COLLECTION OF POEMS AND STORIES


A CIRCLE OF LOVE


Oh, may I find a friend who will walk
this path with me.
For the path of life is treacherous and
lonely as can be.
And knowing that a friend is near,
beside me all the way,
Would calm my troubled heart and mind
and brighten up my day.


I'll be your friend; I'll walk with you,
this day I'll take your hand.
For I was once the lonely one, you see
I understand.
For I stood once where you stand now
surrounded by longing and fear.
Till someone, whom I call friend gave me
a gift precious and dear.


So take my hand and I'll take yours,
A circle of love we'll make.
And then in time when you've grown strong
Some other's hand you'll take.
And the circle we've started will continue
to grow as each of us shows love.
For the hands we extend are only the tools
of our Heavenly Father above.


A FOURTEEN DAY WALK WITH CHRIST


The only way that we can really know another person is to walk in their shoes: think what they think, learn what they know, and what they would say, do what they would do. Christ said "Be ye therefore perfect". We can only accomplish this as we become like him.


INSTRUCTIONS: Each morning leave enough time to open the envelope for that day. Read and PONDER what is written. Try to keep what you read in mind throughout the day. Perhaps take it with you to re-read. At the end of the day, evaluate how you did, write your thoughts and feelings in your journal. Each day has a set of questions followed by a story, poem or scripture to help you walk with Christ.


DAY 1:

- What do I think of the members of the Godhead?

- How do I see myself as a daughter of God, member of God's family, sister to Jesus Christ?

- How will understanding my place in the Kingdom and my relationship to my Elder Brother help me to live a more Christ like life?


"I AM A PRINCESS"


Deep inside my young heart lies the one I want to be. And deep inside my soul I find the seeds of divinity. Now and then I see glimpses of the woman I can become. I know someday I'll find her here if I don't give up. Everyday I'm closer to the one I want to be. And slowly I'm uncovering my heavenly qualities and I'll continue working toward the woman I can become. Developing my qualities through service and through love. I am a princess, a royal Queen I'll be. So I must choose to find and use my divine qualities. Daughter of heaven, a Queen someday I'll be. An heir of my Mother in heaven for eternity.


DAY 2:

- How can I follow in Christ's steps today?

- In all my decisions today I will ask, what would Christ do?

- I will harken to promptings received.

- I will think of myself as a disciple and sister of Jesus.


A young girl was trudging along a mountain path, trying to reach her grandmother's house. It was bitter cold and wind cut like a knife. When she was within sight of her destination, she heard a rustle at her feet. Looking down, she saw a snake. Before she could move, the snake spoke to her. He said, "I am about to die. It is too cold for me up here, and I am freezing. There is no food in these mountains, and I am starving. Please put me under your coat and take me with you."

"No," replied the girl. If I pick you up, you will bite me, and your bite is poisonous."

"No, no." said the snake. "If you help me, you will be my best friend, I will treat you differently."

The little girl sat down on a rock for a moment to rest and think things over. She looked at the beautiful markings on the snake and had to admit that it was the most beautiful snake she had ever seen. Suddenly, she said, "I believe you. I will save you. All living things deserve to be treated with kindness." The little girl reached over, put the snake gently under her coat and proceeded toward her grandmother's house. Within a moment, she felt a sharp pain in her side. The snake had bitten her. "How could you do this to me?" She cried. "You promised that you would not bite me if I would protect you from the bitter cold."

The snake hissed, "You knew what I was when you picked me up," and slithered away.

~ Ann Landers


One goal that most of us share in this life is the desire to achieve true joy and lasting happiness. There is only one way to do this, and that is by being obedient to all the commandments of God ... "When the Lord commands, do it" was a rule in the life of the first prophet of this dispensation. May that be the motto and practice of each of us.

~ Delbert L. Stapley, Ensign, Nov. 1977 p. 64


DAY 3:

- Am I seeking Christ's help in all that I think or do?

- Do I pray enough? - Do I pray with integrity?

- Am I cutting myself off from vital nourishment?


Dear Friend,

I just had to send you a note to tell you how much I love you and care about you. I saw you yesterday as you were walking with your friends. I waited all day hoping you would want to talk with me also. It hurt me, but I still love you because I am your friend.

I saw you fall asleep last night, and I longed to touch your brow. So I spilled moonlight on your pillow and your face. Again I waited, wanting to rush down so that we could talk. I have so many gifts for you, but you awakened late the next day and rushed off to school. My tears were in the rain.

Today you look sad, so alone. It makes my heart ache because I understand. My friends let me down and hurt me so many times too. But, I love you. Oh, if you would only listen to me. I really love you. I try to tell you in the blue sky and in the green grass. I whisper in the leaves on the trees, and breathe it in the color of the flowers. I shout it to you in the mountain streams and give the birds love songs to sing, clothe you in warm sunshine and perfume the air with nature scents. My love for you is deeper than the oceans and bigger than the biggest want or need in your heart.

If you only knew how much I want to help you. I want you to meet my Father. He wants to help you too. My Father is that way, you know. Just call me, ask me, talk with me. Please, please don't forget me. I have so much to share with you. But, I won't hassle you any further. You are free to call me. It's up to you. I'll wait because I love you.

Your brother,

Jesus


Sincere prayer is the heart of a happy and productive life. Prayer strengthens faith. Prayer is the preparation for miracles. Prayer opens the door to eternal happiness.

~ H. Burke Peterson, Ensign, Jan. 1974 p 19


DAY 4:

- From whom do I get my strength?

- Am I too busy, hurried and involved with worldly matters that I neglect what is really important?


SATAN'S CONVENTION


Satan called a worldwide convention. In his opening address to his evil angels, he said, "We can't keep the Christians from going to church."

"We can't keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth"

"We can't even keep them from conservative values."

"But we can do something else. We can keep them from forming an intimate, abiding experience with Christ. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken. So let them go to church, let them have their conservative lifestyles, but steal their time, so they can't gain that experience in Jesus Christ. This is what I want you to do angels. Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!"

"How shall we do this? " shouted the angels.

"Keep them busy in the nonessentials of life and invent unnumbered shams to occupy their minds," he answered. "Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, then borrow, borrow, borrow. Convince the wives to go to work and the husbands to work six or seven days a week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford their lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. As their family fragments, soon, their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work. Over-stimulate their minds so they cannot hear that still small voice.

"Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive, to keep the TV, the VCR, and their CD's going constantly in their homes. And see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays music constantly. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ."

"Fill their coffee tables with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day. Invade any other moments with order catalogues, every kind of newsletter and promotional offerings, free products, services and false hopes."

"Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted and unprepared for the coming week. Don't let them go out in nature. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, and concerts instead."

"And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotion."

"Let them be involved in soul-winning. But crowd their lives with so many good causes that they have no time to seek the power from Christ. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family unity for the good of the cause."

It was quite a convention in the end. And all the evil angels went eagerly to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get busy, busy, busy and rush here and there.

Has the devil been successful at his scheme? You be the judge.

Fear thou not; for I am with thee; be not dismayed; for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

~ Isaiah 41:10


DAY 5:

- Wherein lies the power of Christ?

- Do I understand what Christ did for me?

- Do I comprehend the great love He has for me?

- How can I put myself in a position to have the atonement cover my sins?


THE ROOM


In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no features except for the one wall covered by small index card files. These files stretched from floor to ceiling and went endlessly in both directions. As I drew new the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read, "Boys I Have Liked". I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names on each one. I then realized where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system of my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in every detail. A sense of wonder and curiosity mixed with horror stirred within me as I began opening files and looking at their contents. Some brought joy and sweet memories, others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I looked over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named, "Friends" was next to the one marked, "Friends I Have Betrayed". The titles ranged from the mundane to the weird. "Books I Have Read", "Lies I Have Told", "Comfort I Have Given", "Jokes I Have Laughed At", "People I have hurt". Some were almost funny in their exactness. "Things I Have Done in Anger", "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath At My Parents". Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes, fewer than I had hoped. I was overwhelmed by the volume of life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my young life to write each of these thousands or millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth, each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked, "Songs I Have Listened To", I realized the files grew to contain the contents. The cards were packed tightly, yet after two or three yards I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much of the quality music, but more by the amount of time I knew it represented. When I came to a file marked, "Lustful Thoughts", I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out inch by inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at the details. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded. A rage broke through me. "No one must see these cards. Not one must ever see this room. I have to destroy them." In a frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. I took it out and pounded it on the floor. Not a single card would come out. I desperately pulled out a card and tried to rip it, but it was as strong as steel. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a sigh, then I saw it. The title, "People I Have Shared the Gospel With". The handles were brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.

And then the tears came. I began to cry. Sobbing so deep it hurt my stomach. I fell on my knees and cried out in shame. The rows of shelves whirled around me. No one must ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key. But as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please, not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus! I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. In the moments that I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read everyone? Finally He turned and looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this wasn't a pity that angered me. I dropped my head and began to cry again. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me. Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, he took out a card and one by one He began to sign His name over mine. "NO!" I shouted, rushing at Him. All I could find to say was, "NO, NO", as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on those cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name JESUS covered mine. It was written with His blood.

He gently took the cards back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign all the cards. I do not think I will ever understand how he did it so quickly. But the next instance it seemed, I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished". I stood up and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on the door. There are still cards to be written.


DAY 6:

- How do I control my physical passions?

- Can I set a righteous example for others which will help me control my passions better?

- How can I let my light shine?


THE SWIMSUIT


Morning ... yuck! Even though there were only a few more days of school left, it sure was hard getting there. The weather had been great all week, and besides the only thing going on at school was graduation practice. It wasn't just me, either. All of my senior friends had a bad case of "Senioritis". We really were struggling those last few days.

At school my friends devised a plan. "After lunch lets all go over to the outdoors pool and catch some sun," they chimed in. "We're not doing any thing in class anyway," they agreed. What they said made sense, and after all, we had already turned in our books in English anyway.

When the bell rang for lunch we all went and jumped in my car. As I waited in the car while they each went in to get their suits, I wondered to myself, "Why am I doing this?" But then I concluded what could it hurt? School was almost out for the year anyway. We pulled up to my house and I quickly ran inside to get my suit. I reached into my drawer and pulled out my light lavender swim suit. "Lavender ... Purple ... Integrity," I said to myself. How could I sluff school and go down to the pool wearing this swimsuit?

All the things I had been taught in young women's came back slamming me in the face. Right then I knew I couldn't do it. I turned to my friends who were waiting impatiently for me. "Listen you guys, I can't go swimming right now," I told my friends. "If you want to wait till after school I'd love to go, but right now I can't." My lavender swimsuit reminded me of how I should act at all times, and in all things, and in all places.


DAY 7:

- How can I improve my thoughts?

- Do I really want to keep all idle, unclean or negative thoughts out of my mind?

- Do my thoughts affect my attitude?

- Am I fit for myself to know?


MYSELF


I have to live with myself, and so --
I want to be fit for myself to know.
I want to be able as the days go by
Always to look myself straight in the eye.
I don't want to stand with the setting sun
And hate myself for the things I've done.


I don't want to keep on a closet shelf
A lot of secrets about myself --
And fool myself as I come and go
Into thinking that nobody else will know,
The kind of man (or woman) I really am.
I don't want to dress myself in shame.


I want to go out with my head erect;
I want to deserve all men's respect.
And, here in the struggle for fame and self
I want to be able to like myself.
I don't want to think, as I come and go
That I am bluster and bluff and empty show.


I can never hide myself from me
I see what others may never see;
I know what others may never know
I can never fool myself!


And so -- whatever happens I want to be
Self respecting and conscience free!!!
~ Edgar A. Guest


DAY 8:

- How do I guard my speech?

- I will speak only kind, uplifting words to everyone I talk to.

- I will not criticize, gossip, nor speak ill of others.


LEVITICUS 19:16


A peasant with a troubled conscience went to a monk for advice. He said he had circulated a vile story about a friend, only to find that the story was not true.

"If you would make peace with your conscience," said the monk, "you must first fill a bag with goose downs, go to every door in the village, and drop in each one of them a feather."

The peasant did as he was told. Then he came back to the monk and said he had done penance for his folly.

"Not yet," replied the monk. "Take a bag, go two rounds again, and gather up every down that you have dropped."

"But the wind must have blown them all away," said the peasant.

"Yes, my son" said the monk. "And so it is with your vile words. Words and goose downs are quickly dropped, but try as hard as you will, you can never get them back."


DAY 9:

- How do I guard against pride?

- Am I proud?

- Do I do the right things for the right reasons?

- Do I make a difference?


MAKING A DIFFERENCE


One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a figure in the distance. As he got close, he realized the figure was that of a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, "What are you doing?"

The youth replied, "Throwing starfish in the ocean. The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

"Son," the man said, "don't you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can't possibly make a difference!"

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said, "I made a difference for that one."

~ From "Walking the Talk Together"


DAY 11:

- How does the Lord want me to serve?

- Is the Lord first in my life?

- What am I doing to build up the Lord and His kingdom?

- How do I really feel about the service I give others?

- Does serving the Lord make me happy?


HIS HANDS (song)


His Hands -- Tools of creation
Stronger than nations
Power without end and yet through them
We find our truest friend
His hands Sermons of kindness
Healing men's blindness
Halting years of pain
Children waiting


To be held again
His hands would serve
His whole life through
Showing man what hands might do
Giving, ever giving endlessly
Each day was filled with selflessness
And I'll not rest
Til I make of my hands what they could be
Like the ones from Galilee


His hands -- Warming a beggar
Lifting a leper
Calling back the dead
Breaking bread
Five thousand fed
His hands Hushing contention
Pointing to Heaven
Ever free of sin
Then bidding man to follow Him


They take His hands His mighty hands
Those gentle hands
And then they pierce them
They pierce them
He lets them because of love
From birth to death
Was selflessness
And clearly now I see Him
With His hands calling to me
And though I'm not yet how I could be
I will make my hands like those from Galilee


DAY 11:

- How is the Lord my light?

- In the last ten days have I tried to make decisions on the teachings contained in these lessons.

- What would Jesus do if He were here?

- What would He have ME do?

- What have I improved upon?


"HIS IMAGE IN YOUR COUNTENANCE" (song)


With no apparent beauty that man should Him desire,
He was the promised Savior to purify with fire.
The world despised His plainness, but those who followed Him.
Found love and light and purity; a beauty from within.


(Chorus)
Have you received His image in your countenance?
Does the Light of Christ shine in your eyes?
Will he know you when He comes again because you will be like him?
When He sees you will the Father know His child?


We seek for light and learning as followers of Christ.
That all may see His goodness reflected in our lives.
When we receive His fullness and lose desire for sin,
We radiate His perfect love, a beauty from within.


(Repeat chorus)


The ways of man may tempt us and some will be deceived,
preferring worldly beauty, forgetting truth received.
But whisp'rings of the Spirit remind us once again,
That lasting beauty, pure and clear, must come from deep within.


(Repeat chorus)


By His everlasting image in your eyes?


DAY 12:

- How can the Holy Ghost help me become more like Christ?

- Is it important to know the truth?

- Do I really desire the Holy Ghost to be my constant companion?


Live so that those who know you, but don't know Christ, will want to know him because they know you.


Object lesson:

Blindfold a family member. Have another family member stand by the door. Turn the blindfolded person around several times. Ask him to point to the door. Then have the blindfolded person put his hands at his side. Now, have the other person softly say, "The door is over here." Have the blindfolded person point in the direction of the voice.

Liken this to the Holy Ghost. In this life sometimes we feel as thought we have been blindfolded and spun around until we are no longer sure which way is which. That is when we must listen even more carefully to the still small voice of the spirit. The Holy Ghost will always tell us which is the best and safest direction we can go.


DAY 13:

- Do I really love Christ?

- Do I keep ALL the commandments?

- Have I put another God before Christ?


Review the Ten Commandements


TEEN COMMANDMENTS


1. Don't let your parents down; they brought you up.

2. Choose your companions with care; you become what they are.

3. Be master of you habits or they will master you.

4. Treasure your time; don't spend it, invest it.

5. Stand for something or you'll fall for anything.

6. Select only a date that would make a good mate.

7. See what you can do for others; not what they can do for you.

8. Guard your thoughts, what you think, you are.

9. Don't fill up on this world's crumbs; feed your soul on living bread.

10. Give you all to Christ; He gave His all for you.


THE PEARLS


The cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them: a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box.

"Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please!"

Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl's upturned face.

"A dollar ninety-five. That's almost $2.00. If you really want them, I'll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday's only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma."

As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents. On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.

Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere -- Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green. Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, "Do you love me?"

"Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you."

"Then give me your pearls."

"Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess -- the white horse from my collection. The one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She's my favorite."

"That's okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night." And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.

About a week later, after the story time, Jenny's daddy asked again, "Do you love me?"

"Daddy, you know I love you."

"Then give me your pearls."

"Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper."

"That's okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you." And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. As he came close, He noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. "What is it, Jenny? What's the matter?"

Jenny didn't say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she finally said, "Here, Daddy. It's for you."

With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny's kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny. He had had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her genuine treasure. So like our Heavenly Father. Wonder what we're hanging on to ...


DAY 14:

- What is the pure love of Christ?

- These past 14 days have I felt a greater love for my Savior? Have I felt this love?

- Can I commit myself to live each day as He would?


THE TOUCH OF THE MASTER'S HAND


'Twas battered and scarred,
And the auctioneer thought it
hardly worth his while
To waste his time on the old violin,
but he held it up with a smile.


"What am I bid, good people", he cried,
"Who starts the bidding for me?"
"One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?"
"Two dollars, who makes it three?"
"Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three,"


But, No,
From the room far back a gray bearded man
Came forward and picked up the bow,
Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet
As sweet as the angel sings.


The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said "What now am I bid for this old violin?"
As he held it aloft with its' bow.


"One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?"
"Two thousand, Who makes it three?"
"Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
Going and gone", said he.


The audience cheered,
But some of them cried,
"We just don't understand."
"What changed its' worth?"
Swift came the reply.
"The Touch of the Masters Hand."


"And many a man with life out of tune
All battered and bruised with hardship
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like that old violin


A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.
He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.


But the Master comes,
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the Touch of the Masters' Hand.
~ Myra Brooks Welch


A LETTER TO THE EDITOR


In a local newspaper in Provo, Utah, there had been an ongoing series of articles written by individuals who wanted to persuade LDS Church members to leave the Church. In response to the highly critical and spirited remarks, a local member wrote this rebuttal:

Editor: I have been thinking of quitting the Mormon Church. Yes, if I can, I am going to get even with that church. As soon as I can find another church that teaches about the Gathering of the House of Israel; the return of the Ten Tribes and their mission; the return of the Jews to Palestine and why, and how they are going to build the temple; the building of temples and what to do with them; the mission of Elias, the prophet, as predicted by Malachi; the method for the salvation of the people that died at the time of Noah, in the flood; the origin of the American Indian; the complete explanation of why Jesus of Nazareth had to have a mortal mother but not a mortal father; the explanation of the three degrees of glory (three heavens) as mentioned by Paul; the complete explanation of why Elias and Moses did not die but had to be translated (since they both lived before the resurrection was introduced by Christ); the restoration of the gospel by modern revelation as promised by Peter and Paul and Jesus himself; the belief in eternal marriage and the family, and the knowledge and the place to seal for eternity; that teaches abstinence from all harmful drugs and foods ; and that sells the best fire insurance policy on earth, for the last days, for only a 10th of my income.

Yes sir, as soon as I can find another church that teaches all that, or even half, as much, I will say good-bye to this Mormon Church. The church that I am looking for must also be able to motivate 50,000 youth, and adults, for the first, second or third time, to leave their homes for two years at their own expense and go to far-away places to teach and preach without salary. It must be able to call, on a frosty day, some 5 or 6 thousand professors, students, lawyers, doctors, judges, policemen, businessmen, housewives and children to go and pick apples at 6 a.m. It must be able to call meetings and get the attention for two hours of more than 150,000 men. Yes, it must also teach and show why salvation is assured for children who die before eight years of age.

Mr. Editor, could you help me find another church that teaches all that and more than hundreds of other doctrines and principles, which I have no room to mention here, and which brings solace, comfort to the soul, peace, hope, and salvation to mankind, and above all, that answers the key questions that all the great philosophers have asked; questions and answers that explain the meaning of life, the purpose of death, suffering and pain; the absolute need for a Redeemer and the marvelous plan conceived and executed by Jesus Christ the Savior?

Yes, as soon as I find another church that teaches that and also that has the organization and the powers to make that teaching effective, I am going to quit the Mormon Church. For I should not tolerate that "they" should change a few words in the Book of Mormon -- even if those changes simply improve the grammar and the syntax of the verses -- for, after all, don't you think the Divine Church should employ angels as bookmakers, and clerks, to do all the chores on earth?

Don't you think, Mr. Editor, that the Divine Church should also have prophets that don't get sick and don't get old and die, and certainly, that don't make a goof here and there? No, sir. A Divine Church should be so divine that only perfect people should belong to it, and only perfect people should run it. As a matter of fact, the Church should be so perfect that it should not even be here on earth!

So, I repeat, if any one of the kind readers of this imperfect letter knows about another church that teaches and does as much for mankind as the Mormon Church, please let me now. And please do it soon, because my turn to go to the cannery is coming up. Also, "they" want my last son -- the fifth one -- to go away for two years, and again, I have to pay for all that. And I also know that they expect me to go to the farm to prune trees, and I have heard that our ward is going to be divided again, and it is our side that must build the new chapel. And also, someone the other day had the gall of suggesting that my wife and I get ready to go on a second mission, and when you come back, they said, you can volunteer as a temple worker. Boy, these Mormons don't leave you alone for a minute. And what do I get for all that, I asked? "Well," they said, "for one, you can look forward to a funeral service at no charge!


A SUCCESFUL MISSIONARY
(Alma 17-26)


If you study the Book of Alma, you can see how to be a successful missionary.


1. Searches the scriptures diligently (17:2)

2. Gives themselves to much prayer and fasting (17:3, 9)

3. Has the spirit of prophecy and revelation (17:3)

4. Teaches with power (17:3)

5. Is diligent and willing to work (17:4)

6. Endures trials (17:5)

7. Loves God more than the things of the world (17:6)

8. Is organized and has a plan (17:8, 18)

9. Is in harmony with God, and seeks to have the Spirit (17:9-10)

10. Is a good example (17:11)

11. Trusts in the Lord (17:13)

12. Has both courage and compassion (17:14)

13. Has a desire to share the Plan of Salvation (17:16)

14. Has a positive attitude (17:31)

15. Must be in tune with the Holy Ghost (18:14, 18)

16. Teaches plainly (18:24-35)

17. Learns to identify the Spirit (1:25-28)

18. Is humble (18:34)

19. Has a knowledge of the gospel (18:36-39)

20. Is sincere (19:7)

21. Always compliments and 'Builds' others (19:10)

22. Is confident in bearing testimony (19:13)

23. Prays for people, and expresses gratitude for their success (19:14)

24. Knows that the Lord protects his servants who do their duty (19:22-23)

25. Seeks for true conversion of people (19:33)

26. Teaches about Jesus Christ (21:9)

27. After hard work will have success (21:17)

28. Plays a role in convert retention (21:23)

29. Is consistent and diligent (22:1)

30. Realizes he is called by the Lord to his assigned area (22:4)

31. Reads the scriptures to his contacts (22:12)

32. Commits his investigators to prayer (22:16)

33. Goes from city to city, house to house (23:4)

34. Realizes that he is one who ministers; an angel of mercy (24:14)

35. Recognizes that the Savior helps bless his missionaries (25:17)

36. Helps prepare people to go to the Lord's House (26:5)

37. Is always happy (smiling) and knows this is God's work (26:11)

38. Knows qualifications for success: 1.) Repentance 2.) Faith 3.) Good works 4.) Prayer. Receives the blessings that follow: 1.) Knowledge 2.) Baptisms (26:22)

39. Is patient; has the faith that all people can change (26:29)


ADAM
Brigham Young


My next sermon will be to both Saint and sinner. One thing has remained a mystery in this kingdom up to this day. It is in regard to the character of the well-beloved Son of God, upon which subject the Elders of Israel have conflicting views. Our God and Father in heaven, is a being of tabernacle, or, in other words, He has a body, with parts the same as you and I have; and is capable of showing forth His works to organized beings, as, for instance, in the world in which we live, it is the same result of the knowledge and infinite wisdom that dwell in His organized body. His son Jesus Christ has become a personage of tabernacle, and has a body like his father. The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of the lord, and issues forth from Himself, and may properly be called God's minister to execute His will in immensity; being called to govern by His influence and power; but He is not a person of tabernacle as we are, and as our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ are. The question has been, and is often, asked, who it was that begat the Son of the Virgin Mary. The infidel world have concluded that if what the Apostles wrote about his father and mother be true, and the present marriage discipline acknowledged by Christendom be correct, then Christians must believe that God is the father of an illegitimate son, in the person of Jesus Christ! The infidel fraternity teach that to their disciples. I will tell you how it is. Our Father in Heaven begat all the spirits that ever were, or ever will be, upon this earth; and they were born spirits in the eternal world. Then the Lord by His power and wisdom organized the mortal tabernacle of man. We were made first spiritual, and afterwards temporal.

Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentiles, Saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of the wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is MICHAEL, the Archangel, the ANCIENT OF DAYS! about whom holy men have written and spoken -- He is our FATHER and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do. Every man upon the earth, professing Christians or nonprofessing, must hear it, and will know it sooner or later. They came here, organized the raw material, and arranged in their order the herbs of the field, the trees, the apple, the peach, the plum, the pear, and every other fruit that is desirable and good for man; the seed was brought from another sphere, and planted in this earth. The thistle, the thorn, the brier, and the obnoxious weed did not appear until after the earth was cursed. When Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit, their bodies became mortal from its effects, and therefore their offspring were mortal. When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the Father? He is the first of the human family; and when he took a tabernacle, it was begotten by his Father in heaven, after the same manner as the tabernacles of Cain, Abel, and the rest of the sons and daughters of the earth, the first earthly tabernacles were originated by the Father, and so on in succession. I could tell you much more about this; but were I to tell you the whole truth, blasphemy would be nothing to it, in the estimation of the superstitious and overrighteous of mankind. However, I have told you the truth as far as I have gone. I have heard men preach upon the divinity of Christ, and exhaust all the wisdom they possessed. All Scripturalists, and approved theologians who were considered exemplary for piety and education, have undertaken to expound on this subject, in every age of the Christian era; and after they have done all, they are obliged to conclude by exclaiming "great is the mystery of godliness," and tell nothing.

It is true that the earth was organized by three distinct characters, namely, Eloheim, Yahovah, and Michael, these three forming a quorum, as in all heavenly bodies, and in organizing element, perfectly represented in the Deity, as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Again, they will try to tell how the divinity of Jesus is joined to his humanity, and exhaust all their mental faculties, and wind up with this profound language, as describing the soul of man, "it is an immaterial substance!" What a learned idea! Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the Garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven. Now, let all who may hear these doctrines, pause before they make light of them, or treat them with indifference, for they will prove their salvation or damnation.

I have given you a few leading items upon this subject, but a great deal more remains to be told. Now, remember from this time forth, and for ever, that Jesus was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. I will repeat a little anecdote. I was in conversation with a certain learned professor upon this subject, when I replied, to this idea -- "if the Son was begotten by the Holy Ghost, it would be very dangerous to baptize and confirm females, and give the Holy Ghost to them, lest he should beget children to be palmed upon the Elders by the people, bringing the Elders into great difficulties."

Treasure up these things in your hearts. In the Bible, you have read the things I have told you to-night; but you have not known what you did read. I have told you no more than you are conversant with; but what do the people in Christendom, with the Bible in their hands, know about this subject? Comparatively nothing.


ADAM-ONDI-AHMAN


Adam was the first man of all men; Ahman is one of the names by which God was known to Adam. Adam-ondi-Ahman, a name caried over from the pure Adamic language into English, is one for which we have not been given a revealed, literal translation. As near as we can judge -- and this view comes down from the early brethren who associated with the Prophet Joseph Smith, who was the first one to use the name in this dispensation -- Adam-ondi-Ahman means the place or land of God where Adam dwelt.

Apparently the area included was a large one; at least, the revelations speak of the land, the valley, and the mountains of Adam-ondi-Ahman. They tell us that Christ himself "established the foundations of Adam-ondi-Ahman" (D&C 78:15-16), and that it included the place now known as Spring Hill, Daviess County, Missouri (D&C 116) ...

One of the greatest spiritual gatherings of all the ages took place in the Valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman some 5,000 years ago, and another grathering -- of even greater importance relative to this earth's destiny -- is soon to take place in that same location. Our revelations recite: "Three years previous to the death of Adam, he called Seth, Enos, cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, and Methuselah, who were all high priests, with the residue of his posterity who were righteous, into the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and there bestowed upon them his last blessing.

"And the Lord appeared unto them, and they rose up and blessed Adam, and called him Micahel, the prince, the archangel. And the Lord administered comfort unto Adam, and said unto him: I have set thee to be at the ehad; a multitude of nations shall come of thee, and thou art a prince over them forever. And Adam stood up in the midst of the congregation; and, notwithstanding he was bowed down with age, being full of the Holy Ghost, predicted whatsoever should befall his posterity unto the latest generation." (D&C 107:53-56)

At that great gathering Adam offered sacrifices on an altar built for the purpose. A remnant of that very altar remained on the spot down through the ages. On May 19, 1838, Joseph Smith and a number of his associates stood on the remainder of the pile of stones at a place called Spring Hill, Daviess County, Missouri. There the Prophet taught them that Adam again would visit in the Valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, holding a great council as a prelude to the great and dreadful ay of the Lord. (Mediation and Atonement, pp. 69-70). At this council, all who have held keys of authority will give an accounting of their stewardship to Adam. Christ will then come, receive back the keys, and thus take one of the final steps preparatory to reigning personally upon the earth. (Dan. 7:9-14; Teachings, p. 157)


AND GOD SAID "NO"
Unknown


I asked God to take away my pride, and God said, "No."

He said it was not for Him to take away, but for me to give up.


I asked God to make my handicapped child whole, and God said, "No."

He said her spirit is whole, her body is temporary.


I asked God to grant me patience, and God said, "No."

He said patience is a byproduct of tribulation. It isn't granted, it's earned.


I asked God to give me happiness, and God said, "No."

He said He gives blessings. Happiness is up to me.


I asked God to spare me pain, and God said, "No."

He said, "suffering draws you apart from the worldly cares and brings you closer to me."


I asked God to make my spirit grow, and God said, "No."

He said I must grow on my own, but He will prune me to make me fruitful.


I asked God to help me love others, as much as He loves me,

and God said, "Ah, finally, you have the idea."


ARE YOU JESUS CHRIST?


There was a little crippled boy who ran a small newstand in a crowded railroad station. He must have been about twelve years old. Every day he would sell papers, candy, gum, and magazines to the thousands of commuters passing through the terminal.

One night two men were rushing through the crowded station to catch a train. One was fifteen or twenty yards in front of the other. It was Christmas Eve. Their train was scheduled to depart in a matter of minutes.

The first man turned a corner and, in his haste to get home to a Christmas cocktail party, plowed right into the little crippled boy. He knocked him off his stool, and candy, newspapers, and gum were scattered everywhere. Without so much as stopping, he cursed the little fellow for being there and rushed on to catch the train that would take him to celebrate Christmas in the way he had chosen for himself.

It was only a matter of seconds before the second commuter arrived on the scene. He stopped, knelt, and gently picked up the boy. After making sure the child was unhurt, the man gathered up the scattered newspapers, sweets, and magazines. Then he took his wallet and gave the boy a five-dollar bill. "Son," he said, "I think this will take care of what was lost or soiled. Merry Christmas."

Without waiting for a reply the commuter now picked up his briefcase and started to hurry away. As he did, the little boy cupped his hands together and called out, "Mister, Mister!" The man stopped as the boy asked, "Are you Jesus Christ?"

By the look on his face, it was obvious the commuter was embarrassed by the question. But he smiled and said, "No, son, I'm not Jesus Christ, but I am trying hard to do what he would do if he were here."


AS THE COWBOY RODE AWAY
Jason Pedersen, '99


As the cowboy rode away,
Parts of my life flashed in my mind
Of all the memories I had with him.
As some stood out more than others.


I recalled the most spiritual moments we shared.
And how my eyes were field with tears.
And how this ol' cowboy just looked into my eyes,
Knowin' he was searching the depths of my cries.


I never knew what he was a thinkin' or how he was a feelin',
Oh what I would've gave to've been able to open his heart.
"Oh, God," I prayed, "I know his heart is in danger,"
"Please allow my friend not to be such a stranger."


This cowboy grew closer to me than no man has.
What was different about him than the rest?
Maybe it was because I saw a lof of me in him,
Wen our hearts were put to the test.


And now he isa leavin' my life,
And knowin' he'll never be back.
And I am proud to say
The time that I spent with him, I have no regrets.


I wonder what he is a feelin' as he rides off, into the sunset.
He's probably thinkin' of his next adventure he's 'bout to endure.
But then, he stops his hoss, and looks back at me,
And I see a single tear running down the side of his face.
And that's when I knew who he truly was.
As the cowboy rode away.


BABIES DON'T KEEP
Author Unknown


Mother, oh Mother,
come shake out your cloth,
empty the dustpan,
poison the moth,
hang out the washing
and butter the bread,
sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house
is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery,
blissfully rocking.
Oh, I've grown shiftless as Little
Boy Blue (lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping's not done
and there's nothing for stew
and out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
but I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
The cleaning and scrubbing
will wait till tomorrow,
for Children grow up,
as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs.
Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep ...


BAPTISM
Geraldine M. Stephey


Come and walk with me awhile,
I heard the Savior say;
I'll lead you out of darkness
And into a glorious day


Come and share my happiness,
Put aside your doubt;
I'll show you wonders never seen,
What life is all about.


Come and take my hand awhile,
And never be afraid;
To come and walk back home with me,
Is the reason you were made.


Come and wash away your fears,
And place your faith in me;
As cleansing waters flow around
You'll find eternity.


BROTHER LURCH


This is a funny little version Dr. Suess' Green Eggs and Ham. If you have the book, pull it out and look at the pictures as you read:


I am Lurch.
From the Church


That Brother Lurch!
That Brother Lurch!
I do not like that Brother Lurch!


Do you like the Mormon Church?


I do not like the Mormon Church.
I do not like it Brother Lurch.


Would you read the Book of Mormon
Here or there?


I would not read it
Here or there.
I would not read it
Anywhere.
I do not like the Mormon Church.
I do not like it Brother Lurch.


I'll have the Elders
At my house.
You could come over,
With your spouse.


I will not go
Into your house.
I will not let you
Teach my spouse.
I won't read your book
Here or there.
I will not read it
Anywhere.
I do not like the Mormon Church.
I do not like it Brother Lurch.


We can talk about it
In this box,
With our latest convert,
Brother Fox.


I won't discuss it in a box.
I will not meet with Brother Fox.
You won't indoctrinate my spouse,
So don't invite us to your house,
I won't read your book here or there.
I will not read it anywhere.
I do not like the Mormon Church.
I do not like it Brother Lurch.


I'll come and get you
In my car!
We'll go to church,
It's not too far.


I would not,
Could not
In your car.


You may like it.
You may see,
We'll talk about Joseph Smith
Or genealogy.


I could not do genealogy,
Not Joseph Smith, Lurch let me be!
Not in a box,
Not with a fox,
Not in your house,
Not with my spouse,
I won't read your book here or there,
I will not read it anywhere.
I do not like the Mormon Church.
I do not like it Brother Lurch.


A train! A train!
A train! A train!
We could go to Utah
In a train!


Not in a train! Not genealogy!
Not in your car! Lurch let me be!
I won't discuss it in a box.
I will not meet your Brother Fox.
You will not get me or my spouse.
To set one foot inside your house.
I won't read your book here or there.
I will not read it anywhere.
I do not like the Mormon Church.
I do not like it Brother Lurch.


Say!
In the dark?
We can teach you stories
About Christ or Noah's Ark!


I would not, could not,
In the dark.
You'll have to give up
Your champagne.


There's nothing wrong with my champagne,
I'll need some when I get off this train.
Not Joseph Smith. Not genealogy.
I do not like them, Lurch, you see.
Not in your house, not in a box,
Not with my spouse, or Brother Fox.
I will not read your book here or there.
I will not read it anywhere.
I do not like it
Brother Lurch.
I do not like the
Mormon Church!


Maybe you think
Mormons are weird.
Were you told we have
Horns and a beard?
Mormons have parties
With snacks and Root-beer.
You shouldn't believe
Everything that you hear.


You know, I kind of like Root-beer.
And parties are not all that queer.
I think I'll give up my champagne,
I hear that stuff can melt your brain.
But no more cigarettes or tea?
I cannot do that! Can you see?
I won't discuss it in a box.
I will not meet with Brother Fox.
I will not come into your house,
And keep your distance from my spouse.
I won't read your book here or there!
I will not read it anywhere!
I do not like it Brother Lurch.


You do not like it,
So you say.
Try it! Try it!
And you may!
Try it and you may I say!


Say!
I like the Mormon Church!
I do! I like Brother Lurch!
And I'll invite my friends to hear,
And teach them all to love Root-beer.
I'll throw away all my champagne,
And head for Utah on a train.
I'll do my genealogy,
It is so fun, so fun, you see!


We'll go discuss it in a box.
I'd like to meet your Brother Fox.
And you can take me to your house,
And have the Elders teach my spouse.
I'll read the scriptures here and there,
And convert my friends everywhere.
I do like the
Mormon Church!!
Please,
Baptize me,
Brother Lurch.


BUILDING A HOUSE


One day I received a letter in the mail. It said that I was to go and build a house. The payment was to be far more than I had ever earned. Part of me was excited for the job; it was a chance to prove my talents. Another part of me was overwhelmed and afraid. In the end I took the offer, even though I was unqualified.

When I reached the construction site, I met an old hand that showed me how to pour the foundation and how to raise the walls. We worked all day under the scorching sun, day after day. We worked in the freezing wind and the pouring rain as well. Many times the walls and columns I put up fell down. Many times I felt like giving up.

One day I heard a voice tell me "Give up, you don't know what you're doing. Give up, you're wasting your time." Then another voice said "Keep working, keep trying."

Two years passed and I finished the house. I was disappointed. Some of my walls were not straight, some parts of the house were higher than others, and not all the roofs were equal. Even though I followed the plan, the house came out a disaster.

It was then my employer, the Lord, appeared. I went cold. He couldn't see my failure. He couldn't see that I ruined his house. The Lord entered his house and I followed. He went into the foyer and ascended the main staircase that was slightly crooked. I followed him in shame. He finished his tour faster than I could believe. I turned to the Lord to apologize.

"Lord, forgive me for ruining your house."

"My good and faithful servant you did not ruin the house. Look."

I looked and for the first time I saw the mansion that I had built with its columns and balconies, its large windows and towers, its marble floors and golden chandeliers.

"You did not fail. Everything was part of my plan. The rounded towers, the curving staircase, and the terraced roof. They appeared to be wrong up close, but they were all pat of the greater whole. You did everything you were supposed to do. You succeeded in your calling. This house is not for me. You built your own reward."


BY THE SHEPHERD YOU ARE LED
Jordan D. Jones


As we travel through this journey of mortal life,
We travel and learn and suffer through trial and strife.
Shall we follow the teachings of our Master on High,
Or follow the world, to this we must say nigh.
The road to follow is in the Master's way,
From His great path, we never should stray.


Even though we travel the Great Shepherd's pathway bright,
At times the path is clouded and day seems as it were night.
Has the Savior left us or have we gone astray,
No, the Lord is near, forever with us he will stay.
Why then shall we face these trials and torments alone,
Father has not forgotten us; he is preparing us to return Home.


His love for us is great and true indeed,
We must nourish our faith, as if it were a mustard seed.
Seek him daily and believe on Him too,
Believe the promises He has made with you.
He is great, all knowing, wise and kind,
He will hold you near, body, spirit and mind.
The Lord is on our side; he is fighting our royal fight,
Fear not, have faith and trust and he'll come to you by night.


He weeps with you, feels your pains and sorrows too,
"My child," He says, "I'm here and I will comfort you."
"I have promised," he reassures, "That, you I will not leave,"
"My child, my love for you is great, I pray that you believe."
He cries with you each day and night and mourns your loses too.
"My child," He whispers, "take my hand and I will guide you though."


He has a great love and faith in all that He knows we strive to do,
In our moments of weakness and doubt He whispers, "My child, I'm here for you."
"Have faith on me and in my word," to you the Savior said,
"Fear not and trust in me for by the Shepherd you are led."


"I know your burden is heavy and you strain with all your might,"
"Please," he pleads, "Let me carry all your troubles for my burden is light."
He longs for you to take his hand and trust in his good ways,
His love is strong, our faith is firm; Believe Him always!


BECOMING A CELESTIAL WARD
"Try a Little Harder to Do a Little Better"


SPIRITUAL GOALS
(30 Points possible each month)


JANUARY -- TITHES AND OFFERINGS


Pay a full and honest tithing. 15 pts.

Help the poor and needy by fasting and giving a generous fast offering. 15 pts.

Donate to the Perpetual Education Fund, the Church Humanitarian Fund, Missionary Fund, or another worthy cause 15 pts.


FEBRUARY -- SHARE THE GOSPEL


Have a gospel conversation with someone that is not a member of our church. 5 pts.

Give a pass along card to someone that is not a member of our church 5 pts.

Share your testimony with someone that is not a member of our church 10 pts.

Give a Book of Mormon to someone. 10 pts.

Invite someone to a church activity. 10 pts.

Invite someone to listen to the missionary discussions. 30 pts.


MARCH -- TEMPLE SERVICE


Attend the temple at least once this month. 30 pts.

Take steps necessary and work towards receiving a temple recommend. 30 pts.


APRIL -- HOME TEACHING AND VISITING TEACHING


Visit each family/sister on your route. 5 pt. each

Have 100% HT/VT. 30 pts.

Go the extra mile to help a family / person on HT/VT route. 5 pts.


MAY -- PERSONAL/FAMILY PRAYER


Have personal/family daily prayer morning and evening 1 pt. each day Seek and follow guidance of the spirit 5 pts.

Express prayers of gratitude only 1 pt. each


JUNE -- SCRIPTURE READING/STUDY


Daily read and/or study the scriptures individually and/or with family 1 pt. each

Read a conference address from the Ensign 1 pt. each


JULY -- ENTERTAINMENT/MEDIA


Choose uplifting entertainment by listening to, reading, and watching uplifting music, television, videos, books, computer/video games, internet sites and magazines every day. 1 pt. each day


AUGUST -- EXAMPLE OF CHRIST IN THOUGHT, DRESS, SPEECH, AND ACTION


Refrain from swearing, gossiping, judging and criticizing others. 1 pt. each day

Be more positive and use language that uplifts and encourages others. 1 pt. each day


SEPTEMBER -- KINDNESS/SERVICE


Participate in daily acts of kindness and / or service at home, towards church members, at work, and/or in neighborhood. 1 pt. each day

Write a note or express love and / or appreciation to someone. 1 pt. each

Participate in a service project. 10 pt.


OCTOBER -- KEEP THE SABBATH DAY HOLY


Attend Sunday Church Meetings -- Sacrament, Sunday School, Priesthood, Relief Society 2 pt. each mtg.

Participate in Spiritually uplifting activities, HT / VT, firesides, choir, Family Home Evening, visiting the sick, choir, LDS videos, lesson preparation, etc. 2 pt each act.


NOVEMBER -- FAMILY HISTORY/GENEALOGY


Write in Journal daily 1 pt each

Record a spiritual experience, family story, or portion of personal/family history 5 pt. each

Date, write, and organize family photos or scrap books 10 pts.

Prepare a family name to go to the temple 10 pts.

Fill out a family group or pedigree sheet 10 pts.


DECEMBER -- PERFECTION


Repent or change something in my life that is keeping me from becoming a Celestial Person 30 pts.


300 - 360 points Highest Degree of Celestial Glory

200 - 300 points Middle Degree of Celestial Glory

200 - 100 points Lower Degree of Celestial Glory


CHARACTER --- WATCH


Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.


DANIEL


It was an unusually cold day for the month of May. Spring had arrived and everything was alive with color. But a cold front from the North had brought winter's chill back to Indiana. I sat with two friends in the picture window of a quaint restaurant just off the corner of the town square. The food and the company were both especially good that day.

As we talked, my attention was drawn outside, across the street. There, walking into town, was a man who appeared to be carrying all his worldly goods on his back. He was carrying, a well-worn sign that read, "I will work for food." My heart sank. I brought him to the attention of my friends and noticed that others around us had stopped eating to focus on him. Heads moved in a mixture of sadness and disbelief. We continued with our meal, but his image lingered in my mind. We finished our meal and went our separate ways.

