Sunday, December 25, 2011


Some five centuries before the Birth of the Blessed Babe Jesus which we commemorate on this day, Plato, that ancient philosopher, taught that since all change involves a body at rest being put into motion and must involve an actuator of that change; there must have been a prime principle actuator of change. He considered this first act of change to have been consummated by that soul he considered to be God. Two thousand years after the Birth of the Blessed Babe Jesus, scientists feel that if they can find the ultimate source of existence they will solve the mystery of existence of all things. This study has been labeled by some ‘String Theory’ and their work is an attempt to find the lowest form of existence. One branch of science feels that by colliding protons at near the speed of light they might be able to view what they are calling the God Particle or the foundation of all that exists.

While I find these approaches to finding what is behind all existence interesting, I believe that most of the time God becomes a reality in people’s lives in a much different way. For lack of a better way of expressing it, I have come to call this approach to a belief in Deity “the Law of Witnesses.”

In the following paragraphs, I will discuss some of the facets of this law which I believe influence the conversion and the strengthening of testimony of all who proclaim a belief in Jesus the Christ as the Savior and Redeemer of mankind.

There are those who lived in those wondrous meridian days whose hearts burned within because of the things they both saw and heard and whose witnesses were anciently recorded and preserved for all to read:

Mary and Joseph who were told by the angel Gabriel of Immanuel who would be born of Mary.

Elizabeth who had the embryotic John leap within her womb as a witness of the majesty of the child Mary bore.

Simeon who was at last able to depart mortality in peace because he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Shepard’s following angelic direction witnessed Him wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

Wise men from the East who deciphered ancient signs and came to Jerusalem to proclaim the birth of a newborn King

I have often pondered on others who lived in those wondrous meridian days who likewise had confirming witnesses whose stories have been lost in the dust of the ages or who never took the time to record:

What of those who travelled in the caravan from Galilee to Bethlehem, did they not have their soul’s stirred in the presence of she who was choice above all women?

What of those who crowded the inn which housed the place of birth of the Savior of mankind, did they not feel the power which that day came to earth?

What did those who the family knew and dwelt among in Egypt see and of what marvels could they bear witness?

What would be the tales of those of Nazareth who saw him playing in the dusty streets and carrying wood and water for his Sainted Mother?

What were the words of those who were fed by the shores of the Galilee as they witnessed to their families and friends of the fishes and the loaves?

What of the masses who never lived in those wondrous times whose witnesses, even when recorded, will seldom be read by generations to come:

Whose hearts are stirred as hymns heralding His coming are sung by choirs in churches, halls and homes?

Whose heads are bowed as silent and vocal prayers of thanksgiving are said for the abundant love which came to earth when the Son of God was born?

Who when faint glimpses of times of then and there quickly cross their minds as a remembrance that they knew Him in another sphere?

Who find greater meaning in all the glitter and glitz of the holidays and each lighted storefront and Happy Holiday card helps them find a way for His light to touch their souls?

Who meet and greet their fellow sojourners in such a way that His light bears witness that they know the Blessed Babe Jesus is the Savior of the world?

All these things touch our spirits and manifest themselves in an undeniable physical reaction that makes it so that none of us can doubt that our hearts have had that Holy Witness burn within our souls.

Are we not left with a sacred commission to add our witness to those of the millenniums “That we also know that the Blessed Babe Jesus is indeed the promised Christ?”

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Some years ago a family situation found us far away from home on the 28th of September, in a suburb of Seattle, Washington named Woodenville. As we were going down the main street, we passed a large nursery called Molbaks. At first I didn’t notice, but something subconsciously made me look again; it really was true, the windows of this large store were totally decked with all the types of Christmas trees that one could imagine.

This was not November 28th (just after Thanksgiving), not even October 28th (just before Halloween) but the 28th of September (when children had just returned to classes after summer vacation). The freshness of the displays eliminated the possibility of last year’s laziness and therefore, I knew that this was a deliberate attempt to stretch the commercialization of Christmas beyond the bounds of propriety.

