Most of you have a Christmas Nativity set in an honored place in your home. Nativity sets can have a beautiful mother, a stalwart father, a gentle cow, a patient donkey, exotically adorned wise men and humble shepherds and sheep all with reverence looking at the baby. Some nativity’s are small and some are life size, but regardless of size, each make the same point. Each one is about the baby. We feel the same awe as the shepherds, as we struggle to understand how a newborn baby can be the point toward which all of human history has been moving. Even before the earth was created, the whole reason it was created, hinged on the existence of this baby. And, even after this earth has passed away, it will be because of this baby. Nativity Song: - 3 Minutes Christmas songs tell the story of this baby. Oh Come all ye faithful. Come where? “To Bethlehem”. Why? Because, like the shepherds and the wise men, that’s where we behold the baby. “Angels we have heard on high.” Where were the angels? They were singing to the shepherds. Why? Because the Savior had been born. “Silent Night, Holy Night, all is calm, all is bright.” Where was this silent, holy, bright night? Round yon virgin mother and child.” “Away in a manger”. Why a manger? Because that is where Mary laid the baby. Christmas is about this baby! Song: Guard him Joseph 4 minutes What if you took it all away? I want you to think about Christmas with no Mary, no Joseph, no angels, no shepherds, no adorable lamb, no stable, no donkey, no cow, no manger, no wise men, no star, no singing hosts in the heavens, and especially no baby. If all these things are gone, what’s left? How can you say that there’s Christmas at all? Well this is the situation the Nephites were in. For them, the Christmas story was not this beautiful description of the Holy Family in a stable on a special night made radiant with stars and angel’s singing. It was something that happened far away that they were given only tiny glimpses of by their prophets. The Nephites knew about Mary and Jesus as a baby because Nephi, the first Nephi, recorded in his vision, that he saw her holding Jesus in her arms. He says, “I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem . . . And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceeding fair and white. And an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me: Nephi; what beholdest thou? And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins. And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh. And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms. (1 Nephi 11:14-15, 18, 20).
Nephi didn’t see stables, or oxen or donkey. No shepherds and no lambs. No wise men and no camels, not even singing angels. The only angel was the one explaining to Nephi what he was seeing. That is the Christmas story that the other Book of Mormon prophets repeated to the Nephites for nearly 600 years until Samuel the Lamanite came among the wicked Nephites. Samuel the prophet came and added to the Christmas story for the Nephites. He said, “Behold, I give unto you a sign; for five years more cometh, and behold, then cometh the Son of God to redeem all those who shall believe on his name.” “And behold, this will I give unto you for a sign at the time of his coming; for behold, there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto man as if it was day. “Therefore, there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign; for ye shall know of the rising of the sun and also of its setting; therefore they shall know of a surety that there shall be two days and a night; nevertheless the night shall not be darkened; and it shall be the night before he is born. “And behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you. “And behold this is not all, there shall be many signs and wonders in heaven. The Nephites still had no Christmas story about a baby, no shepherds, no wise men, no angels singing, but there is one similarity to the Christmas story we know . . . There is lights in heaven and a new star . . .Stars and wonders in the heaven. Shine for Me Again Star of Bethlehem—3 Min Finally, five years later, as Samuel the Lamanite had accurately predicted, the sign of the Saviors birth came to those believing Nephites who were going to be slain that next day for their belief in the Son of God to be born. This is now the 3rd Nephi. He “went out and bowed himself down upon the earth, and cried mightily to his God in behalf of his people, yea, those who were about to be destroyed because of their faith in the tradition of their fathers. And it came to pass that he cried mightily unto the Lord all that day, and behold, the voice of the Lord came unto him saying: Lift up your head and be of good cheer, for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfill all
that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets. . . . And it came to pass that the words which came unto Nephi were fulfilled, according as they had been spoken; for behold, at the going down of the sun there was no darkness. . . And it came to pass also that a new star did appear, according to the word. (3 Nephi 1:10-13;15, 21) As you celebrate Christmas this year, remember the events that occurred in the Americas as well as those that took place on the other side of the globe in the Savior’s birthplace. Though His birth brought spiritual deliverance for all mankind, it literally brought deliverance from death for Nephite believers in the New World. His birth continues to offer deliverance to all who accept Him as their Lord and Savior. Henry B. Eyring said: One of the most beautiful symbols of the birth of Jesus Christ into this world is light. The appearance of the long-promised Messiah brought light to a darkened world. There is no record of a day and a night and a day in the Jerusalem Christmas story and Only the three wise men mentioned seeing a new star, but in the Americas in the Book of Mormon all the people upon the face of the whole earth from the west to the east, both in the land north and in the land south” saw the signs and knew that “the Son of God must shortly appear” (3 Nephi 1:17). Why? “that there should be no cause for
unbelief among the children of men” (Helaman 14:28; What about today. All this happened so long ago. Do we seek him that was born century’s ago? Does that light that was born all those years ago shine within us today? Do we share that light with others in word or in deed? Do we make room for the Savior in our daily lives? Song: Do you have room—4 min. Story about three wise men—Retold (see attached) Song: Gift of Love At this Christmas season may we recognize that He and His light live within each of us. In Galatians 2:20 the Apostle Paul tells us: I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
In John 8:12 it read—I am the alight of the world: he that followeth me shall not bwalk in cdarkness, but shall have the light of life. A day and a night and a day with only “light” and a new star “shining it’s bright light” were signs of the Savior birth. May you remember that he is the light which shineth and the light of the world. He gives you his light and that light enlightens your eyes and your understandings. Where did that light come from? Again the Lord gives the answer: “I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” 2 The Lord is the true light. That’s why the light from the star and the day with no darkness were signs of his birth. This light shows in our countenances as well as in our eyes. May we reflect that light and give a gift of love to others this Christmas season . . . A gift of our knowledge and testimony that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God and he was born on a silent holy night long ago, he was crucified for us and rose again and he lives now, even within each of us. Trish Hemphill testimony. Sing Silent Night.