I had errands to do and quickly set out to accomplish them. I glanced toward the town square, looking somewhat halfheartedly for the strange visitor. I was fearful, knowing that seeing him again would call some response. I drove through town and saw nothing of him. I made some purchases at a store and got back in my car. Deep within me, the Spirit of God kept speaking to me: "Don't go back to the office until you've at least driven once more around the square." And so, with some hesitancy, I headed back into town. As I turned the square's third corner. I saw him. He was standing on the steps of the storefront church, going through his sack. I stopped and looked, feeling both compelled to speak to him, yet wanting to drive on. The empty parking space on the corner seemed to be a sign from God: an invitation to park. I pulled in, got out and approached the town's newest visitor.

"Looking for the pastor?" I asked.

"Not really," he replied, "just resting."

"Have you eaten today?"

"Oh, I ate something early this morning."

"Would you like to have lunch with me?"

"Do you have some work I could do for you?"

"No work," I replied. "I commute here to work from the city, but I would like to take you to lunch."

"Sure," he replied with a smile.

As he began to gather his things. I asked some surface questions. "Where you headed?"

"St. Louis."

"Where you from?"

"Oh, all over; mostly Florida."

"How long you been walking?"

"Fourteen years," came the reply.

I knew I had met someone unusual. We sat across from each other in the same restaurant I had left earlier. His face was weathered slightly beyond his 38 years. His eyes were dark yet clear, and he spoke with an eloquence and articulation that was startling. He removed his jacket to reveal a bright red T-shirt that said, "Jesus is The Never Ending Story."

Then Daniel's story began to unfold. He had seen rough times early in life.

He'd made some wrong choices and reaped the consequences. Fourteen years earlier, while backpacking across the country, he had stopped on the beach in Daytona. He tried to hire on with some men who were putting up a large tent and some equipment. A concert, he thought.

He was hired, but the tent would not house a concert but revival services, and in those services he saw life more clearly. He gave his life over to God. "Nothing's been the same since," he said, "I felt the Lord telling me to keep walking, and so I did, some 14 years now."

"Ever think of stopping?" I asked.

"Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the best of me. But God has given me this calling. I give out Bibles. That's what's in my sack. I work to buy food and Bibles, and I give them out when His Spirit leads."

I sat amazed. My homeless friend was not homeless. He was on a mission and lived this way by choice. The question burned inside for a moment and then I asked: "What's it like?"

"What? To walk into a town carrying all your things on your back and to show your sign? Oh, it was humiliating at first. People would stare and make comments. Once someone tossed a piece of half-eaten bread and made a gesture that certainly didn't make me feel welcome. But then it became humbling to realize that God was using me to touch lives and change people's concepts of other folks like me."

My concept was changing, too. We finished our dessert and gathered his things. Just outside the door, he paused. He turned to me and said, "Come ye blessed of my Father and inherit the kingdom I've prepared for you. For when I was hungry you gave me food, and when I was thirsty you gave me drink, a stranger and you took me in."

I felt as if we were on holy ground. "Could you use another Bible?" I asked.

He said he preferred a certain translation. It traveled well and was not too heavy. It was also his personal favorite. "I've read through it 14 times," he said.

"I'm not sure we've got one of those, but let's stop by our church and see."

I was able to find my new friend a Bible that would do well, and he seemed very grateful.

"Where you headed from here?"

"Well, I found this little map on the back of this amusement park coupon."

"Are you hoping to hire on there for a while?"

"No, I just figure I should go there. I figure someone under that star right there needs a Bible, so that's where I'm going next."

He smiled, and the warmth of his spirit radiated the sincerity of his mission. I drove him back to the town square where we'd met two hours earlier, and as we drove, it started raining. We parked and unloaded his things. "Would you sign my autograph book?" he asked. "I like to keep messages from folks I meet."

I wrote in his little book that his commitment to his calling had touched my life. I encouraged him to stay strong. And I left him with a verse of scripture from Jeremiah, "I know the plans I have for you," declared the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a future and a hope."

"Thanks, man," he said. "I know we just met and we're really just strangers, but I love you."

"I know," I said, "I love you, too."

"The Lord is good."

"Yes, He is. How long has it been since someone hugged you?" I asked.

"A long time," he replied.

And so on the busy street corner in the drizzling rain, my new friend and I embraced, and I felt deep inside that I had been changed.

He put his things on his back, smiled his winning smile and said, "See you in the New Jerusalem."

"I'll be there!" was my reply.

He began his journey again. He headed away with his sign dangling, his bed roll and pack of Bibles. He stopped, turned and said, "When you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?"

"You bet," I shouted back, "God bless."

"God bless."

And that was the last I saw of him. Late that evening as I left my office, the wind blew strong. The cold front had settled hard upon the town. I bundled up and hurried to my car. As I sat back and reached for the emergency brake, I saw them ... a pair of well-worn brown work gloves neatly laid over the length of the handle. I picked them up and thought of my new friend and I wondered if his hands would stay warm that night without them. I remembered his words: "If you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?"

Today his gloves lie on my desk in my office. They help me look to the world and its people in a new way, and they help me remember those two hours with my unique friend and to pray for his ministry. "See you in the New Jerusalem," he said. Yes, Daniel, I know I will ...

If this story touched you, forward it to a friend! "I shall pass this way, but once. Therefore, any good that I can do or any kindness that I can show let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again."


DESIDERATA


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.


Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.


Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.


Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.


Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.


You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.


Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.


With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.


Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.


DIARY OF A BIBLE


January: A busy time for me. Most of the family decided to read me through this year. They kept me busy for the first two weeks, but they have forgotten me now.

February: Clean-up time. I was dusted yesterday and put back in my place. My owner did use me for a few minutes last week. He had been in an argument and was looking up some references to prove he was right.

March: Had a busy day first of the month. My owner was elected president of the PTA and used me to prepare for a speech.

April: Grandpa visited us this month. He kept me on his lap for an hour reading 1 Corinthians 13. He seems to think more of me than do some people in my own household.

May: I have a few green stains on my pages. Some spring flowers were pressed in my pages.

June: I look like a scrapbook. They have stuffed me full of newspaper clippings- one of the girls was married.

July: They put me in a suitcase today. I guess we are off on vacation. I wish I could stay home; I know I'll be closed up in this thing for at least two weeks.

August: Still in the suitcase.

September: Back home at last and in my old familiar place. I have a lot of company. Two women's magazine's and four comic books are stacked on top of me. I wish I could be read as much as they are.

October: They read me a little bit today. One of them is sick. Right now I am sitting in the center of the coffee table. I think that the Pastor is coming by for a visit.

November: Back in my old place. Somebody asked today if I were a scrapbook.

December: The family is busy getting ready for the holidays. I guess I'll be covered up under wrapping paper and packages again ... just as I am every Christmas.


DON'T QUIT
John Greenleaf Whittier


When things go wrong, as they sometimes will;
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill;
When the funds are low and the debts are high;
And you want to smile but you have to sigh.
When all is pressing you down a bit --
Rest if you must, but don't you quit
Success is failure turned inside out;
The silver tint on the clouds of doubt;
And you can never tell how close you are;
It may be near when it seems far.
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit --
It's when things go wrong that you must not quit.


DULCE ET DECORUM EST
Wilfred Owen


Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.


Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! -- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime ...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.


If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, --
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.


EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LIFE, I LEARNED FROM NOAH'S ARK


One: Don't miss the boat.

Two: Remember that we are all in the same boat.

Three: Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark.

Four: Stay fit When you're 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.

Five: Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.

Six: Build your future on high ground.

Seven: For safety's sake, travel in pairs.

Eight: Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.

Nine: When you're stressed, float a while.

Ten: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.

Eleven: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting.


FIVE FINGERS OF PRAYER


1. Your thumb is nearest to you. So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember. To pray for our loved ones is, as C.S. Lewis once said, a "sweet duty."

2. The next finger is the pointing finger. Pray for those who teach, instruct and heal. This includes teachers, doctors, and ministers. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keep them in your prayers.

3. The next finger is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for the president, leaders in business and industry, and administrators. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need God's guidance.

4. The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger; as any piano teacher will testify. It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain. They need your prayers day and night. You cannot pray too much for them.

5. And lastly comes our little finger; the smallest finger of all. Which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. As the Bible says, "The least shall be the greatest among you." Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. By the time you have prayed for the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.

Should you find it hard to get to sleep tonight; Just remember the homeless family who has no bed to lie in.

Should you find yourself stuck in traffic; don't despair. There are people in this world for whom driving is an unheard of privilege.

Should you have a bad day at work; Think of the man who has been out of work for the last three months.

Should you despair over a relationship gone bad; Think of the person who has never known what it's like to love and be loved in return.

Should you grieve the passing of another weekend; Think of the woman in dire straits, working twelve hours a day, seven days a week, for $15.00 to feed her family.

Should your car break down, leaving You miles away from assistance, Think of the paraplegic who would love the opportunity to take that walk.

Should you notice a new gray hair in the mirror; Think of the cancer patient in chemo who wishes she had hair to examine.

Should you find yourself at a loss and pondering; what is life all about, what is my purpose? Be thankful, there are those who didn't live long enough to get the opportunity.

Should you find yourself the victim of other people's bitterness, ignorance, smallness or insecurities; Remember, things could be worse. You could be them!!!


Preface: These points of the true church are extracted from my book One Lord, One Faith: Writings of the Early Christian Fathers as Evidences of the Restoration (Horizon Publishers, 1996). I have taken edited, condensed portions from three sections of each chapter in the book, namely, from the "Point," "Selected Bible Passages," and "Suggested Reading" sections. The "Discussion" sections, in which I present scriptural analysis and evidence from ancient writings and from scholarly sources for each point, are not included. The complete text, along with all references, can be found in One Lord, One Faith. Information on ordering the book is presented at the end of this article.


FORTY-ONE POINTS OF THE TRUE CHURCH
Michael T. Griffith


Which church is the true church of Jesus Christ? Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the LDS or Mormon Church) proclaim with soberness that their church is that very church, the true church of Christ restored to the earth, in all its pristine glory and with all its original power and authority.

What follows is a list of 41 points by which the true church of the Savior can be identified. Only the LDS Church contains all 41 points. These points can be found in the Bible, and, as demonstrated in One Lord, One Faith, are supported by the writings of the early Christian fathers.


POINT #1: Three Separate Deities in the Godhead

POINT:

The earliest Christians taught that the Godhead was composed of three separate and distinct personages, God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. The ancient saints viewed each member of the Godhead as a distinct divine being, who was separate from and worked in unison with the other members of the triad.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Matthew 3:16-17: When Jesus is baptized, the Spirit of God descends on him like a dove, and the voice of the Father is heard to say, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

Matthew 12:31-32: Words spoken against Jesus may be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven.

Matthew 18:10: Jesus says that the angels of little children "do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven."

Matthew 26:39-42: Jesus submits to the Father's will.

John 14:26: The Father will send the Holy Ghost in Christ's name.

John 17: Jesus prays to the Father.

2 Corinthians 13:14: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all."

Ephesians 1:3, 17; John 20:17; Matthew 27:46: 2 Corinthians 11:31; Peter 1:3: The Father is the Savior's "God."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1978).

2. Keith Norman, "Ex Nihilo: The Development of the Doctrines of God and Creation in Early Christianity," BYU Studies (Spring 1977), pp. 309-318.

3. B.H. Roberts, The Mormon Doctrine of Deity (Bountiful, Utah: Horizon Publishers, reprint of original 1903 edition).

4. James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, Forty-Second Edition (Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1976), pp. 29-51.

5. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 herein.


POINT #2: Father and Son Have Tangible Bodies

POINT:

The Bible teaches us that the Father and the Son have glorified tangible bodies.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Genesis 1:27: "So God created man in his own image ..."

Genesis 5:1: "... God created man, in the likeness of God made he him."

Exodus 24:9-11: Moses and seventy elders of Israel saw Jehovah standing on a paved work of sapphire.

Matthew 18:10: "... their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven."

John 6:46: The Father has been seen by "he who is from God" (RSV).

Acts 7:55-56: Stephen saw Christ on the right hand of the Father.


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1983), pp. 247-252, 323-324.

3. David Paulsen, "Early Christian Belief in a Corporeal Deity: Origen and Augustine as Reluctant Witnesses," Harvard Theological Review (volume 83, number 2, 1990), pp. 105-116.

4. David Paulsen, "Must God Be Incorporeal?", Faith and Philosophy: Journal of the Society of Christian Philosophers (volume 6, number 1, January 1989), pp. 76-87.

5. B.H. Roberts, The Mormon Doctrine of Deity (Bountiful, Utah: Horizon Publishers, reprint of original 1903 edition).

6. James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, Forty-Second Edition (Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1976), pp. 29-51.


POINT #3: Father and Son Are "One" in Purpose, Not in Essence

POINT:

The "oneness" of the Father and the Son consists of their being in such perfect agreement that to see and work with one is to see and work with the other. This is the true nature of their unity. The New Testament teaching that Jesus and his Father are "one" does not support the idea that they are one and the same deity of one undivided substance.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

John 10:30: "I and my Father are one."

John 14:9: Jesus says, "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1983), pp. 99, 202-216, 248-249, 251-252, 319-324.

2. B.H. Roberts, The Mormon Doctrine of Deity (Bountiful, Utah: Horizon Publishers, reprint of original 1903 edition).

3. James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, Forty-Second Edition (Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1976), pp. 29-51.


POINT #4: Jesus is Subordinate to the Father

POINT:

The New Testament teaches that Jesus is subordinate to his Heavenly Father, and that the Father and the Son are separate and distinct individuals. Heavenly Father has given the Savior power equal to his own in almost every respect. The Father is the supreme member of the Godhead.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Matthew 3:17; 17:5; Mark 1:10-11: The Father speaks of his Son: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

Matthew 20:23: Jesus cannot designate who will sit on his right hand and who will not. This is for the Father alone to decide.

Matthew 24:36: Jesus does not know the exact time of the second coming. Only the Father possesses this information.

Matthew 28:18: After the resurrection, Jesus declares that "all power" has been "given" to him.

John 5:19: The Son can do nothing of himself. He can do only what he sees the Father do.

John 8:28: Jesus says, "I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things."

John 8:29: Jesus always does those things which please the Father.

John 14:28: Jesus says, "My Father is greater than I."

1 Corinthians 11:3: The head of Christ is God.

Philippians 2:5-11: In his pre-mortal life, Jesus did not think it was robbery to be equal with God. The Father has highly exalted Christ and has bestowed on him "the name which is above every name" (RSV).

Ephesians 1:3, 17; John 20:17; Matthew 27:46: 2 Corinthians 11:31; 1 Peter 1:3: The Father is the Savior's "God."

Colossians 1:19: It pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell in Christ.

1 John 2:1: Christ is our advocate with the Father.


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1983), pp. 99, 202-216, 248-249, 251-252, 319-324.

2. B.H. Roberts, The Mormon Doctrine of Deity (Bountiful, Utah: Horizon Publishers, reprint of original 1903 edition).

3. James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, Forty-Second Edition (Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1976), pp. 29-51.

4. Chapters 9 and 10 herein.


POINT #5: Early Church Fathers Affirm Christ's Subordination

POINT:

Like the New Testament, the writings of the early church fathers clearly affirm that Jesus is subordinate to Heavenly Father and that they are two separate and distinct beings.


SUGGESTED READING:

1. James Barker, Apostasy from the Divine Church (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, Inc., 1984, reprint of 1960 edition), pp. 231-271.

2. Keith Norman, "Ex Nihilo: The Development of the Doctrines of God and Creation in Early Christianity," BYU Studies (Spring 1977), pp. 309-318.

3. Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen Ricks, Offenders for a Word: How Anti-Mormons Play Word Games to Attack the Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City, Utah: Aspen Books, 1992), pp. 62-69, 80-89.


POINT #6: Jesus is the Savior of the World

POINT:

The New Testament teaches us that Jesus is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. The ancient saints proclaimed this truth without reservation. The LDS Church reaffirms that Jesus is our Savior. Without his atoning sacrifice, salvation would not be possible. Were it not for his painful death and glorious resurrection, the dead would forever remain in their graves.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Matthew 1:21: Jesus shall save his people from their sins.

John 3:16-17: God sent his Son to save the world.

Acts 13:23: God raised unto Israel a Savior, Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:21: Jesus, who was sinless, has been made to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Ephesians 5:2: Christ gave himself as an offering and a sacrifice to God on our behalf.

Philippians 3:20: We look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 5:8-9: Though Jesus was a Son, being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey him.

Hebrews 10:10-12: We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ.

1 John 2:1-2: Jesus is the propitiation for our sins, and for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 4:14: The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.


SUGGESTED READING:

1. James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, Thirty-Fourth Edition (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1962).


POINT #7: Jesus is Jehovah

POINT:

The Bible teaches us that Jesus is Jehovah (Yahweh), the God of the Old Testament. If Jesus is Yahweh, then Heavenly Father must be Elohim.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Jesus and Jehovah are the Same Person

The fact that Jesus is Jehovah can be seen by comparing what the Old Testament says about Jehovah with what the New Testament says about Christ. The two testaments are clearly talking about one and the same person:


Old Testament (OT): Jehovah

New Testament (NT): Christ

1. OT: Jehovah told Moses to tell the children of Israel, "I AM hath sent me unto you." (Exodus 3:14)

1. NT: In referring to himself and his own preexistence, Jesus says, "Before Abraham was, I am." (John 8:58)

2. OT: Yahweh accompanied the children of Israel in their exodus from Egypt. (Deuteronomy 1:32-33)

2. NT: Christ accompanied the children of Israel in their exodus from Egypt. (1 Corinthians 10:1-4)

3. OT: Yahweh, the LORD, is the Rock of the children of Israel. (Deuteronomy 1:32-33; 32:3-4)

3. NT: Paul says Christ was the Rock that guided the children of Israel. (1 Corinthians 10:1-4)*

4. OT: Jehovah will "judge the world with righteousness." (Psalm 96:13)

4. NT: All judgment has been committed to the Son. (John 5:22-23)

5. OT: Jehovah is the Savior. (Isaiah 43:3, 11; Hosea 13:4)

5. NT: Jesus is the Savior. (Luke 2:11; Philippians 3:20; 1 John 4:14)

6. OT: Jehovah is the Redeemer. (Isaiah 48:17)

6. NT: Redemption is in Jesus. (Romans 3:24)

7. OT: Yahweh is the first and the last. (Isaiah 44:6)

7. NT: Christ is the first and the last. (Revelation 1:17)

8. OT: Every knee will bow and every tongue will swear to Yahweh. (Isaiah 45:23)

8. NT: Paul cites Isaiah 45:23 and identifies Christ as the one to whom all will bow and confess. (Romans 14:10-11)

9. OT: There is no Savior beside Yahweh. (Hosea 13:4)

9. NT: Christ is the only name by which we can be saved. (Acts 4:10-12)

10. OT: They will look upon Jehovah whom they have pierced. Zechariah 12:10)

10. NT: Christ was pierced while hanging on the cross. (John 19:34-37)


* Note: The identification of Christ as the Hebrews' Rock can also be found in the writings of the early church fathers (Roberts and Donaldson 1:84, 235; 4:432; 5:360; Sparks 277).

Heavenly Father is Christ's "God"

Matthew 27:46: "... Jesus cried with a loud voice ... My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

John 20:17: Jesus says to Mary, "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God."

2 Corinthians 11:31: "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not."

Ephesians 1:3: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ..."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Otto Eissfeldt, "El and Yahweh," Journal of Semitic Studies, volume 1 (1956), pp. 25-37.

2. Eugene Seaich, Ancient Texts and Mormonism (Sandy, Utah: Mormon Miscellaneous, 1983), pp. 2-22.

3. Eugene Seaich, Mormonism, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Nag Hammadi Texts (Murray, Utah: Sounds of Zion Publishing, 1980), pp. 21-26.


POINT #8: Jesus is the Father's "Firstborn"

POINT:

In the New Testament the Savior is called the "firstborn." This term refers to the fact Jesus was the firstborn of our Heavenly Father in a pre-mortal spirit existence.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Numbers 16:22: "God is the God "of the spirits of all flesh."

Colossians 1:15: Christ is "the firstborn of every creature."

Hebrews 1:6: God brought "the first begotten [i.e., Christ] into the world" and said, "Let all the angels worship him."

Hebrews 3:1-2: "Therefore, holy brothers, sharers in the heavenly calling, direct your attention to Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to the one who made him, just as was also Moses in his house" (AB).

Hebrews 12:9: God is "the Father of our spirits" (NIV).

Hebrews 12:23: "... the general assembly and church of the firstborn ..."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen Ricks, Offenders for a Word: How Anti-Mormons Play Word Games to Attack the Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City, Utah: Aspen Books, 1992), pp. 81-86, 149-151.


POINT #9: Jesus Created the World Under the Father's Direction

POINT:

The Savior's ancient church taught the biblical truth that Jesus created this world (and the other planets in our solar system) under the Father's direction.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

2 Kings 19:15: Yahweh (Christ) made "heaven and earth."

Isaiah 42:5: "... God the LORD ... created the heavens and stretched them out ... [and] stretched forth the earth ..."

Isaiah 44:24: "Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things ..."

Ephesians 3:9: God "created all things by Jesus Christ."

Hebrews 1:1-2: God "made the worlds" by Jesus.


SUGGESTED READING:

1. James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, Thirty-Fourth Edition (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1962), pp. 32-33.


POINT #10: World Was Created from Preexistent Matter, Not EX NIHILO

POINT:

The ancient Hebrews and the earliest Christians understood that the world was created from preexistent matter, and not "out of nothing" (ex nihilo). There are several verses in the Bible which teach or strongly imply creation from already existing material.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Genesis 1:1-2: "When God set about to create heaven and earth -- the world being then a formless waste with darkness over the seas ..." (AB).

2 Peter 3:5: "In taking this view they [scoffers] lose sight of the fact that there were heavens and earth long ago, created by God's word out of water and with water" (NEB).


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Keith Norman, "Ex Nihilo: The Development of the Doctrines of God and Creation in Early Christianity," BYU Studies (Spring 1977), pp. 291-309.

2. Daniel Peterson, "Does the Qur'an Teach Creation Ex Nihilo?", in John Lundquist and Stephen D. Ricks, editors, By Study and Also By Faith, volume 1 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company and F.A.R.M.S., 1990), pp. 584-591. In addition to discussing creation teaching in the Quran, Peterson also examines creation doctrine in ancient Judaism and early Christianity, showing that they did not teach creation out of nothing.

3. Luis Stadelmann, The Hebrew Conception of the World (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1970).


POINT #11: Man's Pre-Mortal Existence

POINT:

The Bible and ancient Jewish and Christian writings contain many references to the fact that we lived with our Heavenly Father as his spirit sons and daughters in a pre-mortal existence.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Ecclesiastes 12:7: "And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it" (RSV).

Jeremiah 1:5: "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations" (RSV).

John 9:2: "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (RSV) The disciples asked the Savior this question about a blind man they had just seen.

Ephesians 1:3-4: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has bestowed on us in Christ every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. In Christ he chose us before the world was founded" (NEB).


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1983), pp. 262-266, 275-276, 307 n 43, 346-350.

2. James L. Barker, Apostasy from the Divine Church (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, Inc., 1984, reprint of 1960 edition), pp. 44-49.

3. R.G. Hamerton-Kelly, Pre-Existence, Wisdom, and the Son of Man (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cambridge University Press, 1973).

4. Joseph Fielding McConkie, "Premortal Existence, Foreordinations, and Heavenly Councils," in C. Wilfred Griggs, editor, Apocryphal Writings and the Latter-day Saints (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, Religious Studies Center, 1986), pp. 173-198.

5. Hugh Nibley, "Treasures in the Heavens," in Truman Madsen, editor, Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, Religious Studies Center, 1978), pp. 49-84.


POINT #12: Man Can Attain Godhood

POINT:

One of the most important doctrines of the early Christian church was that we have the potential to become like our Heavenly Father, that is, to attain Godhood.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Matthew 5:48: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

Romans 8:16-17: "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."

2 Corinthians 3:18: "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."

2 Peter 1:4: "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."

1 John 3:2: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."

Hebrews 12:22-23: In the heavenly Jerusalem there are "the spirits of just men made perfect."

Revelation 2:26-27: "To him who is victorious, to him who perseveres in doing my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations -- that same authority which I received from my Father -- and [quoting Psalm 2:9] he shall rule them with an iron rod, smashing them to bits like earthenware" (NEB).

Revelation 3:21: "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Phillip Barlow, "Unorthodox Orthodoxy: The Idea of Deification in Christian History," Sunstone (September/October 1983), pp. 13-18.

2. Keith Norman, "Divinization: The Forgotten Teaching of Early Christianity," Sunstone (Winter 1975), pp. 15-19.

3. Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen Ricks, Offenders for a Word: How Anti-Mormons Play Word Games to Attack the Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City, Utah: Aspen Books, 1992), pp. 75-81.


POINT #13: The Apostasy of the Ancient Church

POINT:

As the prophets had foretold, the Savior's ancient church and gospel were eventually taken from the earth because of wickedness and apostasy. The authority to act in the name of God was withdrawn from among men. By no later than the fifth century A.D., the Lord's true church no longer existed on the earth. This falling away had been predicted in the scriptures.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

The Apostasy Foretold

Matthew 21:43: Jesus said, "Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation, bringing forth the fruits thereof."

"Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit" (NAB).

Acts 20:29-30: "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them."

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3: "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [the second coming] shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition."

2 Timothy 4:2-4: "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."

2 Peter 2:1-2: "But there were false prophets also among the people [of ancient Israel], even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of."

Revelation 13:7: "And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations."


The Apostasy in Progress Toward End of New Testament Era

1 Corinthians 1:11: Contentions among the saints.

1 Corinthians 3:3: Envying, strife, and divisions among the saints.

Galatians 1:6-9: Paul tells the Galatians, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed unto another gospel."

Galatians 3:1: Paul wonders why the Galatians won't "obey the truth."

1 Timothy 1:6: Some have already turned to "vain jangling."

2 Timothy 1:15: Paul laments the fact that "all they which are in Asia be turned away from me."

1 John 2:18: "... even now there are many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time."

1 John 4:1: "... many false prophets are gone out into the world."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1983), pp. 367-378.

2. James L. Barker, Apostasy from the Divine Church (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, Inc., 1984, reprint of 1960 edition).

3. James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, Forty-Second Edition (Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1976), pp. 199-204.


POINT #14: The True Church and Gospel Restored

POINT:

The New Testament authors knew that the Lord's true church and gospel would be restored to the earth prior to the Savior's second coming.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Isaiah 2:2: In the last days, the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains.

Daniel 2:44: "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed ..."

Acts 3:19-21: "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began."

Ephesians 1:10: "That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1983), pp. 266-271.

2. Joseph Fielding McConkie, His Name Shall Be Joseph: Ancient Prophecies of the Latter-day Seer (Salt Lake City, Utah: Hawkes Publishing, 1980).

3. LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, Revised and Enlarged Edition (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1976), pp. 33-40, 221-235.


POINT #15: Only One True Church

POINT:

The ancient saints taught that there was only one true church of Jesus Christ. In fact, several early Christian writers even declared that outside the true church there was no salvation.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Acts 2:47: "And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved" (NKJV).

1 Corinthians 1:13: "Is Christ divided?"

Ephesians 4:4: "One Lord, one faith, one baptism."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. James Barker, Apostasy from the Divine Church (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, Inc., 1984, reprint of 1960 edition), pp. 3-6, 72-114.


POINT #16: The Need for Prophets

POINT:

The Bible teaches us that God has always worked through prophets to communicate knowledge and instruction to his people.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Numbers 11:29: "Moses said, "Would that all the LORD's people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them."

Deuteronomy 18:15: The LORD will raise up a prophet.

Judges 6:8: The LORD sent a prophet to the children of Israel.

Jeremiah 23:18-22: In condemning some false prophets, Jeremiah says, "But who [among the false prophets] has stood in Yahweh's council and seen and heard his word ...? I sent not these prophets, yet they ran. I spoke not to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, they'd proclaim my words to my people ..." (AB)

"For who among them [the false seers] has stood in the council of the LORD to perceive and to hear his word ...? I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people ..." (RSV)

Amos 3:7: "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants, the prophets."

"Surely the Lord God does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets" (RSV).

Matthew 10:40-41: Jesus said, "He that receiveth you [the disciples] receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward."

Acts 3:22-23: Peter: "For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people."

Ephesians 2:19-20: The church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone.

Ephesians 4:11-14: "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Joseph Fielding McConkie, "Premortal Existence, Foreordinations, and Heavenly Councils," in C. Wilfred Griggs, editor, Apocryphal Writings and the Latter-day Saints (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, Religious Studies Center, 1986), pp. 185-186.

2. LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, Revised and Enlarged Edition (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1976), pp. 90-91, 136-140.


POINT #17: The Necessity of Priesthood Authority

POINT:

The early Christians believed in the necessity of priesthood authority. They taught that one could not simply take it upon himself to administer to the saints. Rather, one had to be called and ordained to the priesthood by the laying on of hands by those in the church who had the authority to do so. To the ancient saints, being able to trace their line of priesthood authority back to the apostles, and through them to the Savior himself, was very important. Similarly, the ancient Hebrews also believed in the absolute necessity of proper priesthood authority.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Exodus 18:13-26: The people came unto Moses to inquire of God. Moses taught the Israelites about the laws of God.

Exodus 28:41: The priests were anointed and consecrated.

Numbers 27:18-23: Moses presented Joshua to the congregation. Moses then laid his hands on Joshua and gave him a charge as the Lord had commanded.

Deuteronomy 34:9: Joshua was full of the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands upon him.

2 Chronicles 26:18: Uzziah is told that it is not his place to burn incense unto the Lord. This duty belonged to the priests.

Haggai 1:12: The people obeyed the voice of Haggai the prophet because the Lord had sent him.

Matthew 16:19: The Savior gave the keys of the kingdom to Peter, so that whatever Peter bound or loosed on earth was also bound or loosed in heaven.

Mark 3:14-15: "And he [Jesus] ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils."

Luke 9:1-2: "Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick."

Luke 10:1: "After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come."

John 15:16: Jesus said to the disciples, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you."

Acts 6:5-6: "And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them."

Acts 13:1-4: "Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus."

1 Timothy 4:14: "Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery [an assembly of elders]."

Titus 1:5: "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee."

Hebrews 5:1-4: "For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. James Barker, Apostasy from the Divine Church (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, Inc., 1984, reprint of 1960 edition), pp. 88-114.

2. James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, Forty-Second Edition (Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1976), pp. 179-189.


POINT #18: Two Orders of the Priesthood

POINT:

There were two orders of the priesthood in the ancient Christian church. There was the higher priesthood, which was the Melchizedek Priesthood, and there was the lesser priesthood, which was the Aaronic Priesthood.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Genesis 14:18: Melchizedek was the priest of the most high God.

Leviticus 3: Some of the duties of the Aaronic priesthood in Old Testament times.

Numbers 25:10-13; Exodus 40:15: The Aaronic priesthood is an "everlasting" priesthood.

Nehemiah 13:29: The priesthood and the covenant of the priesthood.

Luke 9:1-2: "Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick."

Luke 10:1: "After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come."

John 15:16: Jesus said to the disciples, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you."

Hebrews 3:1: "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus."

Hebrews 5:4: "And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron."

Hebrews 5:5-6: "So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."

Hebrews 5:10: "And being made perfect, he [Jesus] became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1983), pp. 209-215.

2. S. Kent Brown, "The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Mormon Perspective," BYU Studies (Winter 1983), pp. 56-57.

3. James Carver, "Answering An Ex-Mormon Critic," Mormon Miscellaneous Response Series (Sandy, Utah: Mormon Miscellaneous, 1983), pp. 15-16.


POINT #19: Church Organization and Offices

POINT:

The New Testament makes it clear that the true church of Jesus Christ must have the same organization and officers that existed in the Savior's church, including apostles, prophets, elders, bishops, seventies, and deacons.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Exodus 24:9-11: Seventy elders of Israel.

Deuteronomy 27:1: The elders of Israel.

Amos 3:7: God reveals his secrets to his servants the prophets.

Luke 6:13: Jesus chose twelve men, whom he called apostles.

Acts 13:1-3: Prophets and teachers in the church.

Acts 14:21-23: Elders ordained in every church.

Acts 15:4-6: The apostles and elders came together.

Ephesians 2:19-20: "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone."

Ephesians 4:11-14: Apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, etc., etc.

Philippians 1:1: Bishops and deacons.

1 Timothy 3:1: The office of a bishop.

1 Timothy 5:17: The ruling elders.

Titus 1:5: Elders to be ordained in every city.

Titus 1:7: A bishop must be blameless.

1 Peter 5:1-3: Elders.


SUGGESTED READING:

1. LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, Revised and Enlarged Edition (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1976), pp. 129-160.

2. James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, Forty-Second Edition (Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1976), pp. 198-216.


POINT #20: A Lay Clergy

POINT:

In the Savior's ancient church, local priesthood leaders served without pay. Bishops, elders, and other local church officials were not salaried.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Matthew 10:8: Jesus tells his disciples, "Freely have ye received, freely give."

Acts 20:33-34: Paul says, "I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel."

1 Corinthians 9:18: Paul preached the gospel "without charge."

1 Peter 5:1-3: The elders are not to minister "for filthy lucre."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Daryl Chase, Christianity Through the Centuries (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1947), p. 31.

2. Bo Reicke, The Epistles of James, Peter, and Jude, The Anchor Bible (Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1964), p. 129.


POINT #21: Members Called Saints

POINT:

The members of the Lord's true church were called "saints."


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Acts 9:13: The saints at Jerusalem.

Romans 1:7: The members of the church in Rome were "called to be saints."

Romans 15:26-27: Contributions for "the poor saints" at Jerusalem.

Ephesians 4:11-14: Church leaders are called "for the perfecting of the saints."

Philippians 1:1: A salutation "to all saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philipi ..."

Colossians 1:2: A salutation "to the saints."

Revelation 13:10: "The patience and faith of the saints."


POINT #22: Missionary Work Vital

POINT:

The early Christian church believed it was imperative to spread the gospel. The New Testament instructs members of the church to be zealous in doing missionary work.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Matthew 4:19: "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men."

Matthew 28:19: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

Mark 16:15: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."

1 Corinthians 9:16: Paul said, "woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel."

2 Timothy 4:2: "Preach the word ..."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, Revised and Enlarged Edition (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1976), pp. 240-252.


POINT #23: Prophets and Apostles

POINT:

The New Testament church had prophets and apostles who received current revelation for the guidance and welfare of the saints and for the benefit of all mankind.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Proverbs 29:18: "Where there is no vision, the people perish ..."

Amos 3:7: God will do nothing without revealing his secrets to his servants the prophets.

John 10:4: The sheep follow Jesus because they know his voice.

John 16:13: The Spirit will show us things to come.

Acts 11:12: Peter was prompted by the Spirit to go with a group of people.

Acts 15:28: The apostles were guided by the Holy Ghost "to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things."

Acts 16:6: Paul and his companions were instructed by the Holy Ghost not to preach the gospel in the province of Asia.

1 Corinthians 14:6: "Now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how shall I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or prophecy or teaching?" (RSV)

Ephesians 1:17-18: Paul prays that the saints will be blessed with a spirit of "wisdom and of revelation."

Revelation 19:10: The testimony of Jesus "is the spirit of prophecy."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1983), pp. 51-53, 66-67, 327-328, 412.

2. Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert Millet, Sustaining and Defending the Faith (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, Inc., 1985), pp. 33-38.


POINT #24: Church Can Clarify or Supersede Previous Scripture

POINT:

The Savior's ancient church believed it had the right to supersede, revise, add to, or provide additional insight about existing scripture. The Lord's prophets have always possessed this prerogative.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Jeremiah 36:28-32: Baruch wrote all the words Jehoiakim had burned, "and many similar words were added to them" (RSV).

Acts 15: The apostles overrule an important provision of the Law of Moses.


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Paul Achtemeier, The Inspiration of Scripture (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Westminster Press, 1980), pp. 62-67, 82-93.

2. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1983), pp. 51-53.

3. Kirk Holland Vestal and Arthur Wallace, The Firm Foundation of Mormonism (Los Angeles, California: The LL Company, 1981), pp. 33-43.


POINT #25: Additional Scripture

POINT:

Just as the Lord used his ancient apostles and prophets to bring forth scripture, so he has used his latter-day prophets to provide us with additional scripture for our blessing and benefit. In fact, the Bible prophets knew that in the latter days more scripture would be brought forth. This latter-day scripture does not replace the Bible but rather increases our knowledge and understanding of it.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Isaiah 29: A sealed book is to come forth. It will be presented to one who is "unlearned." It will be as a voice speaking out the ground, or as one whispering "out of the dust." It will be a record of a destroyed people. The book will surpass the wisdom of "wise men." It will enable mankind to have a better understanding of God and salvation. The book will be a part of A Marvelous Work and a Wonder performed by the Lord.

Ezekiel 37:15-20: Two "sticks," i.e., books, are spoken of, one for Judah and the other for Joseph.

2 Timothy 3:16: All scripture is inspired and profitable.


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Paul Achtemeier, editor, Harper's Bible Dictionary (San Francisco, California: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1985), pp. 110-112.

2. James Barr, Beyond Fundamentalism: Biblical Foundations for Evangelical Christianity (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The Westminster Press, 1984), pp. 41-50.

3. Keith Meservy, "Discoveries at Nimrud and the 'Sticks' of Ezekiel," Newsletter and Proceedings of the Society for Early Historic Archaeology, Number 142 (November 1978), pp. 1-10.

4. Keith Meservy, "Ezekiel's Sticks," Ensign (September 1977), pp. 22-27.

5. Kirk Holland Vestal and Arthur Wallace, The Firm Foundation of Mormonism (Los Angeles, California: The LL Company, 1981), pp. 45-50.


POINT #26: A Day of Rest

POINT:

In the ancient church, the saints set aside one day of the week as a day of rest and spiritual nourishment. This day was the Sabbath, the "Lord's day." The church held weekly worship services on this day. The church taught its member to refrain from participating in ordinary leisure activities, and to avoid working, buying, and selling if at all possible on the Lord's day.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Exodus 20:8-10: "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates."

Exodus 31:13: "... Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you."

Deuteronomy 5:12: "Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee."

Isaiah 58:13-14: "If thou turn away ... from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD ..."

Matthew 12:8: "For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day."

Acts 20:7: "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them ..."

Revelation 1:10: "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day ..."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. D.A. Carson, editor, From Sabbath to Lord's Day: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Investigation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982).

2. Ralph P. Martin, Worship in the Early Church (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974), pp. 76-82.

3. LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, Revised and Enlarged Edition (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1976), pp. 335-339.

4. B.H. Roberts, The Lord's Day, Missionary Pamphlet (Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1974, reprint).


POINT #27: The Law of Tithing

POINT:

The Bible teaches that God's true covenant people will obey the law of tithing. A "tithe" is one-tenth of what we earn. In other words, faithful members of the Lord's church will donate one-tenth of their earnings to the church for the building up of God's kingdom here on the earth.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Genesis 14:17-20: Abraham "gave tithes of all."

Leviticus 27:30: "And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD's: it is holy unto the LORD."

Deuteronomy 14:22: "Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year."

2 Chronicles 31:5: "... and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly."

Malachi 3:8: "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings."

Malachi 3:10: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, Revised and Enlarged Edition (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1976), pp. 367-379.

2. James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, Forty-Second Edition (Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1976), pp. 435-439.


POINT #28: The Sacrament

POINT:

In the ancient Christian church, the Lord's Supper (i.e., the Sacrament) was blessed and passed to the saints at one of the church's Sunday meetings. The Sacrament was intended only for worthy members of the church.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Matthew 26:26-29: "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."

Luke 22:15-20: "And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat hereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves."

1 Corinthians 11:23-30: Paul discusses the Sacrament and the danger of partaking of it unworthily.


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1983), pp. 107-109.

2. Samuele Bacchiocchi, Wine in the Bible (Berrien Springs, Michigan: Biblical Perspectives, 1989).

3. James L. Barker, Apostasy from the Divine Church (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, Inc., 1984, reprint of 1960 edition), pp. 73-76.


POINT #29: Persecution

POINT:

The Lord's true church has always been persecuted to varying degrees by evil men and organizations.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Matthew 5:10-12: "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."

Luke 6:22-23: "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets."

2 Timothy 3:12: "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Leonard Arrington and Davis Bitton, The Mormon Experience, Vintage Books Edition (New York: Vintage Books, 1980), pp. 3-184.

2. Robert Wilken, The Christians as the Romans Saw Them (London: Yale University Press, 1984).


POINT #30: Cross Not Used as Religious Symbol

POINT:

The early Christian church did not use the cross as a religious symbol.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Matthew 27:32: "And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross."

Matthew 27:39-42: "And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, he saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him."

Mark 15:32: "Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, which we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him."

Philippians 2:8: "And being found in fashion as a man, he [Jesus] humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

Hebrews 12:2: "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame ..."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks, Offenders for a Word: How Anti-Mormons Play Word Games to Attack the Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City, Utah: Aspen Books, 1992), pp. 131-133.

2. Ralph Woodrow, Babylon Mystery Religion (Riverside, California: Ralph Woodrow Evangelistic Association, 1981), pp. 48-52.


POINT #31: Good Works Essential for Salvation

POINT:

The Savior's ancient church taught that good works were essential for salvation. To the early Christians, "grace" was the opportunity for salvation made possible by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. They specified that unless believers did their part by living good Christian lives they would not be saved in the Father's kingdom.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Jeremiah 17:10: "I the LORD search the mind and try the heart, to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings" (RSV).

Matthew 7:21-24: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lo rd, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock."

Matthew 10:22: "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved."

"You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved" (NAB).

John 14:15: "If ye love me, keep my commandments."

Romans 2:5-10: "... he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, buy obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good ..."

Romans 2:13: "For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified" (RSV).

Philippians 2:12: "... work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

2 Timothy 2:19b: "And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity."

Hebrews 5:8-9: "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him."

Hebrews 10:26: "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins."

James 2:24-26: "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."

James 4:17: "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."

Revelation 2:26: "And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1983), pp. 177-187, 272-276, 355-362.

2. Robert L. Millet, By Grace Are We Saved (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, Inc., 1989).

3. Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks, Offenders for a Word: How Anti-Mormons Play Word Games to Attack the Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City, Utah: Aspen Books, 1992), pp. 138-147.

4. Chapter 34 herein.


POINT #32: The Necessity of Baptism

POINT:

The New Testament makes it abundantly clear that baptism is absolutely essential for salvation. The necessity of baptism was one of the most important and clear-cut doctrines of ancient Christianity.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Mark 16:16: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."

Luke 7:29-30: "And all the people that heard him [Christ], and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him."

John 3:5: "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

Acts 2:37-38: "Now when they heard this [Peter's preaching], they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. James L. Barker, Apostasy from the Divine Church (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, Inc., 1984, reprint of 1960 edition), pp. 165-174.

2. Ralph P. Martin, Worship in the Early Church (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974), pp. 98-109.


POINT #33: No Infant Baptism

POINT:

The earliest Christians did not believe in baptizing infants. In addition, they did not believe in inherited or original sin. They taught that we are punished for our own sins and not for Adam's transgression.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Genesis 4:7: "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door ..."

Acts 2:37-39: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

Revelation 20:12: John the Revelator saw the final judgment is vision, in which "... the dead were judged ... by what they had done" (RSV).


SUGGESTED READING:

1. James L. Barker, Apostasy from the Divine Church (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, Inc., 1984, reprint of 1960 edition), pp. 175-185.

2. Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks, Offenders for a Word: How Anti-Mormons Play Word Games to Attack the Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City, Utah: Aspen Books, 1992), pp. 133-137.

3. James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, Forty-Second Edition (Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1976), pp. 52-73, 124-128.


POINT #34: Moral Cleanliness

POINT:

The ancient Christian church taught its members to live morally clean lives. The church opposed sexual sin and perversion, and it warned that adulterers and the like would not be permitted to live with Heavenly Father.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Romans 1:24: "Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves" (RSV).

Romans 1:26-27: "For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with their passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error" (RSV).

Romans 13:9: "... Thou shalt not commit adultery ..."

Galatians 5:19-21: "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

Colossians 3:5-6: "Then put to death those parts of you which belong to the earth -- fornication, indecency, lust, foul cravings, and the ruthless greed which is nothing less than idolatry. Because of these God's dreadful judgment is impending" (NEB).

1 Thessalonians 4:2-4: "For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1972).


POINT #35: Church Has Spiritual Gifts

POINT:

The Savior's ancient church possessed spiritual gifts such as prophecy, healing, etc. The early Christians saw spiritual gifts as evidence that God was working through and blessing his people.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Mark 16:16-18: "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."