In the rapidity which only the processes of the mind and some monster computers can achieve , my thoughts skipped from rejection and revulsion concerning the blatant 28th of September display to a remembrance of thoughts vocalized the 28th of December last. Vividly, across the span of time through the miraculous capacity of the mind, came the words as if they were now first being spoken; “I wish the feelings and goodness and love which have abounded this Christmas season could remain with us all year long.”

Gratefully, I quickly repented of my feelings of rejection and revulsion and decided that I would determine not to fight the feeling, and even resolved to become part of the flow of Christmas Spirit which annually floods mankind no matter what the date on the calendar might be.

It may well be that if one twelfth of the year is made joyous because of the abundance of those tinsels and lights which can remind us of the Christmas Spirit, four twelfths of the year might even be better. After all, if one has seriously determined to be a disciple of the Savior Jesus Christ, they should welcome every bit of help they can get in carrying forth His message.

Therefore, if my neighbor wants to leave his outdoor lights up all year long, I will be grateful and not label him as lazy. He can even turn them on for Valentine’s Day, the Fourth of July, his kids’ birthdays, his anniversary or just because he feels like it, if he so wishes. Then for a moment, I will be reminded of the birth and mission of my Savior.

If the department stores what to send out their ads for Black Friday with their Christmas specials the day after Halloween and then follow up with weekly reminders by every method of advertising known and yet to be known, it should cause my heart to rejoice about all the reminders which are flooding home about the birth of the King of Kings.

If the choir starts rehearsing for the Christmas program right after the ringing of the explosions of Independence Day have left our ears, and if Christmas carols are heard before the last cord of hymns of Thanksgiving are sounded, I’ll reverence the wondrous messages heralding the birth of the Prince of Peace.

Therefore, as one who has resolved to add his droplets to the flood of His Eternal message, I wish you happiness and joy this time and always. I pray that living Christmas trees in August will stimulate us to a remembrance of our Savior in the same way that artificial ones often do in December.

I pray that colors in May and summer scenes in June and the fresh smells of April will cause your emotions to soar and your heart to respond to the needs of your earthly companions no matter whether the date is in January or the day is in March.

We all need to spend more time pondering that it isn’t Christmas day which makes us different, but it is Jesus the Christ, his teachings, his life and his Atonement.

Without Christ, gift giving can be changed from charitable exchanges of love to concerns of commercialization and indebtedness.

Without Christ, bright decorations turn from being beacons of light into gaudy glitter.

Without Christ, gatherings turn from devoted remembrances to riotous reunions.

Without Christ, Christmas and all other days turn from Celestial contemplations to thoughts on Telestial trivialities.

It may well be that the key to maintaining feelings of goodness and love during the appointed Christmas season and throughout the whole year is not to be found in trying to keep the Christmas Spirit; but though finding Christ and keeping Him and His teachings in our lives all year long.

May the Spirit of our Savior, Jesus the Christ, come into our lives in such abundance this Christmas season that it will flow though us all unto our fellow travelers not only for a day or a week or a month, but at all times, is the prayer I offer in His Holy name at this blessed time of year.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


The existence of the Eternal Universe, the birth of a baby, Lazarus coming forth, medical advancements, feelings of comfort from the God of love and peace; these things and many more are MIRACLES to me!

The placing of Isaac upon the alter, a toddler’s first step, Adam’s willing step into mortality, healings, Peter’s declaration ‘thou art the Christ the Son of the Living God’; these things and many more are ACTS OF FAITH to me !

The abundance of Job which surrounds me, a grandchild’s hand touching my cheek, the Samaritan’s kindness to a stranger, health, guidance of scriptural passages; these things and many more are BLESSINGS to me!

The annunciation of Gabriel to Mary, children kept from harms way, guidance to Jacob as he slept, a loved one’s smile, those promised to surround and administer; these things and many more are proof of ANGELS to me!

