringing to all of God’s children the opportunity for immortality and eternal life.   

Christmas is celebrated in some parts of Asia, but not in others.  In some countries it is known as the “Big Day,” in others, celebrants decorate banana and mango trees.  In still others, happy participants gather in celebrations where they wear “Santa” hats, eat cake and give gifts.  In other parts of the world, Christmas is dominated by commercial activities with people rushing from store to store anxious to buy the next thing.  Gifts can be a wonderful part of Christmas.  However, if we are not careful, they can divert our attention from the message the season brings.  This, we cannot allow.

baby Jesus born

I have learned that the best gifts remind us of the Saviour – they come from the heart and often involve sacrifice.  When I returned from serving my mission in Hong Kong, I was so busy with school and work, that I did not notice the preparations my parents made for Christmas.  When the time came to open presents, I received a great surprise – nearly all of them were for me. 

My parents smiled as I opened the gifts; they seemed happy to have so little for themselves.  I was humbled by their sacrifice.  They had given up much so that I might have clothes for my schooling and work.  Their kindness reminded me of the reason for the season.

Good tidings.  Great joy.  All people.  A Saviour.  Christ the Lord.

Jesus once taught: “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”[4]

Each Christmas gives us the opportunity to bring His light to the world.  This is especially true in countries where Christianity is not the most popular religion.  By following His teachings, we let His light shine—in our lives and in the lives of others.

Once again, this year, the Church is sponsoring a worldwide invitation to “Light the World.”  Beginning December 1 and continuing through Christmas Day, you can get inspiration for how to light the way for others by visiting your country website (e.g. lds.org.sg for Singapore).  During the month, many of our missionaries will be telling people of this initiative and so can you.  Guide them to this site so they can learn more about Jesus Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We can then join with the many who will do good during this special time. 

As this Christmas season approaches, let us not be one who is too busy to ponder the message of this special time of year.  Instead, let us remember Him and what He did for us.  As we do, we will find joy in serving and feel the special spirit that service can bring. 

[1] See Luke 2:16

[2] See Matthew 2:1-2

[3] Luke 2:10-11

[4] John 8:12