Acts 2:4: "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."

1 Corinthians 12:4-10: There are many spiritual gifts in the church. They all come from the same spirit. These gifts include faith, healing, miracles, and prophecy.

1 Corinthians 14:1: "Make love your aim, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy" (RSV).

1 Thessalonians 5:19-20: "Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophesying" (RSV).


SUGGESTED READING:

1. James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, Forty-Second Edition (Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1976), pp. 217-235.


POINT #36: Church Possesses Higher Teachings

POINT:

Christ's ancient church possessed extra-biblical (or "higher") teachings and ordinances that were reserved for those members who were deemed ready and worthy to receive them.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

1 Corinthians 2:6-7: "Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification" (RSV).

1 Corinthians 3:1-2: "Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly -- mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready" (NIV).

2 Corinthians 12:1-4: While caught up to Paradise, Paul "heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter" (RSV).

"He heard inexpressable things, things that man is not permitted to tell" (vs. 4, NIV).

Hebrews 9:5: "Above the chest [in the Jerusalem temple] were the cherubim of the Glory overshadowing the place of atonement. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now" (NIV).

1 John 2:20: "But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all know" (RSV).

1 John 2:27: "... the anointing which you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that any one should teach you; as his anointing teaches you everything, and is true, and is no lie, just as it has taught you, abide in him" (RSV).


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Roger J. Adams, The Iconography of Early Christian Initiation, Church Educational System Special Project (Salt Lake City, Utah: Unpublished manuscript, 1977, copy in my possession).

2. Ian Barber, What Mormonism Isn't: A Response to the Research of Jerald and Sandra Tanner (Auckland, New Zealand: Pioneer Books, 1981), pp. H/1-H/2.

3. C. Wilfred Griggs, "The Origin and Formation of the Corpus of Apocryphal Literature," in C. Wilfred Griggs, editor, Apocryphal Writings and the Latter-day Saints (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1986), pp. 35-52.

4. William Hamblin, "Aspects of an Early Christian Initiation Ritual," in John Lundquist and Stephen Ricks, editors, By Study and Also By Faith, Volume 1 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company and F.A.R.M.S., 1990), pp. 202-221.

5. Hugh Nibley, Mormonism and Early Christianity (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company and F.A.R.M.S., 1987), pp. 10-167, 355-390.

6. Hugh Nibley, Since Cumorah, Second Edition (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book and F.A.R.M.S., 1988), pp. 55-135.

7. Hugh Nibley, "What is a Temple?" in Truman Madsen, editor, The Temple in Antiquity (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, Religious Studies Center, 1984), pp. 19-38.

8. Blake Ostler, "Clothed Upon: A Unique Aspect of Christian Antiquity," BYU Studies (Winter 1982), pp. 31-45.

9. Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks, Offenders for a Word: How Anti-Mormons Play Word Games to Attack the Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City, Utah: Aspen Books, 1992), pp. 111-117.


POINT #37: Marriage for Eternity

POINT:

The Bible teaches that men and women can be married for all eternity, and that families can be together forever.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Genesis 2:18: "The LORD God said, 'It is not good that the man [Adam] should be alone; I will make him a helper [Eve] fit for him'" (RSV).

Genesis 2:24: "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh" (RSV).

Ecclesiastes 3:14: "I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever ..."

Matthew 16:19: "And I will give unto thee [Peter] the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be found in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

1 Corinthians 11:11: "Nevertheless, neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord."

Ephesians 3:14: "For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named" (RSV).

1 Peter 3:7: "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, Revised and Enlarged Edition (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1976), pp. 188-201.

2. Eugene Seaich, Ancient Texts and Mormonism (Sandy, Utah: Mormon Miscellaneous, 1983), pp. 75-83.

3. Eugene Seaich, Mormonism, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Nag Hammadi Texts (Murray, Utah: Sounds of Zion, 1980), pp. 32-47.


POINT #38: Spirit World

POINT:

The Savior's ancient church taught that after death we go to live in the spirit world, where we shall remain until we are resurrected. The ancient Hebrews also believed in an abode for departed spirits. This doctrine is evidenced in a number of places in the Bible.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Luke 16:22-23: "And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom."

1 Peter 3:18-20: The gospel taught to the spirits in the prison part of the spirit world.

1 Peter 4:6: The gospel is taught to the dead so that they will be judged "according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1983), pp. 214, 406-407.

2. Hugh Nibley, Mormonism and Early Christianity (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company and F.A.R.M.S., 1987), pp. 115-121.

3. Chapter 41 herein.


POINT #39: Gospel Preached in Spirit World

POINT:

The earliest Christians taught that the gospel was preached in the spirit world, and that those who died without hearing the gospel in this life would have that opportunity in the spirit realm.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

John 5:25: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live."

1 Peter 3:18-20: "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water."

1 Peter 4:6: The gospel is taught to the dead so that they will be judged "according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1983), pp. 214, 406-407.

2. Edward T. Jones, "A Comparative Study of Ascension Motifs in World Religions," in Spencer J. Palmer, editor, Deity and Death (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, Religious Studies Center, 1978), pp. 89-99.

3. Robert Millet and Joseph Fielding McConkie, The Life Beyond (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, Inc., 1986), pp. 155-165.

4. Hugh Nibley, Mormonism and Early Christianity (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company and F.A.R.M.S., 1987), pp. 115-121.


POINT #40: Baptism for the Dead

POINT:

The New Testament church practiced the ordinance of baptism for the dead, whereby living individuals were baptized on behalf of those who did not have the opportunity to receive this rite in mortality.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Zechariah 9:11: "... by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein there is no water."

1 Corinthians 15:29: "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?"

Hebrews 11:40: "God having provided some better thing for us, that they [the dead] without us should not be made perfect."


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1983), pp. 125-127, 403-415.

2. Hugh Nibley, Mormonism and Early Christianity (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company and F.A.R.M.S., 1987), pp. 100-167. These pages constitute chapter three, which is entitled "Baptism for the Dead in Ancient Times."

3. Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks, Offenders for a Word: How Anti-Mormons Play Word Games to Attack the Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City, Utah: Aspen Books, 1992), pp. 108-110.


POINT #41: All Will Be Resurrected

POINT:

The Bible teaches that all mankind will be resurrected. Several early Christian writers reiterated this truth.


SELECTED BIBLE PASSAGES:

Acts 24:15: "... there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust."

John 5:28-29: "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."

1 Corinthians 15:21-22: "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

Revelation 20:12-15: Even those in hell will come forth to be judged.


SUGGESTED READING:

1. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1983), pp. 127-128.

2. Robert Millet and Joseph Fielding McConkie, The Life Beyond (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, Inc., 1986), pp. 121-130.

3. Eugene Seaich, Ancient Texts and Mormonism (Sandy, Utah: Mormon Miscellaneous, 1983), pp. 43-46.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael T. Griffith is a two-time graduate of the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, and of the U.S. Air Force Technical Training School in San Angelo, Texas. He has attended Ricks College, Brigham Young University, Austin Peay State University, Mount Wachusett Community College, and Haifa University in Israel, where his studies centered around history and foreign languages. He is the author of four books on Mormonism and ancient texts, including REFUTING THE CRITICS: EVIDENCES OF THE BOOK OF MORMON'S AUTHENTICITY and A READY REPLY: ANSWERING CHALLENGING QUESTIONS ABOUT THE GOSPEL. His latest book, ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, was recently published by Horizon Publishers.

*** ONE LORD, ONE FAITH can be obtained at your local LDS bookstore. If they don't have it, you can have them order it from Horizon Publishers. Or, you can contact Horizon yourself via their toll-free number, 1-800-453-0812.


FOUR "ADDRESSES"
Peter Davis


POEM ADDRESSING BOYS, AGE 5


This poem can turn invisible and it can beat up bad guys! When people read this poem it is like a laser shooting bad guys right in the stomach! This poem knocks bad guys on their bottoms! And if you need a force field you can get one from Dr. Defense who lives in this poem and makes a number of bad-guy-fighting tools and weapons. Sometimes giant robot bad guys try to kill this poem by bopping it on the head, but this poem doesn't allow that and sends ninjas and wizards out to reverse time and destroy the robots. Dr. Defense jumps up and kicks everyone in the face and he, like, flies through a window and then, like, this poem explodes!


POEM ADDRESSING PEOPLE WHO ARE TIRED, HUNGRY, OR HORNY


These things can wait. This is a very good poem and you'd be very myopic to lose sight of this beauty simply because some of your baser needs are asserting themselves. I'll keep this short, but you should exercise some control, okay? Stay with me here. Allow this poem to carry you beyond yourself, transcending your mortal flesh as you wed yourself with the potentially infinite.


POEM ADDRESSING PEOPLE WITH CERTAIN EXPECTATIONS ABOUT POETRY THAT ARE NOT FULFILLED IN THIS POEM


Change


POEM ADDRESSING PRISONERS


How this found you I don't know, but this is a good event, a good omen. Not because it's mystical or mysterious, but because you're actually reading this poem and I have actually written it. I know that this poem is a sort of prison too, but it's a much, much more beautiful one.


GOD'S EMBROIDERY


When I was a little boy, my mother used to embroider a great deal. I would sit at her knee and look up from the floor and ask what she was doing. She informed me that she was embroidering. I told her that it looked like a mess from where I was, the underside. I watched her work within the boundaries of the little round hoop that she held in her hand.

She would smile at me, look down and gently say, "My son, you go about your playing for a while, and when I am finished with my embroidering, I will put you on my knee and let you see it from my side."

I would wonder why she was using some dark threads along with the bright ones and why they seemed so jumbled from my view.

A few minutes would pass and then I would hear Mother's voice say, "Son, come and sit on my knee."

This I did, only to be surprised and thrilled to see a beautiful flower or a sunset. I could not believe it, because from underneath it looked so messy.

Then Mother would say to me, "My son, from underneath it did look messy and jumbled, but you did not realize that there was a pre-drawn plan on the top. It was a design. I was only following it. Now look at it from my side and you will see what I was doing."

Many times through the years I have looked up to my Heavenly Father and wondered, "Father, what art Thou doing? My life looks like a mess to me. It seems so jumbled. The threads seem so dark. Why can't they all be bright?"

He knows perfectly what is needed in our lives to make us obedient to Him and to trust Him with our lives and one day it will all be perfect and we will see the "why's".


HAND-ME-DOWN LOVE
Greg Franklin


It was a typical spring day in my local high school science class. Each student was to show proficiency in anatomy by dissecting a frog. We were called up in alphabetical order. My day was today, and I was ready for the task.

I wore my favorite power shirt -- the one I knew I looked good in, the one everyone told me I looked good in. I had studied and was ready for the assignment. When my name was called I walked confidently to the front of the room, smiled to the class and grabbed the scalpel to begin the task.

A voice from the back of the room said, "Nice shirt."

I beamed from ear to ear, when suddenly another voice from the back of the room said, "That shirt belonged to my Dad. Greg's mother is our maid and she took that shirt out of a bag headed for the Salvation Army."

My heart sank. I was speechless. It was probably one minute, but it felt like ten minutes of total emptiness and embarrassment in front of my peers. Vice President of Student Government, born with a gift of gab, I stood for the first time in my life speechless with nothing to say. As I looked to the left, another African American whose mother was also a maid, looked down; to my right, the only other African American in the class laughed out loud. I wanted to crawl into a hole.

My biology teacher asked me to begin the dissection. I stood speechless; he repeated the question. After total silence, he said, "Mr. Franklin, you may be seated. Your grade, a D."

I don't know which was more embarrassing, receiving the low mark or being found out. At home, I stuck the shirt in the back of the closet. My mom found the shirt and brought it to the front. This time I put it in the middle of the closet. Again, she moved it to the front.

A few weeks passed and my mom asked why had I not worn the shirt. I responded, "I just don't like it anymore."

She pressed with more questions. I didn't want to hurt her, but I had been raised to tell the truth. I explained what had happened in front of the whole class.

Mom sat in total silence while tears fell from her eyes. Then she stood and called her employer, "I will no longer work for your family," she told him, and asked for an apology for the incident at school. My mom was quiet for the rest of the day. At dinner, where she was typically the life of the family, Mom was totally quiet. After the kids were down for the night, I stood outside my mom and dad's door to hear what was going on.

In tears, Mom shared her humiliation with my dad -- how she had quit her job and how embarrassed she felt for me. She said she couldn't clean anymore; she knew her life's purpose was something greater.

"What do you want to do?" Dad asked.

"Teach children," she answered with sudden clarity.

"You have no education." Dad pointed out.

With conviction she said, "Well, that's what I want to do, and I am going to find a way to make it happen."

The next morning she met with the personnel manager at the Board of Education, who thanked her for her interest but told her without an education she could not teach school. That evening Mom, a mother of seven children and a high school graduate far removed from school, shared with us her new plans to attend the university.

Mom started her studies by taking nine hours. She spread her books at the dining room table, studying right along with the rest of us.

After her first semester, she immediately went back to the personnel manager and asked for a teaching assignment. Again she was told, "Not without an education."

Mom went back to school the second semester, took six more hours and again went back to the personnel manager.

He said, "You are serious, aren't you? I think I have a position for you as a teacher's assistant. This opportunity is dealing with children who are mentally challenged, slow learners with, in many cases, little to no chance of learning. This is the highest area of teacher turnover due to sheer frustration."

Mom leaped at the opportunity.

She got us kids ready for school in the morning, went to work and came home and fixed dinner. I knew it was tough, but it is what she wanted to do and she did it with so much love. For almost five years my Mom was a teacher's assistant at the Starkey Special Education Center. Then, after three teacher changes during that five-year period, the personnel manager and the principal showed up in her classroom one day.

The principal said, "We have watched you and admired your diligence over the last five years. We have watched how you interact with the children and how they interact with you. We've talked to the other teachers, and we are all in agreement that you should be the teacher of this class."

My mom spent twenty-plus years with the Wichita Public School System. Through her career, she was voted Teacher of the Year for both her work with the Special Olympics and the special education center. All of this came about because of the thoughtless comment made in the classroom that day. It has been said children learn not from what you say, but what you do. Mom showed me how to look challenging situations in the face and never give up.

As for me, my biology teacher approached me as I gathered my books to leave the classroom that day. He said, "I know this was a tough day for you, but I will give you a second chance on the assignment tomorrow."

I showed up, dissected the frog, and he changed my grade from a D to a B. I challenged him for an A, but he said, "You should have gotten it right the first time. It would be unfair to others."

As I grabbed my books and walked toward the door, he said, "Do you think you are the only one who has had to wear used clothes? Do you think you are the only one who has grown up poor?"

I responded with an assured, "Yes!"

My teacher put his arm around me and shared his story of growing up during the depression, and how on his graduation day he was laughed at because he did not have enough money for a cap and gown. He showed up with the same pants and shirt he wore to school every day.

He said, "I know how you felt; my heart went out to you. But you know something, kid? I have faith in you. I think you are going to be something special. I can feel it in my heart."

I was speechless again. Both of us were fighting back the tears, but I felt the love from him -- a white man reaching out to a young black student who had been bussed across town.

I went on to become President of the Student Body, and my teacher was my mentor. Before I opened assembly, I would always look for him and he would give me a thumbs up -- a secret only he and I shared.

It was at that point I realized that we are all the same -- different colors, different backgrounds, but many of our experiences are the same. We all want to be happy; we all want great things in life. My teacher and my mother showed me that it's not what you wear, your education or your money, but what's in your heart that counts.


HEAVENLY MOTHER
Simon West (Nov. 4, 1998)


Who are You? Where are You? Do You even exist?
When families eternal are discussed, I think of You.
I have a question. Is there a love we have missed?
If You do exist, are we allowed to speak of You?


Please tell me. Are we allowed to speak to You?
Does asking You these questions cause me to sin?
Can I love You, or must I be silent in regards to You?
Does Heavenly Father feel diminished, if speak to You I begin?


Would I not love Heavenly Father even more
if He would say "Child, behold thy Mother"?
Upon wings of love spread wide would I soar
If my Father put me in the arms of my Mother


I could only love Heavenly Father more for this


Heavenly Father, do I have a Heavenly Mother?
If I do, tell me, is it wrong for me to desire Her?


Can I love Her and still love You? Are You the only One?
If She is real, I want to embrace Her.
Nevertheless, Thy will be done.


I AM A DISCIPLE OF JESUS CHRIST


I won't look back, let up, slow down, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, dwarfed goals, and any disobedience to God's commandments. I no longer need pre-eminence, positions, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded. I now live by Faith, lean on HIS presence, walk with patience, find by faith, and teach with the Spirit. I am uplifted by prayer, labor with power, and plan with faith. My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear, I know my purpose. I cannot be brought, compromised, detoured, lured away, divided, or delayed. I will not be disobedient! I will not criticize other people. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won't give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, and paid up for the cause of Christ. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all I know, and work till He stops me. And when He returns for His Own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My Banner will be clear. I am on his errand. I am His disciple. I am here to bring others to Christ.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto Salvation to every one that believeth ..." (Romans 1:16)


IN A WORD


Compare the word
Reflect upon the word
Rejoice in the word
Teach the word
Hear the word
Speak the word
Try the word
Ponder the word
Present the word
Rely on the word
Believe the word
Fulfil the word
Love the word


JASPER AND THE UNBAKED YEAST ROLLS
Author Unknown


We have a fox terrier by the name of Jasper. He came to us in the summer of 2001 from the fox terrier rescue program. For those of you, who are unfamiliar with this type of adoption, imagine taking in a 10 year old child whom you know nothing about and committing to doing your best to be a good parent.

Like a child, the dog came with his own idiosyncrasies. He will only sleep on the bed, on top of the covers, nuzzled as close to my face as he can get without actually performing a French kiss on me. Lest you think this is a bad case of 'no discipline,' I should tell you that Perry and I tried every means to break him of this habit including locking him in a separate bedroom for several nights.

The new door cost over $200. But I digress. Five weeks ago we began remodeling our house. Although the cost of the project is downright obnoxious, it was 20 years overdue AND it got me out of cooking.

Thanksgiving for family, extended family, and a lot of friends that I like more than family most of the time. I was assigned the task of preparing 124 of my famous yeast dinner rolls for the two Thanksgiving feasts we did attend. I am still cursing the electrician for getting the new oven hooked up so quickly. It was the only appliance in the whole darn house that worked, thus the assignment. I made the decision to cook the rolls on Wed evening to reheat

Thurs am. Since the kitchen was freshly painted, you can imagine the odor. Not wanting the rolls to smell like Sherwin Williams latex paint #586, I put the rolls on baking sheets and set them in the living room to rise for 5 hours.

After 3 hours, Perry and I decided to go out to eat, returning in about an hour. An hour later the rolls were ready to go in the oven.

It was 8:30 PM. When I went to the living room to retrieve the pans, much to my shock one whole pan of 12 rolls was empty. I called out to Jasper and my worst nightmare became a reality. He literally wobbled over to me. He looked like a combination of the Pillsbury dough boy and the Michelin Tire man wrapped up in fur. He groaned when he walked. I swear even his cheeks were bloated.

I ran to the phone and called our vet. After a few seconds of uproarious laughter, he told me the dog would probably be OK, however, I needed to give him Pepto Bismol every 2 hours for the rest of the night. God only knows why I thought a dog would like Pepto Bismol any more than my kids did when they were sick. Suffice it to say that by the time we went to bed the dog was black, white and pink. He was so bloated we had to lift him onto the bed for the night.

Naïvely thinking the dog would be all better by morning was very stupid on my part.

We arose at 7:30 and as we always do first thing; put the dog out to relieve himself. Well, the darn dog was as drunk as a sailor on his first leave. He was running into walls, falling flat on his butt and most of the timewhen he was walking his front half was going one direction and the other half was either dragging the grass or headed 90 degrees in another direction. He couldn't lift his leg to pee, so he would just walk and pee at the same time. When he ran down the small incline in our back yard he couldn't stop himself and nearly ended up running into the fence. His pupils were dilated and he was as dizzy as a loon. I endured another few seconds of laughter from the vet (second call within 12 hours) before he explained that the yeast had fermented in his belly and that he was indeed drunk. He assured me that, not unlike most binges we humans go through, it would wear off after about 4 or 5 hours and to keep giving him Pepto Bismol.

Afraid to leave him by himself in the house, Perry and I loaded him up and took him with us to my sister's house for the first Thanksgiving meal of the day. My sister lives outside of Muskogee on a ranch, (10 to 15 minute drive).

Rolls firmly secured in the trunk (124 less 12) and drunk dog leaning from the back seat onto the console of the car between Perry and I, we took off.

Now I know you probably don't believe that dogs burp, but believe me when I say that after eating a tray of risen unbaked yeast rolls, DOGS WILL BURP. These burps were pure Old Charter. They would have matched or beat any smell in a drunk tank at the police station. But that's not the worst of it. Now he was beginning to fart and they smelled like baked rolls. God strike me dead if I am not telling the truth! We endured this for the entire trip to Karen's, thankful she didn't live any further away than she did.

Once Jasper was firmly placed in my sister's garage with the door locked, we finally sat down to enjoy our first Thanksgiving meal of the day. The dog was the topic of conversation all morning long and everyone made trips to the garage to witness my drunken dog, each returning with a tale of Jasper's latest endeavor to walk without running into something. Of course, as the old adage goes, "what goes in must come out" and Jasper was no exception.

Granted if it had been me that had eaten 12 risen, unbaked yeast rolls, you might as well have put a concrete block up my behind, but alas a dog's digestive system is quite different from yours or mine. I discovered this was a mixed blessing when we prepared to leave Karen's house. Having discovered his "packages" on the garage floor, we loaded him up in the car so we could hose down the floor.

This was another naïve decision on our part. The blast of water from the hose hit the poop on the floor and the poop on the floor withstood the blast from the hose. It was like Portland cement beginning to set up and cure. We finally tried to remove it with a shovel. I (obviously no one else was going to offer their services) had to get on my hands and knees with a coarse brush to get the remnants off of the floor. And as if this wasn't degrading enough, the darn dog in his drunken state had walked through the poop and left paw prints all over the garage floor that had to be brushed too.

Well, by this time the dog was sobering up nicely so we took him home and dropped him off before we left for our second Thanksgiving dinner at Perry's sister's house. I am happy to report that as of today (Monday) the dog is back to normal both in size and temperament. He has had a bath and is no longer tricolor. None the worse for wear I presume. I am also happy to report that just this evening I found 2 risen unbaked yeast rolls hidden inside my closet door.

It appears he must have come to his senses after eating 10 of them but decided hiding 2 of them for later would not be a bad idea. Now, I'm doing research on the computer as to:

"How to Clean Unbaked Dough from the Carpet."

And how was your day?


JOSEPH'S LETTER HOME


Dear Mom,

We're still in Bethlehem -- Mary and I and little Jesus.

There were lots of things I couldn't talk to you about last summer. You wouldn't have believed me then, but maybe I can tell you now. I hope you can understand.

You know, Mom, I've always loved Mary. You and dad used to tease me about her when she was still a girl. She and her brothers used to play on our street. Our families got together for supper. But the hardest day of my life came scarcely a year ago when I was twenty and she only fifteen. You remember that day, don't you?

The trouble started after we were betrothed and signed the marriage agreement at our engagement. That same spring Mary had left abruptly to visit her old cousin Elizabeth in Judea. She was gone three whole months. After she got back, people started wondering out loud if she were pregnant.

It was cloudy the day when I finally confronted her with the gossip. "Mary," I asked at last, "are you going to have a baby?"

Her clear brown eyes met mine. She nodded.

I didn't know what to say. "Who?" I finally stammered.

Mom, Mary and I had never acted improperly -- even after we were betrothed.

Mary looked down. "Joseph," she said. "There's no way I can explain. You couldn't understand. But I want you to know I've never cared for anyone but you." She got up, gently took my hands in hers, kissed each of them as if it were the last time she would ever do that again, and then turned towards home. She must have been dying inside. I know I was.

The rest of the day I stumbled through my chores. It's a wonder I didn't hurt myself in the woodshop. At first I was angry and pounded out my frustrations on the doorframe I was making. My thoughts whirled so fast I could hardly keep my mind on my work. At last I decided just to end the marriage contract with a quiet divorce. I loved her too much to make a public scene.

I couldn't talk to you. Or anyone, for that matter. I went to bed early and tried to sleep. Her words came to me over and over. "I've never cared for anyone but you ... I've never cared for anyone but you ..." How I wished I could believe her!

I don't know when I finally fell asleep. Mom, I had a dream from God. An angel of the Lord came to me. His words pulsated through my mind so intensely I can remember them as if it were yesterday.

"Joseph, son of David," he thundered, "do not fear to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit."

I couldn't believe my ears, Mom. This was the answer! The angel continued, "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

The angel gripped my shoulders with his huge hands. For a long moment his gaze pierced deep within me. Just as he turned to go, I think I saw a smile on his shining face.

I sat bolt upright in bed. No sleep after that! I tossed about for a while, going over the words in my mind. Then I got up and dressed quietly so I wouldn't wake you.

I must have walked for miles beneath the moonless sky. Stars pricked the blackness like a thousand tiny pinpoints. A warm breeze blew on my face.

I sang to the Lord, Mom. Yes, me, singing, if you can imagine that. I couldn't contain my joy. I told Him that I would take Mary and care for her. I told Him I would watch over her -- and the child -- no matter what anyone said.

I got back just as the sun kissed the hilltops. I don't know if you still recall that morning, Mom. I can see it in my mind's eye as if it were yesterday. You were feeding the chickens, surprised to see me out. Remember?

"Sit down," I said to you. "I've got to tell you something." I took your arm and helped you find a seat on the big rock out back. "Mom," I said, "I'm going to bring Mary home as my wife. Can you help make a place for her things?"

You were silent a long time. "You do know what they're saying, don't you, son?" you said at last, your eyes glistening.

"Yes, Mom, I know."

Your voice started to rise. "If your father were still alive, he'd have some words, I'll tell you. Going about like that before you are married. Disgracing the family and all. You ... you and Mary ought to be ashamed of yourselves!"

You'd never have believed me if I'd tried to explain, so I didn't. Unless the angel had spoken to you, you'd have laughed me to scorn.

"Mom, this is the right thing to do," I said.

And then I started talking to you as if I were the head of the house. "When she comes I don't want one word to her about it," I sputtered. "She's your daughter-in-law, you'll respect her. She'll need your help if she's to bear the neighbors' wagging tongues!"

I'm sorry, Mom. You didn't deserve that. You started to get up in a huff.

"Mom," I murmured, "I need you." You took my hand and got to your feet, but the fire was gone from your eyes.

"You can count on me, Joseph," you told me with a long hug. And you meant it. I never heard another word. No bride could hope for a better mother-in-law than you those next few months.

Mom, after I left you I went up the road to Mary's house and knocked. Her mother glared at me as she opened the door. Loudly, harshly she called into the house, "It's Joseph!" almost spitting out my name as she said it.

My little Mary came out cringing, as if she expected me give her the back of my hand, I suppose. Her eyes were red and puffy. I can just imagine what her parents had said.

We walked a few steps from the house. She looked so young and afraid. "Pack your things, Mary," I told her gently. "I'm taking you home to be my wife."

"Joseph!" She hugged me as tight as she could. Mom, I didn't realize she was so strong.

I told her what I'd been planning. "We'll go to Rabbi Ben- Ezer's house this week and have him perform the ceremony."

I know it was awfully sudden, Mom, but I figured the sooner we got married the better it would be for her, and me, and the baby.

"Mary, even if our friends don't come, at least you and I can pledge our love before God." I paused. "I think my Mom will be there. And maybe your friend Rebecca would come if her dad will let her. How about your parents?"

I could feel Mary's tiny frame shuddering as she sobbed quietly.

"Mary," I said. I could feel myself speaking more boldly. "No matter what anyone says about you, I'm proud you're going to be my wife. I'm going to take good care of you. I've promised God that."

She looked up.

I lowered my voice. "I had a dream last night, Mary. I saw an angel. I know."

The anguish which had gripped her face vanished. She was radiant as we turned away from the house and began to walk up the hill together.

Just then her mother ran out into the yard. "Wait," she called. She must have been listening from behind the door. Tears were streaming down her cheeks.

"I'll get your father," she called, almost giddy with emotion. "We," she cried as she gathered up her skirts. "We," she shouted as she began to run to find her husband. "We ... are going to have a wedding!"

That's how it was, Mom. Thanks for being there for us. I'll write again soon.

Love, Joseph


JUST ANOTHER DAY
Charlotte "Charlie" Volnek


Is it morning already? I rub my eyes and get up to ready myself for just another day.

It's just another day...I look out my window to see the sun beaming down, caressing the Earth with its golden rays. Above, white clouds float in the brilliant blue sky. I hear a cardinal singing to his mate as he perches upon my back fence. And a bed of crocus open their purple heads to the heavens in joyful thankfulness.

It's just another day. My small daughter bursts into the room, her giggle ringing through the house as she hugs my neck tightly. Her small hand fits into mine as she pulls me to the kitchen to show me the card she has made. A stick figure with curly brown hair waves from the paper and beneath it, written in purple crayon are the words, "I love you, Mommy."

It's just another day as I stand quietly and watch a handicapped child. He struggles to get his special walker over the curb, but it won't budge. A well-meaning teacher offers assistance, but he brushes her away. With determination, he conquers the curb and is off to laugh and play with his friends. I weep inside for his handicap, but I am inspired by his courage. And I smile as I watch the children play, totally accepting their friend for who he is, not judging him for what he lacks.

It's just another day. My son proudly presents the report he did for school. He shares with me the hopes and dreams he holds for his future. His curiosity and excitement are contagious as we unfold the limitless possibilities that lay before him. I am encouraged that no dream is beyond our reach if we want it bad enough.

It's just another day. My beloved wraps his arms around me and surrounds me in love. I turn to look in the eyes that share my innermost feelings. What a special friend I have. Someone who loves me for who I am. Someone to lean on when I feel down. Someone to share my happiness. Someone to love.

Yes, it is just another day. A day to enjoy God's gracious beauty upon this Earth. A day to kiss the cherub cheeks of my children, and share in their hopes and dreams. A day to learn the value of determination and hard work. A day to learn the value of judging mankind for the quality he has, not what he has not. A day to learn the value of love.

Yes, it's just another day, I sigh. The stars dance in the velvet sky as a full yellow moon smiles cheerfully down. The house is quiet and still. The only sound is the soft even breathing of my spouse. I recall the scripture: "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24) And as I lay at the side of my soul mate I pray that God will let me see "just another day"!


LESSON FROM A SCOUTER
Karen Scalley Maxfield


One day as I was looking through some of my father's belongings, I found two of his most treasured possessions: an old piece of wood and a yellowing piece of paper. Many might have thrown these things away, but tears came to my eyes as I remembered his telling of when the seeds of the gospel were first planted in his boyhood heart. This is his story.

When I was 12 years old my family spent our summer vacation with my grandparents at their cabin along the Snake River, near Yellowstone Park. I loved it there because I felt it gave me a chance to be a real Scout. There were mountains to climb, wild animals to track, and the river to explore. My younger brother and sister preferred to dangle their toes in the river while I went off searching for adventure.

Fortunately, I met a boy my age to share my adventures with that summer. We had many things in common: we were both visiting our grandparents, we both loved to hike and explore, and, best of all, we were both Scouts.

We quickly explored the area around the cabins but soon wanted to see more, and with our parents' consent, we planned a day-long forest adventure. The night before the big day, my friend told me his 76-year-old grandfather wanted to come along. "My grandfather likes to hike," he said with a shrug. Not wanting to hurt my new friend's feelings, I reluctantly agreed. His grandfather will only last a few miles, I thought to myself.

The next morning I arose with the sun and ran to my friend's cabin. As I waited, his grandfather came out first, and I could hardly believe how he looked. He was tall and thin and wore a wide-brimmed Scout hat, a heavy Scouting jacket, a neckerchief around his collar, knee-length pants, and laced-up hiking boots; he looked like he had just walked off the cover of my Scouting magazine. I was momentarily impressed but still believed he wouldn't be able to keep up with us for long. After all, how much can you learn from a 76-year-old grandfather? I thought.

As the three of us headed up the trail into the forest, my friend and I tried to walk slowly, but our excitement to explore got the best of us. We had been waiting so long to be free in the woods that we took off running up the narrow path. We felt like real explorers; we were Lewis and Clark. Then we heard my friend's grandfather calling for us to come back. Walking back down the trail, we wondered out loud how soon it would be before he returned to the cabin.

When we reached him, he pointed to the ground and said, "Look at this." We knelt down, wondering what he wanted to show us. Beside our footprints, he was pointing out two sets of animal prints in the soft dirt.

"This one is the mother deer," he explained to his now captive audience. "The imprint isn't very deep, and the strides are short. That's how you can tell it's not a buck; it's a doe." He smiled, pointing to the second set of prints. "She has a little one with her."

"A fawn!" I said. This is great. It's like being with a real tracker following the trail of a wild animal, I thought.

I glanced at my friend, and his eyes were filled with excitement. "Maybe we'll stay with you for a while, Grandfather," he said. I quickly nodded. My friend's grandfather pointed out different types of trees, flowers, and edible plants, and he talked about tracking an animal by signs it had left behind.

"See this broken branch? It shows that an animal came from this direction," he said. "Look at the moss on this tree. It's been rubbed off along here. That means animals use this path regularly. Now, if you wanted someone to find you, you could leave the same kinds of clues."

We spent a few hours tracking different animals until my friend's grandfather announced it was time for a test. "I want to see how much you two have learned today," he said. "I'm going to hide and leave clues so you can track me."

We closed our eyes and gave him plenty of time to get ahead of us and leave a good trail. Then the search began. "He went this way!" my friend hollered with excitement. "See, this rock is overturned."

"Yeah," I said, "and there are some broken branches over there. We've got to be close." We followed little piles of rocks and forked branches that led us in the right direction where the path divided. Every so often we could make out the imprint of hiking boots. We must have followed his trail for over an hour. By this time the sun was beginning to go down, and we still hadn't found him.

"I'm over here, boys." We heard his voice a moment before he stepped out of his hiding place near us. "Our day has been a success," he said. "You boys have certainly learned well."

Hiking back to the cabins, my friend and I were exhausted. It had been a long day, and we had worked hard trying to keep up with my friend's grandfather.

When I reached my cabin I could hardly keep my eyes open, but I just had to tell my parents all about our adventures. I told them what a great Scouter my friend's grandfather was and that I wanted to be just like him. My mother got me into bed by promising that in the morning she would make rolls and that I could take them over to thank him for such an exciting day.

The next day, before I left with the rolls, my mother told me my friend's grandfather was someone important in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Maybe you should ask for his autograph," she said. I grabbed a piece of paper and stuffed it in my pocket as I left the cabin. Picking up a piece of kindling wood, I began whittling it as I walked.

When I got to my friend's cabin, his grandfather greeted me with a smile. "You are a great Scout," I said. Then I thanked him for the wonderful day in the forest. Before I left, I held out the piece of paper I had brought and asked, "Will you sign this for me?" He signed the piece of wood and wrote a short message on the paper.

I waited until I left the cabin before looking at the wood and the paper. On the wood was written, "George Albert Smith -- Scouter." The message on the paper, dated 3 August 1946, read, "The pathway of righteousness is the highway of happiness. Don't lose your way." It left an impression on me that I have never forgotten. Later in life, when I was ready to hear the gospel, that piece of paper and chunk of wood helped me decide to be baptized.

How grateful I am that President Smith would spend a day in the forest with two young boys, who learned that day to follow a prophet. He was a prophet who took the time to teach by example, to touch a soul, to make an impression. And how grateful I am for his lasting impression that has continued throughout the generations of this family.


LET ME HAVE THE COURAGE TO BELIEVE
Author Unknown


Let me have the courage to believe in myself,
Not only on the days when I'm doing great
And nothing seems impossible.
But on the days when the world looks lousy
And I'm losing, and the Road ahead seems too hard,
When I wonder if I'm brave enough, smart enough, strong enough,
And I must be crazy to try, don't let me quit!


Let me have the courage to believe in myself,
No matter how many people discourage me,
Doubt me, laugh at me, warn me, think me a fool,
Don't let me listen, let me hear another voice saying,
"you can do it" and I will,
Even if no one else in the world cares or believes in me ...
Let me have the courage to believe in myself
(Sent to us by Elder Travis Kendall 10/26/98)


PART ONE: LIFE
Emily Dickinson (1830-86)


XCVII


We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
Our statures touch the skies.


The heroism we recite
Would be a daily thing,
Did not ourselves the cubits warp
For fear to be a king.


MARKS OF A MAN
David Bryan Wiser


My taxi pulled up to the front doors of the airport just as the final boarding call for my flight was made. I was flying from Miami to Salt Lake and was delayed by a long company meeting. I ran through the airport and arrived at the gate just as the door was closing. I jumped on board and stopped for a minute to catch my breath.

Near the front of the plane was an excited young man, probably nineteen, sitting with his parents. His hair was short and his clothes were new and sharp. His suit was fitted perfectly and his black shoes still retained that store-bought shine. His body was in good shape, his face clear, and his hands clean. In his eyes I could see a nervous look, and his movements were that of an actor on opening night. He was obviously flying to Utah to become a missionary for the Mormon church. I smiled as I walked by and took pride in belonging to this same church where these young men voluntarily serve the Savior for two years. With this special feeling, I continued to the back where my seat was located.

As I sat in my seat, I looked to the right and, to my surprise, saw another missionary sleeping in the window seat. His hair was also short, but that was the only similarity between the two. This one was obviously returning home and I could tell at a glance what type of missionary he had been. The fact that he was already asleep told me a lot. His entire body seemed to let out a big sigh. It looked as if this was the first time in two years he had ever slept, and I wouldn't have been surprised if it was. As I looked at his face, I could see the heavy bags under his eyes, the chapped lips, and the scarred and sunburned face caused by the fierce Florida sun. His suit was tattered and worn. A few of the seams were coming apart and I noticed that there were a couple of tears that had been hand-sewn with a very sloppy stitch. I saw the name tag: cracked, scratched, and bearing the name of the church he represented, the engraving of which was almost all worn away. I saw the knees of his pants, worn and white as the result of many hours of humble prayer. A tear came to my eye as I saw the things that really told me what kind of missionary he had been.

I saw the marks that had made this boy a man. His feet. The two that had carried him from house to house now lay there swollen and tired, covered by a pair of worn-out shoes. Many of the large scrapes and gouges had been filled in by countless numbers of polishings. His side. Lying across his side were his scriptures, the word of God. Once new, these books which testify of Jesus Christ and His mission, were now torn, bent, and ragged from use. His hands. Those big, strong hands which had been used to bless and teach were then scarred and cut from the knocking.

Those were indeed the marks of the man. And as I looked on him, I saw the marks of another man, the Savior, as he was hanging on the cross for the sins of the world. His feet. Those feet that had once carried him throughout the land during His ministry were now nailed to the cross. His side. It was now pierced with a spear, sealing His gospel, His testimony, with His life. His hands. The hands that had been used to ordain His servants and bless the sick were also scarred with the nails pounded into the cross. Those were the marks of a great man.

As my mind returned to the missionary, my whole body seemed to swell with pride and joy because I knew by looking at him that he had served his master well. My joy was so great that I felt like running to the front of the plane and grabbing that new, young missionary and bringing him back to see what he could become, what he could do. But would he see the things I saw; would anyone see the things I saw? Or, would he just see the outward appearance of that mighty elder, tired and worn out, almost dead?

As we landed, I reached over and tapped him to wake him up. As he awoke, it seemed like a new life was entering his body. His whole frame just seemed to fill and he sat up, tall and proud. As he turned his face toward mine, I saw a light about his face that I had not seen before. I looked into his eyes. Those eyes -- I will never forget those eyes.

They were the eyes of a prophet, a leader, a follower, and a servant. They were the eyes of the Savior. No words were spoken; no words were needed. As we unloaded, I stepped aside to let him go first. I watched as he walked, slow but steady, tired but strong. I followed him and found myself walking the way he did.

When I came through the doors, I saw this young man in the arms of his parents, and I couldn't hold it any longer.

With tears streaming down my face, I watched these loving parents greet their son who had been away for a short time. And I wondered if our parents in heaven would greet us the same way. Will they wrap their arms around us and welcome us home from our journey? I believe they will. I just hope that I can be worthy enough to receive such praise as I'm sure this missionary will.

I said a silent prayer, thanking the Lord for missionaries like this young man. I don't think I will ever forget the joy and happiness he brought to me that day.


MY HEART LEAPS UP
William Wordsworth, 1770-1850


My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.


OH, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO
Dr. Seuss


Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!


You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.


You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.


And you may not find any
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town.


It's opener there
in the wide open air.


Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.


And then things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.


OH!
THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!


You'll be on y our way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.


You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.


Except when you don't.
Because, sometimes, you won't.


I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.


You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You'll be left in a Lurch.


You'll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you'll be in a Slump.


And when you're in a Slump,
you're not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.


You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?


And IF you go in, should you turn left or right ...
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.


You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place ...


... for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.


Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.


NO!
That's not for you!


Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.


With banner flip-flapping,
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you're that kind of a guy!


Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You'll be as famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.


Except when they don't
Because, sometimes they won't.


I'm afraid that some times
you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win
'cause you'll play against you.


All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you'll be quite a lot.


And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.


But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.


On and on you will hike,
And I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.


You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never foget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.


And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!


So ...
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
You're off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So ... get on your way!


ONE TIN SOLDIER
(THE LEGEND OF BILLY JACK)
Coven


Listen, children, to a story
That was written long ago,
'Bout a kingdom on a mountain
And the valley-folk below.
On the mountain was a treasure
Buried deep beneath the stone,
And the valley-people swore
They'd have it for their very own.


Go ahead and hate your neighbor,
Go ahead and cheat a friend.
Do it in the name of Heaven,
You can justify it in the end.
There won't be any trumpets blowing
Come the judgment day,
On the bloody morning after ...
One tin soldier rides away.


So the people of the valley
Sent a message up the hill,
Asking for the buried treasure,
Tons of gold for which they'd kill.
Came an answer from the kingdom,
"With our brothers we will share
All the secrets of our mountain,
All the riches buried there."


Go ahead and hate your neighbor,
Go ahead and cheat a friend.
Do it in the name of Heaven,
You can justify it in the end.
There won't be any trumpets blowing
Come the judgment day,
On the bloody morning after ...
One tin soldier rides away.


Now the valley cried with anger,
"Mount your horses! Draw your sword!"
And they killed the mountain-people,
So they won their just reward.
Now they stood beside the treasure,
On the mountain, dark and red.
Turned the stone and looked beneath it ...
"Peace on Earth" was all it said.


Go ahead and hate your neighbor,
Go ahead and cheat a friend.
Do it in the name of Heaven,
You can justify it in the end.
There won't be any trumpets blowing
Come the judgment day,
On the bloody morning after ...
One tin soldier rides away.


Go ahead and hate your neighbor,
Go ahead and cheat a friend.
Do it in the name of Heaven,
You can justify it in the end.
There won't be any trumpets blowing
Come the judgment day,
On the bloody morning after ...
One tin soldier rides away.


OUR DEEPEST FEAR


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.


It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?


Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.


Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.


We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.


And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.


PARABLE OF THE CANDLES
Author Unknown


There was a blackout one night. When the light went out, I fumbled to the closet where we keep the candles for nights like this ... I lit four of them. I was turning to leave with the large candle in my hand when I heard a voice, "Now, hold it right there!"

"Who said that?"

"I did." The voice was near my hand.

I sing to other candles to encourage "Who are you? What are you?"

"I am a candle."

I lifted up the candle to take a closer look. There was a tiny face in the wax.

"Don't take me out of here!", it said.

"What?"

It said, "Don't take me out of this room."

"What do you mean? I have to take you out. You're a candle. Your job is to give light. It's dark out there."

"But you can't take me out. I'm not ready," the candle explained with pleading eyes. "I need more preparation."

I couldn't believe my ears. "More preparation?"

"Yeah, I've decided I need to research this job of light-giving, so I won't go out and make a bunch of mistakes. You'd be surprised how distorted the glow of an untrained candle can be."

"All right then," I said. "You're not the only candle on the shelf. I'll blow you out and take the others!"

But right then I heard other voices, "We aren't going either!"

I turned to the other candles, "You are candles and your job is to light dark places!"

"Well, that may be what you think," said the first one, "You may think we have to go, but I'm busy ... I'm meditating on the importance of light ... It's really enlightening (no pun intended)."

"And you other two," I asked, "are you going to stay, too?"

A short, fat, purple candle with plump cheeks spoke up. "I'm waiting to get my life together, I'm not stable enough,"

The last candle had a female voice, very pleasant to the ear. "I'd like to help," she explained, "but lighting is not my gift ... I'm a singer to make them to burn more brightly." She began a rendition of "This Little Light of Mine."