The descending of Moses from the mount, a child’s innocent testimony, spiritual stirrings as living prophets guide, anointing’s and sealings when ill, those whom the Lord has promised to be among us; these and many more are PROPHETS to me!

The metamorphous of seed to tree, the journey of babe to adult, the leavings and histories of ancestors, cells and cosmos, seeking to know a little of the mind and will of God; these things and many more are important KNOWLEDGE to me!

The regular attention to devotion, teens kneeling beside their beds, the mount of transfiguration, expressing gratitude, Wise men coming from afar; these things and many more are forms of WORSHIP to me!

The Lord’s submissions to his Father’s will, a missionary’s bowed head, thoughts which greet the rising sun, pondering for understanding, a silent thanks; these things and many more are PRAYER to me!

The Atoning Sacrifice, cooking a little extra for the widow next door, a prayer offered for another’s sake, watching more carefully over Mother Earth, the feeding of the thousands by the shore; these things and many more are SERVICE to me!

The closeness of the twelve to the Savior, eternal marriage, a phone call from a friend of long ago, caring for all of earth’s created, drawing closer to Heavenly Father; these things and many more are important RELATIONSHIPS to me!!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Some years ago I enrolled in and completed a course of study on World Religions. Because of other pressures of life, family and career my efforts in the class were superficial and, therefore, the knowledge I gained was very rudimentary. In all honesty I was left relatively unchanged by the experience.

A few years later, I received the assignment to teach the basic concepts and histories of the Religions of the World to another generation. Being motivated by a strong desire to keep from being embarrassed each Tuesday and Thursday morning, I fell into a vigorous study program. Long hours were spent in reading as I tried to fill the void left by my meager efforts in my former course of study. I tried to anticipate questions which would easily stretch beyond my fundamental knowledge of Buddhism, Jainism, Shintoism and all those other exotic ‘isms’ from the ages and nations of the world.

Slowly, as the weeks of the course unfolded, a new growth started to bud within my mind and soul. As I was confronted with the teachings, mores and dogmas of the world’s numerous religions I was constantly impressed that I was reading ideas which did not contradict my own deep-seated testimony of God and His purposes for man. These concepts more often than not paralleled and in some cases gave deeper understanding to those ideals which I had held so dear during the major part of my life.

I found encased in the precepts and sayings of the Shinto concepts which I memorized and tried to inculcate in my life from the teachings Moses brought from the mount and consistent with the Holy Prophets of the Old Testament.

In the teachings of Taoism I found a genuine search for eternal truths which became an example to me in my personal quest.
From Confucianism I was frequently reminded of the simple day-to-day practices which bring majesty to my own personal religious practices and make it possible to experience the true joys of life’s relationships.

Opening and exploring the teachings of Judaism brought to reality the immense influence the teachings of Israel brought to the foundations of Christianity.

As the weeks of the course drew to a conclusion I was no longer unchanged by a study of the Religions of the World. I had come to understand to a much greater degree what is meant by the universal kinship of mankind and the singular parentage we all share.

As I repeated the teaching of this course several times during my life I came to believe that it would do us all well if we were to become more conversant with the fundamental understanding our ever approaching neighbors have of the underlying meanings and purposes of life.

Rather than having an immediate defensive reflex to one of the beliefs of our neighbor’s religion we might take a moment to reflect on such things as:

How can I come to understand what you believe, so that our kinship might be strengthened?

How can I use this moment to bring joy rather that sadness by overcoming a bit of my prejudice and bias?

How can I try to stop perpetuating those parts of our lives which divide us and instill relationships which bring us closer to oneness?

How can I spend this moment with my new neighbor exploring those areas of beliefs and yearnings we share in common?

How can I more firmly dedicate my life to bringing universal joy and peace into my many varied spheres?

I don’t know where your journey will lead you, but I testify that the reward of discovering the universal goodness which lies innately in the souls of our earth mates is worth the required effort.