When I presided over the San Juan Puerto Rico Mission for 3 years together with my wife and our three children, we had the opportunity to celebrate three very special Christmases. Musical presentations, food, lights and everything typical of the beautiful time, but this time, celebrating with a family of more than 100 missionaries; a little bigger than usual! The last Christmas at the Mission we decided to do something different and meaningful. Together with a group of 12 missionaries we organized a choir and we took the task to sing and carry messages of love giving hope to those most in need. We went to orphanages, hospitals, jails, nursing homes, offices of all kinds, and we also visited families in their homes. All this for almost three consecutive weeks. Physically it was very exhausting. But emotionally it was indescribable. Tears, smiles, hugs. Most of the people we visited were in some way either sick, discouraged, sad and in many cases lonely.
This reminded me of the hope the Savior has promised, 'whoever believes in me, even though he is dead, will live.'
Angels declared to humble shepherds: 'That a Savior who is Christ Jesus has been born to us in the city of Bethlehem'
When the Angel came to Mary, he told her: You will give birth to a son, who is the Son of God.
That Son, Jesus Christ, today offers us his infinite atonement, his consolation, his love, the understanding of what we are going through.
He has felt it and can save us from frustration and pain.
He tells us “Come to me who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest, with the peace that surpasses all understanding. I leave you my peace, I give you my peace, not as the world gives it ... '
Jesus Christ will repair every bad note, and redeem all our sorrows, if we trust Him, and ask for His help. This is exactly what our family experienced visiting and carrying the Good News message to these people. A Christmas picture decorating a wall in our house had the following message: 'The magic of Christmas is not in the presents but in His presence' That Christmas there was almost no time to buy gifts. Our children received very simple gifts. The following year we took our family on vacation with fun attractions looking to match or exceed the previous year's Christmas. My children then told me: “Dad, thank you, you are trying hard, Christmas is always a beautiful time, but even with all this, nothing will surpass the feeling of happiness and hope that we saw on the faces of the people we visited last year. . They were the best gifts we have ever received! '
Today, as we are living with all this confusion, chaos, quarantine due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is still celebrating Christmas. This is good! It is a great moment to remember and celebrate the birth of the one who has delivered us, the child born in a manger in Bethlehem. Where shepherds came to worship him and later Kings with gold, incense and myrrh. Today, I want to worship him.
“It is good to remember that whoever gives money gives a lot; who gives time gives even more; but he who gives of himself gives everything ' President Russell M Nelson encouraged members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to “accept the many gifts and blessings the Lord offers,” including an unlimited capacity to love, the ability to forgive, the blessing of repentance and the promise of eternal life. '
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men!' Luke 2:14
May this Christmas be one of giving instead of receiving! Let us be the hands of the Savior to lift, encourage, fill the heart with hope, love, charity, service and unity! May social distancing not separate us from what is most important to us! A text, a call, a video call or a note in the mail that carries an expression of the true meaning of Christmas, the Jesus who was born in Bethlehem to save us.