The other three joined in, filling the closet with singing ... I took a step back and considered the absurdity of it all. Four perfectly good candles singing to each other about light but refusing to come out of the closet.

Here is a question for you, "When was the last time you shared the gospel with someone?" This world is full of darkness, with many people stumbling around trying to find their way. You can be a light for them.

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light, unto all that are in the house.

LET YOUR LIGHT S0 SHINE BEFORE MEN THAT THEY MAY SEE YOUR GOOD WORKS AND GLORIFY YOUR FATHER WHO IS IN HEAVEN." Matthew 5:14-16


PATRIARCHIAL BLESSING


President Hal Torgerson of the Camarillo, California Stake related the following story at a stake priesthood meeting:

An old friend from high school days came to visit. The friend was a stake patriarch in Idaho. He told a story of himself and a young member of his own home ward. This young man who was born with Downs' Syndrome was now in his late teens. They were neighbors, and this young man would often stop to pass the time of day whenever the patriarch was working in the yard. He possessed all the classic symptoms of the disorder, including characteristic speech and tonal deprivation. In addition, however, he had a speech impediment, which made him hard to understand. Moving with difficulty, he was deliberate and lacked fluidity.

It came to pass that the young man asked, one day, for a patriarchal blessing. Nonplused, the patriarch stammered, only for a moment, and replied that one must first get a recommend from his bishop.

He reported to his friend, President Torgerson that he somehow imagined that no more would be heard on the subject.

Less than a week passed before the youth, smiling broadly, appeared at his door and held up his bishop's recommend, announcing that he was now ready for his patriarchal blessing.

Now, thoroughly confounded, the patriarch told his young friend to speak with his parents about a time that would be convenient for them and then to call and he would make an appointment with them.

Afterward, he went into the house and prayed for inspiration. Nothing seemed to be forthcoming.

At the appointed day and hour, the young man, accompanied by his parents, came to the door attired in their Sabbath best. He ushered them into his home and visited for a few minutes, catching up on last-minute family gossip, frantically hoping for divine intervention. After nearly 20 minutes of "small talk", he became aware that it was no longer possible to delay, and in the knowledge that the Holy Ghost had never let him down, he acknowledged that it was time to begin.

The young man approached him with confidence, smiled broadly, and seated himself in the specified chair. The patriarch, glancing at the smiling parents, placed his hands upon the youth's head and surrendered himself to the Spirit.

Immediately the patriarch felt the presence of the Spirit, and he began to speak in the sure knowledge of purpose. He came, in that moment, to know and to repeat that this special young man was present at the trial of Satan after the war in Heaven, and it was he who escorted Satan out of Heaven. Because of his unique experience, God the Father knew that he would be subject to special risk at the hands of Satan during his time on earth. To protect him and to keep him safe from harm, he was given, as armor, the special shield of Downs' Syndrome as his sword and buckler against the enticements of Satan. This was a gift of the greatest magnitude, which the Father could bestow in order to protect him while he gained the experience of having a mortal body until he could return again to his Heavenly Father.

At the conclusion of the blessing, the young man stood up, walked to his parents, now standing, with the confident gate of an athlete, and spoke clearly, without any of his usual characteristic speech patterns. He first embraced his mother and said, "Thank you for not having an abortion when you could have, after you learned that I would be handicapped." Then he turned to his father, embracing him and said, "Thank you for being my father and for never being embarrassed by me or treating me as different from any other child. I love you." Then he walked over to the patriarch, shook his hand, and said, "Thank you for the blessing."

"For just that moment in time," the patriarch said, "the boy was as normal as his parents or I in every way. There was a different set in his countenance and an expression in his eyes that gave us, for just that moment, a glimpse of the valiant steward of Heavenly Father's kingdom who dwelt within that youth."

The next time the boy and the patriarch met was when the patriarch was getting out of his car. The youth shouted in his loud, flat Downs' Syndrome voice, "Hi, brother," and shuffled more than walked down the street towards his home.


PATTERN OF LOVE
Jack Smith


I didn't question Timmy, age nine, or his seven-year-old brother Billy about the brown wrapping paper they passed back and forth between them as we visited each store.

Every year at Christmastime, our Service Club takes the children from poor families in our town on a personally conducted shopping tour. I was assigned Timmy and Billy, whose father was out of work. After giving them the allotted $4 each, we began our trip. At different stores I made suggestions, but always their answer was a solemn shake of the head, no. Finally I asked, "Where would you suggest we look?"

"Could we go to a shoe store, Sir? We'd like a pair of shoes for our Daddy so he can go to work."

In the shoe store the clerk asked what the boys wanted. Out came the brown paper.

"We want a pair of work shoes to fit this foot," they said. Billy explained that it was a pattern of their Daddy's foot. They had drawn it while he was asleep in a chair. The clerk held the paper against a measuring stick, then walked away. Soon he came with an open box.

"Will these do?" he asked.

Timmy and Billy handled the shoes with great eagerness. "How much do they cost?" asked Billy.

Then Timmy saw the price on the box. "They're $16.95," he said in dismay. "We only have $8."

I looked at the clerk and he cleared his throat. "That's the regular price," he said, "but they're on sale for $3.98, today only."

Then with shoes happily in hand the boys bought gifts for their mother and two little sisters. Not once did they think of themselves.

The day after Christmas the boys' father stopped me on the street. The new shoes were on his feet, gratitude was in his eyes.

"I just thank Jesus for people who care," he said.

"And I thank Jesus for your two sons," I replied. "They taught me more about Christmas in one evening than I had learned in a lifetime."


PRAYER ROCK


I'm your little prayer rock
And this is what I'll do:
Just put me on your pillow
Until the day is through.


When you pull back your covers
And climb into your bed,
Then WHACK! Your little prayer rock
Will hit you on the head.


Then you will remember
As the day is through
To kneel and say your prayers
As you wanted to do.


Then when you are finished
Just dump me on the floor.
I'll stay there through the nighttime
To give you help once more.


When you get up in the morning,
THUMP! I stub your toe
Then you will remember
Your morning prayers before you go.


Our me back up on your pillow
When your bed is made
And your clever little prayer rock
Will continue in your aid.


Because your Heavenly Father cares and loves you so,
He wants you to remember to talk to Him, you know!


SICK
Shel Silverstein


"I cannot go to school today,"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
"I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash, and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox,
And there's one more -- that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut, my eyes are blue --
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke --
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb,
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have hangnail, and my heart is -- what?
What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is ... Saturday?
G'bye, I'm going out to play."


SIMPLE FORMULA FOR LIVING


Live beneath your means.
Return everything you borrow.
Stop blaming other people.
Admit it when you make a mistake.
Give clothes not worn in 3 years to charity.
Do something nice and try not to get caught.
Listen more talk less.
Every day take a 30 minute walk.
Strive for excellence, not perfection.
Be on time.
Don't make excuses.
Don't argue.
Get organized.
Be kind to kind people.
Be kind to unkind people.
Let someone cut ahead of you in line.
Take time to be alone.
Reread your favorite book.
Cultivate good manners.
Be humble.
Realize and accept that life isn't fair.
Know when to keep your mouth shut.
Go an entire day without criticizing anyone.
Learn from the past.
Plan for the future.
Live in the present.
Don't sweat the small stuff.
It's all small stuff.


-- from a Quaker newsletter


SIX B's
Gordon B. Hinckley, 2001


Be Grateful

Walk with gratitude in your hearts. Be thankful for the wonderful blessings which are yours. Be grateful for the tremendous opportunities that you have. Be thankful to your parents who care so very much about you and who have worked so very hard to provide for you. Let them know that you are grateful. Say thank you to your mother and your father. Say thank you to your friends. Say thank you to your teachers. Express appreciation to everyone who does you a favor or assists you in any way.

Thank the Lord for His goodness to you.


Be Smart

The Lord wants you to educate your minds and hands, whatever your chosen field. Whether it be repairing refrigerators, or the work of a skilled surgeon, you must train yourselves. Seek for the very best schooling available. Become a workman of integrity in the world that lies ahead of you. I repeat, you will bring honor to the Church and you will be generously blessed because of that training.


Be Clean

Avoid evil talk. Do not take the name of the Lord in vain ...

Choose your friends carefully ...

While you should be friendly with all people, select with great care those whom you wish to have close to you ...

Be clean. Don't waste your time in destructive entertainment ...

How truly beautiful is a well-groomed young woman who is clean in body and mind. She is a daughter of God in whom her Eternal Father can take pride. How handsome is a young man who is well-groomed. He is a son of God, deemed worthy of holding the holy priesthood of God. He does not need tattoos or earrings or rings anywhere else on or in his body. The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve are all united in counseling against these things ...

There is no need for any Latter-day Saint boy or girl, young man or young woman, to even try [drugs]. Stay clean from these mind-altering and habit-forming addictions.


Be True

Be loyal to the Church under all circumstances. I make you a promise that the authorities of this Church will never lead you astray. They will lead you in paths of happiness ...

Be true to your own convictions. You know what is right and you know what is wrong. You know when you are doing the proper thing. You know when you are giving strength to the right cause. Be loyal. Be faithful. Be true.


Be Humble

The Lord has said, "Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers" (D&C 112:10) ...

I believe the meek and the humble are those who are teachable. They are willing to learn. They are willing to listen to the whisperings of the still, small voice for guidance in their lives. They place the wisdom of the Lord above their own wisdom.


Be Prayerful

You need His help, and you know that you need His help. You cannot do it alone. You will come to realize that and recognize that more and more as the years pass. So live that in good conscience you can speak with the Lord. Get on your knees and thank Him for His goodness to you and express to Him the righteous desires of your hearts. The miracle of it all is that He hears. He responds. He answers -- not always as we might wish He would answer, but there is no question in my mind that He answers.


SOMEBODY'S MOTHER
Mary Dow Brine (1816-1913)


The woman was old and ragged and gray
And bent with the chill of the Winter's day.


The street was wet with a recent snow
And the woman's feet were aged and slow.


She stood at the crossing and waited long,
Alone, uncared for, amid the throng


Of human beings who passed her by
Nor heeded the glance of her anxious eyes.


Down the street, with laughter and shout,
Glad in the freedom of "school let out,"


Came the boys like a flock of sheep,
Hailing the snow piled white and deep.


Past the woman so old and gray
Hastened the children on their way.


Nor offered a helping hand to her --
So meek, so timid, afraid to stir


Lest the carriage wheels or the horses' feet
Should crowd her down in the slippery street.


At last came one of the merry troop,
The gayest laddie of all the group;


He paused beside her and whispered low,
"I'll help you cross, if you wish to go."


Her aged hand on his strong young arm
She placed, and so, without hurt or harm,


He guided the trembling feet along,
Proud that his own were firm and strong.


Then back again to his friends he went,
His young heart happy and well content.


"She's somebody's mother, boys, you know,
For all she's aged and poor and slow,


"And I hope some fellow will lend a hand
To help my mother, you understand,


"If ever she's poor and old and gray,
When her own dear boy is far away."


And "somebody's mother" bowed low her head
In her home that night, and the prayer she said


Was "God be kind to the noble boy,
Who is somebody's son, and pride and joy!"


TEN GIFTS TO BRING HOME
President Gordon B. Hinckley


1. Knowledge of God and Christ.

2. Knowledge and love for scriptures.

3. Increased love for parents.

4. Love people who you serve.

5. Appreciation for hard work.

6. Knowledge of importance of teamwork.

7. Recognition of importance of good dress and demeanor.

8. Appreciation of the beauty and value of personal virtue.

9. Faith to act and courage to try.

10. Humility to pray.


TEN REASONS FOR A MISSION


Without question the greatest challenge and opportunity to develop leadership afforded young members of the Church is missionary work. I can hear some say, "Specifically, why should I go on a mission?" There are many really good reasons why you should go on a mission, or even several missions, in your lifetime. Ten that quickly come to my mind are:


1. Because it will offer you the most superb way of serving your fellowmen -- through giving them the opportunity to learn of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and to become members of His Church, a gift of eternal value.

2. Because you have been charged by your Father in heaven with the responsibility of taking the gospel message to his children.

3. Because it is not an easy assignment, and one grows only by hard work and learning how to solve difficult problems. Problems viewed as opportunities make men and women strong.

4. Because it will prepare you to succeed in every area of your life. You will develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and yourself.

5. Because it will be the happiest and most profitable period in your life up to that time.

6. Because it will present opportunities to travel and develop culturally and spiritually.

7. Because it is the best way to build your testimony.

8. Because it presents constant opportunities to learn how to get along with people.

9. Because it develops the habit of study and increases one's appetite for knowledge.

10. Because every day in every way it develops leadership abilities.


These reasons and promises are based on your magnifying your calling when and if you are called on a mission.


THE ATONEMENT: OUR GREATEST HOPE
Robert B. Harbertson


Years ago there was a little one room school house back in the mountains of Virginia which no teacher could handle. The boys were so rough that the teachers would resign. A young, inexperienced teacher applied. The old director, scanning him up and down, asked, "Young fello, do you know that you are asking for an awful beating? Every teacher that we have had here for years has had to take one."

"I will risk it," he replied.

Finally, the first day of school approached and the teacher appeared for duty. One big fellow, Tom, whispered, "I won't need any help with this. I can lick him myself."

The teacher said, "Good morning boys, we have come to conduct school, but I confess that I do not know how unless you help me. Suppose we have a few rules. You tell me and I will write them on the blackboard."

One fellow yelled, "No stealing."

Another yelled, "On time."

Finally ten rules appeared. "Now," said the teacher, "a law is no good unless there is a penalty attached. What shall we do with one who breaks the them?"

"Beat him across the back ten times without his coat on," yelled one of the boys.

"That is pretty severe, boys. Are you sure that you are ready to stand by it?" the teacher replied.

Another yelled, "I second the motion," and the teacher said, "All right, we will live by them! Class come to order."

In a day or so "Big Tom" found that his lunch had been stolen. Upon inquiry the thief was located, a little hungry fellow about ten years old. "We have found the thief and he must be punished according to your rules. Ten stripes across the back! Jimmy, come up here," the teacher said.

The little fellow, trembling, came up slowly with a big coat fastened up to his neck and pleaded, "Teacher, you can lick me as hard as you like, but please, don't make me take my coat off."

"Take the coat off," the teacher said, "You helped make the rules."

Jimmy said, "Oh teacher, don't make me." He began to unbutton and what did the teacher behold? The little guy had no shirt on, and revealed a bony little crippled body.

"How can I whip this child?" he thought. "But I must, I must do something if I am to keep this school." Everything was quiet. "How come you aren't wearing a shirt, Jimmy?"

Jimmy replied, "My father died and my mother is very poor. I have only one shirt and she is washing it today, so I wore my brother's big coat to keep me warm."

The teacher with rod in hand, hesitated. Just then Big Tom jumped to his feet and said, "Teacher, if you don't object I will take Jimmy's licking for him."

"Very well, there is a certain law that one can become a substitute for another. Are you all agreed?"

Off came Tom's coat, and after five hard strokes, the rod broke! The teacher bowed his head in his hands and thought, "How can I finish this awful task?" Then he heard the entire class sobbing, and what did he see? Jimmy had reached up and caught Tom with both arms around his neck.

"Tom, I am sorry that I stole your lunch, but I was awful hungry. Tom, I will love you till I die for taking my licking for me. I will love you forever!"

The very heart of Christmas is Christ and the atonement. He came to this earth to atone for our sins. He took our "whipping" for us, and even died for us. "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; ... with his stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5)


THE BIGGEST GAME OF ALL
Mike Bacevich


Life is a game of football, and you play it every day.

It isn't just the breaks you get, but how well you play.

Stop and look the whole team over, you've some pretty rugged men.

If you can work them all together, there's no goal you can't defend.


You're fullback's name is Courage -- you need him in this game.

For Truth and Faith, your halfbacks, there'll be many yards to gain.

Your quarterback is very fast, though small and hard to see.

So watch Son, when he gets the ball, he's Opportunity.


At right end, there's Religion -- he's stood the test of time.

At left end, there's Brotherhood -- he's the bulwark of the line.

Your right tackle is Ambition -- don't ever let him shirk.

Left tackle is a husky young man, his name is Work.


Your left guards name is Humor -- he's important to the team.

While Honor is playing right guard -- your game is always clean.

If Love plays at the center spot and does his very best,

Then you shall have a winning team, and really know success.


The other team is strong, Son ... Greed, Envy, Hatred and Deceit.

Are four strong backs you'll have to buck -- to ward off such defeat.

Discouragement and Falsehood -- are big boys at the end.

You'll have to tackle hard my boy -- when you meet up with these young men.


Selfishness and Jealousy -- you'll find them playing guard.

While Carelessness and a young man called Waste are tackles you can't disregard.

There's one more man you'll have to watch all through the game, my dear,

He's playing center for the team -- I'm told his name is Fear.

This game will not be easy; there'll be Struggle, there'll be Strife

As you work for victory glorious -- in this real tough game of life.

So stand behind your team, Son, there'll be many who applaud.


THE BOOK OF GOMER
(Gomer and His Boat)
Author Unknown


These are the generations of Gomer, son of Homer, son of Omer. And in the days of Gomer, Noah, the Prophet, went unto the people saying, "Prepare ye for the flood which is to come, yea, build yourselves a boat, that ye may not perish."

Now, Gomer was a member of the Church, and taught Sunday School and played, yea, even on the ward softball team.

And Gomer's wife said unto him, "Come, let us build unto ourselves a boat as the Prophet commandeth, that we may not perish in the flood."

But behold, Gomer saith unto his wife, "Worry not, dear wife, for if the flood comes the government will provide boats for us."

And Gomer did not build a boat. And Gomer's wife went unto Noah and she returned saying, "Behold, Honey, the Prophet saith unto us, "Build a boat, that we may preserve ourselves, for the government pays men not to grow trees, wherefore the government hath not the lumber to build for you a boat."

And Gomer answered saying, "Fear not, oh wife, for am I not the star pitcher on the ward softball team? Wherefore, the Church will provide for us a boat, that we will perish not."

And Gomer's wife went again unto Noah, and she returned unto Gomer, saying, "Behold, mine husband, the Prophet saith that the Church hath not enough lumber to build a boat for everyone, wherefore, mine husband, build for us a boat that we might not perish in the flood."

And Gomer answered her saying, "Behold, if we build a boat, when the flood cometh, will not our neighbors overpower us and take from us our boat; wherefore, what doth it profit a man to build a boat?"

And Gomer's wife went again unto Noah and she returned, saying, "Behold, the Prophet saith, build unto yourselves a boat, and have faith, for if ye do the Lord's bidding, He will preserve your boat for you."

But Gomer answered his wife, saying, "Behold, with this inflation, the price of wood has gone sky high, and if we wait awhile, perhaps the price will go down again. And then I will build for us a boat."

And Gomer's wife went again unto Noah, and she returned saying, "Thus saith the Prophet, build for yourselves a boat RIGHT NOW, for the price of wood will not go down, but will continue to go up. Wherefore, oh husband, build for ourselves a boat, that we may perish not."

But Gomer answered his wife, saying, "Behold, for 120 years Noah hath told us to build a boat, to preserve us from the flood, but hath the flood come? Yea, I say, nay. Wherefore, perhaps the flood will not come for another hundred and twenty years.

And Gomer's wife went again unto Noah and returned saying, "The Prophet saith, he knows it has been 120 years, but nevertheless, the flood will come, wherefore, build unto yourselves a boat."

And Gomer answered her saying, "Wherewith shall we get the money to build ourselves a boat, for are we not now making monthly payments on our snazzy new four horsepower chariot? Wherefore, when our payments end, perhaps we shall build ourselves a boat."

And Gomer's wife went again unto Noah and returned saying, "Behold, the Prophet saith that we should cut down on our recreation, and our vacations, and even give each other lumber for Christmas, that we might thereby get enough lumber to build a boat."

But Gomer saith unto her, "What a drag! Are we to cease enjoying life, just because we must build a boat?"

Wherefore, Gomer built not a boat. But behold, one afternoon Gomer heard thunder in the sky, and he feared exceedingly and he ran, yea, even to the lumber yard to buy lumber. But behold, the lumber store was crowded with great multitudes, all seeking to buy lumber, and there was not enough lumber to be found for the multitudes.

And on the same day were all the fountains of the deep opened, and the windows of heaven were broken up, and the floods came -- and behold, Gomer had no boat.

And as the water rose above Gomer's waist, his wife saith unto him, "Behold, Honey, I told thee so!"


THE COBBLER AND HIS GUEST
Anne McCollum Boyles


There once lived, in the city of Marseilles, an old shoemaker; loved and honored by his neighbors, who affectionately called him Father Martin. One Christmas Eve as he sat alone in his little shop, reading of the visit of the Wise Men to the infant Jesus, and of the gifts they brought, he said to himself, "If tomorrow were the first Christmas, and if this Jesus were to be born in Marseilles this night, I know what I would give him!" He rose from his stool and took from an overhead shelf two tiny shoes of softest snow- white leather with bright silver buckles. "I would give him these, my finest work." Then he paused and reflected. "But I am a foolish old man," he continued ... "The Master has no need of my poor gifts."

Replacing the shoes, he blew out the candle and retired to rest. Hardly had he closed his eyes it seemed, when he heard a voice call his name ... "Martin! Martin!" Intuitively he felt a presence. Then the voice spoke again ... "Martin, you have wished to see me. Tomorrow I shall pass by your window. If you see me, and bid me enter, I shall be your guest at your table."

Father Martin did not sleep that night for joy, and before it was yet dawn he rose and swept and tidied up his little shop. He spread fresh sand upon the floor, and wreathed green boughs of fir along the rafters. On the spotless linen-covered table he place a loaf of white bread, a jar of honey, and a pitcher of milk.

When all was in readiness, he took up his patient vigil at the window.

Presently he saw an old street-sweeper pass by, blowing upon his thin, gnarled hands to warm them. "Poor fellow, he must be half frozen," thought Martin. Opening the door he called out to him, "Come in my friend, and warm yourself, and drink something hot." The man gratefully accepted the invitation.

An hour passed, and Martin saw a young, miserably clothed woman, carrying a baby. She paused wearily to rest in the shelter of his doorway. The heart of the old cobbler was touched. Quickly he flung open the door. "Come in and warm while you rest," he said to her. "You do not look well," he remarked.

"I am going to the hospital. I hope they will take me in, and my baby boy," she explained. "My husband is at sea, and I am ill, without a soup."

"Poor child," said Father Martin. "You must eat something while you are getting warm. No? Then let me give a cup of milk to the little one. Ah! What a bright, pretty little fellow he is! ... Why, you have put no shoes on him!"

"I have no shoes for him," sighed the mother.

"Then he shall have this lovely pair I finished yesterday."

And Father Martin took down from the shelf the soft little snow-white shoes he had admired the evening before. He slipped them on the child's feet ... they fit perfectly. Shortly the poor young mother went on her way, two shoes in her hand and tearful with gratitude.

And Father Martin resumed his post at the window. Hour after hour went by, and although many people passed his window, and although many people shared the hospitality of the old cobbler, the expected guest did not appear.

"It was only a dream," he sighed, with a heavy heart. "I did hope and believe, but He has not come."

Suddenly, so it seemed to his weary eyes, the room was flooded with a strange light, and to the cobbler's astonished vision, there appeared before him, one by one, the poor street sweeper, the sick mother and her child, and all the people whom he had aided during the day and each smiled at him and said: "Have you not seen me? Did I not sit at your table?" Then they vanished from his view. At last, out of the silence, Father Martin heard again the gentle voice repeating the old familiar words: "Whosoever shall receive one such in my name, receiveth me ... for I was hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in ... verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me."


THE CRACKED POT
A Story for Anyone Who's Not Quite Perfect


A waterbearer in India had two large pots, one hung on each end of a pole, which she carried across her neck.

One of the pots had a crack in it. While the other pot was perfect, and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the mistress's house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to her master's house.

The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream: "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."

"Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"

"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your mistress's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in her compassion she said, "As we return to the mistress's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some.

But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side?

"That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them.

"For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my mistress's table. Without you being just the way you are, she would not have this beauty to grace her house."

Moral: Each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots.

But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. We've just got to take each person for what they are, and look for the good in them.

There's a lot of good out there.


THE DECK OF CARDS


During the North African campaign, a bunch of soldier boys had been on a long hike and they arrived in a little town called Casino. The next morning being Sunday, several of the boys went to Church. A sergeant commanded the boys in Church and after the Chaplain had read the prayer, the text was taken up next. Those of the boys who had a prayer book took them out, but this one boy had only a deck of cards, and so he spread them out. The Sergeant saw the cards and said, "Soldier, put away those cards."

After the service was over, the soldier was taken prisoner and brought before the Provost Marshall. The Marshall said, "Sergeant, why have you brought this man here?"

"For playing cards in church, Sir."

"And what have you to say for yourself, son?"

"Much, Sir," replied the soldier.

The Marshall said, "I hope so, for if not I shall punish you more than any man was ever punished."

The soldier said, "Sir, I have been on the march for about six days. I have neither a Bible nor a prayer book, but I hope to satisfy you, Sir, with the purity of my intentions."

And with that, the boy started his story: "You see Sir, when I look at the Ace, it reminds me that there is but one God.

"And the Deuce reminds me that the Bible is divided into two parts, the Old and the New Testaments.

"When I see the Trey, I think of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

"And when I see the Four, I think of the four Evangelists who preached the Gospel; there was Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

"And when I see the Five, it reminds me of the five wise virgins who trimmed their lamps; there were ten of them: five were wise and were saved, five were foolish and were shut out.

"When I see the Six, it reminds me that in six days, God made this great heaven and earth.

When I see the Seven, it reminds me that on the seventh day, God rested from His great work.

And when I see the Eight, I think of the eight righteous persons God saved when He destroyed this earth; there was Noah, his wife, their sons and their wives.

"And when I see the Nine, I think of the lepers our Savior cleansed, and nine out of the ten didn't even thank Him.

"When I see the Ten, I think of the Ten Commandments God handed down to Moses on a table of stone.

"When I see the King, it reminds me that there is but one King of Heaven, God Almighty.

"And when I see the Queen, I think of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is Queen of Heaven.

"And the Jack or Knave is the Devil.

"When I count the number of spots on a deck of cards, I find 365, the number of days in a year.

"There are 52 cards, the number of weeks in a year.

"There are 4 suits, the number of weeks in a month.

"There are 12 picture cards, the number of months in a year.

"There are 13 tricks, the number of weeks in a quarter.

"So you see, Sir, my pack of cards serves me as a Bible, an Almanac and a Prayer Book."

"And friends, the story is true. I know, I was that soldier."


THE DONUT STORY


There was a certain Professor of Religion named Dr. Christensen, a studious man who taught at a small college in the western United States. Dr. Christensen taught the required survey course in Christianity at this particular Institution. Every student was required to take this course his freshman year, regardless of his or her major.

Although Dr. Christensen tried hard to communicate the essence of the gospel in his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery. Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously.

This year, Dr. Christensen had a special student named Steve. Steve was only a freshman, but was studying with the intent of going onto seminary for the ministry. Steve was popular, he was well liked, and he was an imposing physical specimen. He was now the starting center on the school football team, and was the best student in the professor's class.

One day, Dr. Christensen asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him. "How many push-ups can you do?" Steve said, "I do about two hundred every night."

"Two hundred? That's pretty good, Steve," Dr. Christensen said. "Do you think you could do three hundred?"

Steve replied, "I don't know ... I've never done three hundred at a time."

"Do you think you could?" again asked Dr. Christensen.

"Well, I can try," said Steve.

"Can you do three hundred in sets of ten? I have a class project in mind and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it," said the professor.

Steve said, "Well ... I think I can ... yeah, I can do it."

Dr. Christensen said, "Good! I need you to do this on Friday. Let me explain what I have in mind ..."

Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room.

When class started, the professor pulled out a big box of donuts. No, these weren't the normal kinds of donuts, they were the big, extra fancy kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited it was Friday, the last class of the year, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Christensen's class.

Dr. Christensen went to the first girl in the first row and asked, "Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts?"

Cynthia said, "Yes."

Dr. Christensen then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?"

"Sure." Steve jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk. Dr. Christensen put a donut on Cynthia's desk.

Dr. Christensen then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, "Joe, do you want a donut?"

Joe said, "Yes."

Dr. Christensen asked, "Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?"

Steve did ten push-ups, Joe got a donut. And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten push-ups for every person before they got their donut..

Walking down the second aisle, Dr. Christensen came to Scott. Scott was on the basketball team, and in as good condition as Steve. He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship. When the professor asked, "Scott do you want a donut?" Scott's reply was, "Well, can I do my own push-ups?"

Dr. Christensen said, "No, Steve has to do them."

Then Scott said, "Well, I don't want one then."

Dr. Christensen shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Scott can have a donut he doesn't want?" With perfect obedience Steve started to do ten push-ups.

Scott said, "Hey! I said I didn't want one!"

Dr. Christensen said, "Look! This is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don't want it." And he put a donut on Scott's desk.

Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow.

Dr. Christensen started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry. Dr. Christensen asked Jenny, "Jenny, do you want a donut?"

Sternly, Jenny said, "No."

Then Dr. Christensen asked Steve, "Steve, would you do ten more push-ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn't want?" Steve did ten ... Jenny got a donut.

By now, a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room. The students were beginning to say "No" and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks.

Steve also had to really put forth a lot of extra effort to get these push-ups done for each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.

Dr. Christensen asked Robert, who was the most vocal unbeliever in the class, to watch Steve do each push up to make sure he did the full ten push-ups in a set because he couldn't bear to watch all of Steve's work for all of those uneaten donuts. He sent Robert over to where Steve was so Robert could count the set and watch Steve closely. Dr. Christensen started down the fourth row. During his class, however, some students from other classes had wandered in and sat down on the steps along the radiators that ran down the sides of the room. When the professor realized this, he did a quick count and saw that now there were 34 students in the room. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.

Dr. Christensen went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set. Steve asked Dr Christensen, "Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?"

Dr. Christensen thought for a moment, "Well, they're your push-ups. You are in charge now. You can do them any way you want." And Dr. Christensen went on.

A few moments later, Jason, a recent transfer student, came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled in one voice, "No! Don't come in! Stay out!"

Jason didn't know what was going on. Steve picked up his head and said, "No, let him come." Professor Christensen said, "You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten push-ups for him?"

Steve said, "Yes, let him come in. Give him a donut."

Dr. Christensen said, "Okay, Steve, I'll let you get Jason's out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut?"

Jason, new to the room, hardly knew what was going on. "Yes," he said, "give me a donut."

"Steve, will you do ten push-ups so that Jason can have a donut?" Steve did ten push-ups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.

Dr. Christensen finished the fourth row, and then started on those visitors seated by the heaters. Steve's arms were now shaking with each push-up in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. By this time sweat was profusely dropping off his face, there was no sound except his heavy breathing; there was not a dry eye in the room.

The very last two students in the room were two young women, both cheer leaders, and very popular. Dr. Christensen went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, "Linda do you want a donut?"

Linda said, very sadly, "No, thank you."

Professor Christensen quietly asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn't want?" Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow push- ups for Linda.

Then Dr Christensen turned to the last girl, Susan. "Susan, do you want a donut?"

Susan, with tears flowing down her face, began to cry. "Dr. Christensen, why can't I help him?"

Dr. Christensen, with tears of his own, said, "No, Steve has to do it alone. I have given him this task, and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not. When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked at my grade book. Steve here is the only student with a perfect grade. Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class, or offered me inferior work. Steve told me that in football practice, when a player messes up he must do push-ups. I told Steve that none of you could come to my party unless he paid the price by doing your push-ups. He and I made a deal for your sakes."

"Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Susan can have a donut?" As Steve very slowly finished his last push-up, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 push-ups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.

Dr. Christensen turned to the room and said. "And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, plead to the Father, "Into Thy hands I commend My spirit." With the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him, He yielded up His life. And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten."

Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile.

"Well done, good and faithful servant," said the professor, adding "Not all sermons are preached in words."

Turning to his class, the professor said, "My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He spared not His only Begotten Son, but gave Him up for us all, for the whole Church, now and forever. Whether or not we choose to accept His gift to us, the price has been paid."

"Wouldn't you be foolish and ungrateful to leave it laying on the desk?"


THE FILE ROOM
Joshua Harris


In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index-card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I Have Liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.

And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match.

A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I Have Betrayed."

The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I Have Given," "Jokes I Have Laughed At." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've Yelled at My Brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger," "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my 20 years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked "Songs I Have Listened To," I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.

When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.

An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With." The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.

And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that they hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.

But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus.

I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?

Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.

"No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood.

He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished."

I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.


THE HUSBAND STORE


A store that sells new husbands has opened in New York City, where a woman may go to choose a husband. Among the instructions at the entrance is a description of how the store operates:

You may visit this store ONLY ONCE! There are six floors and the value of the products increase as the shopper ascends the flights. The shopper may choose any item from a particular floor, or may choose to go up to the next floor, but you cannot go back down except to exit the building!

So, a woman goes to the Husband Store to find a husband. On the first floor the sign on the door reads:

Floor 1 -- These men Have Jobs

She is intrigued, but continues to the second floor, where the sign reads:

Floor 2 -- These men Have Jobs and Love Kids.

'That's nice,' she thinks, 'but I want more.'

So she continues upward. The third floor sign reads:

Floor 3 -- These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, and are Extremely Good Looking.

'Wow,' she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going.

She goes to the fourth floor and the sign reads:

Floor 4 -- These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Good Looking and Help With Housework.

'Oh, mercy me!' she exclaims, 'I can hardly stand it!'

Still, she goes to the fifth floor and the sign reads:

Floor 5 -- These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Gorgeous, Help with Housework, and Have a Strong Romantic Streak.

She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the sixth floor, where the sign reads:

Floor 6 -- You are visitor 31,456,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please. Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store.

PLEASE NOTE:

To avoid gender bias charges, the store's owner opened a New Wives store just across the street.

The first floor has wives that love sex.

The second floor has wives that love sex and have money and like sports.

The third, fourth, fifth and sixth floors have never been visited.


THE KITE IS HELD UP BY THE STRING
Author Unknown


While flying a kite, I once asked my father, "Dad, what holds the kite up?"

"The string," he replied.

"No Dad, the string holds it down, not up."

"If you think so, let go of the string, and see what happens," he said.

I let go and the kite began to fall.

It seems odd that the very thing which seems to keep the kite down is actually what keeps it up.

And this is true not only of kites, but of life ...

Those strings that are tied to us, the rules and regulations that seem to hold us down are actually holding us up.

Even though the author is unknown, the words are worth our time and attention. As child advocates and caregivers, we are responsible to help parents develop and raise children to be strong and stable citizens that will contribute to society.

Consider the following concerns about childrearing in today's world:


a) Many adults are cautious about guiding and disciplining children in fear of damaging their relationship with children.

b) Society is experiencing an increase in the number of children, young adults, and adults who have been indulged, lack self-control and expect immediate gratification.


It appears that these two issues are closely linked, in fact a vicious cycle. If adults are afraid of guiding and disciplining children, the children will grow up to be self-indulged, lack self-discipline, and struggle with their own relationships.

Adults need to eliminate caution and fear from their guidance systems and replace them with confidence and a sense of responsibility. It is our job, as adults, to take the business of child rearing as seriously as we take our careers. We are indeed the 'string' that both holds them down and up!

One of the most effective tools of positive guidance is the ability to set and maintain effective limits. This tool fits the 'kite' metaphor nicely because limits help define rules and regulations that provide safety and security for children. Many people think that they know how use limits in their guidance system, but if limits are not used correctly, they can do more harm than good.

Setting a limit requires the adult to define the point at which behavior is no longer acceptable. Thus, the limit needs to identify a specific behavior that is not allowed. In addition to stating the unacceptable behavior, a good limit includes a logical consequence that is closely related to the behavior. Maintaining the limit or making sure that the consequence happens is the key to a successful limit. Why? Consider what happens when an adult sets a limit but does not follow through with the consequences. The child perceives that the adult does not always 'do what he says he will do'. This can be interpreted as deceit or a lie. Healthy relationships between adults and children are based on trust and truth. Even a subtle lie that is inferred by not instituting a consequence can lead to lack of trust and deterioration of the relationship. Learning to clearly state limits is the first step to setting effective limits (Marion, 2011). When adults effectively set and maintain limits for children, they are helping children to develop self-control and trusting relationships.

Perhaps this acronym using the word 'KITES' can be used to effectively set and maintain limits:


Know the behavior expectation

Identify an appropriate consequence

Tell the child both the limit and the consequence in a confident and reassuring tone of voice

Expect resistance and restate the limit and Consequence

Stay close to make sure that the consequence happens if the limit is not observed


A popular humorist, Erma Bombeck, used this explanation of children and kites: "I said to my husband one night, I see our children as kites. You spend a lifetime trying to get them off the ground. You run with them until you're both breathless ... they crash ... they hit the rooftop ... you patch and comfort, adjust and teach. You watch them lifted by the wind and assure them that someday they'll fly. Finally, they are airborne: they need more string and you keep letting it out. But with each twist of the ball of twine, there is a sadness that goes with joy. The kite becomes more distant, and you know that it won't be long before that beautiful creature will snap the lifeline that binds you together and will soar as it is meant to soar, free and alone. Only then do you know that you did your job. "That was beautiful," said my husband. "Are you finished?" "I think so. Why?" "Because one of your kites just crashed into the garage door with his car ... another is landing here with three surfboards with friends on them and the third is hung up at college and needs more string to come home for the holidays." (Bombeck, 1985)

Setting and maintaining effective limits takes time and practice, but it worth the investment. Just like kites, all children deserve and need calm confident adults to set rules and limits to help them soar.


THE LEGEND OF THE SAND DOLLAR
Author Unknown


The legend of the Sand dollar
That I would like to tell
Of the birth and death of Jesus Christ
Found in this lowly shell.


If you will examine closely,
You'll see that you find here
Four nail holes and a fifth one
Made by a Roman's spear.


On one side the Easter Lily,
It's center is the star
That appeared unto the shepherds
And led them from afar.


The Christmas Poinsettia
Etched on the other side
Reminds us of His birthday,
Our joyous Christmas tide.


Now break the center open
And here you will release
The five white doves awaiting
To spread good will and peace.


This simple little symbol,
Christ left for you and me.
To help to spread His Message
Through all eternity.


THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL
Hans Christian Anderson


Once upon a time ... a little girl tried to make a living by selling matches in the street.

It was New Year's Eve and the snowclad streets were deserted. From brightly lit windows came the tinkle of laughter and the sound of singing. People were getting ready to bring in the New Year. But the poor little matchseller sat sadly beside the fountain. Her ragged dress and worn shawl did not keep out the cold and she tried to keep her bare feet from touching the frozen ground. She hadn't sold one box of matches all day and she was frightened to go home, for her father would certainly be angry. It wouldn't be much warmer anyway, in the draughty attic that was her home. The little girl's fingers were stiff with cold. If only she could light a match! But what would her father say at such a waste! Falteringly she took out a match and lit it. What a nice warm flame! The little matchseller cupped her hand over it, and as she did so, she magically saw in its light a big brightly burning stove.

She held out her hands to the heat, but just then the match went out and the vision faded. The night seemed blacker than before and it was getting colder. A shiver ran through the little girl's thin body.

After hesitating for a long time, she struck another match on the wall, and this time, the glimmer turned the wall into a great sheet of crystal. Beyond that stood a fine table laden with food and lit by a candlestick. Holding out her arms towards the plates, the little matchseller seemed to pass through the glass, but then the match went out and the magic faded. Poor thing: in just a few seconds she had caught a glimpse of everything that life had denied her: warmth and good things to eat. Her eyes filled with tears and she lifted her gaze to the lit windows, praying that she too might know a little of such happiness.

She lit the third match and an even more wonderful thing happened. There stood a Christmas tree hung with hundreds of candles, glittering with tinsel and coloured balls.

"Oh, how lovely!" exclaimed the little matchseller, holding up the match. Then, the match burned her finger and flickered out. The light from the Christmas candles rose higher and higher, then one of the lights fell, leaving a trail behind it. "Someone is dying," murmured the little girl, as she remembered her beloved Granny who used to say: "When a star falls, a heart stops beating!"

Scarcely aware of what she was doing, the little matchseller lit another match. This time, she saw her grandmother.

"Granny, stay with me!" she pleaded, as she lit one match after the other, so that her grandmother could not disappear like all the other visions. However, Granny did not vanish, but gazed smilingly at her. Then she opened her arms and the little girl hugged her crying: "Granny, take me away with you!"

A cold day dawned and a pale sun shone on the fountain and the icy road. Close by lay the lifeless body of a little girl surrounded by spent matches. "Poor little thing!" exclaimed the passersby. "She was trying to keep warm!"

But by that time, the little matchseller was far away where there is neither cold, hunger nor pain.


THE MAN IN THE DEAD MACHINE
Donald Hall


High on a slope in New Guinea
The Grumman Hellcat
lodges among bright vines
as thick as arms. In 1943,
the clenched hand of a pilot
glided it here
where no one has ever been.


In the cockpit, the helmeted
skeleton sits
upright, held
by dry sinews at neck
and shoulder, and webbing
that straps the pelvic cross
to the cracked
leather of the seat, and the breastbone
to the canvas cover
of the parachute.


Or say the shrapnel
missed him, he flew
back to the carrier, and every
morning takes the train, his pale
hands on the black case, and sits
upright, held
by the firm webbing.


THE OUTLAW
Jerry Jensen


Some say he was an outlaw
That he roamed across the land
With a band of unschooled ruffians
And a few old fishmen
No one knew just where he came from
Or exactly what he'd done
But they knew it must be something bad
To keep him on the run


Some say he was a poet
That he stood upon the hill
His voice could calm any angry crowd
He could make the waves stand still
He spoke in many parables
That few could understand
But the people sat for hours
Just to listen to this man


Some say he was a sorcerer
A man of mystery
He could walk upon the water
He could make the blind man see
He conjured wine at weddings
And did tricks with fish and bread
And he spoke of being born again
And rose people from the dead


Some say a politician
That he spoke of being free
He was followed by the masses
On the shores of Galilee
He spoke out against corruption
And he bowed to no decree
But they feared his strength and power
So they nailed him to a tree


Some say he is the Son of God
A man above all men
That he came to be a servant
To set us free from sin
Now that's who I believe he is
Because of things I've seen
If we follow his example
Someday we'll be like him.


THE PRAYER OF CYRUS BROWN
Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911)


"The proper way for a man to pray,"
Said Deacon Lemuel Keyes,
"And the only proper attitude,
Is down upon his knees."


"No, I should say the way to pray,"
Said Reverend Doctor Wise,
"Is standing straight, with outstretched arms,
And rapt and upturned eyes."


"Oh no; no, no," said Elder Slow,
"Such posture is too proud:
A man should pray with eyes fast closed
And head contritely bowed."


"It seems to me his hands should be
Austerely clasped in front,
With both thumbs pointing toward the ground,"
Said Reverend Doctor Blunt.


"Las' year I fell in Hodgkin's well
Head first," said Cyrus Brown,
"With both my heels a-stickin' up,
My head a-p'inting down;


"An' I made a prayer right then an' there --
Best prayer I ever said,
The prayingest prayer I ever prayed,
A-standing on my head."


THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
Robert Frost


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;


Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,


And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.


I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


THE SANDBOX


A little boy was spending his Saturday morning playing in his sandbox. He had with him his box of cars and trucks, his plastic bucket, and a shiny, red plastic shovel. In the process of creating roads and tunnels in the soft sand, he discovered a large rock in the middle of the sandbox.

The lad dug around the rock, managing to dislodge it from the dirt. With no little bit of struggle, he pushed and nudged the rock across the sandbox by using his feet. (He was a very small boy and the rock was very large). When the boy got the rock to the edge of the sandbox, however, he found that he couldn't roll it up and over the wall.

Determined, the little boy shoved, pushed, and pried, but every time he thought he had made some progress, the rock tipped and then fell back into the sandbox.

The little boy grunted, struggled, pushed and shoved -- but his only reward was to have the rock roll back, smashing his fingers.

Finally he burst into tears of frustration. All this time the boy's father watched from his living room window as the drama unfolded. At the moment the tears fell, a large shadow fell across the boy and the sandbox. It was the boy's father.

Gently but firmly he said, "Son, why didn't you use all the strength that you had available?"

Defeated, the boy sobbed back, "But I did, Daddy, I did! I used all the strength that I had!"

"No, son," corrected the father kindly, "you didn't use all the strength you had. You didn't ask me for help."

With that the father reached down, picked up the rock, and removed it from the sandbox.


THE STARFISH
adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907-1977)


Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.

Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can't return to the sea by themselves," the youth replied. "When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water."

The old man replied, "But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I'm afraid you won't really be able to make much of a difference."

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, "It made a difference to that one!"

We all have the opportunity to help create positive change, but if you're like me, you sometimes find yourself thinking, "I'm already really busy, and how much of a difference can I really make?" I think this is especially true when we're talking about addressing massive social problems like tackling world hunger or finding a cure for cancer, but it pops up all of the time in our everyday lives, as well. So when I catch myself thinking that way, it helps to remember this story. You might not be able to change the entire world, but at least you can change a small part of it, for someone.

They say that one of the most common reasons we procrastinate is because we see the challenge before us as overwhelming, and that a good way to counter that is to break the big challenge down into smaller pieces and then take those one at a time -- like one starfish at a time. And to that one starfish, it can make a world of difference.

"A single, ordinary person still can make a difference -- and single, ordinary people are doing precisely that every day."


THE SURROUNDING MASTER


A mother wishing to encourage her son's progress at the piano, bought tickets to a Paderewski performance. When the evening arrived, they found their seats near the front of the concert hall and eyed the majestic Steinway waiting on stage.

Soon the mother found a friend to talk to, and the boy slipped away.

At eight o'clock, the lights in the auditorium began to dim, the spotlights came on, and only then did they notice the boy, upon the bench, innocently picking out "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star".

His mother gasped, but before she could retrieve her son, the master appeared on the stage and quickly moved to the keyboard. He whispered to the boy. "Don't quit. Keep playing." So leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in the bass part.

Soon his right arm reached around the other side and improvised a delightful obbligato.

Together, the old master and the young novice held the crowd mesmerized.

The audience was so mesmerized that they couldn't recall what else the great master played. Only the classic "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star".

In our lives, unpolished though we may be, it is the Master who surrounds us and whispers in our ear time and time again, "Don't quit. Keep playing."

And as we do, He augments and supplements, until work of amazing beauty is created.


THE THERMODYNAMICS OF HELL


A thermodynamics professor had written a take home exam for his graduate students. It had one question:

"Is hell exothermic or endothermic? Support your answer with a proof."

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we postulate that if souls exist, then they must have some mass. If they do, then a mole of souls can also have a mass. So, at what rate are souls moving into hell and at what rate are souls leaving?

I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for souls entering hell, lets look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to hell. Since, there are more than one of these religions and people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all people and all souls go to hell.

With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change in volume in hell. Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in hell to stay the same, the ratio of the mass of souls and volume needs to stay constant.

Thus, there are two possibilities:

1. If hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter hell, then the temperature and pressure in hell will increase until all hell breaks loose.

2. If hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in hell, than the temperature and pressure will drop until hell freezes over.

If we accept the postulate given to me by a young lady during my first year, "It will be a cold night in Hell before I sleep with you", then number 2 above is not true and so Hell is exothermic.


THE TOUCH OF THE MASTER'S HAND
Myra Brooks Welch


'Twas battered and scarred,
And the auctioneer thought it
hardly worth his while
To waste his time on the old violin,
but he held it up with a smile.


"What am I bid, good people", he cried,
"Who starts the bidding for me?"
"One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?"
"Two dollars, who makes it three?"
"Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three,"


But, No,
From the room far back a gray bearded man
Came forward and picked up the bow,
Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody, pure and sweet
As sweet as the angel sings.


The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said "What now am I bid for this old violin?"
As he held it aloft with its' bow.


"One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?"
"Two thousand, Who makes it three?"
"Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
Going and gone", said he.


The audience cheered,
But some of them cried,
"We just don't understand."
"What changed its' worth?"
Swift came the reply.
"The Touch of the Masters Hand."


"And many a man with life out of tune
All battered and bruised with hardship
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like that old violin


A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.
He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.


But the Master comes,
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the Touch of the Masters' Hand.


THE WAY


The path is the way, straight and narrow
which leads no doubt, to the greatest glory


Once on the path, abiding is the key
awake to a sense, his words are so clear


The route is one way, but has temptations
the choices you make, create directions


Progression is sure, with each earned step
when light is chosen, armor is added


If you slip and fall, press on and focus
don't ever look back, endure straight forward


Weaknesses you have, to make you humble
purifies the soul, helps you get closer


Desire most high, with real intention
look to the Savior, and gain perfection


He loves you dearest, granting you the choice
while laboring hard, he will strengthen you


Not over tempted, being very fair
choose your creator, give him all your ear


Merciful and Just, are his righteous ways
faith and repentance, is the vital way


You must choose the right, or you must perish
Only clean can dwell, the unclean will never.


'TIS A GIFT TO BE SIMPLE


'Tis a gift to be simple
'Tis a gift to be free
'Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be
When we find ourselves in the place just right
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.


When true simplicity is gained
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed
To turn, turn will be our delight
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.


'Tis the gift to be gentle
'Tis the gift to be fair
'Tis the gift to wake and breathe the morning air
And every day to walk in the path we choose
'Tis the gift that we pray we may never come to loose.


When true simplicity is gained
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed
To turn, turn will be our delight
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.


'Tis the gift to be loving
'Tis the best gift of all
Like the quiet rain, it blesses when it falls
And if we have the gift we will truly believe
'Tis better to give than it is to receive.


When true simplicity is gained
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed
To turn, turn will be our delight
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.


WOMEN OF THE FIRST RELIEF SOCIETY
The Women Who Knew Joseph Smith
Author Unknown


Emma H. Smith

I am Emma Smith. At the first meeting of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, my husband, the Prophet Joseph, conducted. He proposed that the sisters elect a presiding officer. Elizabeth Ann Whitney nominated me as president and I was elected by those present. Joseph read from Doctrine & Covenants and declared me "an elect lady", whom the Lord had called. I was also "chosen and set apart ... to be a comfort to Joseph with consoling words, in the spirit of meekness." He told the sisters that "elect" meant to be elected to a certain work ... and that the revelation was then fulfilled by my election to the Presidency of the Relief Society." He also read from the first chapter of Second John suggesting that a similar organization for women existed in New Testament times.

At our first meeting I expressed my enthusiasm for the possibilities of the new society. "We are going to do something extraordinary. The object of the society is to seek out and relieve the distressed. Each member should be ambitious to do good."

We all endured personal sufferings, but I tried to reach out to serve others. Visiting neighbors to ascertain who was in need was a service that was essential to the work. We organized ward visiting teaching committees of four sisters in each ward "to search out the poor and suffering, to call upon the rich for aid, and thus, as far as possible, relieve the wants of all."

In 1830 I was instructed by the Lord to make a selection of sacred hymns for the church. I compiled a book of 90 hymns, more than a third of which were written by Latter-day Saints. Although I did not go west with the saints, I continued to bear testimony, even in my 74th year of my husband's prophetic calling: "I believe he was everything he professed to be."


MUSICAL NUMBER: Come, All Ye Saints of Zion, #38; Gently Raise the Sacred Strain, #146; The Happy Day at Last Has Come, #32


Sarah Cleveland

My name is Sarah Cleveland. At the age of 54, I was the oldest woman at the first meeting of the society. One night in 1835 my daughter and I had separate similar visions where a man of large stature in white robes showed us a parchment which read, "Behold I bring you glad tidings of great joy." The first Mormon preacher we heard made that same statement. We took it as a sign and were soon baptized. I am married to Judge John Cleveland. My husband does not share membership in the church with me.

In Nauvoo, I lived across the street from Emma Smith and she is like a sister to me. When the Saints were driven out of Missouri in 1839, I took Emma and her children into my home until Joseph was released. I am grateful I could serve as first counselor to my friend, Emma, until I moved from Nauvoo the next year.


Elizabeth Ann Whitney

My name is Elizabeth Ann Whitney. I was second counselor to Emma Smith. I am married to Newel K. Whitney, the Presiding Bishop of the church.

At the second meeting I admonished the sisters: "We must pray much for each other that we may succeed in the work before us and have wisdom given us in all our pursuits." Some of us were set apart by the Prophet Joseph Smith to go among the sick and afflicted in Nauvoo and minister to their wants. We continued to serve as midwives and nurses as the saints moved westward. "The Lord confirms it again and again. He is delighted with our acts of charity." In 1867, I became a counselor to Eliza R. Snow in the General Relief Society presidency. I served with Sister Eliza for 15 years in Utah territory.

I enjoy singing with Zina Huntington and Partridge sisters in Relief Society meetings.


MUSICAL NUMBERS: Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken, #46; Adam-ondi-Ahman, #49; God is Love, #87; Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise, #41


Elvira Cowles (Coles)

I am Elvira Cowles, the treasurer of the Relief Society. I am single and have lived in the Prophet's home assisting Emma in household duties. My father is a counselor in the Nauvoo Stake presidency. When we discussed how we could alleviate the needs of others or work on the temple, we told the sisters, "I'm strong; I can carry water for the masons." They said it was refreshing to hear someone boast of health as there had been so much sickness.


Leonora C. Taylor

My name is Leonora Taylor. I was born in England. I felt prompted to come to Canada because of a dream. There I met my husband, John Taylor. I refused his first offer of marriage because I am ten years older than him. Prompted by another dream, I accepted his second proposal and we were married in 1833.

We were taught the gospel by Parley P. Pratt and baptized in 1836. We traveled with our two children to Kirtland, only to find that the body of the Church had moved on to Far West. We waited until I gave birth to our third child then made our way to Far West.

My husband, John Taylor, offered the opening prayer at the first Relief Society meeting and set apart all three members of the presidency. While my husband was serving his first mission, we lived in "miserable old log barracks" where a skunk came in at night to sleep among us. I didn't get much sleep on those nights.

We underwent many trials. One of the most demanding challenges was the principle of plural marriage. But our devotion, faith and obedience led us to follow the Prophet. We arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in October of 1847 and tried to be a refining influence in frontier Utah with our manners, modesty and concern for others.


Desdemona Fullmer

My name is Desdemona Fullmer, one of twenty women called by the Prophet to help establish the Relief Society. I was born in Pennsylvania and brought up by godly parents who taught me to pray, and who raised me very strictly. When I was 13 years old I prayed alone and in secret to the Lord. One night I dreamt that I saw myself and a small company of people that lived pure before the Lord moving into the wilderness. From that time I became very serious of mind.

I joined the church with my brother, David, who is a Nauvoo city councilman, and we have wandered in the wilderness with the saints. I am 32 years old and reside in the Nauvoo 4th Ward.


MUSICAL NUMBER: (String trio) He Died! The Great Redeemer Died, #192; Guide Us, O Thou Great Jehovah, #83; I Know That My Redeemer Lives, #136


Philinda C. Myrick (Merrick)

I am Philinda Clark Myrick. My husband, Levi, and our 8 year old son, Charles, were killed at Haun's Mill. I remember "the mob came upon us in the after part of the day ... and commenced firing on helpless men, women and children. There were 15 killed and buried in one hole the next day. Others were wounded, some mortally, among whom was my husband, Levi N. Myrick."

We also lost a child who was wounded and died 4 weeks later. Though my life has known tragedy, I am grateful to be in Nauvoo with my four children. I am also grateful to Sister Emma for urging the sisters to give me sewing and to pay me promptly so I can continue to care for my children.


Sophia B. Packard

My name is Sophia Packard. I am originally from Massachusetts. My husband is Noah Packard whom I married in 1820. He calls me his "helpmate indeed" and tells everyone we have lived "an agreeable life together."

We were converted by Mrs. William Jolley who believed in a gold Bible which turned out to be the Book of Mormon. I was baptized in 1832. My husband is a counselor in the High Priest's Quorum. While he served a mission to the Eastern States, I took care of our seven children, the youngest being 5 years old.


Eliza R. Snow

I am Eliza R. Snow. At the age of 38, I was one of 6 unmarried women present at the organization of the Relief Society. As secretary, I carefully kept the "Record of the Organization and Proceedings of the Female Relief Society."

I grew up in the Western Reserve of Ohio. As a child I sometimes wrote my school lessons in rhyme. Joseph Smith visited our home and baptized my mother and sister. I hesitated, deliberated, then became fully committed and was baptized in April, 1835. I moved to Kirtland, Ohio where I lived with Joseph and Emma, taught in their family school and composed two hymns for Emma's new hymnal.

In Winter Quarters during the winter of 1846, we discovered new bonds of sisterhood and "the spirit of the Lord was pour'd out" upon us. I arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in October 1847, bringing the precious records of the first Relief Society meetings.

I was called by President Brigham Young to assist in reorganizing the Relief Society in 1866. He called upon the sisters to "enter into [Relief Society], not only for the relief of the poor, but for the accomplishment of every good and noble work."

During my 21 year ministry, I worked to help Latter-day Saint women recognize their temporal and spiritual responsibilities. "In your lives seek to refine and elevate, that you may be prepared to come into the presence of holy beings, and associate with Gods. WE do not know our own abilities until they are brought into exercise."

"Let your first business be to perform your duties at home. But inasmuch as you are wise stewards, you will find time for social duties because these are incumbent upon us as daughters and mothers in Zion. By seeking to perform every duty you will find that your capacity will increase, and you will be astonished at what you can accomplish.

Don't you see that our sphere is increasing? Our sphere of action will continually widen, and no woman in Zion needs to mourn because her sphere is too narrow. God bless you, my sisters, and encourage you, that you may be filled with light."


MUSICAL NUMBER: Great is the Lord, #7; Come, Let Us Sing an Evening Hymn, #16; Now We'll Sing with One Accord, #25


Sarah G. Kimball

My name is Sarah Kimball, wife of Hiram Kimball. It was in my house that the idea of the Relief Society organization took place. Sister Margaret Cook, "a maiden lady," was seamstress for me and the subject of combing our efforts for assisting the Temple hands came up in conversation. She desired to be helpful, but had no means to furnish. I told her I would furnish material if she would make some shirts for the workmen. It was then suggested that some of the neighbors might wish to combine means and efforts with ours, and we decided to invite a few to come and consult with us on the subject of forming a Ladies' Society."

After telling the Prophet our plans, he called us together with other leading Nauvoo women to organize a society which we named "The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo." From this beginning our numbers grow stronger each day and we are making a difference, not only seeing that the brethren have warm clothes to wear as they work, but assisting the new converts as they arrive in Nauvoo.

After moving west, I continued to be involved in the Relief Society, serving as a ward Relief Society president and as the General Secretary to Presidents Eliza R. Snow and to Zina Young. I had an active role in directing the suffrage movement in the Territory.

I was a champion of women's rights. For many years I worked to create opportunities for women to expand their abilities. I introduced reading and instruction during Relief Society work meetings. We would "sew carpet rages and talk on suffrage."


Bathsheba W. Smith

I am Bathsheba Smith. At the age of 19, I was the youngest of the married women at the founding of the Relief Society. I lived to see the membership grow from 20 to over forty thousand. At age 15, I was baptized with my family in West Virginia. "I felt to rejoice and firmly believed that I was accepted as a member of Christ's Kingdom." I married George A. Smith, the missionary who brought my family the gospel. During our first year of marriage I set up housekeeping in five successive homes in the Nauvoo area. George and I were among the first to receive our temple ordinances and I was an officiator in the Nauvoo Temple until the saints were forced to leave.

In the Salt Lake Valley I lived near the temple in a white cottage with green shutters. I enjoyed my garden of lilacs, roses, hollyhocks and larkspur.

I served as a counselor to Zina Young. Then I became the 4th General Relief Society President in 1901. I served as president until my death in 1910 -- the last of the original sisters present at the first Relief Society meeting.

My sisters in the Relief Society: "I bless you with the blessing of a mother in Israel; and I pray that your work may seem light and not burdensome, and that the rich outpourings of the Holy Spirit may buoy you up."


Lucy M. Smith

My name is Lucy Mack Smith. I am known as "Mother Smith" among the saints. I admire my daughter-in-law, Emma's fortitude: "I have never seen a woman in my life, who would endure every species of fatigue and hardship, from month to month, and from year to year, with that unflinching courage, zeal, and patience, which she has ever done ..."

Although I was not present at the first meeting, I spoke at the second meeting, reminding the sisters "this institution is a good one ... we must cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another and gain instruction, that we may all sit down in heaven together."


Sources:

Jill M. Derr, "Women of Covenant"

"History of Relief Society", published by the church, 1966

Susan Easton Black, "Who's Who in the Doctrine and Covenants"


The musical numbers are hymns from the first LDS hymnal that Emma compiled in 1835

"The Spirit of God", #2 was sung as the opening hymn at the first RS meeting

"Now Let Us Rejoice", #3 was also sung at that meeting


THREE TREES


Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said, "Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carving and everyone would see my beauty."

Then the second tree said, "Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull."

Finally, the third tree said, "I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest. People will see me on the top of the hill and look up to my branches and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me ..."

After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said, "This looks like a strong tree. I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter." And he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest. At the second tree, a woodsman said, "This looks like a strong tree. I should be able to sell it to the shipyard." The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.

When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down, his dreams would not come true. One of the woodsmen said, "I don't need anything special from my tree, so I'll take this one." And he cut it down. When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he had prayed for.

The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end.

The third tree was cut into large pieces and left alone in the dark. The years went by and the trees forgot about their dreams. Then, one day, a man and a woman came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time.

Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn't think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man and he stood and said "peace" and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the King of Kings in it's boat.

Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who carried it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.

The moral of this story is that when things don't seem to be going your way, always know that God has a plan for you. If you place your trust in Him, He will give you great gifts. Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined.

We don't always know what God's plans are for us. We just know that His ways are not our ways, but His ways are always best.


TO MY NEARLY CELESTIAL FRIEND
Heidi Nebeker


Oh, my friend,
I have told you everything
(Except what's most important).
I've shared with you my lunch, my clothes, my dreams
(But not the truth).
You know where I stand on abortion, the President,
And the kid who sits next to me in math class.
(But do you know where I stand with God?)
We've gone to school, movies, and the mall together
(But never to church).
We're friends for life
(But not for eternity).
I thought our friendship too valuable
To bring in the Book of Mormon.
But now I realize
you are far too valuable
To not.


23 QUESTIONS ANSWERED
by The Book of Mormon -- Another Testament of Jesus Christ


1. Does the Bible contain all of God's word? (2 Nephi 29 [pp.109-11].)

2. Who were the "other sheep" referred to by Jesus as recorded in John 10:16? (3 Nephi 15:13-24 [pp.437-38].)

3. How can a person know that the Book of Mormon is true? (Moroni 10:3-5 [p.529].

4. How can a desire to believe develop into strong faith? (Alma 32 [pp.288-91].)

5. What is the purpose of man's existence? (2 Nephi 2:25 [p.59].)

6. How can God be both just and merciful? (Alma 42 [pp.311-13].)

7. What happens to our spirits at death? (Alma 40:11-14 [p.308].)

8. How can a person turn his personal weaknesses into strengths? (Ether 12:27 [p.510])

9. What happened in America when Jesus was born in Bethlehem? (3 Nephi 1:15-21 [p.408].)

10. What happened in America when Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem? (3 Nephi 8:5-23 [pp.422-23].)

11. What do we witness "unto the Father" by being baptized? (2 Nephi 31:10-14 [pp.113-14].)

12. Why was Jesus Christ baptized? (2 Nephi 31:4-9 [p.113].)

13. Just what is the gospel of Jesus Christ? How did the Savior explain what it is? (3 Nephi 27:13-21 [p.459].)

14. Why was the atonement of Jesus Christ necessary? (2 Nephi 9:4-14 [pp.72-74]; Alma 34:8-17 [pp.293-94].)

15. To what extent are men accountable for their choices and their actions? (2 Nephi 9:25-27 [p.75]; 2 Nephi 2:27 [p.59]; Helaman 14:30-31 [p.403].)

16. Do little children need repentance and baptism? (Moroni 8:1-24 [pp.525-26].)

17. Does the Lord always protect the righteous from the unrighteous? (Alma 60:12-13 [p.359].)

18. How did a prophet who lived 600 B.C. describe our day? (2 Nephi 28 [pp.106-09].)

19. What should we pray about? (Alma 34:17-28 [pp.294-95].)

20. Why should we not procrastinate our repentance? (Alma 34:30-41 [pp.295-96].)

21. What will our bodies be like in the resurrection? (Alma 40:23 [p.309].)

22. Are we saved by grace, by works, or both? (2 Nephi 25:23 [pp.99-100].)

23. In a world with so many conflicting voices, how can a person judge what is good and what is evil? (Moroni 7:14-19 [p.522].)


WE'VE BEEN NOTIFIED


We've been notified by Building Security that there have been four suspected terrorists working at our office. Three of the four have been apprehended. Bin Sleepin, Bin Loafin, and Bin Drinkin have been taken into custody. Security advised us that they could find no one fitting the description of the fourth cell member, Bin Workin, in the office. Police are confident that anyone who looks like he's Bin Workin will be very easy to spot.


WHAT IF GOD HAD AN ANSWERING MACHINE?


Imagine praying and hearing this:


Thank you for calling My Father's House. Please select one of the following four options:

Press 1 for requests.

Press 2 for thanksgiving.

Press 3 for complaints.

For all other inquiries, press 4.


What if God used the familiar excuse: All of the angels are helping other customers right now. Please stay on the line.

Your call will be answered in the order it was received.

Can you imagine getting these kinds of responses as you call on God in prayer?

If you'd like to speak with Gabriel, press 1.

For Michael, press 2.

For any other angel, press 3.

If you want King David to sing you a psalm, press 6.

To find out if your relative is here, enter his/her date of death and listen for the list that follows:

For reservations at My Father's House, simply press the letters J-O-H-N on the keypad, followed by the number 3-16.

For answers to nagging questions about dinosaurs, the age of the earth and where Noah's ark is, wait until you get here!

Our computers show that you have called once today already. Please hang up immediately.

This office is closed for the weekend. Please call again Monday.? End of message.


Thank God, you can't call Him too often!!! You only need to ring once and God hears you. Because of Jesus, you never get a busy signal.

God takes each call and knows each caller personally. When you call and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help and He will say: Here am I!


And when you call: Emergency Phone Numbers

When in sorrow, call John 14

When men fail you, call Psalm 27

If you want to be fruitful, call John 15

When you have sinned, call Psalm 51

When you worry, call Matthew 6:19-34

When you are in danger, call Psalm 91

When God seems far away, call Psalm 139

When your faith needs stirring, call Hebrews 11

When you are lonely and fearful, call Psalm 23

When you grow bitter and critical, call 1 Cor. 13

For Paul's secret to happiness, call Col. 3:12-17

For idea of Christianity, call 2 Cor. 5:15-19

When you feel down and out, call Romans 8:31-39

When you want peace and rest, call Matt. 11:25-30

When the world seems bigger than God, call Psalm 90

When you want Christian assurance, call Romans 8:1-30

When you leave home for labor or travel, call Psalm 121

When your prayers grow narrow or selfish, call Psalm 67

For a great invention/opportunity, call Isaiah 55

When you want courage for a task, call Joshua 1

How to get along with fellowmen, call Romans 12

When you think of investments/returns, call Mark 10

If you are depressed, call Psalm 27

If your pocketbook is empty, call Psalm 37

If you're losing confidence in people, call 1 Cor. 13

If people seem unkind, call John 15

If discouraged about your work, call Psalm 126

If you find the world growing small, and yourself great, call Psalm 19


Emergency numbers may be dialed direct. No operator assistance is necessary.

All lines are open to Heaven 24 hours a day! Feed your faith, and doubt will starve to death!


WHAT IF JESUS COMES BACK
Colin Ray


He came to town on an old freight train
He jumped off in the pouring rain
Everybody says he's insane
Just a low down account hobo


He made his bed beneath the county bridge
The town folks said that's not his
They signed a petition they're gonna get rid
Of that white trash low down no count


What if Jesus comes back like that
On an old freight train in a hobo hat
Will we let him in or turn our back
What if Jesus comes back like that
Hey what if Jesus comes back like that


Born with a habit of drug abuse
She couldn't help what her mama used
It wasn't like she got to choose
Now she's layin' there all alone


Got a monkey on her back
Nurses say they never saw a smile like that
Doctor says she might stand a chance
If somebody takes her home


What if Jesus comes back like that
Two months early and hooked on crack
Will we let him in or turn our back
What if Jesus comes back like that
Oh what if Jesus comes back like that


Nobody said life is fair
We've all got a cross to bear
When it gets a little hard to care
Just think of Jesus hanging there


He came to town on a cold dark night
A single star was his only light
The baby born that silent night
A manger for his bed


What if Jesus comes back like that
Where will he find out hearts are at
Will he let us in or turn his back
Hey what if Jesus comes back like that
Yeh what if Jesus comes back like that


Will he cry when he sees where our hearts are at
Will he let us in or turn his back
Hey what if Jesus comes back like that
Oh what if Jesus comes back like that


WHEN TOMORROW STARTS WITHOUT ME
David M. Romano


When tomorrow starts without me,
And I'm not there to see;
If the sun should rise and find your eyes
All filled with tears for me;


I wish so much you wouldn't cry
The way you did today,
While thinking of the many things,
We didn't get to say.


I know how much you love me,
As much as I love you,
And each time that you think of me,
I know you'll miss me too;


But when tomorrow starts without me,
Please try to understand,
That an angel came and called my name,
And took me by the hand,


And said my place was ready,
In heaven far above,
And that I'd have to leave behind
All those I dearly love.


But as I turned to walk away,
A tear fell from my eye,
For all my life,
I'd always thought,
I didn't want to die.


I had so much to live for,
So much yet to do,
It seemed almost impossible,
That I was leaving you.


I thought of all the yesterdays,
The good ones and the bad,
I thought of all the love we shared,
And all the fun we had.


If I could relive yesterday,
Just even for a while,
I'd say good-bye and kiss you
And maybe see you smile.


But then I fully realized,
That this could never be
For emptiness and memories,
Would take the place of me.


And when I thought of worldly things,
I might miss come tomorrow,
thought of you, and when I did,
My heart was filled with sorrow.


But when I walked through heaven's gates,
I felt so much at home
When God looked down and smiled at me,
From His great golden throne,
He said "This is eternity,
And all I've promised you.


Today your life on earth is past,
But here it starts anew.
I promise no tomorrow,
But today will always last,
And since each day's the same day
There's no longing for the past.


But you have been so faithful,
So trusting and so true.
Though there were times you did some things,
You knew you shouldn't do.


But you have been forgiven
And now at last you're free.
So won't you take my hand
And share my life with me?"


So when tomorrow starts without me,
Don't think we're far apart,
For every time you think of me,
I'm right here, in your heart.


WHICH VIRGIN?
Barbara G. Dykstra


A parable the Savior told
to his disciples long ago
Of wise and also foolish ways,
of signs and saints in latter-days.
The things He saw, we too can see,
when next He comes to you and me.


Ten virgins bearing lamps alight
awaited the bridegroom through the night.
Invited, honored guests they came,
some wise -- some foolish, not the same.
Those who have eyes will surely see,
they're much the same as you and me.


The first bears balms for homage true,
and olive branch, a lily, too.
Her voice speaks peace; she's humble, meek;
she often turns the other cheek.
So pure in heart, oh could it be --
that this first virgin could be me?


The second, gowned in burial white,
seems searching for a heavenly sight.
The sacrament -- her gift of love;
the wheat and water decreed above.
Her repentant heart we all can see;
perhaps this virgin could be me.


The third in Priesthood blue and gold
concerns herself with young and old;
Ordinances for the living and the dead,
two doves she brings the Prince who weds ---
The Holy Ghost and sealings' key,
this lovely virgin must be me.


Tall and fair with scrolls and lyre,
the fourth seeks truth and knowledge power,
She sets her goals on talents bright,
keeping eternity in sight.
She'll reach her goals and grow to be
the kind of virgin I would be.


But wait, more wise than many others,
the fifth gives charity to her brothers.
Quietly, gently, her fruits are shared
with all who need her loving care.
Even the foolishes' needs she sees;
oh, that this virgin might be me.


The sixth in proud and rich array
lacks for naught along life's way.
The treasures of the earth she brings;
'tis more to earth than heav'n she clings.
In her I see a part of me;
is this the virgin I will be?


The seventh is surely pleasures child,
in dress and pose, not meek or mild.
It's time for eat and drink and fun;
there's ample time ere the bridegroom comes.
Her foolishness she cannot see;
do others see that part of me?


The eighth has much to overcome --
addictions and excess have quite undone
That temple holy her soul once was,
now all eroded for sins' own cause,
If I'm not careful as can be,
this foolish virgin will be me.


The virgin nine who loves the dark,
in secret seeks to leave her mark.
Drawing others from the light,
she sees all things with Satan's sight.
Her foolishness is sad to see;
don't let her be a part of me.


Should I become a virgin ten,
with power over the acts of men.
a troubled conscience I might know,
as through the busy world I go.
All ego and dishonesty
is what the world expects of me.


Am I more foolish or more wise?
Am I living in disguise?
Do I gather oil ever bright,
to keep my gospel flame alight?
when the bridegroom comes, I pray He'll see
one wise virgin will be me.


WIGHT YOR NAME
Cindy G.


Dedicated to the child in all of us, and to Kris Kringle.
Kris, I still miss you. You will live on in my heart forever.


When Taylor was born two friends gave me two tips for Christmas. One friend told me to buy separate gift wrap, tags, and bows for presents from Santa. Another friend told me to have someone else write on the tags from Santa. I did not realize how important that handwriting tip was going to be until a few years later.

I remember I was busy in the kitchen a few days after Christmas when Taylor, who was three and a half years old, approached me. He said something to me, but I could not hear him. "What?" I asked looking down at him. Looking up at me with a solemn face, he held up a crayon and a piece of paper. "Wight yor name," he said. I went to the table, sat down, and wrote my name. Taylor quietly watched as I did this. After I had finished writing my name, he left the table, and went into his bedroom. When he returned he had in one hand a piece of paper with Geff''s handwriting on it, and in the other hand he clutched a "Santa tag" he had kept from Christmas Day. He laid them down on the table, got up on a chair, arranged the 3 items, and studied them intensely.

"Nope, day not da same," he said. He looked at me with a big, bright smile. "What are you talking about?" I asked him. "Dis kid towed me dat Santa Claus is my mommy and daddy. He towed me to check da wighting next yee-ah. I dew it now. " he said. He then jumped out of the chair, and threw the samples of mine and Geff's handwriting into the garbage can. With his belief in Santa restored, he bounced through the kitchen waving the "Santa tag".

Five years has passed since that day. Taylor is growing in leaps and bounds. He has been asking me a lot of interesting questions lately. Who is St. Nicholas? (He was a man who loved children.) Why do people call Santa Claus, St. Nicholas? (It's his nickname.) Reindeer can't really fly, can they? (I'm not an animal behaviorist. You need to write to Jack Hanna and ask him.) How does Rudolph's nose light up without hurting him? (You mean without electrocuting him? I have no idea, you need to call and ask an electrician.) etc..

I believe Taylor and I have developed a mutual understanding during these question and answer sessions. He wants to know, but he hesitates when asking his questions, and I only give as much information as needed in answering his questions. I can see the doubt flicker across his face, but he doesn't question me to a great extent. He seems to be content for now. He isn't really ready for the truth, and I definitely am not ready to tell him. I feel that Santa is the only link left to that little boy who bounced through the kitchen after he realized the handwritings were "not da same". I know the day will come in the near future when he will no longer believe in Santa, and our last link to that little boy will be gone forever. Until that day arrives we will leave things as they are.

Someday when Taylor has a little one of his own, I will remind him about buying separate gift wrap, tags, and bows for presents from Santa. I will also remind him to have someone else write on the tags from Santa.

Who knows, maybe someday, years from now, he will be standing in his own kitchen, and hear a soft, little voice say, "Wight yor name."


WHO'S YER DADDY?


A seminary professor was vacationing with his wife in Gatlinburg, TN. One morning, they were eating breakfast at a little restaurant, hoping to enjoy a quiet, family meal. While they were waiting for their food, they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting with the guests. The professor leaned over and whispered to his wife, "I hope he doesn't come over here." But sure enough, the man did come over to their table. "Where are you folks from?" he asked in a friendly voice.

"Oklahoma," they answered.

"Great to have you here in Tennessee," the stranger said. "What do you do for a living?"

"I teach at a seminary," he replied.

"Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you? Well, I've got a really great story for you." And with that, the gentleman pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with the couple. The professor groaned and thought to himself, "Great ... Just what I need ... another preacher story!"

The man started, "See that mountain over there? (pointing out the restaurant window). Not far from the base of that mountain, there was a boy born to an unwed mother. He had a hard time growing up, because every place he went, he was always asked the same question, 'Hey boy, Who's your daddy?' Whether he was at school, in the grocery store or drug store, people would ask the same question, 'Who's your daddy?' He would hide at recess and lunchtime from other students. He would avoid going in to stores because that question hurt him so bad.

When he was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to his church. He would always go in late and slip out early to avoid hearing the question, 'Who's your daddy?' But one day, the new preacher said the benediction so fast he got caught and had to walk out with the crowd.

Just about the time he got to the Back door, the new preacher, not knowing anything about him, put his hand on his shoulder and asked him, Son, who's your daddy? The whole church got deathly quiet. He could feel every eye in the church looking at him. Now everyone would finally know the answer to the question, 'Who's your daddy'.

This new preacher, though, sensed the situation around him and using discernment that only the Holy Spirit could give, said the following to that scared little boy ..." Wait a minute!' he said. 'I know who you are. I see the family resemblance now. You are a child of God.' With that he patted the boy on his shoulder and said, Boy, you've got a great inheritance. Go and claim it. With that, the boy smiled for the first time in a long time and walked out the door a changed person. He was never the same again. Whenever anybody asked him, 'Who's your Daddy?' he'd just tell them, 'I'm a Child of God.'"

The distinguished gentleman got up from the table and said, "Isn't that a great story?" The professor responded that it really was a great story! As the man turned to leave, he said, "You know, if that new preacher hadn't told me that I was one of God's children, I probably never would have amounted to anything!" And he walked away.

The seminary professor and his wife were stunned. He called the waitress over & asked her, "Do you know who that man was who just left that was sitting at our table?"

The waitress grinned and said, "Of course. Everybody here knows him. That's Ben Hooper. He's the former governor of Tennessee!"

Someone in your life today needs a reminder that they're one of God's children!

"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of God stands forever. (Isaiah)


WHOEVER FINDS THIS, I LOVE YOU!


On a quiet street in the city a little old man walked along

Shuffling through the autumn afternoon,

And the autumn leaves reminded him of other summers come and gone.

He had a long lonely night ahead, waiting for June.


Then among the leaves near an orphan's home a piece of paper caught his eye,

And he stooped to pick it up with trembling hands.

As he read the childish writing the old man began to cry

'Cause the words burned inside him like a brand.


"Whoever finds this, I love you, whoever finds this, I need you

I ain't even got no one to talk to

So whoever finds this, I love you!"


The old man's eyes searched the orphan's home and came to rest upon a child

With her nose pressed up against the window pane.

And the old man knew he found a friend at last, so he waved to her and smiled.

And they both knew they'd spend the winter laughing at the rain.


And they did spend the winter laughing at the rain

Talking through the fence and exchanging little gifts they had made for each other.

The old man would carve toys for the little girl.

She would draw pictures for him of beautiful ladies

Surrounded by green trees and sunshine, and they laughed a lot.


But then on the first day of June the little girl ran to the fence

To show the old man a picture she drew, but he wasn't there.

And somehow the little girl knew he wasn't coming back

So she went to her room, took a crayon and paper and wrote ...


"Whoever finds this, I love you, whoever finds this, I need you

I ain't even got no one to talk to

So whoever finds this, I love you!"


"WHOSE JOB IS IT, ANYWAY?"


This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.


YOU ARE A BLESSING
B. E. Merrett


May your faith become as fertile soil
Though tears may fall as rain --
For the wondrous seeds of joy
Are rooted in our pain.


May you dare to ask for help,
Knowing angels will attend --
And guide you through the winding way
'Round every perilous bend.


May you sense the needs of others
And respond with charity --
Finding in their dear and fragile hearts
Beauty ... Truth ... Eternity.


May you seek the Lord each day in prayer,
Knowing His love is true --
And share yourself with others
'Til they touch our God through you.


May you celebrate your uniqueness
As you discover who you are --
Appreciating in each and every way,
How deeply loved you are.


CHRISTMAS STORIES


A BOY LEARNS A LESSON
Thomas S. Monson


In about my tenth year, as Christmas approached, I longed for and electric train. the times were those of the economic depression, yet my mother and dad purchased for me a lovely electric train.

Christmas morning bright and early I thrilled when I noticed my train. the next few hours were devoted to operating the transformer and watching the engine pull its cars forward -- then backward around the track.

Mother said that she had purchased a windup train for the widow Hansen's boy, Mark, who lived down the lane at Gale street. as I looked at his train, I noted a tanker car which I so much admired. I put up such a fuss that my mother succumbed to my pleadings and gave me the tanker car. I put it with the train set and felt pleased.

My mother and I took the remaining cars and the engine down to Mark Hansen. the young boy was a year or two older that I . He had never anticipated such a gift. He was thrilled beyond words. He wound the key in his engine, it not being electric or as expensive as mine, and was overjoyed as the engine and the three cars, plus caboose went around the track.

I felt a horrible sense of guilt as I returned home. the tanker car no longer appealed to me. suddenly, I took the tanker car in my hand, plus and additional car of my own, and ran all the way down to Gale Street and proudly announced to Mark, "we forgot to bring two cars which belong to your train."

I don't know when a deed has made me feel any better than that experience as a ten-year-old boy.


A BROTHER LIKE THAT


A friend of mine named Paul received a new automobile from his brother as a pre-Christmas present. On Christmas Eve, when Paul came out of his office, a street urchin was walking around the shiny new car, admiring it.

"Is this your car, Mister?" he asked.

Paul nodded, "My brother gave it to me for Christmas."

The boy looked astounded. "You mean your brother gave it to you, and didn't cost you anything? Gosh I wish ..."

He hesitated, and Paul knew what he was going to wish. He was going to wish he had a brother like that. But what the lad said jarred Paul all the way down to his heels.

"I wish," the boy went on, "that I could be a brother like that."

Paul looked at the boy in astonishment, then impulsively he added, Would you like to ride in my automobile?"

"Oh, yes, I'd love that!"

After a short ride the urchin turned, and with his eyes aglow said, Mister, would you mind driving in front of my house?"

Paul smiled a little. He thought he knew what the lad wanted. He wanted to show his neighbors that he could ride home in a big automobile. But Paul was wrong again.

"Will you stop right where those steps are?" the boy asked. He ran up the steps. Then in a little while, Paul heard him coming back, but he was not coming fast. He was carrying his little polio-crippled brother. He sat down on the bottom step, then sort of squeezed up right against him and pointed to the car.

"There she is, Buddy, just like I told you upstairs. His brother gave it to him for Christmas, and it didn't cost him a cent, and someday I'm gonna give you one just like it; then you can see for yourself all the pretty things in the Christmas windows that I've been trying to tell you about."

Paul got out and lifted the little lad into the front seat of his car. The shining-eyed older brother climbed in beside him and the three of them began a memorable holiday ride. That Christmas eve, Paul learned what Jesus meant when He said, "IT IS MORE BLESSED TO GIVE ..."


A CHRISTMAS DRESS FOR ELLEN
Thomas S. Monson


Christmas is many things to many people -- from the eager, materialistic grasping of a child for a present to the deep spiritual thankfulness of the mature heart for the gift of a Savior. If there is one common denominator, perhaps it is this: Christmas is love. Christmas is the time when the bonds of family love transcend distance and inconvenience. It is a time when love of neighbor rises above petty day-to-day irritations, and doors swing open to give and receive expressions of appreciation and affection.

If to our Christmas gift list is added the gift of service -- not only to friends and family, but also those who badly need help -- then our giving can be complete.

Several years ago, Marian Jeppson Walker related to me an experience her family had one Christmas season long years ago. It provides a touching example of the gift of service.

It was December of 1927 in the remote prairie town of Hillspring, Alberta, Canada. A young mother, Mary Jeppson, was getting her six small children ready for bed. Her heart was so full of sorrow and concern that she felt it would surely break. It was Christmas Eve, and all of the children except for the oldest, Ellen, age ten, were dancing around, excited to hang their stockings for Santa to come.

Ellen sat very subdued in a corner of the cold, small, two-room house. She felt that her mother was wrong to let the children build up their hopes for Santa to come, for there would be no Santa. There was nothing to fill the stocking. There would be only a little mush for breakfast. Just a week earlier, the family's only milk cow had died of starvation. The winter had just started, and already it was cold and harsh.

Times were hard, and Ellen, being the oldest, had too much responsibility put on her thin young shoulders. She had become very cynical, and childhood hopes and dreams and excitements had been put out of mind much too early.

Mary helped each one of her children to hang a little darned and mended stocking, but she couldn't persuade Ellen to participate. All Ellen could say was , "Mother, don't do this, don't pretend."

After the stockings had been hung, Mary read to the children the Christmas story from the Bible and then recited a few Christmas poems from memory -- memories of her own happy childhood.

Now Mary sat alone by the dying fire. Her husband, Leland, had gone to bed several hours earlier, feeling sad and discouraged. Mary knew that he felt he had failed his wife and children. She thought of their plight here in this land of ice and snow. Spring had come very late and winter had come very early for the last two years, causing all of their crops to freeze and fail.

In October Mary had received a letter from her sisters living in Idaho. They told her that they knew times were very hard for her, and although they had suffered some setbacks themselves, they wanted to know what they could send the family for Christmas.

Mary hadn't written back right away. She was reluctant to tell them how poor and destitute the family really was. Finally in November, seeing that things were not going to get any better, in desperation she had written.

Mary had requested only necessities. She told them of her family's urgent need for food, especially wheat, yeast, flour, and some cornmeal. She added that it would be a blessing if they could ship just a bit of coal, for it was so cold, and their fuel was down to almost nothing. She asked for some old, used quilts, for all of hers had worn thin and were full of holes, and they could no longer keep her children warm. Also she requested some worn-out pants to cut up and use to once again patch the pants her boys were wearing. She mentioned their desperate need for socks and shoes and gloves and warm hats and coats. At the close of the letter, she had written, "If you could just find a dress that someone has out-grown, I could make it over to fit Ellen. She is far too somber for such a young girl. She worries so about the family and about our needs. She has only one dress that she wears all the time, and it is patched and faded."

The week before Christmas had found Leland daily hitching up the horse to the sleigh and making the three-hour round trip from Hillspring into the town of Cardston to check at the train station and post office for a package from Idaho. Each day he would receive the same disappointing answer. Finally, on the day of Christmas Eve, he left early in the morning, went into Cardston, and waited for the one daily train. He checked at the post office as well. He left at noon, however, to return home to Hillspring before dark. And he left without a package. As he rode home, he wept openly, knowing how sad Mary would be.

Now, as Mary ceased her reminiscing, she realized how cold she was; the fire in the stove was all but out. The clock on the wall showed that it was 3:30 A.M. She looked up at the sad little mended stockings still hanging empty and felt that her heart was hanging just as empty.

Outside the wind was blowing at about seventy miles an hour, and the snowstorm had intensified. She was about to put out the lantern and go to bed for a few hours when suddenly there was a knock at the door.

Mary opened the door to find a man standing there, and for all the world he looked exactly like what she would expect Santa himself to look like. He was covered with frozen snow and ice. For a moment Mary doubted her senses, but then she realized it was George Sidney Schow, the mailman from Cardston. He belonged to the Church, and he knew the plight of the family. He told Mary that he knew of their waiting for the package from Idaho and that he knew there would be no Christmas without it.

George Schow was a good man. A University of Utah graduate, he had years before been stricken with a disease that had caused him to gradually go blind. After receiving a priesthood blessing, he had miraculously regained partial sight in one eye. Although he was unable to work in his chosen profession of engineering, he had found work as a postman to support his wife, Ingeborg, and their eight children.

On this particular day of Christmas Eve, George, with a team of horses pulling his sleigh, had traveled through a violent snowstorm to deliver the mail to half a dozen or more communities near Cardston. When he returned to the post office that afternoon, he was so cold and exhausted that he ached throughout his body. He longed to settle his horses for the night and join the family celebration in his warm, cozy home. But someone from the train station came by the post office to tell him that ten large crates had arrived from the States for the Jeppson family.

It was about four in the afternoon, but already it was dark. The storm was getting worse. George's horses, shivering with cold, were not capable of making another trip. The mailman decided it was just too late. There wasn't anything he could do about it.

George went home to his eager family. He placed the Christmas tree in the living room, and the children joyfully gathered around to decorate it. Although he was surrounded by happy activity and by the delicious aromas of traditional Danish holiday foods, George could not shake off thoughts of the struggling Jeppson family and the packages waiting at the post office. He took Ingeborg aside, and the couple knelt and prayed for guidance. They decided that the only thing he could do was to take the crates out to the Jeppson' little isolated farmhouse in Hillspring that very night. So with a borrowed team of horses and a borrowed sleigh with sharper runners than his on, he set out for the Jeppson place, accompanied by his fifteen-year-old son, Sidney. Ingeborg insisted that Sidney go along; although George's eyesight as passable in the daytime, his wife knew he would not be able to see at night in the midst of a fierce prairie blizzard. Ingeborg and the children sent the father and son on their way with sandwiches and little candies and snacks, and hot rocks were wrapped in blankets to keep their feet warm through the long journey.

George and his son struggled to find their way through the blinding snowstorm. Several times they felt the guidance of the Spirit as they prayed that they would reach their destination safely. With the snowdrifts deepening hour by hour, the horses plodded along more and more slowly. At last they arrived at the farmhouse. They were relieved to see one small light still on in the house.

When George and Sidney entered the home and saw how bare and humble it was, they knew why they had felt so urgently prompted to make the trip. After the postman had told Mary about his decision to come, he and his son brought the crates into the house. Mary insisted that the two stand by the stove to get warm. She got some of Leland's clothes to replace their frozen, wet clothing.

It was nearly five o'clock in the morning when the sleigh headed back into town. It had taken George and Sidney eight hours to get to the Jeppson's place because of the severity of the storm. They wouldn't get home until noon or later on Christmas day. Mary thanked them both as best she could, but she always said that there just were not words enough to express her thanks. After all, how do you thank a miracle, and a Christmas miracle at that?

Mary quickly began to unpack the crates, for she had only an hour or so before the children would awaken At the top of one of the crates she found a letter from her sisters. They told her that quilting bees had been held all over the Malad Valley, and from these, six thick, warm, beautiful quilts had been made for them. They also told of the many women who had sewn shirts for the boys and dresses for the girls, and of others who had knitted warm gloves and hats.

The donation of socks and shoes had come from people for miles around. The Relief Society had held a bazaar to raise the money to buy the coats, and all of Mary Jeppson's sisters, nieces, cousins, aunts, and uncles in Idaho had gotten together to bake the breads and make the candy to send. There was even a crate half full of beef that had been cured and packed so that it could be shipped, along with two or three slabs of bacon and two hams.

The letter closed with these words: "We hope you have a Merry Christmas, and thank you so much for making our Christmas the best one we've ever had!"

Mary's family awakened that Christmas morning to what to them was a miracle. Bacon was sizzling on the stove, and hot muffins were ready to come out of the oven. There were jars of jams and jellies and canned fruit

For each boy there was a bag of marbles, and each girl had a little rag doll made just for her. Every stocking that was hanging was stuffed full of homemade taffy, fudge, divinity, and dried fruit of every kind. Later, Mary and Leland ere to find tucked in the toe of the stockings that had been sent for them a few dollars with a little note that the money was to be used to buy coal for the rest of the winter.

The most wonderful miracle, though, occurred when Ellen, the very last to get up, rubbed her eyes in disbelief as she looked at the spot where her stocking was supposed to have been hung the night before and saw hanging there a beautiful red Christmas dress, trimmed with white and green satin ribbons. She later said it was the most wonderful Christmas ever. That morning, with the Christmas dress for Ellen, a childhood had been brought back, a childhood of hopes and dreams and Santa Claus and the miracle of Christmas.

From a beloved Christmas hymn we recall these lines:


How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is giv'n!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of his heav'n.
No ear may hear his coming;
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him, still
The dear Christ enters in.[1]


May each of us welcome the Savior of the world into our hearts and into our Christmas celebrations. May we experience the joy of setting aside convenience and personal comfort, if need be, in favor of Christian service. Then may we learn, as did an ancient prophet, that when we are in the service of our fellow beings, we are truly in the service of our God.[2]


(This is the true story of a young mother, Mary Jeppson, who lived in the remote prairie town of Hillspring, Alberta, and how she celebrated Christmas in 1927 as told by President Thomas S. Monson during the First Presidency Christmas Devotional in the Tabernacle Dec. 7, and reported in the Deseret News, 13 Dec 1997)

[1] Phillips Brooks, "O Little Town of Bethlehem," Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1985), no. 208.

[2] See Mosiah 2:17.


A CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR JESUS
Dolly Hildreth


Even though Pham was twelve years old, he was about to celebrate his very first Christmas.

Pham and his family had come to the United States during the great airlift of refugees from Vietnam. And although many wonderful things had happened to Pham's family since their arrival, the most wonderful of all was when they had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!

Before then, Pham had heard about Christmas. He had not been too sure how the Christmas holidays would be celebrated, but he thought that they might be celebrated like Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. During Tet everyone decorated his home with flowers, ate delicious food, and lit fireworks. Then, when the missionaries came to teach his family about the Church, Pham learned that Christmas is the celebration of Jesus' birth. He never tired of hearing his teacher at church read the Christmas story. He especially liked to hear about the Wise Men who had brought gifts to the baby Jesus. Pham had decided that, like the Wise Men, he would give Jesus a gift.

On the Saturday before Christmas, Pham held his little sister's hand in his as they headed for the bus stop. He shoved his other hand deep into his coat pocket where his fingers found and clutched five one-dollar bills. He had worked very hard shoveling snow and running errands to earn the money, and now he was on his way to the department store to buy the special Christmas gift for Jesus.

Although the cold nipped at Pham's nose and ears as he and Kim Li got off the bus and started down the sidewalk piled high on either side with snow, his heart was warm and he felt like singing. Soon the singing wouldn't stay inside, and Pham's voice rose clear and sweet in the cold air. He sang every Christmas carol that he knew, and people passing turned and smiled.

Soon Pham and Kim Li reached the department store. Its windows glittered with gold and silver tinsel and tiny star-lights that blinked off and on. The sight was so dazzling that Pham and Kim Li just stood in wonder for a moment.

Then, remembering his important mission, Pham led his sister into the store and started his search for the perfect gift for Jesus. Slowly he went up and down the long aisles, looking and looking. Ties and socks and books and shirts and jackets were fine for his father, but didn't seem quite right for Jesus. Pham looked at diamonds and watches and golden rings, but somehow even they would not have been good enough, even if Pham had the money to buy them. Discouraged, he wondered how the Wise Men had been able to decide on their gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.

Pham felt a tug on his sleeve. Looking down, he saw that his little sister was very tired. Gently Pham picked her up and gave her a hug. He carried her to the snack bar in the store and had her sit at a table while he went to get some hot chocolate for her. It cost fifty cents, but Pham didn't think that Jesus would mind if he spent a little of the money on Kim Li.

After Kim Li had finished her hot chocolate and had rested a while, Pham decided to go to another store. On the way they passed a crippled man begging on the sidewalk. Pham had seen many people who were hurt and crippled during the war, and his heart went out to the man. Before he quite realized what he was doing, Pham took a dollar from his pocket and gave it to the beggar.

When they arrived at the second department store, Pham again searched down every aisle, but he still couldn't find anything that was just right. Then he saw a little boy who was lost and crying. Pham took the little boy to a security guard who could help find his mother. While they were waiting, Pham bought the boy a small toy and told him stories.

It was getting late, and Pham and Kim Li started home without finding a gift for Jesus. They stopped for a moment to watch a fat man with a white beard, who was dressed in a red suit. The jolly man was ringing a bell above a pot that people dropped money into. "What is it for?" Pham asked. When the man said that it was to buy food for the poor, Pham put two dollars into the pot. He knew all about not having enough food.

When Pham put his hand back into his coat pocket, he was shocked to discover that he had only one dollar left. What have I done? he wondered. It was too late to earn more money, and he couldn't think of anything that he could buy for a dollar. Filled with disappointment, he thought of the Wise Men and their handsome gifts. He had so wanted to give Jesus a fine gift too! How could he ever do it now? By the time they reached home, great tears were sliding down Pham's cheeks.

"What's the matter?" his mother asked as she gently held his tear-streaked face. Pham told her about how he had wanted to give a gift to Jesus as the Wise Men had and about how he had spent nearly all his money and still didn't have a gift.

"Oh, but you do!" his mother said, a tender smile lighting her face. "You have already given Him the only gift that He really wants -- the love in your heart!"

"It is true that I have love, but how have I given Him that?" Pham asked, puzzled.

"Don't you see?" his mother said gently. "You have given love today to Kim Li, to the crippled man, to the little boy, to the poor for food. Oh, Pham, you have given richly! Don't you remember that Jesus said, 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me' (Matt. 25:10)? Pham, you have given Jesus the finest gift of all!"

Pham's eyes began to shine with joy. He took the remaining dollar from his pocket. "I will give this to the bishop," he said. "Maybe it will help a missionary teach others about Jesus and the gospel."


A CHRISTMAS MISTAKE


Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience.

I had cut back on nonessential obligations -- extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending.

Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six-year-old. For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's "Winter Pageant."

I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the production.

Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there'd be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation.

All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then.

Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in ten minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down.

Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats.

As I waited, the students were led into the room.

Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song.

Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as "Christmas," I didn't expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment -- songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer.

So, when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love," I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads.

Those in the front row -- center stage -- held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song.

As the class would sing "C is for Christmas," a child would hold up the letter C.

Then, "H is for Happy," and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love."

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her; a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down -- totally unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W".

The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one's mistake.

But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her "W".

Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together.

A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen.

In that instant, we understood -- the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.

For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear:

"CHRIST WAS LOVE"

And, I believe, He still is.


A CHRISTMAS STORY
Beverly M. Bartlett


It was just a few more days until Christmas in San Francisco, and the shopping downtown was starting to get to us. I remember crowds of people waiting impatiently for slow-moving buses and streetcars on those little cement islands in the middle of the street. Most of us were loaded down with packages, and it looked like many of us were beginning to wonder if all those countless friends and relatives actually deserved so many gifts in the first place. This was not the Christmas spirit I'd been raised with.

When I finally found myself virtually shoved up the steps of a jammed streetcar, the idea of standing there packed like a sardine the whole way home was almost more than I could take. What I would have given for a seat! I must have been in some kind of exhausted daze because as people gradually got off, it took me a while to notice that there was room to breathe again.

Then I saw something out of the corer of my eye. A small, dark-skinned boy, he couldn't have been more than five or six, tugged on a woman's sleeve and asked, "Would you like a seat?" He quietly led her to the closest free seat he could find. Then he set out to find another tired person. As soon as each rare, new seat became available, he would quickly move through the crowd in search of another burdened woman who desperately needed to rest her feet.

When I finally felt the tug on my own sleeve, I was absolutely dazzled by the beauty in this little boy's eyes. He took my hand, saying, "Come with me," and I think I'll remember that smile as long as I live. As I happily placed my heavy load of packages on the floor, the little emissary of love immediately turned to help his next subject.

The people on the streetcar, as usual, had been studiously avoiding each other's eyes, but now they began to exchange shy glances and smiles. A businessman offered a section of newspaper to the stranger next to him; three people stooped to return a gift that had tumbled to the floor. And now people were speaking to one another. That little boy had tangibly changed something, we all relaxed into a subtle feeling of warmth and actually enjoyed the trip through the final stops along the route.

I didn't notice when the child got off. I looked up at one point and he was gone. When I reached my stop I practically floated off that streetcar, wishing the driver a happy holiday, noticing the sparkling Christmas lights on my street in a fresh, new way. Or maybe I was seeing them in an old way, with the same open wonder I felt when I was five or six. I thought, "So that's what they mean by And a little child shall lead them ..."


A CHRISTMAS TO SHARE
Johanna Goodwin


Rulon snuggled down into the warmth of his sheets and comforter. Every evening just before he hopped into bed, his mother ironed the foot of the sheets to remove the chill of the unheated bedroom. Rulon shivered involuntarily when he realized that even with such saving measures, their coal supply would probably not last out the winter. "If only Pa hadn't died last summer," he sighed miserably.

He tried to shut out such thoughts by thinking of the Christmas tree downstairs. Earlier that Christmas Eve afternoon, he and his brothers had hiked into the woods to chop down the Douglas fir his sisters had picked out the day before. "It's a beauty, all right," he thought, "thick and full and fragrant with the rich smell of fir."

He smiled to himself, remembering Bessie's laughter as she threaded popcorn and cranberries into garland for the branches. This was the first year she'd been old enough to do it without breaking more of the popped kernels than she strung, and she had proudly declared, "I strung almost as many pieces as you ate, Rulon!"

His pleasant thoughts ended abruptly as he remembered the emptiness of the floor beneath the tree. He knew that his mother had an orange and some nuts for each of the children, but that was all there would be this year. The family had sold almost everything to pay off the debts when their father died, and there wasn't anything extra to spare. "There's not even a new ornament this year," Rulon thought dismally. One of his father's favorite traditions had been to make a different hand-carved wooden ornament for the tree each year. Lately, Rulon had been trying to fill Pa's shoes in most respects, but somehow he couldn't bring himself to take on this particular responsibility.

Rulon awoke the next morning to find two huge, blue eyes staring into his. "Oh, Rulon," Bessie cried. "Wake up! It's Christmas! Are you going to sleep all day?

"All day!" Rulon muttered to himself as he watched her scamper out of the room. "There's a whole hour before daylight yet!" But he couldn't help chuckling at her eagerness as he leapt out of the bed and dressed, dancing from one foot to the other on the cold floor.

The kitchen was a mess of confusion by the time Rulon got there. His mother was busy frying eggs and making biscuits while his seven brothers and sisters scurried around in an effort to help setting the table and pouring the milk. "Thought this one day I'd let you sleep as long as you could," his mother called over her shoulder as Rulon entered. "But I guess Bessie couldn't wait."

"Come on, Rulon!" eight year old Nathan fairly shouted. "The sooner we get breakfast eaten and cleaned up, the sooner we can go to the tree."

With all of them pitching in, everything was soon ready. Despite Ma's warning of, "Don't wolf your food!" and "Slow down and taste it!" there was soon nothing left of the morning's fare. After breakfast was cleared away, the family lined up according to ages and marched in to the tree.

Caught up in the excitement of the morning, Rulon almost forgot his bitterness. After feasting on oranges and nuts, the whole family joined in singing every Christmas carol they knew -- and then they sang some over again. Finally Ma declared, "Because this is such a happy occasion, I think we should do something really special. Since we have so much and are so blessed, I think it's only right that we should share Christmas with another family."

So much! The words hit Rulon like a bullet. Why, we don't have enough for ourselves, and she wants us to take to someone else! The children glanced at each other, somewhat puzzled, as though they couldn't believe what they had heard. But Ma seemed not to notice their bewilderment and went on to explain. "I want each of you to go to your rooms and find something you would like to give away. You have some nice hair ribbons, Wanda, and I know you have two pairs of mittens, Harold. But you decide. While you find your gifts, I'll bake some apple pies to put in a crate with everything else."

As Rulon dragged up the stairs after his brothers and sisters, confused thoughts whirled around in his mind. "What do I have to give away?" He wondered. "I -- we've all had to do without so much lately, and now Ma wants us to find something nice we don't need. I don't get it."

Rulon was the last one to bring his gift back down to the tree. After looking around for a long time, he finally settled on a fine linen pocket handkerchief that a maiden aunt had sent him from the East. His brothers and sisters were already wrapping their offerings in some brown paper and string. Rulon looked with interest to see what they had found. Wanda had contributed hair ribbons; Harold his extra pair of mittens; Nathan was parting with the straw hat he had woven last summer -- "Can always make me a new one next year," he volunteered as he saw Rulon watching him; Thelma was intently wrapping the lace jabot that adorned her otherwise plain Sunday dress, and from the shape of the package Ralph was tying string round, Rulon knew he had given away his reed whistle. Tears sprang to Rulon's eyes, though, when he saw Bessie struggling to wrap the stuffed calico cat that she slept with every night.

Just then, Ma entered the room, brushing some flour off her apron. "Well, the pies are baking," she announced. "Rulon, why don't you go get the crate from the barn to put all of these gifts in?"

Something seemed to snap suddenly inside Rulon, and he faced his mother fiercely. "Ma, what are we doing, anyway? We don't even have enough for ourselves, and here you have us taking Christmas to someone else? This is crazy."

The room was hushed as the children stared in amazement at their oldest brother. But Ma didn't seem angry at his outburst. Her shoulders sagged a little as though she were suddenly tired, but her face reflected only deep love and concern. Finally she spoke, "I'm not quite sure I understand, son. We're some of the richest people on this earth. We have a fine house to live in, clothes to wear, and I don't recall any of us ever having to go to bed hungry. More importantly, we've got each other and even though your Pa's gone, we know that we'll see him again. And we've got our testimonies of the gospel, and there's no kind of earthly treasure that I'd ever exchange for that." She paused, but went on when Rulon didn't speak. "Seems to me we're rich and very blessed, and it would be selfish of us not to want to share our bounty with others."

Rulon was strangely quiet on the way home from the Kirkham's house later that evening. He had laughed with the others when the presents were opened and as the two families joined in games and singing. But after doing his evening chores and eating supper, he excused himself, saying he needed to get something from the barn. While the others gathered around the tree to tell stories, he went to the room he shared with his brothers, explaining that there was something he wanted to do.

It was past everyone's usual bedtime when Ma called the family together for the traditional reading of the Christmas story from Luke. Rulon appeared at the top of the stairs holding something behind his back. "I have something to say," he began a little shyly, but his eyes twinkled. "This has been a wonderful day for all of us, and especially for me." He cleared his throat before he went on. "I learned a lot today, and I tried to think of some way to remind myself of it in the future. I know it's a little late to be hanging up our new ornament for the year, and I know it's not nearly as nice as the ones that Pa always made, but ..."

Rulon drew his hands from behind his back to reveal a soft wood carving of a wooden crate, topped with a Christmas bow and inscribed: "A Christmas to Share, 1931."

Everyone was sniffing as Rulon lifted Bessie up so she could hang the new ornament near the top of the tree.

"It's lovely, son," Ma said softly. "Now why don't you sit here in this chair and read the Christmas story to us."


A GIFT ALL WRAPPED IN SWADDLING CLOTHES
Dr. Ralph F. Wilson


Christmas morning of my fifth year I woke to find a wooden rifle under the tree, carefully carved by my dad, complete with a dowel barrel and a hole for my trigger finger. I can almost smell the fresh paint mingled with the fragrance of pine branches. And though I don't recall playing with it, I remember the awe I felt in knowing my dad made it just for me.

Not all gifts, however, are so personally intended. After that horrendous brown vase I got at a Christmas party, at least I had the perverse joy of watching someone open "How to Raise Rhesus Monkeys" that had been foisted off on me the year before. Then there's a punch-out calendar to sit on my desk reminding me all year long to buy Farmer's Insurance. And the mortuary that gives away bottles of hand lotion every year -- my family always calls it "embalming fluid."

What takes the joy out of giving are the obligatory gifts -- the expected office exchange, the box of candy you keep by the door to hand the Smiths when they come to call as you know they will, once a year. And don't forget the gift for great Aunt Hattie whom you haven't liked since she pinched your cheeks when you were little.

Really difficult are the gifts that come with long invisible strings dangling from them, gifts so very expensive that you could never afford to reciprocate. Gold and diamond jewelry from a suitor. You don't want to hurt his feelings, but ...

I wonder how Mary and Joseph felt as they watched richly robed wise men kneel before their child offering alabaster jars of precious myrrh, inlaid boxes heavy with the scent of frankincense, and iron-bound chests laden with gold -- gifts fit for a king. How could they possibly repay?

I guess the most troublesome gift at Christmas is the Child Himself. What do we say? We smile nicely and pat the humbly-wrapped present. "How nice of you, God, to have been so thoughtful," we mumble politely.

But the Gift lies on the dresser unopened year after year. Perhaps because we don't expect to find much inside except a useless religious trinket. Perhaps because we don't feel any need for God just now.

Perhaps because we know that if we unwrap the Gift we'll be obligated to the Giver beyond what we can ever repay. And so it sits ... and so it sits until in loneliness, in pain, in utter desperation we tug at the ribbons and tear off the wrappings, hoping against hope we'll find inside what we've longed for. And so it is.

Unconditional Love!

God sent a gift one Christmas morn, a wondrous gift, a precious gift.

God sent a gift one Christmas morn by peasant maid and craftsman hand.

God sent a gift one Christmas morn and wrapped it up in swaddling clothes,

For me, He did. Yes, for me He did.

God sent a gift one Christmas morn and wrapped it up in swaddling clothes.

For me.


A HOLY NIGHT TO REMEMBER
Sharon Espeseth


As northern Canadians we share many memories of cold winters. At Christmas time, I often reflect upon one particular evening of a prairie winter in the early sixties. Though the frost was cruel, the reminiscence is warm.

We were students at college in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, most of us living away from home for the first time. Hanging a few strips of tinsel in our rooms didn't relieve the feeling of homesickness that had overtaken our dorm. What could we do to bring on the Christmas spirit, stave off our longing for home and maybe brighten someone else's life? One of my friends suggested going caroling. That was it! Every student at our small college was rousted out for the occasion. No auditions. No voice lessons. No excuses. Warmth of spirit was the only requirement. And our enthusiasm served as an electric soul-warmer for those who seemed lacking in spirit.

We divided into groups so our music would resound over most of our college town. The group I joined had nothing resembling four-part harmony, but we could collectively make a joyful noise. Bounding boisterously and carrying a tune in our hearts, we made our first call. "Deck the Halls," we tra-la-la-ed.

Soon we discovered that caroling brings a variety of responses. When you carol for people you know, you can be sure of open doors and open hearts; when you carol for strangers, you can't be sure of what kind of reception you will get. Some folks remained in the safety and coziness of their homes, watching and listening passively through living room windows. Others cautiously propped the door open enough to hear us, but not enough to let in the cold -- or their unknown guests. Some flung wide their doors and sang along; others watched in silent reverie.

One of the stops on our journey was a three-story apartment building. With no intercoms or security cameras to deter us in those days, we walked right in. Starting our performance in the basement, we sang mostly to closed doors. After a couple of songs we headed for the main floor. Two doors swung open. One doorway framed a young couple, obviously expecting a child. In another doorway, two preschoolers clung to their parent's legs. Surprise? Wonder? Curiosity? Their faces seemed to ask, Who are these strange, bundled-up people? And why are they doing this?

We sang "Away in a Manger" for the young ones. We continued with "Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem" for our seemingly appreciative gathering. Mounting the stairs to the third floor, we burst into "It Came upon the Midnight Clear," a song that suited the night.

One door on the top floor creaked open. A stately gentleman, grey-haired and thin, held onto his doorknob. He became our audience of one. As we murmured about what to sing next, the elderly fellow asked, "Would you come into our apartment and sing for my wife? She's bedridden. I know she'd love to hear you. My wife used to be an opera singer," he added proudly, "and she's always loved music."

All eight of us stepped timidly into the couple's tiny, crowded bachelor suite. Books, records, china, antique furniture and mementoes whispered stories to us. I reminded myself not to stare for fear of invading their privacy. This was their home, their sanctuary and a hallowed place where the old-timer watched over his fragile partner. Her silver bed-mussed head made only a small dent in her pillow.

Without a word, he adjusted his wife's headrest so she could see and hear us better. Then he gave a nod. Our voices rose and warbled through "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." Had our voices been given extra grace and beauty for this occasion? Perhaps they had -- we sang rather well for such a motley, impromptu crew.

A smile flickered on the lady's gaunt, wrinkled, yet beautiful, face. Her eyes sparkled softly. Tears rolled down her cheeks. Her husband requested "Joy to the World" and "Silent Night," two of her favorites. As we finished our performance, her eyes closed. Now the man shed his own tears. Quietly we turned to leave, closing the door softly on the housebound couple.

The winter moon and stars shone down upon us. It had become a silent night, a holy night, for we had been in the presence of love that was gentle and mild. All was calm; all was bright as we headed back to our residence. We had found, and maybe even given, the Christmas spirit.


About Sharon:

Retired from teaching, I am a freelance writer living in Barrhead, AB, Canada. My essays, articles, and poems are published in a variety of Christian and secular publications including Edmonton Journal, Western Producer, Grainews, Western Catholic Reporter, Fellowscript, and Celebrate Life. You will also find my stories in anthologies: Chicken Soup for the Canadian Soul, Inscribed, and Home Tomorrow.


A KIDNAPPED SANTA CLAUS
L. Frank Baum


Santa Claus lives in the Laughing Valley, where stands the big, rambling castle in which his toys are manufactured. His workmen, selected from the ryls, knooks, pixies and fairies, live with him, and every one is as busy as can be from one year's end to another.

It is called the Laughing Valley because everything there is happy and gay. The brook chuckles to itself as it leaps rollicking between its green banks; the wind whistles merrily in the trees; the sunbeams dance lightly over the soft grass, and the violets and wild flowers look smilingly up from their green nests. To laugh one needs to be happy; to be happy one needs to be content. And throughout the Laughing Valley of Santa Claus contentment reigns supreme.

On one side is the mighty Forest of Burzee. At the other side stands the huge mountain that contains the Caves of the Daemons. And between them the Valley lies smiling and peaceful.

One would thing that our good old Santa Claus, who devotes his days to making children happy, would have no enemies on all the earth; and, as a matter of fact, for a long period of time he encountered nothing but love wherever he might go.

But the Daemons who live in the mountain caves grew to hate Santa Claus very much, and all for the simple reason that he made children happy.

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The Caves of the Daemons are five in number. A broad pathway leads up to the first cave, which is a finely arched cavern at the foot of the mountain, the entrance being beautifully carved and decorated. In it resides the Daemon of Selfishness. Back of this is another cavern inhabited by the Daemon of Envy. The cave of the Daemon of Hatred is next in order, and through this one passes to the home of the Daemon of Malice -- situated in a dark and fearful cave in the very heart of the mountain. I do not know what lies beyond this. Some say there are terrible pitfalls leading to death and destruction, and this may very well be true. However, from each one of the four caves mentioned there is a small, narrow tunnel leading to the fifth cave -- a cozy little room occupied by the Daemon of Repentance. And as the rocky floors of these passages are well worn by the track of passing feet, I judge that many wanderers in the Caves of the Daemons have escaped through the tunnels to the abode of the Daemon of Repentance, who is said to be a pleasant sort of fellow who gladly opens for one a little door admitting you into fresh air and sunshine again.

Well, these Daemons of the Caves, thinking they had great cause to dislike old Santa Claus, held a meeting one day to discuss the matter.

"I'm really getting lonesome," said the Daemon of Selfishness. "For Santa Claus distributes so many pretty Christmas gifts to all the children that they become happy and generous, through his example, and keep away from my cave."

I'm having the same trouble," rejoined the Daemon of Envy. "The little ones seem quite content with Santa Claus, and there are few, indeed, that I can coax to become envious."

"And that makes it bad for me!" declared the Daemon of Hatred. "For if no children pass through the Caves of Selfishness and Envy, none can get to MY cavern."

"Or to mine," added the Daemon of Malice.

"For my part," said the Daemon of Repentance, "it is easily seen that if children do not visit your caves they have no need to visit mine; so that I am quite as neglected as you are."

"And all because of this person they call Santa Claus!" exclaimed the Daemon of Envy. "He is simply ruining our business, and something must be done at once."

To this they readily agreed; but what to do was another and more difficult matter to settle. They knew that Santa Claus worked all through the year at his castle in the Laughing Valley, preparing the gifts he was to distribute on Christmas Eve; and at first they resolved to try to tempt him into their caves, that they might lead him on to the terrible pitfalls that ended in destruction.

So the very next day, while Santa Claus was busily at work, surrounded by his little band of assistants, the Daemon of Selfishness came to him and said:

"These toys are wonderfully bright and pretty. Why do you not keep them for yourself? It's a pity to give them to those noisy boys and fretful girls, who break and destroy them so quickly."

"Nonsense!" cried the old graybeard, his bright eyes twinkling merrily as he turned toward the tempting Daemon. "The boys and girls are never so noisy and fretful after receiving my presents, and if I can make them happy for one day in the year I am quite content."

So the Daemon went back to the others, who awaited him in their caves, and said:

"I have failed, for Santa Claus is not at all selfish."

The following day the Daemon of Envy visited Santa Claus. Said he: "The toy shops are full of playthings quite as pretty as those you are making. What a shame it is that they should interfere with your business! They make toys by machinery much quicker than you can make them by hand; and they sell them for money, while you get nothing at all for your work."

But Santa Claus refused to be envious of the toy shops.

"I can supply the little ones but once a year -- on Christmas Eve," he answered; "for the children are many, and I am but one. And as my work is one of love and kindness I would be ashamed to receive money for my little gifts. But throughout all the year the children must be amused in some way, and so the toy shops are able to bring much happiness to my little friends. I like the toy shops, and am glad to see them prosper."

In spite of the second rebuff, the Daemon of Hatred thought he would try to influence Santa Claus. So the next day he entered the busy workshop and said:

"Good morning, Santa! I have bad news for you."

"Then run away, like a good fellow," answered Santa Claus. "Bad news is something that should be kept secret and never told."

"You cannot escape this, however," declared the Daemon; "for in the world are a good many who do not believe in Santa Claus, and these you are bound to hate bitterly, since they have so wronged you."

"Stuff and rubbish!" cried Santa.

"And there are others who resent your making children happy and who sneer at you and call you a foolish old rattlepate! You are quite right to hate such base slanderers, and you ought to be revenged upon them for their evil words."

"But I don't hate 'em!" exclaimed Santa Claus positively. "Such people do me no real harm, but merely render themselves and their children unhappy. Poor things! I'd much rather help them any day than injure them."

Indeed, the Daemons could not tempt old Santa Claus in any way. On the contrary, he was shrewd enough to see that their object in visiting him was to make mischief and trouble, and his cheery laughter disconcerted the evil ones and showed to them the folly of such an undertaking. So they abandoned honeyed words and determined to use force.

It was well known that no harm can come to Santa Claus while he is in the Laughing Valley, for the fairies, and ryls, and knooks all protect him. But on Christmas Eve he drives his reindeer out into the big world, carrying a sleighload of toys and pretty gifts to the children; and this was the time and the occasion when his enemies had the best chance to injure him. So the Daemons laid their plans and awaited the arrival of Christmas Eve.

The moon shone big and white in the sky, and the snow lay crisp and sparkling on the ground as Santa Claus cracked his whip and sped away out of the Valley into the great world beyond. The roomy sleigh was packed full with huge sacks of toys, and as the reindeer dashed onward our jolly old Santa laughed and whistled and sang for very joy. For in all his merry life this was the one day in the year when he was happiest -- the day he lovingly bestowed the treasures of his workshop upon the little children.

It would be a busy night for him, he well knew. As he whistled and shouted and cracked his whip again, he reviewed in mind all the towns and cities and farmhouses where he was expected, and figured that he had just enough presents to go around and make every child happy. The reindeer knew exactly what was expected of them, and dashed along so swiftly that their feet scarcely seemed to touch the snow-covered ground.

Suddenly a strange thing happened: a rope shot through the moonlight and a big noose that was in the end of it settled over the arms and body of Santa Claus and drew tight. Before he could resist or even cry out he was jerked from the seat of the sleigh and tumbled head foremost into a snowbank, while the reindeer rushed onward with the load of toys and carried it quickly out of sight and sound.

Such a surprising experience confused old Santa for a moment, and when he had collected his senses he found that the wicked Daemons had pulled him from the snowdrift and bound him tightly with many coils of the stout rope. And then they carried the kidnapped Santa Claus away to their mountain, where they thrust the prisoner into a secret cave and chained him to the rocky wall so that he could not escape.

"Ha, ha!" laughed the Daemons, rubbing their hands together with cruel glee. "What will the children do now? How they will cry and scold and storm when they find there are no toys in their stockings and no gifts on their Christmas trees! And what a lot of punishment they will receive from their parents, and how they will flock to our Caves of Selfishness, and Envy, and Hatred, and Malice! We have done a mighty clever thing, we Daemons of the Caves!"

Now it so chanced that on this Christmas Eve the good Santa Claus had taken with him in his sleigh Nuter the Ryl, Peter the Knook, Kilter the Pixie, and a small fairy named Wisk -- his four favorite assistants. These little people he had often found very useful in helping him to distribute his gifts to the children, and when their master was so suddenly dragged from the sleigh they were all snugly tucked underneath the seat, where the sharp wind could not reach them.

The tiny immortals knew nothing of the capture of Santa Claus until some time after he had disappeared. But finally they missed his cheery voice, and as their master always sang or whistled on his journeys, the silence warned them that something was wrong.

Little Wisk stuck out his head from underneath the seat and found Santa Claus gone and no one to direct the flight of the reindeer.

"Whoa!" he called out, and the deer obediently slackened speed and came to a halt.

Peter and Nuter and Kilter all jumped upon the seat and looked back over the track made by the sleigh. But Santa Claus had been left miles and miles behind.

"What shall we do?" asked Wisk anxiously, all the mirth and mischief banished from his wee face by this great calamity.

"We must go back at once and find our master," said Nuter the Ryl, who thought and spoke with much deliberation.

"No, no!" exclaimed Peter the Knook, who, cross and crabbed though he was, might always be depended upon in an emergency. "If we delay, or go back, there will not be time to get the toys to the children before morning; and that would grieve Santa Claus more than anything else."

"It is certain that some wicked creatures have captured him," added Kilter thoughtfully, "and their object must be to make the children unhappy. So our first duty is to get the toys distributed as carefully as if Santa Claus were himself present. Afterward we can search for our master and easily secure his freedom."

This seemed such good and sensible advice that the others at once resolved to adopt it. So Peter the Knook called to the reindeer, and the faithful animals again sprang forward and dashed over hill and valley, through forest and plain, until they came to the houses wherein children lay sleeping and dreaming of the pretty gifts they would find on Christmas morning.

The little immortals had set themselves a difficult task; for although they had assisted Santa Claus on many of his journeys, their master had always directed and guided them and told them exactly what he wished them to do. But now they had to distribute the toys according to their own judgment, and they did not understand children as well as did old Santa. So it is no wonder they made some laughable errors.

Mamie Brown, who wanted a doll, got a drum instead; and a drum is of no use to a girl who loves dolls. And Charlie Smith, who delights to romp and play out of doors, and who wanted some new rubber boots to keep his feet dry, received a sewing box filled with colored worsteds and threads and needles, which made him so provoked that he thoughtlessly called our dear Santa Claus a fraud.

Had there been many such mistakes the Daemons would have accomplished their evil purpose and made the children unhappy. But the little friends of the absent Santa Claus labored faithfully and intelligently to carry out their master's ideas, and they made fewer errors than might be expected under such unusual circumstances.

And, although they worked as swiftly as possible, day had begun to break before the toys and other presents were all distributed; so for the first time in many years the reindeer trotted into the Laughing Valley, on their return, in broad daylight, with the brilliant sun peeping over the edge of the forest to prove they were far behind their accustomed hours.

Having put the deer in the stable, the little folk began to wonder how they might rescue their master; and they realized they must discover, first of all, what had happened to him and where he was.

So Wisk the Fairy transported himself to the bower of the Fairy Queen, which was located deep in the heart of the Forest of Burzee; and once there, it did not take him long to find out all about the naughty Daemons and how they had kidnapped the good Santa Claus to prevent his making children happy. The Fairy Queen also promised her assistance, and then, fortified by this powerful support, Wisk flew back to where Nuter and Peter and Kilter awaited him, and the four counseled together and laid plans to rescue their master from his enemies.

It is possible that Santa Claus was not as merry as usual during the night that succeeded his capture. For although he had faith in the judgment of his little friends he could not avoid a certain amount of worry, and an anxious look would creep at times into his kind old eyes as he thought of the disappointment that might await his dear little children. And the Daemons, who guarded him by turns, one after another, did not neglect to taunt him with contemptuous words in his helpless condition.

When Christmas Day dawned the Daemon of Malice was guarding the prisoner, and his tongue was sharper than that of any of the others.

"The children are waking up, Santa!" he cried. "They are waking up to find their stockings empty! Ho, ho! How they will quarrel, and wail, and stamp their feet in anger! Our caves will be full today, old Santa! Our caves are sure to be full!"

But to this, as to other like taunts, Santa Claus answered nothing. He was much grieved by his capture, it is true; but his courage did not forsake him. And, finding that the prisoner would not reply to his jeers, the Daemon of Malice presently went away, and sent the Daemon of Repentance to take his place.

This last personage was not so disagreeable as the others. He had gentle and refined features, and his voice was soft and pleasant in tone.

"My brother Daemons do not trust me overmuch," said he, as he entered the cavern; "but it is morning, now, and the mischief is done. You cannot visit the children again for another year."

"That is true," answered Santa Claus, almost cheerfully; "Christmas Eve is past, and for the first time in centuries I have not visited my children."

"The little ones will be greatly disappointed," murmured the Daemon of Repentance, almost regretfully; "but that cannot be helped now. Their grief is likely to make the children selfish and envious and hateful, and if they come to the Caves of the Daemons today I shall get a chance to lead some of them to my Cave of Repentance."

"Do you never repent, yourself?" asked Santa Claus, curiously.

"Oh, yes, indeed," answered the Daemon. "I am even now repenting that I assisted in your capture. Of course it is too late to remedy the evil that has been done; but repentance, you know, can come only after an evil thought or deed, for in the beginning there is nothing to repent of."

"So I understand," said Santa Claus. "Those who avoid evil need never visit your cave."

"As a rule, that is true," replied the Daemon; "yet you, who have done no evil, are about to visit my cave at once; for to prove that I sincerely regret my share in your capture I am going to permit you to escape."

This speech greatly surprised the prisoner, until he reflected that it was just what might be expected of the Daemon of Repentance. The fellow at once busied himself untying the knots that bound Santa Claus and unlocking the chains that fastened him to the wall. Then he led the way through a long tunnel until they both emerged in the Cave of Repentance.

"I hope you will forgive me," said the Daemon pleadingly. "I am not really a bad person, you know; and I believe I accomplish a great deal of good in the world."

With this he opened a back door that let in a flood of sunshine, and Santa Claus sniffed the fresh air gratefully.

"I bear no malice," said he to the Daemon, in a gentle voice; "and I am sure the world would be a dreary place without you. So, good morning, and a Merry Christmas to you!"

With these words he stepped out to greet the bright morning, and a moment later he was trudging along, whistling softly to himself, on his way to his home in the Laughing Valley.

Marching over the snow toward the mountain was a vast army, made up of the most curious creatures imaginable. There were numberless knooks from the forest, as rough and crooked in appearance as the gnarled branches of the trees they ministered to. And there were dainty ryls from the fields, each one bearing the emblem of the flower or plant it guarded. Behind these were many ranks of pixies, gnomes and nymphs, and in the rear a thousand beautiful fairies floated along in gorgeous array.

This wonderful army was led by Wisk, Peter, Nuter, and Kilter, who had assembled it to rescue Santa Claus from captivity and to punish the Daemons who had dared to take him away from his beloved children.

And, although they looked so bright and peaceful, the little immortals were armed with powers that would be very terrible to those who had incurred their anger. Woe to the Daemons of the Caves if this mighty army of vengeance ever met them!

But lo! coming to meet his loyal friends appeared the imposing form of Santa Claus, his white beard floating in the breeze and his bright eyes sparkling with pleasure at this proof of the love and veneration he had inspired in the hearts of the most powerful creatures in existence.

And while they clustered around him and danced with glee at his safe return, he gave them earnest thanks for their support. But Wisk, and Nuter, and Peter, and Kilter, he embraced affectionately.

"It is useless to pursue the Daemons," said Santa Claus to the army. "They have their place in the world, and can never be destroyed. But that is a great pity, nevertheless," he continued musingly.

So the fairies, and knooks, and pixies, and ryls all escorted the good man to his castle, and there left him to talk over the events of the night with his little assistants.

Wisk had already rendered himself invisible and flown through the big world to see how the children were getting along on this bright Christmas morning; and by the time he returned, Peter had finished telling Santa Claus of how they had distributed the toys.

"We really did very well," cried the fairy, in a pleased voice; "for I found little unhappiness among the children this morning. Still, you must not get captured again, my dear master; for we might not be so fortunate another time in carrying out your ideas."

He then related the mistakes that had been made, and which he had not discovered until his tour of inspection. And Santa Claus at once sent him with rubber boots for Charlie Smith, and a doll for Mamie Brown; so that even those two disappointed ones became happy.

As for the wicked Daemons of the Caves, they were filled with anger and chagrin when they found that their clever capture of Santa Claus had come to naught. Indeed, no one on that Christmas Day appeared to be at all selfish, or envious, or hateful. And, realizing that while the children's saint had so many powerful friends it was folly to oppose him, the Daemons never again attempted to interfere with his journeys on Christmas Eve.


A LEGEND
Author Unknown


There's a beautiful legend
That's never been told
It may have been known
To the Wise Men of old
How three little children
Came early at dawn,
With hearts that were sad,
To where Jesus was born.


One could not see,
One was too lame to play,
While the other, a mute,
Not a word could he say.
Yet, led by His star,
They came there to peep
At the little Lord Jesus
With eyes closed in sleep.


But how could the Christ Child,
So lovely and fair,
Not waken and smile
When He heard their glad prayer
Of hope at His coming,
Of faith in His birth,
Of praise at His bringing
God's peace to the earth?


And, then, as the light
Softly came through the door,
The lad that was lame
Stood upright once more.
The boy that was mute
Started sweetly to sing,
While the child that was blind
Looked with joy on the King!


A LITTLE LAMB, A BOY, A CHRISTMAS STORY
It was no longer crying because it was no longer alone; it was no longer afraid
Karen Zautyk


It was cold in the stable that night, and the animals were huddled together for warmth. The cows and the oxen and the donkeys.

And one little lamb.

Sad, scrawny little lamb, born lame and frail. Too frail to be out with the flock in the fields. The shepherds had carried it into the stable, where it would be safe from the wind and the wolves, for both the wolves and the wind came down from the hills with a fierceness in the wintertime.

The lamb had food and shelter, but that was not enough. It was lonely. Separated from its mother, it felt unloved. The other animals tried to be kind, but they had no time. During the day, they were busy working: The cows had milk to make, the oxen had earth to plow and the donkeys had carts to pull.

At night, they were all very tired. They'd feed upon the fodder and then go right to bed. None would talk, none would play. None would even sing a lullaby to a lamb that needed comfort. Every night the lamb would cry, and be told to hush, for its bleats disturbed their sleep.

Thus, that night, the lamb cried without making a sound, as it had learned to do. And it looked at the strangers who were sharing the stable. At the man, who held the woman's hand and spoke to her so softly. And especially at the woman, who spoke not at all.

Huddled together, the animals slept, and eventually the lamb slept, too. And the night was silent.

But then, in the darkest hour, there was no more darkness and no more silence. There was the cry of a baby. And the stable shone with the brightest of lights and there were voices ringing in the air.

The animals, shaken from their dreams, were frightened. They stamped their hooves and tossed their heads and made their frightened-animal noises, but the light was so lovely and the voices so beautiful, it wasn't long before they quieted and began to lose their fear.

And when the light had dimmed to a glow and the voices were only an echo, there in their manger, they saw the baby, and their eyes went wide with wonder. The animals murmured but would not approach until the woman beckoned. Then, one by one, the beasts came forward. All, that is, except the lamb, which was only a baby itself and still terribly afraid. Forgotten by the others, it trembled in a corner and tried to hide beneath the hay.

But the baby in the manger was trembling, too. The cold of the night had returned, and the baby had started to shiver. When the animals saw this, they huddled closer about the crib.

The man took off his cloak and made a blanket of it, but the cloak was thin and threadbare and provided little warmth.

The woman held the baby to her breast. He shivered still, and she began to weep.

And the lamb, which knew what weeping meant, lifted itself from the hay. Though it was still afraid, it left its hiding place. It made its way among the legs of the bigger beasts, until it stood beside the woman, and it laid its head against her knee.

And the softest of hands reached down and stroked its wool.

And the gentlest of hands picked it up and tucked it into the manger straw, and tucked the baby in beside it, and covered them both with the cloak. The baby snuggled near, and smiled, and closed his eyes.

And the lamb was very glad it had learned to cry without making a sound. Because it was crying now and didn't want to wake the child.

But the lamb wasn't crying because it was sad. It was crying because, at last, it didn't feel alone. Or afraid. Or unloved.

Then the lamb closed its eyes, too. And the woman sang a lullaby.

Zautyk, a former member of the Daily News Editorial Board, wrote this for her father, John.


A TUDOR CHRISTMAS


Long before the birth of Christ, midwinter had always been a time for merry making by the masses. The root of the midwinter rituals was the winter solstice -- the shortest day -- which falls on 21st December. After this date the days lengthened and the return of spring, the season of life, was eagerly anticipated. It was therefore a time to celebrate both the end of the autumn sowing and the fact that the 'life giving' sun had not deserted them. Bonfires were lit to help strengthen the 'Unconquered Sun'. For Christians the world over this period celebrates the story of the birth of Jesus, in a manger, in Bethlehem. The scriptures however make no mention as to the time of year yet alone the actual date of the nativity. Even our current calendar, which supposedly calculates the years from the birth of Christ, was drawn up in the sixth century by Dionysius, an 'innumerate' Italian monk, to correspond with a Roman Festival.

Until the 4th century Christmas could be celebrated throughout Europe anywhere between early January through to late September. It was Pope Julius I who happened upon the bright idea of adopting 25th December as the actual date of the Nativity. The choice appears both logical and shrewd -- blurring religion with existing feast days and celebrations. Any merrymaking could now be attributed to the birth of Christ rather than any ancient pagan ritual.

One such blurring may involve the Feast of Fools, presided over by the Lord of Misrule. The feast was an unruly event, involving much drinking, revelry and role reversal. The Lord of Misrule, normally a commoner with a reputation of knowing how to enjoy himself, was selected to direct the entertainment. The festival is thought to have originated from the benevolent Roman masters who allowed their servants to be the boss for a while.

The Church entered the act by allowing a choirboy, elected by his peers, to be a Bishop during the period starting with St. Nicholas Day (6th December) until Holy Innocents Day (28th December). Within the period the chosen boy, symbolizing the lowliest authority, would dress in full Bishop's regalia and conduct the Church services. Many of the great cathedrals adopted this custom including York, Winchester, Salisbury Canterbury and Westminster. Henry VIII abolished Boy Bishops however a few churches, including Hereford and Salisbury Cathedrals, continue the practice today.

The burning of the Yule Log is thought to derive from the midwinter ritual of the early Viking invaders, who built enormous bonfires to celebrate their festival of light. The word 'Yule' has existed in the English language for many centuries as an alternative term for Christmas. Traditionally, a large log would be selected in the forest on Christmas Eve, decorated with ribbons, dragged home and laid upon the hearth. After lighting it was kept burning throughout the twelve days of Christmas. It was considered lucky to keep some of the charred remains to kindle the log of the following year.

Whether the word carol comes from the Latin caraula or the French carole, its original meaning is the same -- a dance with a song. The dance element appears to have disappeared over the centuries but the song was used to convey stories, normally that of the Nativity. The earliest recorded published collection of carols is in 1521, by Wynken de Worde which includes the Boars Head Carol. Carols flourished throughout Tudor times as a way to celebrate Christmas and to spread the story of the nativity. Celebrations came to an abrupt end however in the seventeenth century when the Puritans banned all festivities including Christmas. Surprisingly carols remained virtually extinct until the Victorians reinstated the concept of an 'Olde English Christmas' which included traditional gems such as While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night and The Holly and the Ivy as well as introducing a plethora of new hits -- Away in a Manger, O Little Town of Bethlehem -- to mention but a few.

The twelve days of Christmas would have been a most welcome break for the workers on the land, which in Tudor times would have been the majority of the people. All work, except for looking after the animals, would stop, restarting again on Plough Monday, the first Monday after Twelfth Night. The 'Twelfths' had strict rules, one of which banned spinning, the prime occupation for women. Flowers were ceremonially placed upon and around the wheels to prevent their use. During the Twelve Days, people would visit their neighbours sharing and enjoying the traditional 'minced pye'. The pyes would have included thirteen ingredients, representing Christ and his apostles, typically dried fruits, spices and of course a little chopped mutton -- in remembrance of the shepherds. Serious feasting would have been the reserve of Royalty and the Gentry.

Turkey was first introduced into Britain in about 1523 with Henry VIII being one of the first people to eat it as part of the Christmas feast. The popularity of the bird grew quickly, and soon, each year, large flocks of turkeys could be seen walking to London from Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire on foot; a journey which they may have started as early as August. (http://www.tudorgroup.co.uk/)

A Tudor Christmas Pie was indeed a sight to behold but not one to be enjoyed by a vegetarian. The contents of this dish consisted of a Turkey stuffed with a goose stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a partridge stuffed with a pigeon. All of this was put in a pastry case, called a coffin and was served surrounded by jointed hare, small game birds and wild fowl.

And to wash it all down, a drink from the Wassail bowl. The word 'Wassail' derives from the Anglo-Saxon 'Waes-hael', meaning 'be whole' or 'be of good health'. The bowl, a large wooden container holding as much as a gallon of punch made of hot-ale, sugar, spices and apples. This punch to be shared with friends and neighbours. A crust of bread was placed at the bottom of the Wassail bowl and offered to the most important person in the room -- hence today's toast as part of any drinking ceremony.


ABSULUM THE REINDEER ELF
Duncan Wells


Absulum the Reindeer Elf
worked in the reindeer barn.
He had to clean it everyday
and that was rather hard
for it was such a dirty job
to mop and slop and scour and scrape
every corner, nook and cranny
in that reindeer place.


Absulum the Reindeer Elf
had to keep the reindeer groomed.
He had to give them all a bath.
He had to feed them too.
Cook their meals, brush their fur
and fill that barn with hay
and every morning when he woke
he would have to do it all over again.


Absulum the Reindeer Elf
played nurse and doctor too.
He took care of all the reindeer
if they were sick or had the flu.
He fixed their sleigh he mended their reins
and if they were sad he would wipe their tears.
He worked his fingers to the bone
but it seemed that no one cared.


Of course the elves in Santa's Workshop
they were such a happy lot
singing songs all day long
with that Jolly happy Santa Claus.
They laughed and danced from toy to toy
as if it was such fun
while outside in the reindeer barn
was the Elf named Absulum.


Absulum the Reindeer Elf,
when he heard that happy noise,
would wish he was a Workshop Elf
making Christmas toys
but a Workshop Elf is wise and tall
and Absulum was not
and that was why he was in that barn
well that is what he thought.


Now, it was on a Christmas Eve
when this incident occurred,
Santa's sleigh was flying high
there was no reason for concern
until the wind came up
and the snow came down
in a blinding wall of white
and all the reindeer say
that it set the stage
for the tragedy that took place that night


Through that snow the reindeer flew
with neither fear nor fright
but the wind grew strong
and stronger still
until a blizzard grabbed
that Christmas night.
And it shook that night,
it shook the sky
and it shook that reindeer sleigh.


The reindeer they could hardly see
so soon they lost their way.
They were tumbling twisting
turning topsy turvy
round and round.
They hit the tree tops
flipped the sleigh
and smashed into the ground.
The reindeer sleigh was broken
it was scattered everywhere.
There were parts and pieces on the ground
over here and over there.


Christmas toys torn from their wrapping,
ribbons tangled in the trees
and there upon the forest floor
lay Santa Claus, and all could see
that he was hurt from the tragic crash
but just how bad no one would ask.
For asking might be finding out
an answer no one cared to know
The reindeer gathered round him
each one limping, scraped or cut
and one by one they called his name


"Oh, Santa Claus? Get up!"
But not one move did Santa make
not a flicker not a sound
and every single reindeer there thought,
"What will we do now?"
The sky was black there was no light
no moon or shining star.
The reindeer huddled close for warmth
around Santa Claus who was lying there
in such a heap of sadness
pines and twigs caught in his beard.


Then one reindeer thought out loud
"If only Absulum was here."
Then suddenly the reindeer,
well they all began to chant.
"Absulum? Oh Absulum!
Oh Absulum! Absulum?
Absulum? Oh Absulum!
"Absulum? Absulum?
Absulum? Absulum?
Absuuuulllllummmmmm?"


Suddenly a star lit up
that stormy Christmas sky
and it fell toward the Earth
and landed there at Santa's side.
The reindeer all stepped back
and gasped in wonder at the sight
of Absulum the Reindeer Elf
and the star he brought for light.
He placed that star upon a tree
and it filled the Christmas sky
then quickly down with reindeer round
he was there at Santa's side.


Then on his knees the Reindeer Elf
he breathed a single breath of life
into his mouth and as he did
Santa opened wide his eyes.
"Absulum?" Said Santa Claus.
"Absulum, is that you?"
but Absulum did not answer
for there was too much work to do.
He held his hand up to his mouth
and let loose the oddest scream
that echoed through the forest
through the mountains and ravines.


Now, that scream? It was a creature call,
one he learned when he was young.
It was a call that creatures answered to
and caused them all to come.
And come they did
from hovel, hole,
from cavern, nest and tree
to offer help
to a Reindeer Elf
who was in his hour of need.


Within seconds Squirrel
and Moose and Deer
were there upon the scene.
Raccoon, Fox and Bobcat came
and every bird from every tree.
And every bunny rabbit hopped
and those who had to crawled
to take part in the rescue
of the reindeer and Santa Claus.
Each part and piece of Santa's sleigh
was gathered from the wreck
and brought to Absulum the Reindeer Elf
who began to put the pieces back.


The reins were mangled, tangled torn,
the runners snapped in two
but Absulum the Reindeer Elf
knew exactly what to do.
And so, while he worked on Santa's sleigh,
the creatures all pitched in
to gather up the toys
that were scattered by the wind.
They put the toys back in their wrapping,
tied the ribbons, filled the sack.
By then that sleigh was good as new
so, they threw the sack in back.


Then they helped old Santa to his feet
and up onto the sleigh.
The reindeer they got in as well
wherever they could find a space.
Then Absulum the Reindeer Elf,
he called the creatures round.
He placed the reins upon them all
and said, "We're taking Santa home".
Then up into the drivers seat
that tiny elf did climb.


He took the reins
and without delay
commanded them to fly.
Well, that sleigh took off
it left the gound
and headed straight into the sky
being pulled by Moose and Bunny Rabbits
and creatures who weren't meant to fly.
But fly they did and how or why
is not an answer we need know.


You see the question most important is,
"Did they get them home?"
Well, yes they did.
They got them home
and quickly took them in.
Missus Claus fed them chicken soup
then she called to Absulum.
She said, "Absulum, look outside
there are toys still in the sleigh.
You have to get back out there
and deliver them right away."


Absulum looked at Missus Claus.
He knew she was in charge
but, instead of following her orders
he took his reindeer to the reindeer barn.
He tended to their injuries
all that night and all the next day
and as for all those toys outside
well, that is where they stayed.
Because Reindeer Elves
concern themselves
only with what's right
and when taking care of reindeer
is all you know in life
then you do what must be done
to make sure those reindeer never come to harm
and so, now you know
why Absulum works in the Reindeer Barn.


ALL ALONE FOR CHRISTMAS
Barbara Jean Jones


The blizzard had stranded our parents miles from home on Christmas Eve.

Squinting at the bright winter sky, I was sure we were going to have a mild, sunny Christmas. This was somewhat of a disappointment, as I had come to love the snowy Christmases of Colorado. My thoughts were suddenly interrupted by an icy snowball splatting against my neck.

"Ha ha! Gotcha!" screamed my little brother as he scurried away from me.

It was the day before Christmas. At 13, I was old enough to be left in charge of the house while our parents went into town 10 miles away to pick up previously purchased Christmas gifts. So that we wouldn't prematurely discover our presents, Mom and Dad had cleverly arranged to leave them at the stores until Christmas Eve.

Trying to make the time go faster on what always seemed like the longest day of the year, my three younger brothers and I were playing in the three-day-old, crusted snow. We had started out making a snowman, but before long we were in a wild snowball fight.

"Ha ha ha. Gotcha back!" I yelled as I tackled my brother and the two of us fell, laughing, into a snowbank.

Although our family had moved to Denver more than six years before, it was still surprising to me how quickly the Colorado weather could change. Before our snowball fight had ended, the sky became overcast and, minutes after that, snow began to pelt the ground in furious streaks of gray.

Remembering that my parents had left me in charge, I gathered my brothers into the house. We spent the rest of the afternoon peering out at the driving snow, so thick now that the houses across the street were only dim shadows. The blanket of snow reached two feet, but still the heavy flakes continued to fall. I tried to sound confident as I told my brothers that our parents must be on their way home.

As evening drew near, one little brother playfully jumped off the front porch into the new snow. Were we ever surprised when all three feet of him disappeared into the snowy white! He reappeared looking like Frosty the Snowman.

Now it was early evening, and I was beginning to feel as grim as the quickly blackening sky. No parents. No phone call. Four frightened children alone in a storm on Christmas Eve.

Finally the phone rang. My heart beat rapidly as I answered, "Hello?"

It was my mother. My spirits rose but quickly sank again when she told me what had happened. Mom and Dad were completing their errands when the blizzard had struck, coming on so suddenly and with such force that driving became impossible. Drivers left their cars in the roads and walked to whatever shelter they could find.

After trying to get home all afternoon, our parents finally gave up, left the Christmas gifts in the car, and forged through the waist-deep snow toward the house of some friends. Mom was calling from their house.

I could feel her sadness and worry as she told me they wouldn't be able to make it home for Christmas. "Listen, honey, you've got to take care of your brothers and do whatever you can to make it a happy Christmas. We don't know when we'll be able to get back home."

Although I was relieved my parents were safe, my heart was heavy as I hung up the phone. "Some Christmas!" I said to myself. How could I possibly make it happy?

My younger brothers still believed in Santa. What was I supposed to tell them? There would be no Santa, no presents, and worst of all, no parents.

I could hardly look at my brothers' dismayed faces when I told them we'd be all alone for Christmas. But when my youngest brother started to cry, I made up my mind that somehow Christmas was still going to happen.

"Hey, guys, this'll be great," I exclaimed with hope. "We can stay up as late as we want and do something fun and different tonight." The boys' moods began to brighten. We decided to gather our sleeping bags together and spend the night underneath the Christmas tree.

Pajama-clad, we gathered in the family room, cozied up in sleeping bags, gulped hot chocolate, and read the entire Christmas story from Luke. "Fear not, for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy" (Luke 2:10).

There were no presents, no Christmas Eve parties, no Santa, not even parents, but something magical happened that night. We felt the peace and comfort of the Holy Spirit, which testified of Jesus Christ, who had come into this world to become our Savior. We felt this joy, this warmth, this feeling of love for our Savior and for each other -- and that was all we needed. Looking back, it was one of the happiest Christmas Eves I can remember, that night when four children discovered the true joy of Christmas.

In the morning we awoke to weather that all but betrayed the storm of the previous day. All we could see was the warm light of the sun dancing off a frozen sea of snow. It was the loveliest Christmas morning I had ever seen.

As I sat enjoying the incredible scene, I was surprised to see two large objects racing toward our house. "It's Santa's sleigh!" exclaimed my youngest brother, amazed to see anything traversing this kind of snow. But the two snowmobiles which soon pulled up in our front yard brought something far better than Santa and his sleigh could possibly have brought us.

We ran to the door to greet two very relieved and joyous parents. Mom and Dad gathered us in their arms and explained that our neighbors, hearing of our plight, had given up their Christmas morning to make the long trip on their snowmobiles to bring our family together for Christmas. Mom and Dad were teary-eyed as they told us how happy they were to be safely home with us.

Later, as we sat down to Christmas dinner, I marveled at how we could be so joyful when there were no presents to open and no parties to enjoy.

But as I looked around the table at the jubilant faces of my family, I realized that, even as a child, you don't need presents, parties, or Santa to feel joy at Christmas. The remarkable joy of Christmas comes from gifts money cannot buy -- the companionship of loved ones, feelings of the Spirit, and, most importantly, the gift of the Son of God.


BECAUSE OF LOVE!!
Willy Eagle


A brother and sister had made their usual hurried, obligatory pre-Christmas visit to the little farm where dwelt their elderly parents with their small herd of horses. The farm was where they had grown up and it had been named Lone Pine Farm because of the huge pine, which topped the hill behind the farmhouse. Through the years the tree had become a talisman to the old man and his wife, and a landmark in the countryside. The young siblings had fond memories of their childhood here, but the city hustle and bustle added more excitement to their lives, and called them away to a different life.

The old folks no longer showed the horses, for the years had taken their toll, and getting out to the barn on those frosty mornings was getting harder, but it gave them a reason to get up in the mornings and a reason to live. They sold a few foals each year, and the horses were their reason for joy in the morning and contentment at day's end.

Angry, as they prepared to leave, the young couple confronted the old folks "Why do you not at least dispose of The Old One." She is no longer of use to you. It's been years since you've had foals from her. You should cut corners and save so you can have more for yourselves. How can this old worn out horse bring you anything but expense and work? Why do you keep her anyway?"

The old man looked down at his worn boots, holes in the toes, scuffed at the barn floor and replied, "Yes, I could use a pair of new boots."

His arm slid defensively about the Old One's neck as he drew her near. With gentle caressing he rubbed her softly behind her ears. He replied quietly, "We keep her because of love. Nothing else, just love."

Baffled and impatient, the young folks wished the old man and his wife a Merry Christmas and headed back toward the city as darkness stole through the valley.

The old couple shook their heads in sorrow that it had not been a happy visit. A tear fell upon their cheeks. How is it that these young folks do not understand the peace of the love that filled their hearts?

So it was, that because of the unhappy leave-taking, no one noticed the smell of the insulation smoldering on the frayed wires in the old barn. None saw the first spark fall. None but the "Old One".

In a matter of minutes, the whole barn was ablaze and the hungry flames were licking at the loft full of hay. With a cry of horror and despair, the old man shouted to his wife to call for help as he raced to the barn to save their beloved horses. But the flames were roaring now, and the blazing heat drove him back. He sank sobbing to the ground, helpless before the fire's fury. His wife back from calling for help cradled him in her arms, clinging to each other, they wept at their loss.

By the time the fire department arrived, only smoking, glowing ruins were left, and the old man and his wife, exhausted from their grief, huddled together in front of the barn. They were speechless and stunned as they rose from the cold snow covered ground. They nodded thanks to the firemen as there was nothing anyone could do now. The old man turned to his wife, resting her white head upon his shoulder as his shaking old hands clumsily dried her tears with a frayed red bandana. Brokenly he whispered, "We have lost much, but God has spared our home on this eve of Christmas. Let us gather strength and climb the hill to the old pine where we have sought comfort in times of despair. We will look down upon our home and give thanks to God that it has been spared and pray for our beloved most precious gifts that have been taken from us."

And so, he took her by the hand and slowly helped her up the snowy hill as he brushed aside his own tears with the back of his old, withered hand.

The journey up the hill was hard for their old bodies in the steep snow. As they stepped over the little knoll at the crest of the hill, they paused to rest, looking up to the top of the hill, the old couple gasped and fell to their knees in amazement at the incredible beauty before them.

Seemingly, every glorious, brilliant star in the heavens was caught up in the glittering, snow-frosted branches of their beloved pine, and it was aglow with heavenly candles. And poised on its top-most bough, a crystal crescent moon glistened like spun glass Never had a mere mortal created a Christmas tree such as this. They were breathless as the old man held his wife tighter in his arms.

Suddenly, the old man gave a cry of wonder and incredible joy. Amazed and mystified, he took his wife by the hand and pulled her forward. There, beneath the tree, in resplendent glory, a mist hovering over and glowing in the darkness was their Christmas gift. Shadows glistening in the night light.

Bedded down around the "Old One" close to the trunk of the tree, was the entire herd, safe.

At the first hint of smoke, she had pushed the door ajar with her muzzle and had led the horses through it. Slowly and with great dignity, never looking back, she had led them up the hill, stepping cautiously through the snow. The foals were frightened and dashed about. The skittish yearlings looked back at the crackling, hungry flames, and tucked their tails under them as they licked their lips and hopped like rabbits. The mares that were in foal with a new years crop of babies, pressed uneasily against the "Old One" as she moved calmly up the hill to safety beneath the pine. And now she lay among them and gazed at the faces of the old man and his wife.

Those she loved she had not disappointed. Her body was brittle with years, tired from the climb, but the golden eyes were filled with devotion as she offered her gift --- LOVE. Because of love. Only Because of love.

Tears flowed as the old couple shouted their praise and joy ... And again the peace of love filled their hearts.

This is a true story.

This is an Inspirational message sent to a small group of people. My hope is that it will make your day just a little bit better.


CHARLEY COWEN AND THE ANGELS
A Christmas story by Joan Goble, 2004


He was an Idiot Savant. He amazed everyone in the Institute with his abilities -- everyone with "normal" capacities, that is. He could tell you what day of the week any event took place in history back to the institution of the Gregorian Calendar. He could repeat, note-for-note, every piano piece after hearing it once, from Beethoven to Paul McCartney's "Yesterday." He could multiply seven-digit numbers in his head faster than a hand-held calculator could. He amazed everyone with these abilities, if they could stand to look at him long enough. The brain problems were not his only birth defects.

He had an important job at the Institute. He pushed a broom down the fourth floor halls while carrying on an extremely monotone conversation, seemingly with himself. But that was the most amazing thing of all -- a gift that no one really seemed to be aware of. Charlie Cowen could see and talk to Angels. He was with the Angels every waking hour of the day, and probably every sleeping hour of the night. Nobody was as important as the Angels. He ignored the doctors and therapists to talk to the Angels.

And then not only that. He was so loved by the Angels that they would do whatever he asked. Dr. Sidney Carlson, the chief of staff, was famous for the curative successes of the Institute. The average stay for the most brain-damaged patients was under two months. The rate of cure was in the 96th percentile.

Charley pretty much had the run of the Institute. He was considered harmless enough. Everyone thought he was busy talking to himself, and didn't notice anything outside the confusing world inside his mind. They were wrong. Charley paid careful attention to the new patients who were coming into the institute, whether they were on a gurney or ambulatory. He was able to remember every detail he heard spoken about the patients, and promptly reported it to the Angels, conferring with them on what would be the proper thing to be done for each one. It was an awesome responsibility to make such judgments. A lot was determined by their condition before the accident or incident that caused their incapacities. By "condition" several things were taken into consideration: level of innocence, level of faith, level of loving-kindness and good works -- and everything in opposite categories. The Angels were the experts in this type of reporting, but they couldn't make the final judgment. That job the Most High had given to Charley, because he was a Pure Innocent. Charley would observe the patients, make note of everything the doctors and other members of the staff would discuss about them, and give this information to the Angels. After pooling their data, Charley would make the final judgment as to what miracle would be done, and how fast it would be accomplished.

It was the Holiday Season. Nobody in the Institute used the word "Christmas." The maintenance workers were decking the halls, and the bells in the Institute Chapel were tolling out familiar tunes of the Season, while Charley was unobtrusively watching in the shadows as a new patient was brought into the Institute. Her name was Elinor Murphy and she was seven years old. Her eyes were opened, but stared blankly as she sat in the small wheelchair. Walking next to her was a slender, white-haired woman in her early sixties, concerned and wringing her hands in anxiety. An orderly saw Charley in the shadows and in a well-meaning, good-natured fashion, delivered Charley back to the fourth floor and gave him his broom. Charley promptly and subtly made his way back to where Elinor was being examined.

Later that afternoon, Charley reported to the Angels about Elinor. The Chapel bells were, surprisingly, chiming out "Silent Night." Elinor had been the only survivor of a horrendous crash between a semi and a family minivan. She had spent several weeks in intensive care, comatose, and had come out of the coma almost completely incapacitated. The institute was considered her last hope, and her grandmother, the concerned white-haired woman, was willing to invest all the inheritance she had from her deceased entrepreneur husband for the benefit and anticipated cure of her last remaining family member. The angels reported that Elinor was a Pure Innocent. And the Overseeing Archangel recommended that she not be rendered normal, as to protect her from being tainted by the wickedness of the world. Such a decision had been made several years before in behalf of Charley. He sadly accepted this without question, and one by one over the years, his family members had forgotten about him. But he would not accept the same fate for Elinor. Charley saw families come to the Institute, joyfully taking home their newly cured family members in their loving arms. Nobody but the Angels and the Most High loved Charley.

The Overseeing Archangel had reported that it was within the 84.73 and 92.06 percentile points of probability that Elinor would become Spoiled, since her Grandmother would be exclusively devoted to her. Charley was adamant. She still had more than fifteen-percent chance of remaining Pure. He was sticking to his decision. Not only would Elinor be cured, but also it would be a dramatic, instantaneous Miracle, which was to take place in eighteen days -- Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve dawned pale and misty. The morning shadows cast their long tendrils over the fourth floor hall from the eastern-facing windows as Charley was pushing his broom mechanically and staring blankly while carrying on a running conversation slightly above a whisper with the Overseeing Angel, invisibly walking beside him. Several other Angels of lower rank were accompanying them, but they dared not interrupt such an important conference.

Dr. Carlson and his staff were in a meeting discussing the treatment of Elinor Murphy. The funds extended to the facility by the Grandmother were almost exhausted. Reluctantly it was decided that since no improvement had been noted over the past three weeks from their unorthodox treatments, that they would have to declare the management of this case to be one of their rare failures. Elinor would be transferred to a long-term care home in three days.

That evening was the staff Holiday party. Charley had been called on to give one of his rare piano recitals, brilliantly executed, while the audience averted their eyes. While the staff was thus occupied, the Angels were carrying out the plan concocted by Charley and the Overseeing Angel. All of the Sentry Angels were surrounding Elinor's bed, and in unison, they sang the Song of Redeeming Love. Elinor suddenly woke up from her misty dream and smiled at the Angels, because as she was a Pure Innocent, she could see every one of them. That night, Elinor was in the arms of her grateful grandmother, and Elinor was telling her the story that Grandmother dismissed as her "dream." Dr. Carlson was smiling over another of his amazing cures.

On Christmas morning, nobody was sweeping the fourth floor. Charley Cowen was gone away. He was the new Overseeing Angel. The Institute was bankrupt within five months. Dr. Carlson could never understand why there were no more of his amazing cures.


CHRISTMAS AT THE GAS STATION


The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn't been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. It was just another day to him. He didn't hate Christmas, just couldn't find a reason to celebrate. He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through.

Instead of throwing the man out, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the heater and warm up. "Thank you, but I don't mean to intrude," said the stranger. "I see you're busy, I'll just go."

"Not without something hot in your belly." George said.

He turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. "It ain't much, but it's hot and tasty. Stew ... Made it myself. When you're done, there's coffee and it's fresh."

Just at that moment he heard the "ding" of the driveway bell. "Excuse me, be right back," George said. There in the driveway was an old '53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked. "Mister can you help me!" said the driver, with a deep Spanish accent. "My wife is with child and my car is broken." George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold, the car was dead.

"You ain't going in this thing," George said as he turned away.

"But Mister, please help ..." The door of the office closed behind George as he went inside. He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building, opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting. "Here, take my truck," he said. "She ain't the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good."

George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. He turned and walked back inside the office. "Glad I gave 'em the truck, their tires were shot too. That 'ol truck has brand new ." George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The Thermos was on the desk, empty, with a used coffee cup beside it. "Well, at least he got something in his belly," George thought.

George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered the the block hadn't cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator. "Well, shoot, I can fix this," he said to himself. So he put a new one on.

"Those tires ain't gonna get 'em through the winter either." He took the snow treads off of his wife's old Lincoln . They were like new and he wasn't going to drive the car anyway.

As he was working, he heard shots being fired. He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, "Please help me."

George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention. "Pressure to stop the bleeding," he thought. The uniform company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound. "Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin'," he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease.

"Something for pain," George thought. All he had was the pills he used for his back. "These ought to work." He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills. "You hang in there, I'm going to get you an ambulance."

The phone was dead. "Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your car." He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio.

He went back in to find the policeman sitting up. "Thanks," said the officer. "You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area."

George sat down beside him, "I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain't gonna leave you." George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. "Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right through 'ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think with time your gonna be right as rain."

George got up and poured a cup of coffee. "How do you take it?" he asked.

"None for me," said the officer.

"Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city. Too bad I ain't got no donuts." The officer laughed and winced at the same time.

The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun. "Give me all your cash! Do it now!" the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before.

"That's the guy that shot me!" exclaimed the officer.

"Son, why are you doing this?" asked George, "You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt."

The young man was confused. "Shut up old man, or I'll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!"

The cop was reaching for his gun. "Put that thing away," George said to the cop, "we got one too many in here now."

He turned his attention to the young man. "Son, it's Christmas Eve. If you need money, well then, here. It ain't much but it's all I got. Now put that pea shooter away."

George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time. The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry. "I'm not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son," he went on. "I've lost my job, my rent is due, my car got repossessed last week."

George handed the gun to the cop. "Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can."

He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. "Sometimes we do stupid things." George handed the young man a cup of coffee. "Bein' stupid is one of the things that makes us human. Comin' in here with a gun ain't the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we'll sort this thing out."

The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop. "Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I'm sorry officer."

"Shut up and drink your coffee " the cop said.

George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn. "Chuck! You ok?" one of the cops asked the wounded officer.

"Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?"

"GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread. Who did this?" the other cop asked as he approached the young man.

Chuck answered him, "I don't know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran."

George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other.

"That guy work here?" the wounded cop continued.

"Yep," George said, "just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job."

The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, "Why?"

Chuck just said, "Merry Christmas boy ... and you too, George, and thanks for everything."

"Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems."

George went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box. "Here you go, something for the little woman. I don't think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day."

The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw. "I can't take this," said the young man. "It means something to you."

"And now it means something to you," replied George. "I got my memories. That's all I need."

George reached into the box again. An airplane, a car and a truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell. "Here's something for that little man of yours."

The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier.

"And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that too," George said. "Now git home to your family."

The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. "I'll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good."

"Nope. I'm closed Christmas day," George said. "See ya the day after."

George turned around to find that the stranger had returned. "Where'd you come from? I thought you left?"

"I have been here. I have always been here," said the stranger. "You say you don't celebrate Christmas. Why?"

"Well, after my wife passed away, I just couldn't see what all the bother was. Puttin' up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin' cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn't the same by myself and besides I was gettin' a little chubby."

The stranger put his hand on George's shoulder. "But you do celebrate the holiday, George. You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry. The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor.

The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists. The young man who tried to rob you will make you a rich man and not take any for himself. "That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man."

George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. "And how do you know all this?" asked the old man.

"Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again."

The stranger moved toward the door. "If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned."

George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room.

"You see, George ... it's My birthday. Merry Christmas."

George fell to his knees and replied, "Happy Birthday, Lord Jesus"

Merry Christmas!!

This story is better than any greeting card.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND GOD BLESS!


CHRISTMAS DAY IN THE MORNING
Pearl S. Buck


He woke suddenly and completely. It was four o'clock, the hour at which his father had always called him to get up and help with the milking. Strange how the habits of his youth clung to him still! His father had been dead for 30 years, and yet he waked at four o'clock in the morning. He had trained himself to turn over and go to sleep, but this morning, because it was Christmas, he did not try. Yet what was the magic of Christmas now? His own children had grown up and gone. He was left alone with his wife. Yesterday she had said, "Let's not trim the tree until tomorrow, Robert. I'm tired." He had agreed, and so the tree remained out in the back entry. Why did he feel so awake tonight? For it was still night, clear and starry. No moon, of course, but the stars were extraordinary! Now that he thought of it, the stars seemed always large and clear before the dawn of Christmas day. There was one star now that was certainly larger and brighter than any of the other. He could even imagine it moving, as it had seemed to him to move one night long ago.

He was 15 years old and still on his father's farm. He loved his father. He had not known it until one day a few days before Christmas, when he had overheard what his father was saying to his mother.

"Mary, I hate to call Rob in the mornings. He's growing so fast and he needs his sleep. If you could see how he sleeps when I go in to wake him up! I wish I could manage alone."

"Well, you can't, Adam." His mother's voice was brisk. "Besides, he isn't a child anymore. It's time he took his turn."

"Yes," his father said slowly. "But I sure do hate to wake him."

When he heard these words, something in him woke: his father loved him! There would be no more loitering in the mornings and having to be called again. He got up after that, stumbling blind with sleep, and pulled on his clothes, his eyes tight shut, but he got up.

And then on the night before Christmas, that year when he was 15, he lay for a few minutes thinking about the next day. He wished he had a better present for his father. As usual, he had gone to the ten-cent store and bought a tie for his father. It had seemed nice enough until he lay thinking, and then he wished that he had heard his father and mother talking in time for him to save for something better.

He lay on his side, his head supported by his elbow, and looked out of his attic window. The stars were bright, much brighter than he ever remembered seeing the, and one star in particular was so bright that he wondered if it were really the Star of Bethlehem.

"Dad," he had once asked when he was a little boy, "what is a stable?"

"It's just a barn," his father had replied, "like ours."

Then Jesus had been born in a barn, and to a barn the shepherds and the Wise Men had come, bringing their Christmas gifts!

The thought struck him. Why should he not give his father a special gift too, out there in the barn? He could get up early, earlier than four o'clock, and creep into the barn and get all the milking done. He'd do it alone, milk and clean up, and then when his father went in to start the milking, he'd know who had done it. He laughed to himself as he gazed at the stars. It was what he would do, and he mustn't sleep too sound. He must have waked 20 times, scratching a match each time to look at his old watch -- midnight, and half-past one, and then two o'clock.

At a quarter to three he got up and put on his clothes. He crept downstairs, careful of the creaky boards, and let himself out. The big star hung lower over the barn roof, a reddish gold. The cows looked at him, sleepy and surprised. It was early for them, too. He fetched some hay for each cow and then got the milking pail and the big milk cans. He smiled, thinking about this father, and milked steadily, two strong steams rushing into the pail, frothing and fragrant. The task went more easily than he had ever known it to before. Milking for once was not a chore. It was something else, a gift to his father who loved him. He finished, the two milk cans were full, and he covered them and closed the milk-house door carefully, making sure of the latch. He put the stool in its place by the door and hung up the clean milk pail. Then he went out of the barn and barred the door behind him. Back in his room he had only a minute too pull off his clothes in the darkness and jump into bed, for he heard his father up. He put the covers over his head to silence his quick breathing. The door opened.

"Rob!" his father called. "We have to get up, son, even if it is Christmas."

"Aw-right," he said sleepily.

"I'll go on out," his father said. "I'll get things started."

The door closed and he lay still, laughing to himself. In just a few minutes his father would know. The minutes were endless -- ten, fifteen, he did not know how many -- and again he heard his father's footsteps again. The door opened and he lay still.

"Rob!"

"Yes Dad --"

"You son of a --" His father was laughing, a queer sobbing sort of a laugh. "Thought you'd fool me, did you?" His father was standing beside his bed, feeling for him, pulling away the cover.

"It's for Christmas, Dad!" He found father and clutched him in a great hug. He felt his father's arms go around him. It was dark and they could not see each other's faces.

"Son, I thank you. Nobody ever did a nicer thing --"

"Oh Dad, I want you to know --" The words broke from him of their own will. He did not know what to say. His heart was bursting with love.

"Well, I reckon I can go back to bed and sleep," his father said after a moment. "No -- the little ones are waked up. Come to think of it, I've never seen you children when you first saw the Christmas tree. I was always in the barn. Come on!"

He got up again and they went down to the Christmas tree, and soon the sun was creeping up to where the star had been. Oh, what a Christmas, and how his heart had nearly burst again with shyness and pride as his father told his mother and made the younger children listen about how he, Rob, had got up all by himself.

"The best Christmas gift I ever had, I'll remember it, son, every year on Christmas Morning, so long as I live."

Outside the window now the great star slowly sank. He got up, put on his slippers and bathrobe, went softly upstairs to the attic and found the box of Christmas-tree decorations. He took them downstairs into the living room. Then he brought in the tree. It was a little one -- they had not had a big tree since the children went away -- but he set in the holder. Then carefully he began to trim it. It was done very soon, the time passing as quickly as it had that morning long ago in the barn.

He went to his library and fetched the little box that contained his gift to his wife, a star of diamonds, not large but dainty in design. He tied the gift on the tree and then stood back. It was pretty, very pretty, and she would be surprised.

But he was not satisfied. He wanted to tell her -- to tell her how much he loved her. It had been a long time since he had really told her, although he loved her in a special way, much more than he ever had when they were young. That was the true joy of life, the ability to love! He was quite sure that some people were genuinely unable to love anyone. But love was alive in him, it still was.

It occurred to him suddenly that it was alive because long ago it had been born in him when he know his father loved him. That was it: love alone could waken love. And he could give the gift again and again. This morning, this blessed Christmas Morning, he would give it to his beloved wife. He could write it down in a letter for her to read and keep forever.

He went to his desk and began his love letter to his wife: My dearest love ...


CHRISTMAS EVERY DAY
William Dean Howells


The little girl came into her papa's study, as she always did Saturday morning before breakfast, and asked for a story. He tried to beg off that morning, for he was very busy, but she would not let him. So he began:

"Well, once there was a little pig --"

She stopped him at the word. She said she had heard little pig-stories till she was perfectly sick of them.

"Well, what kind of story shall I tell, then?"

"About Christmas. It's getting to be the season."

"Well!" Her papa roused himself. "Then I'll tell you about the little girl that wanted it Christmas every day in the year. How would you like that?"

"First-rate!" said the little girl; and she nestled into comfortable shape in his lap, ready for listening.

"Very well, then, this little pig -- Oh, what are you pounding me for?"

"Because you said little pig instead of little girl."

"I should like to know what's the difference between a little pig and a little girl that wanted it Christmas every day!"

"Papa!" said the little girl warningly. At this her papa began to tell the story.

Once there was a little girl who liked Christmas so much that she wanted it to be Christmas every day in the year, and as soon as Thanksgiving was over she began to send postcards to the old Christmas Fairy to ask if she mightn't have it. But the old Fairy never answered, and after a while the little girl found out that the Fairy wouldn't notice anything but real letters sealed outside with a monogram -- or your initial, anyway. So, then, she began to send letters, and just the day before Christmas, she got a letter from the Fairy, saying she might have it Christmas every day for a year, and then they would see about having it longer.

The little girl was excited already, preparing for the old-fashioned, once-a-year Christmas that was coming the next day. So she resolved to keep the Fairy's promise to herself and surprise everybody with it as it kept coming true, but then it slipped out of her mind altogether.

She had a splendid Christmas. She went to bed early, so as to let Santa Claus fill the stockings, and in the morning she was up the first of anybody and found hers all lumpy with packages of candy, and oranges and grapes, and rubber balls, and all kinds of small presents. Then she waited until the rest of the family was up, and she burst into the library to look at the large presents laid out on the library table -- books, and boxes of stationery, and dolls, and little stoves, and dozens of handkerchiefs, and inkstands, and skates, and photograph frames, and boxes of watercolors, and dolls' houses -- and the big Christmas tree, lighted and standing in the middle.

She had a splendid Christmas all day. She ate so much candy that she did not want any breakfast, and the whole forenoon the presents kept pouring in that had not been delivered the night before, and she went round giving the presents she had got for other people, and came home and ate turkey and cranberry for dinner, and plum pudding and nuts and raisins and oranges, and then went out and coasted, and came in with a stomachache crying, and her papa said he would see if his house was turned into that sort of fool's paradise another year, and they had a light supper, and pretty early everybody went to bed cross.

The little girl slept very heavily and very late, but she was wakened at last by the other children dancing around her bed with their stockings full of presents in their hands. "Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!" they all shouted.

"Nonsense! It was Christmas yesterday," said the little girl, rubbing her eyes sleepily.

Her brothers and sisters just laughed. "We don't know about that. It's Christmas today, anyway. You come into the library and see."

Then all at once it flashed on the little girl that the Fairy was keeping her promise, and her year of Christmases was beginning. She was dreadfully sleepy, but she sprang up and darted into the library. There it was again! Books, and boxes of stationery, and dolls, and so on.

There was the Christmas tree blazing away, and the family picking out their presents, and her father looking perfectly puzzled, and her mother ready to cry. "I'm sure I don't see how I'm to dispose of all these things," said her mother, and her father said it seemed to him they had had something just like it the day before, but he supposed he must have dreamed it. This struck the little girl as the best kind of a joke, and so she ate so much candy she didn't want any breakfast, and went round carrying presents, and had turkey and cranberry for dinner, and then went out and coasted, and came in with a stomachache, crying.

Now, the next day, it was the same thing over again, but everybody getting crosser, and at the end of a week's time so many people had lost their tempers that you could pick up lost tempers anywhere, they perfectly strewed the ground. Even when people tried to recover their tempers they usually got somebody else's, and it made the most dreadful mix.

The little girl began to get frightened, keeping the secret all to herself, she wanted to tell her mother, but she didn't dare to, and she was ashamed to ask the Fairy to take back her gift, it seemed ungrateful and ill-bred. So it went on and on, and it was Christmas on St. Valentine's Day and Washington's Birthday, just the same as any day, and it didn't skip even the First of April, though everything was counterfeit that day, and that was some little relief.

After a while turkeys got to be awfully scarce, selling for about a thousand dollars apiece. They got to passing off almost anything for turkeys--even half-grown hummingbirds. And cranberries--well they asked a diamond apiece for cranberries. All the woods and orchards were cut down for Christmas trees. After a while they had to make Christmas trees out of rags. But there were plenty of rags, because people got so poor, buying presents for one another, that they couldn't get any new clothes, and they just wore their old ones to tatters. They got so poor that everybody had to go to the poorhouse, except the confectioners, and the storekeepers, and the book-sellers, and they all got so rich and proud that they would hardly wait upon a person when he came to buy. It was perfectly shameful!

After it had gone on about three or four months, the little girl, whenever she came into the room in the morning and saw those great ugly, lumpy stockings dangling at the fireplace, and the disgusting presents around everywhere, used to sit down and burst out crying. In six months she was perfectly exhausted, she couldn't even cry anymore.

And how it was on the Fourth of July! On the Fourth of July, the first boy in the United States woke up and found out that his firecrackers and toy pistol and two-dollar collection of fireworks were nothing but sugar and candy painted up to look like fireworks. Before ten o'clock every boy in the United States discovered that his July Fourth things had turned into Christmas things and was so mad. The Fourth of July orations all turned into Christmas carols, and when anybody tried to read the Declaration of Independence, instead of saying, "When in the course of human events it becomes necessary," he was sure to sing, "God rest you merry gentlemen." It was perfectly awful.

About the beginning of October the little girl took to sitting down on dolls wherever she found them -- she hated the sight of them so, and by Thanksgiving she just slammed her presents across the room. By that time people didn't carry presents around nicely anymore. They flung them over the fence or through the window, and, instead of taking great pains to write "For dear Papa," or "Mama " or "Brother," or "Sister," they used to write, "Take it, you horrid old thing!" and then go and bang it against the front door.

Nearly everybody had built barns to hold their presents, but pretty soon the barns overflowed, and then they used to let them lie out in the rain, or anywhere. Sometimes the police used to come and tell them to shovel their presents off the sidewalk or they would arrest them.

Before Thanksgiving came it had leaked out who had caused all these Christmases. The little girl had suffered so much that she had talked about it in her sleep, and after that hardly anybody would play with her, because if it had not been for her greediness it wouldn't have happened. And now, when it came Thanksgiving, and she wanted them to go to church, and have turkey, and show their gratitude, they said that all the turkeys had been eaten for her old Christmas dinners and if she would stop the Christmases, they would see about the gratitude. And the very next day the little girl began sending letters to the Christmas Fairy, and then telegrams, to stop it. But it didn't do any good, and then she got to calling at the Fairy's house, but the girl that came to the door always said, "Not at home," or "Engaged," or something like that, and so it went on till it came to the old once-a-year Christmas Eve. The little girl fell asleep, and when she woke up in the morning --

"She found it was all nothing but a dream," suggested the little girl.

"No indeed!" said her papa. "It was all every bit true!"

"What did she find out, then?"'

"Why, that it wasn't Christmas at last, and wasn't ever going to be, anymore. Now it's time for breakfast."

The little girl held her papa fast around the neck.

"You shan't go if you're going to leave it so!"

"How do you want it left?"

"Christmas once a year."

"All right," said her papa, and he went on again.

Well, with no Christmas ever again, there was the greatest rejoicing all over the country. People met together everywhere and kissed and cried for joy. Carts went around and gathered up all the candy and raisins and nuts, and dumped them into the river, and it made the fish perfectly sick. And the whole United States, as far out as Alaska, was one blaze of bonfires, where the children were burning up their presents of all kinds. They had the greatest time!

The little girl went to thank the old Fairy because she had stopped its being Christmas, and she said she hoped the Fairy would keep her promise and see that Christmas never, never came again. Then the Fairy frowned, and said that now the little girl was behaving just as greedily as ever, and she'd better look out. This made the little girl think it all over carefully again, and she said she would be willing to have it Christmas about once in a thousand years, and then she said a hundred, and then she said ten, and at last she got down to one. Then the Fairy said that was the good old way that had pleased people ever since Christmas began, and she was agreed. Then the little girl said, "What're your shoes made of?" And the Fairy said, "Leather." And the little girl said, "Bargain's done forever," and skipped off, and hippity-hopped the whole way home, she was so glad.

"How will that do?" asked the papa.

"First-rate!" said the little girl, but she hated to have the story stop, and was rather sober. However, her mama put her head in at the door and asked her papa:

"Are you never coming to breakfast? What have you been telling that child?"

"Oh, just a tale with a moral."

The little girl caught him around the neck again.

"We know! Don't you tell what, papa! Don't you tell what!"


CHRISTMAS IN NAUVOO


When America was first settled in the 1600s, most of the early settlers did not believe that Christmas should be a time of festivity. They avoided the "impure" Christmas traditions of England. For Joseph's family and many of the other Saints with New England backgrounds, Thanksgiving was traditionally more celebrated than Christmas. But during the lifetime of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Christmas Day gradually became recognized as a day of celebration as well as a sacred day.

Christmas was still much less festive in those days than it is today. Records show that the Latter-day Saint children in Nauvoo even attended school on December 25th because Christmas was not a legal holiday in the state of Illinois. Christmas trees were not common, and very few of the Saints gave Christmas gifts or cards. Rather than focusing on giving and receiving gifts, the Saints in the 1840s spent Christmas evening with family and friends enjoying good food and sometimes festive music and dancing.

Although there is no record of what the Saints in Nauvoo served at these dinner parties, the dishes likely contained ingredients used throughout the rest of the winter -- flour, sugar, beans, corn, salt, dried meat, and dried fruit. Christmas celebrations also probably included some of the Saints' favorite sweets such as ice cream made from snow, sugar, and flavoring; candy made from molasses; and cookies made with dates or figs.

Christmas with the Prophet. In the Journal History of the Church the Prophet did record some memorable Christmas celebrations. These records show how much the Prophet enjoyed the Christmases that he could spend with family and friends. One such entry is on Christmas Day of 1835.

"Friday, December 25, 1835 -- Enjoyed myself at home with my family, all day, it being Christmas, the only time I have had this privilege so satisfactorily for a long period" (2:345).

Eight years later, on Christmas Day of 1843, the Prophet recorded another memorable Christmas. The celebration began quite early in the morning when carolers serenaded the Prophet's home around 1:00 A.M. This surprise visit made the Prophet very happy; he recorded that the singing "caused a thrill of pleasure to run through

(his] soul" (History of the Church, 6:134).

The day continued with a large party. That afternoon Joseph and Emma hosted about 50 couples for dinner, and Joseph recorded the following about the gathering:

"Monday, December 25 -- A large party supped at my house, and spent the evening in music, dancing, &c., in a most cheerful and friendly manner" (History of the Church, 6:134).

The Savior's birthday Even though Christmas for the Saints in Nauvoo seems to have been very different from Christmas today, the purpose was the same -- to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. And few men understand the glory of that birth as did the Prophet himself. For Joseph had seen the Savior, "even on the right hand of God," and had borne witness through personal knowledge "that he lives" (D&C 76:22-23).


CHRISTMAS IS FOR SHARING
Richard Warner


I knew that Homer had wanted canyon boots for as long as I could remember. He was eleven and I ten, and we had spent many nights under the blue quilts at the cabin talking about how great it would be to have some real boots -- boots that would climb through thorny bushes, that would ward off rattlesnakes, and that would nudge the ribs of the pony; we had planned the kind of leather they should be, and what color they should be, and what kind of decoration they should have. But we both knew it was just talk. The depression had been hard on Father's business, and even shoes for school were usually half-soled hand-me-downs.

Christmas that year had promised as always to be exciting, though mainly because of the handmade things we'd worked on in school for our parents. We never had money to spend on each other, but we had caught early in our lives a sort of contagion from our mother. She loved to give, and her anticipation of the joy that a just right gift would bring to someone infected our whole household. We were swept up in breathless waiting to see how others would like what we had to give. Secrecy ruled -- open, exaggerated secrecy, as we made and hid our gifts. The only one whose hiding place we never discovered was my Grandmother's. Her gifts seemed to materialize by magic on Christmas morning and were always more expensive than they should have been.

That Christmas I was glowing because Mother had been so happy with the parchment lampshade I'd made in the fourth grade, and Father had raved over the clay jewelry case I had molded and baked for him. Gill and Emma Lou had been pleased with the figures I'd whittled out of clothespins, and Homer had liked the Scout pin I'd bargained for with my flint. Then Grandma started to pass out her presents.

Mine was heavy and square. I'd been in the hospital that year and then on crutches, and I'd wondered how it would be to have an erector set to build with. Grandma had a knack at reading boys' minds, I was sure that's what it was. But it wasn't. It was a pair of boots; brown, tangy-smelling leather boots .

I looked quickly to Homer's package. His was a sweater. He'd needed one all fall. I wanted to cover my box before he saw what it was. I didn't want boots; they should have been his. He came toward me, asking to see, and I started to say, "I'm sorry, broth ..."

But he was grinning, and he shouted, "Hey everybody -- look what Richard got." He swooped the boots out of the box, fondled them like treasure, and then sat on the floor at my feet to take off my half-soled shoes and put on the brand new boots.

I don't remember how the boots felt, nor even how they looked. But Christmas rang in my soul because my brother was glad for me.


CHRISTMAS MAGIC
Barbara Bartlein, R.N.


I wish I could tell you that the whole thing happened because I'm caring and unselfish, but that wouldn't be true. It was 1979, and I had just moved back to Wisconsin from Colorado because I missed my family and Denver wages were terrible. I took a job at a Hospice in Milwaukee and found my niche working with the patients and families. As the season changed into fall, the schedule for the holidays was posted:


DECEMBER 24 3-11 Barbara

DECEMBER 25 3-11 Barbara


I was devastated. Newly engaged, it was my first Christmas back home with my family after many years. But with no seniority, I had little clout to get Christmas off while my dedicated colleagues worked.

While lamenting my predicament, I came up with an idea. Since I couldn't be with my family, I would bring my family to the hospice. With the patients and their families struggling through their last Christmases together, maybe this gathering would lend support. My family thought it was a wonderful plan, and so did the staff. Several invited their relatives to participate, too.

As we brainstormed ideas for a Hospice Christmas, we remembered the annual 11:00 p.m. Christmas Eve Service scheduled in the hospital chapel.

"Why don't we take the patients to church?" I suggested.

"Yes," replied another staff nurse. "It's a beautiful candlelight service with music. I bet the patients would love it."

"Great. And we can have a little party afterwards, with punch, cookies and small gifts," I added.

Our enthusiasm increased as we planned the details of a hospice Christmas celebration.

Now, it never occurred to me that all these great ideas may not float so well with administration. It never occurred to me that we might have to get permission for each these activities -- until the director called me into her office.

"Uh, Barb, I'm hearing rumors of a Christmas Eve celebration here at the hospice."

"Well, yes," I replied. Eagerly, I outlined all the plans and ideas the staff had developed. Fortunately for my career, she thought involving our families with the unit activities was a wonderful idea, too.

"But," she said, "certainly you are not serious about taking the patients to church. It has never been done."

"Yes, I'm serious. It would mean a lot to the patients and families."

"Very seldom do you see any patients at this service, and if they do go, they are ambulatory and dressed." She shook her head. "Our patients are too sick to go."

"But a number of them have indicated an interest," I argued.

"I cannot authorize the additional staff needed."

"The family members can help."

"What about the liability?"

Now I felt like saying, "What could be the worst thing that could happen -- someone dies in church?" But I didn't. I just kept convincing her, until she begrudgingly gave approval.

Christmas Eve arrived. Family members gathered in the lounge and decorated a small tree, complete with wrapped packages. Then we implemented our plan for the staff and families to transport the patients to the chapel. While most of the patients had family members with them, one young girl had no one. At just nineteen, Sandy had terminal liver cancer. Her mother had died of cancer three years previously and her father stopped coming long ago. Perhaps he couldn't sit by the bedside of another loved one dying so young. So my family "took charge" of Sandy. My sister combed her hair while my mother applied just a hint of lipstick. They laughed and joked like three old friends as my fiancé, helped her move to a gurney.

Meanwhile, other nurses hung IVs on poles, put IVACs on battery support and gave last minute pain meds. Then, with patients in wheelchairs and on gurneys, we paraded our group into the chapel just as they were finishing "Joy to the World," with the organ and bells ringing out in perfect harmony. Silence descended on the congregation as we rolled slowly down the aisle. The minister just stood there with his mouth open, staring. Everyone turned around to look at us. We faltered in our steps, each movement echoing in the large crowded chapel.

Then the magic began.

One by one, people stood up, filed into the aisle and began to help us. They handed patients hymnals and distributed programs. They wheeled patients to the front so they could see well. They handed out candles to be lit for the closing hymn. One woman adjusted Sandy's pillow and stroked her hair. Throughout the service, the congregation catered to our patients, guiding them through the worship.

The beautiful service closed with a candlelight recessional to "Silent Night." Voices rang in disjointed harmony as the congregation assisted us in exiting the chapel and returning our charges to the unit. Many stayed to share punch and cookies and stories.

As I got Sandy ready for bed that late night, she whispered, "This was one of the nicest Christmases I ever had."

When I shared her comments with my family later, we realized the magic that evening was on many levels. The unit had a special climate we'd never experienced before. Sandy had one of the best Christmases she'd ever known. The congregation had shared in a special, caring way. But we also realized that this evening impacted our family as well. We felt closer, bonded in purpose and spirit.

Since that Christmas of 1979, my family has been blessed with many Christmases together -- but I think that one was the best. Like author William Shore, I, too, believe that when you give to others and give to the community, you create something within yourself that is important and lasting. He calls it the "Cathedral Within."

Our family cathedral is a little stronger for the privilege of giving that Christmas.


CHRISTMAS TRAVELERS
Dr. Ralph F. Wilson


Christmas recalls the story of travelers propelled by the unhurried rhythm of their animals:


We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.


Why did these wisemen undertake such a journey?

A tall astronomer, advisor to the Persian king, springs from his midnight vigil in the palace courtyard. "Casper, come! Look along the rod I've sighted toward the constellation of the Jews." Casper peers into the blackness. "Do you see it? That brilliant star is new tonight! It must signify the birth of a mighty king."

A soft whistle escapes him as he spots it. "There it is!" He's talking rapidly now. "I've read ancient Hebrew scriptures which tell of this ruler's star."[1] Rising, he announces, "We must see him. We must go!"

Traversing the caravan routes of Persia, Babylon, and Syria for 1,200 miles, they ford broad rivers, pass ancient cities, cross barren deserts. Three months they trek westward, day after day, "following yonder star."

In Jerusalem they inquire, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and are come to worship him."[2] Worship? So the Babe is more than a king!

Now they follow the shining star till it rests over a simple Bethlehem home. At early dawn neighbors gather to watch the richly- robed travelers dismount. Joseph meets them at the door.

"We've come to see the child, the King." The wise men fall before the Babe, faces to the floor, royal counselors doing homage, worshipping the Christ child. Outside, their servants unload weighty chests from the camels and set gifts before the King. Heavy fragrances of frankincense and myrrh mingle to fill the room as one by one the boxes are opened.

A touch of the boy-child's tiny fingers, a final longing look, and the men rise to go. Camel bells soon fade in the brisk morning air.

We, too, travel at Christmas, visiting family and friends. Yet, like the wisemen, the most important journey we make these hectic holidays is to draw nigh Jesus himself with the gift of our hearts.


CHRISTMAS VERSION OF THE LOVE CHAPTER:
1 Corinthians 13
author unknown


If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows,
Strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls,
But do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.


If I slave away in the kitchen,
Baking dozens of Christmas cookies,
Preparing gourmet meals
And arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime,
But do not show love to my family,
I'm just another cook.


If I work at the soup kitchen, Carol in the nursing home
And give all that I have to charity,
But do not show love to my family,
It profits me nothing.


If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels,
And crocheted snowflakes,
Attend a myriad of holiday parties,
And sing in the choir's cantata,
But do not focus on Christ,
I have missed the point.


Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.

Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust ...

But giving the gift of love will endure.


CHRISTMAS WAS ALWAYS HAPPY


Christmas was always a happy time back home in Utah, but one particular celebration I will never, ever forget. I was 20 and had three close friends -- Kathleen, Aileen and Christine, all of us about the same age. We were all single and attending different colleges. And we were all terribly interested in the opposite sex.

Shortly before Christmas we returned home from our scattered campuses, happy to see each other and eager to plan holiday festivities. Also home for Christmas were three young men -- brothers -- who held our fascinated attention. Kathleen knew them best because they were fellow students at Brigham Young University. The rest of us knew them slightly; we'd even been to a party at their house once, but that had been a long time ago. Now we just wanted to get better acquainted.

Just inviting them over was too blah for us. We had a flare for the unusual, a bit of Hollywood in our blood. So one evening we decided to do something different -- a real attention-getter.

First we put together a medley of holiday show tunes. Then we designed a dance routine to go with them -- a lively mixture of twirls can-can kicks, and square dance flourishes. After a short, hilarious dance rehearsal, we were ready. Next, we needed festive costumes, but that was no problem, since plenty of Christmas wrappings were at hand.

In minutes, Aileen, Christine, and I had disguised our heads and upper bodies as Christmas packages, leaving two holes at the sides for arms and one at the top so that we could pull our heads in or stick them out, turtle-like, when we were ready to go into our song-and-dance. (Kathleen -- fingered as the driver because she remembered where the boys lived -- had to be content to go as a festive sack.) In fits of giggles, we then tied big bows on top of each other's heads and were ready to go.

All suited up, we piled into Kathleen's car, careful not to crush or tear our fragile costumes. The edges of the "sack" kept inching up into Kathleen's face, so at times she had a little trouble seeing. Fortunately, there was almost no traffic in the neighborhood, and she chauffeured us right to the young men's door.

There, all four of us rang the doorbell then sat down on the front porch, pulling our heads into our wrappings and trying to make ourselves resemble a pile of Christmas presents under an imaginary tree. The nice woman who came to the door squealed with delight when she saw us lying there. She invited us into the living room, where we broke into our routine. One by one, other members of the family, including the cat, came to see what was going on. Naturally, as we sang and kicked we were desperately trying to get a glimpse of the fabulous three, but it didn't bother us that they weren't in full view -- we knew they must be lurking somewhere because we'd seen several cars outside.

It was not until we reached the last few verses of our entertainment that we realized we didn't recognize any of the people in the living room! In fact, the room itself didn't look the same as when we had last seen it. Worst of all, the family portrait above the fireplace did not include any of the young men we thought we were performing for.

We were in the wrong house!

Through eye contact and whispers during our final twirls, we decided it was best to just disappear, leaving our unknown hosts wondering. No such luck. After our last number was over and our audience clapping, we made a desperate attempt to dance out the door. But the nice woman tugged on my big red bow and took a good look at me.

"Do I know you?" she asked.

"No," I squeaked.

With that, we realized we couldn't just leave. We offered an embarrassed explanation, which the family accepted with good-natured laughter. They then told us the house we wanted was on the next block.

Undaunted, we then drove to the right house and did an encore performance. Somehow it didn't quite match the intensity of our first presentation. Even so, the three young men applauded and stomped and whistled in their approval. The family insisted that we join them for dinner, and we all had a delightful evening.

I wish I could report that at least one of the brothers fell madly in love with one of us, preferably me. That was not to be (and a good thing too, since then I might never have met the man who became my husband). But there was one lasting result of our escapade: We never again allowed Kathleen to drive us anywhere!


CHRISTMAS WISH
Author unknown


It was Christmas Eve and the lord looked down from above at all His children. It had been nearly two thousand years since the birth of His son and turning to His youngest angel the Lord said: "Go down to the earth and bring back to me the one thing that best represents everything good that has been done in the name of this day." The angel bowed to the Lord and spreading his wings, descended from heaven to the world of man, all the while contemplating his mission. So much had been done in the name of honoring the birth of the Christ Child. For this day, wars had temporarily ceased, cathedrals had been built and great novels had been written. With so little time, what could he possibly find to represent all this?

As he soared above the earth, he suddenly heard the sound of church bells below. Their tone was so beautiful that it reminded him of the voice of God. Looking down, he saw a small church whose bells were ringing out the carol, Silent Night. As the final note died away, it was replaced by one lone voice singing inside the church. It was shortly joined by a second voice that embraced the first in perfect harmony, and then another until a choir of voices rose through the night. Enchanted by the magic of what he was hearing, the angel found himself listening until the song was finished. As he resumed his flight through the night, he was delighted to hear these sounds everywhere, from the largest cities to the smallest villages. He heard melodies from massive orchestras and in the voices of single soldiers alone at their post. And any place where he heard these songs, he found hope in the hearts of men.

Grasping a song out of the air, he held it in his hand (angels are able to do this) and thought that maybe, these songs could be the one thing that best represented Christmas. They seemed to give voice to man's greatest joys as well as hope to those deepest in despair. But, though at first glance it appeared to be the answer he sought, his heart told him that this music alone was not enough. There had to be something more. So, he continued his flight through the night until he suddenly felt the touch of a father's prayer on its way to heaven. Once again looking downward, he saw a man who was praying for his child whom he had not heard from in a long time and who would not be home that Christmas. Seizing upon the prayer, the angel followed it until it reached the lost child.

She was standing on a corner, in a quiet snowfall, looking very small in a very large city. Across from her was an old city bar, the kind that only the lost seemed to know how to find. The patrons of this establishment rarely looked up from their drinks and so seemed not to notice the young woman. Now, the bartender in this bar had been working in there longer than anyone could remember. He believed in nothing except his bar and his cash register. He had never married, never took a vacation and as matter of fact, had never been seen out from behind his counter by most of his patrons. He was there when they arrived and he was still there when they left. He gave no credit and for seventy-five cents, served shots of un-watered whiskey to people who used their drinks like a moat around their lives. For them, he provided a safe, unchanging world.

Suddenly, the door opened wide and into this world walked a small child. The bartender could not remember the last time that a child had been in this place, but before he could ask the child what he was doing there, the child asked him if he knew that there was a girl outside their door who could not get home. Glancing out the window, he saw the girl standing across the street. Turning back to the child, the bartender asked him how he knew this. The child replied "That on this night of all nights, if one could be home, they'd be already there."

The bartender looked back toward the young woman as he reflected on what the child had said. After several seconds of thought, he slowly went over to the cash register and removing most of the money, came out from behind the bar and followed the child across the street. Everyone in the bar watched as he spoke with the girl. After a few moments, he called over a cab, put the girl inside and told the driver: "J.F.K. Airport." As the cab pulled away, he looked around for the child, but the child was gone. And what was stranger still, even though his own tracks leading from the bar were still clearly marked in the snow, the child's were nowhere to be found. Returning back inside, he asked if anyone had seen where the child had gone, but like himself, no one had, for they also had been watching the departing cab. And then, some would later say that the most miraculous thing of all happened, when for the rest of the night, no one paid for a drink.

Later that night, the angel returned back to heaven and placed in the Lord's hand the wish of a soul for the happiness of another. And as the heavenly host looked on, the Lord smiled.


DAVEY AND THE FIRST CHRISTMAS
Beth Vardon


Let's pretend there was a boy, and Davey was his name,
Whose family lived in Bethlehem when Christmastime first came.
Davey had a special pet -- a donkey small and grey,
And what the two of the did best was getting in the way!


Davey named the donkey Tim. He never rode him though.
Either Tim was built too high or Davey was too low!
Davey's father had an inn where people came to stay;
And lots and lots and LOTS of them were coming there one day.


His father was as busy as six or seven bees!
So Davey said, "I want to help, can't I do something, please?
Tim would like to help you, too. Find a job for us to do!


"Listen, Son," his father said, "Last week you broke three jugs.
You scared my two best customers with your pet lightning bugs!
You tracked in mud on my clean floor, you tripped and dropped the bread.
And though I loved the fish you caught -- why leave them on my bed?


I have put up with your helpfulness as long as I am able.
So do me one big favor now, get out -- and clean the stable!"


Davey sadly went and stood beside the stable door.
It hardly seemed that anyone could clean that dirty floor.
He and Tim both felt so bad they started to cry --
But then (thought Davey), Yes, we can! Well, anyhow -- let's try.


First, let's chase those chickens out. That's what we've got to do.
So Tim began to flap his ears while Davey shouted, "Shooooo!"
The chickens clucked and flew and ducked, they fluttered wild and scary,
Until their feathers filled the air like snow in January.


Yes, Davey chased those chickens out, He and Tim together.
But now he had to get a sack and pick up every feather!


You should have seen how hard they worked!
They stacked up all the wheat,
They straightened up the harnesses till they were nice and neat.
They fought with spiders bravely till they chased out every but.
And since we must admit the truth -- they broke another jug!


The very biggest job of all was stacking up the hay.
Davey climbed up to the loft and put it all away.
Look, Tim. You see how high it is? I'll make just one more trip."
Then clear up by the stable roof his feet began to slip!


Down came the hay and Davey, too. The stable looked so queer --
All you could see was piles of hay -- one sandal, and one ear!
Slowly they came out on top, and Davey didn't whine,
Though hay stuck out all over him just like a porcupine!


He put the hay all back again and stacked it up with care --
But left one armload down below to fill the manger there.


So Davey's work was done at last, and when it looked neat
He picked some flowers to trim the barn, and some for Tim to eat.
"I hope it's clean enough," he thought. "At least I did my best,"
And feeling very, very tired, he curled up for a rest ...


Who woke up Davey from his sleep? Just guess them if you can.
Mary was the woman's name, Joseph was the man.


Mary said, "Oh, Joseph, look! This is a lovely place!"
Then, seeing Davey there, she said, with such a shining face,
"Your father's inn had no more rooms, tonight we're staying here.
So tell me now, are you the boy who cleaned the stable, dear?
And did your donkey help you work? We want to thank him, too."
Though Davey was still half asleep, his heart was glad clear through.


So that is how a little boy, two thousand years ago,
Stayed on to hear the angels sing, and see the Star aglow.


As soon as Baby Jesus came to use the manger bed,
Then Davey's sack of feathers made a pillow for His head.
No one told Davey any more that he was in the way.
His work had helped get ready for the world's first Christmas Day!


GIFT FROM THE HEART
Sandra Bateman, Woman's Day - Dec.1979


It was but a few short days until Christmas in 1966. Two young elders of the Mormon Church walked the streets of Laredo, Texas, knocking on doors in search of someone who Would listen to their gospel message. No one, it seemed, in the entire city had time to hear the teachings of the Savior, so intent were they that the celebration of His birth should suit their own social purposes.

Filled with discouragement, the two young men turned their back to the approaching twilight and began the long walk home. Retracing their steps of the afternoon, they came upon a low, windswept riverbank. Jutting from its brow stood the barest means of a shelter, constructed of weathered wooden slats and large pieces of cardboard. Strangely, they felt moved to go to the door and knock. A small, olive-skinned child with tangled black hair and large dark eyes answered, Her mother appeared behind her, a short, thin woman with a tired but warm smile. In her rich Spanish alto she invited the young men to come in and rest awhile. They were made welcome and seated on the clean-swept floor. The little one- room shanty seemed to be filled with shy, smiling, dark eyed children. The mother proudly introduced each of them -- eight in all and each in turn quickly bobbed his or her head.

The young men were deeply moved at the extreme poverty they saw. Not one in the family had shoes, and their clothes were ill-fitting and in a condition beyond mending. The walls of the little home showed daylight between the wooden slats, and eight little rolls of bedding were pressed tightly into the cracks to help keep out the drafts until they were needed for sleeping. A small round fire pit dug in one corner marked the kitchen. An odd assortment of chipped dishes and pots were stacked beside an old ice chest, and a curtained-off section with a cracked porcelain tub served as the bathing areas. Except for these the room was barren.

The mother told how her husband had gone north to find employment. He had written that he had found a job of manual labor and that it took most of his small wage to pay his board and room. But, she told the young men, he had managed to save fifty cents to send them for Christmas, with which she had purchased two boxes of fruit gelatin. It was one of the children's favorites and would make a special treat on Christmas day.

Later, long after the young men had left the family, they still asked each other incredulously, "Fifty cents? ... Fifty cents for eight children for Christmas?" Surely there must be something they could do to brighten Christmas for such children.

The next morning, as soon as the local shops opened, the young men hurried to the dime store and purchased as many crayons, cars, trucks and little inexpensive toys as they could afford. Each was carefully wrapped in brightly colored paper and all were put in a large grocery bag. That evening the two young men took their gifts to the shanty on the riverbank. when they knocked, the mother swung the door open wide and invited them in. They stepped inside and in halting Spanish explained to the children that they had seen Santa and he had been in such a hurry he'd asked if they would deliver his gifts to the children for him.

With cries of delight the children scrambled for the bag, spilling its contents upon the floor and quickly dividing the treasured packages. Silently the mother's eyes filled with tears of gratitude. She stepped forward to clasp tightly one of each of the young men's hands in hers. For long moments she was unable to speak. Then, with tears still welling from her eyes, she smiled and said, "No one has ever been so kind. You have given us a special gift, the kind of love that lights Christmas in the heart. May we also give you a special gift?" From the corner of the room she drew out the two small boxes of fruit gelatin and handed them to the young men. Then all eyes were moist. All knew the true meaning of giving, and none would ever forget that at Christmas the greatest gift of all was given.


GOD'S SHEPHERD
A Christmas Story
Dr. Ralph F. Wilson


The frost of forty winters had etched deep lines into the shepherd's face. Having spent his entire life outdoors on Bethlehem's hills, he was old at forty -- and cold. The hillside where he sat this day was cold, too, and he pulled his mantle close about him to block the wind.

Every so often he would shift position, not out of discomfort so much, but from a sense of unease, anxiety, crowdedness. Instead of hundreds of sheep with whom he felt quite at home, this hillside was flocked with people -- thousands of them -- listening attentively to the Teacher. They could hear him fairly well, except when the wind whisked away his words.

Tobias ben David (pronounced da-VEED) was the shepherd's name, though people called him Toby. His flocks were in good hands this week, cared for by his grown sons, but Toby had left them to listen to Jesus of Nazareth. Today the Teacher was talking about salvation, how God came to save his people from their waywardness and sins, to rescue them and gather them close.

Now Jesus' illustration turned to sheep. Toby felt better. He knew a lot more about sheep than people.

"The good shepherd," Jesus was saying, "lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand who doesn't own the flock runs away when he sees the wolf coming, but not the good shepherd...." One night, years ago, the men Toby had hired to watch the flock with him fled when they saw a mountain lion roaming the hills. But Toby had stayed. Shepherding was his livelihood. He knew the sacrifices that good shepherding required. He knew about defending defenseless lambs. He knew about putting his life on the line for the sheep. That's what good shepherds did.

Jesus continued, "Suppose you have 100 sheep and when night comes one is missing. What do you do? You leave the 99 sheep all safe together and then climb the hills, looking, searching until you find the lost sheep. Then you pick him up, put him on your shoulders, bring him down the hill to the camp, and ask your fellow shepherds to rejoice with you."

"Your heavenly Father is like that," Jesus said. "When you have lost your way, he will rescue you and save you and never give up on you until he finds you -- and you find him."

Toby's heart was racing. He felt a lump in his throat. He understood. Toby had combed the hills for lost sheep, not stopping, not quitting. He knew the joy of discovery, of rescuing the sheep from a thicket, of bringing it back and celebrating with his friends. He had been that kind of shepherd.

But he also knew how it felt to wander off, feeling lost, aimless, trapped. Clueless about where he was and where he was going. Flailing about, struggling to climb out of what seemed like a steep ravine. That's why he came today to hear the Teacher, hoping to regain the faith he had felt as a child, a ten-year-old child.

His mind spun back to the evening of his tenth birthday. Like nearly every night, he was out on the hills with his dad or his uncles, caring for the sheep. The stars were brilliant, dancing in the black sky. But suddenly an overpowering bright light flooded the hillside. A voice boomed out, "Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people. For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!"

A savior, a rescuer -- shepherds' work. He had often wondered about the boy-child they discovered that night, lying in a manger, just as the angel had said. Toby had knelt down and worshipped the baby who bore the world's destiny upon his tiny shoulders. What had become of him, this baby? By now he must be thirty-something. Had this savior saved anyone yet? Rescued anyone? Could he rescue me from my aimless existence? Toby wondered.

Just then the wind caught Jesus' words and blew them Toby's direction. "I am the Good Shepherd," Jesus was saying, "who lays down his life for the sheep. Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me," he said with warmth and joy full on his face, "for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

I wonder? thought Toby as he felt big tears begin to roll down his cheeks and into his beard. I wonder? thought Toby as joy and the certainty of God's love began to fill his heart until it seemed like he would explode. I wonder? thought Toby, if this Jesus is the little baby I saw that night, the Savior of the world? Yes, thought Toby, he must be. His words found me and, frankly, he sounds just like he's ... God's shepherd.


GOLD, COMMON SENSE AND FUR
This is a great story whether you have children or not. Enjoy!


My husband and I had been happily (most of the time) married for five years, but hadn't been blessed with a baby. I decided to do some serious praying and promised God that if He would give us a child, I would be a perfect mother, love it with all my heart and raise it with His word as my guide. God answered my prayers and blessed us with a son. The next year God blessed us with another son. The following year, he blessed us with yet another son. The year after that we were blessed with a daughter.

My husband thought we'd been blessed right into poverty. We now had four children, and the oldest was only four years old. I learned never to ask God for anything unless I meant it. As a minister once told me, "If you pray for rain, make sure you carry an umbrella."

I began reading a few verses of the Bible to the children each day as they lay in their cribs. I was off to a good start. God had entrusted me with four children and I didn't want to disappoint Him.

I tried to be patient the day the children smashed two dozen eggs on the kitchen floor searching for baby chicks. I tried to be understanding when they started a hotel for homeless frogs in the spare bedroom, although it took me nearly two hours to catch all twenty-three frogs.

When my daughter poured ketchup all over herself and rolled up in a blanket to see how it felt to be a hot dog, I tried to see the humor rather than the mess.

In spite of changing over twenty-five thousand diapers, never eating a hot meal and never sleeping for more than thirty minutes at a time, I still thank God daily for my children.

While I couldn't keep my promise to be a perfect mother. I didn't even come close. I did keep my promise to raise them in the Word of God. I knew I was missing the mark just a little when I told my daughter we were going to church to worship God, and she wanted to bring a bar of soap along to "wash up" Jesus, too.

Something was lost in the translation when I explained that God gave us everlasting life, and my son thought it was generous of God to give us his "last wife."

My proudest moment came during the children's Christmas pageant. My daughter was playing Mary, two of my sons were shepherds and my youngest son was a wise man. This was their moment to shine. My five-year-old shepherd had practiced his line, "We found the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes." But he was nervous and said, "The baby was wrapped in wrinkled clothes."

My four-year-old "Mary" said, "That's not 'wrinkled clothes,' silly.

That's dirty, rotten clothes." A wrestling match broke out between Mary and the shepherd and was stopped by an angel, who bent her halo and lost her left wing.

I slouched a little lower in my seat when Mary dropped the doll representing Baby Jesus, and it bounced down the aisle crying, "Mama-mama." Mary grabbed the doll, wrapped it back up and held it tightly as the wise men arrived. My other son stepped forward wearing a bathrobe and a paper crown, knelt at the manger and announced, "We are the three wise men, and we are bringing gifts of gold, common sense and fur."

The congregation dissolved into laughter, and the pageant got a standing ovation. "I've never enjoyed a Christmas program as much as this one," Pastor Brian laughed, wiping tears from his eyes. "For the rest of my life, I'll never hear the Christmas story without thinking of gold, common sense and fur."

"My children are my pride and my joy and my greatest blessing," I said as I dug through my purse for an aspirin.


MAJOR HOLIDAY MERGER ANNOUNCED


Continuing the current trend of large-scale mergers and acquisitions, It was announced today at a press conference that Christmas and Chanukah will merge. An industry source said that the deal had been in the works for about 1300 years, ever since the rise of the Muslim Empire.

While details were not available at press time, it is believed that the overhead cost of having twelve days of Christmas and eight days of Chanukah was becoming prohibitive for both sides. By combining forces, we're told, the world will be able to enjoy consistently high-quality service during the Fifteen Days of Christmukah, as the new holiday is being called.

Massive layoffs are expected, with lords a-leaping and maids a-milking being the hardest hit. As part of the conditions of the agreement, the letters on the dreydl, currently in Hebrew, will be replaced by Latin, thus becoming unintelligible to a wider audience. Also, instead of translating to "A great miracle happened there," the message on the dreydl will be the more generic "Miraculous stuff happens." In exchange, it is believed that Jews will be allowed to use Santa Claus and his vast merchandising resources for buying and delivering their gifts.

In fact, one of the sticking points holding up the agreement for at least three hundred years was the question of whether Jewish children could leave milk and cookies for Santa even after having eaten meat for dinner. A breakthrough came last year, when Oreos were finally declared to be Kosher. All sides appeared content with this decision.

A spokesman for Christmas, Inc., declined to say whether a takeover of Kwanzaa might not be in the works as well. He merely pointed out that, were it not for the independent existence of Kwanzaa, the merger between Christmas and Chanukah might indeed be seen as an unfair cornering of the holiday market. Fortunately for all concerned, he said, Kwanzaa will help to maintain the competitive balance.

He then closed the press conference by leading all present in a rousing rendition of "Oy, Come All Ye Faithful."


ONE CHRISTMAS ONE TIME
Bob Lonsberry


In the first-grade we were poor, in a house with three other families on a busy street a few blocks from school.

And it was Christmas.

I knew that. But I didn't know we were poor. You don't know those things when you're in the first-grade.

When you're in the first-grade and you sit in class with rounded scissors cutting strips of construction paper and gluing them around one another into hoops and eventually a long multi-colored chain that you string around the tree your teacher brought to class. You don't know much then.

Only what your mother tells you.

And mine told me not to get my hopes up. She told me that Santa might not be able to stop. That he might be busy, and might have to come to our house later.

And that we couldn't have a Christmas tree.

It must have hurt her to tell me that. I know it hurt me to hear it. It disappointed me. And she told me not to be sad, that something would work out.

She was twenty-four then, and her second baby was about six months old. My little brother Sean who slept beneath me. Beneath me in a box on the bottom bunk in a closet with a brown folding door.

She said something would work out and one night she popped popcorn and opened a bag of cranberries and we sat there with needle and thread stringing them into garlands to drape around our apartment. Mostly she strung and mostly I played with the thimble. Played with the thimble and ate the popcorn and marveled at how beautiful it was.

There was a party the last day of school. The last day of school before Christmas. A party with games and songs and cookies and at 3:30 a bell to go home. It was raining that day and I had a little sweater that zipped and I got it off the hook as the other children did the same.

And the teacher stood in the middle of the room and said something about the tree. Something about how if anybody wanted it they could have it. And I stood there with the long sleeve of my shirt bunched up near the shoulder of my sweater and I looked at her. It was a green sweater and my grandmother 3,000 miles away had made it and sent it to me in the mail.

And I looked at her and for a moment I wasn't shy. And I walked up to her and I said it matter of factly.

My mother said we can't afford a Christmas tree. We're not going to have one.

And then I stood there. And she looked down at me and didn't say anything for a moment and I figured she must have been thinking. Then it looked like she was choking a little bit and she coughed or cleared her throat and she said that I could have it.

Back then they nailed wood on the bottom of Christmas trees, an X, so they would stand up. And I grabbed that X at about hip level and pulled the tree the best I could out the front door of the school, the wind quickly catching it and rolling it halfway in my hands while the little construction paper ornaments, secured with pieces of yarn, flapped madly in the breeze. I had looped the multi-colored chain around my neck.

And it was raining.

And I was about as happy as I've ever been.

And I set out, pulling that tree along the sidewalk, a step or two and then a stop, lurching it bit by bit against the wind and the hill and the fact that it was big and I was small.

And at the corner I stood breathing hard and unsure, the cars passing quickly on the street I needed to cross, my halting progress so slow. I was there a while. And a couple of cars back at the stop sign a guy watched me. And when it was his turn at the intersection he put it in park and opened his door, one of those long sleek doors that swept back to the line of the fin on the rear of the car, and walked over and grabbed my hand and the trunk of the tree and took us both across the street.

After that it was just one more block and I was home, my sweater mostly soaked through and the construction paper gone limp and torn in the weather.

Usually my mother was at work, and she was that day, and on those days I went inside and watched TV until she or my step-father came home. But I didn't that day. I stood outside chilled, with our Christmas tree, unable to get it through the door alone, unwilling to leave it outside unattended.

And I was about as happy as I've ever been.

On Christmas Eve day we were home and someone came knocking at the door. Two or three men, I think, from my teacher's church, they said, and they had boxes. Big cardboard boxes. Two of them. In one I caught a glimpse of something colorful before my step-father shushed me away and he carried it to his bedroom. In the other there were potatoes and vegetables and a canned ham, one of those with the clear gelatin that tastes so good and salty.

And a little while after that he brought out a string of lights from his bedroom, the old kind that screwed in, and strung them around the tree and as dusk came on he plugged them in and we turned out the livingroom lights and sat there in the red, green and blue glow.

I could see it from my bunk in the closet. Not the tree, not all of it, but the glow. It seemed to fill the room. I lay there awake as long as I could, sent to bed so Santa could come, and only closed my eyes for what seemed like a minute. But in that minute he came and as I awoke I could see the presents in the predawn, out past the edge of the tree into the middle of the livingroom floor.

And I slipped down the bunk and got my brother out of his bed and ran shouting to my parents' bedroom so that they could come see what Santa had done.

In the first-grade we were poor, in a house with three other families on a busy street a few blocks from school.

And it was Christmas.

And I was about as happy as I've ever been.


THE CAROL THAT NEVER WAS SUNG
Alfred Hassler


The first Christmas Eve, of course, was a very important event. The birthday of the Child called for the biggest celebration the heavenly hosts had ever had. Even the Carols, held in reserve for ages for some really special event, would be sung.

The choir was to be one of Heaven's very best, with some exceptionally rich angelic tenors and basses brought in from the glee club to help out. All the stars had been rubbed with a special polish, and one brand-new star added just for the occasion. The Carols were quite puffed up with pride and excitement and they all promised solemnly to be on hand in plenty of time.

On the great night, everything went off fine. The stars shone as they had never shone before; the angel choir outdid itself in songs of joy, and the Carols were a great success. There was only one little flaw, and hardly anyone even noticed it. One of the Carols didn't get there in time.

In fact, it didn't get there at all. It was quite a sweet Carol, the angels singers told each other a little sadly. It had been a pity not to have sung it.

The Carol was very penitent. It had stopped on the way, it explained vaguely. Something had got its attention, and it had stopped, and been late. Questioning by the choirmaster produced little more. The Carol got vaguer and vaguer as the questions became sharper and sharper. Only one thing it seemed sure of.

It would never happen again, the Carol promised. But it did, every year. And finally, when nearly twenty long centuries had gone by with the last Carol still not sung, they brought the situation to the Throne Room. There they explained more in sorrow than in anger, about the Carol that was always late. Then, at a sign, they left, and the last Carol was summoned. The Last Carol was ashamed and frightened and hung its head as it stood in the Throne Room and explained with no more vagueness, why it had been late.

Each year had been something different, it admitted. Sometimes it had been a man in a dungeon. Often it had been men and women whose spirits had fallen low in the face of great obstacles, whose faith in love was almost extinguished and who could not join in the rejoicing over the Child's birthday.

Always, explained the Carol simply, it had seemed important to stop with these for awhile, and somehow it had always meant being late. "But next year ..." began the Carol, but the voice from the Throne interrupted.

"Next year," said the Voice, "you will do as you have done next year and for many years to come. For you are the Carol that must be voiceless until all men sing together in a mighty chorus that covers the earth. Only in the hearts of men who have seen the vision," said the voice, "can you hone; the Child, until all men love each other as He loved them. "

"Then," said the Carol wistfully, "must I be silent forever?"

"Not so," said the Voice, and the full choir of angels had never sounded so richly majestic. "They flee from it in fear and greed, but with their fear there is a shame, and through their greed shines love. One day they will cast out their fear and let love lead them into the rich habitation I have prepared for them. Then," said the Voice, "all men will join in singing the sweetest carol of all ... THE SONG OF UNIVERSAL, BROTHERHOOD."


THE CHRISTMAS ORANGE
Fred C. Lemon


Jake was a resident of an orphan's home. One of ten children supported by what contributions the home could secure on a continuous struggle. There was very little to eat. It was seldom warm in the wintertime, for fuel was expensive. But at Christmas time there always seemed to be a little more to eat and the home seemed a little warmer, and it was a time for more than the usual enjoyment. But more than this, there was an orange. The only time of the year that such a rare item was provided -- and it was coveted by each child like no other thing they ever possessed. They would save it for several days. Admiring it, feeling it, loving it, and contemplating the moment when they would eat it. Truly it was the "piece de resistance" to the Christmastide, and the year, for many would wait until New Year's Day or later to eat it. Oftentimes it would start to dry out and shrivel before they would eat it in order to salvage what they could.

This Christmas Day Jake had offended the rules or authority of the home in some manner and his punishment was loss of the orange privilege. After a year of waiting for this rare occasion, and this most desired of all rewards, it was denied. Plaintiff impleading was to no avail. Although the offence was rather minor, still it was an infraction of rules that must govern regulated society. Jack spent Christmas Day empty and alone -- it even seemed the other children didn't want to associate with a person who didn't have an orange.

Nighttime arrived and this was worst of all. Jake could not sleep. There was no love in the world. There was no forgiving. And certainly there could be no God that would permit a contrite little soul to suffer so much by himself. Silently he sobbed for the future of mankind; and the world perhaps, but mostly because he didn't have an orange like the other kids had.

A soft hand placed on Jake's shoulders startled him momentarily and an object was quickly shoved into his hands. The donor disappeared into the dark of the room leaving Jake with what he did not immediately identify as an orange. Not a regular run-or-the-orchard, but one fabricated from four segments of nine other oranges. Nine other highly prized oranges that would of necessity be eaten this day instead of several days hence.


THE CHRISTMAS WOODPILE
A. R. Hawkins


The big bay team moved the heavily loaded wagon down the country lane at a good clip, their hooves crunching as they smashed through the crusted snow. Over the sounds of the horses and the wagon wheels could be heard the tinkle of silver bells. It was two days till Christmas and Aaron had been to town to do the last bit of shopping for groceries and other things that Sara needed to finish out their holiday supplies. Not one to waste time or trips unnecessarily, he had stopped by the feed mill for a load of oats and ground barley for the horses and hogs. He grain-fed his teams the year around, so they were always in good condition. He was once asked what color of horses he liked best. He replied, "Fat is a pretty color."

Aaron was not a rich man, but he was kind and generous. He believed the deed was reward enough and sought no thanks for his kindness. Now as he neared home with his loaded wagon, he wondered if the Tilton family would have what they needed for the cold winter months that lay ahead. The widow had five children, the oldest not yet ten. He turned the team on the section line; he would just drive by and casually look things over.

When he got near their little two-room board shack, he saw that the older children were outside in the snow gathering chips for the fire. Tim, the six-year-old, came running when he saw the team and heard the bells. He was crazy about horses and no one had horses like Aaron Simpson's. He loved the long red tassels that waved from the bridle clips, the long strings of red, white, and blue celluloid rings that adorned the spreaders, and most of all the sound of the little silver bells. Each Christmas Aaron would fasten four silver bells to each horse's hame strappings. They made such a pleasant sound as the horses tossed their heads and shifted their collars as they walked.

"Whoa now!" Aaron called. "Hello, Tim. Why don't you climb up here and let me see if I have something in my pocket a boy like you might enjoy?" He wrapped the lines around the wagon brake. Tim hesitated. The wagon looked awfully high.

"Come on," Aaron encouraged. "I'll help you."

Clinging to the heavily mittened hand, Tim climbed over the wheel and onto the seat, and looked up into his face, suddenly remembering something that had happened about a month before. "Did you bring us the flour and the Christmas money or was it the Lord like Mama says?"

Aaron didn't seem to hear, rummaging deep in his coat pocket for a sack of stick candy. "Now, could you use these?" he asked, counting out twelve peppermint sticks.

"Yes, oh yes, sir!" The light in Tim's eyes was thanks enough for Aaron. Carefully he helped Tim back over the wheel, both hands clutching his treasure. "Share them with the other children and with your mother and have a good Christmas."

"We're going over to Uncle Lew's for Christmas dinner," Tim shouted over his shoulder as he ran toward the cabin.

Lifting the lines, Aaron started the team on their way home again, but not before he'd seen Mary Ann and Elizabeth carry an old dishpan a second time to where the woodpile had been when their father was alive. They were gathering the chips and splinters, all that was left. They'll not be able to keep warm in this weather with that kind of wood, he frowned. "Have to do something about that," he said half-aloud to the team, breaking the stillness of the winter afternoon.

He looked at his watch as he neared the farmyard gate; there was just time to care for his horses and unload the wagon before supper. After just a few moments he stepped through the kitchen door, his arms filled with packages. One he handed to Sara, a special present that wouldn't wait till Christmas Day. He wanted her to know how much she was loved and appreciated. The gift was fabric for a new dress, and the way her delighted smile warmed him made his family prayer especially grateful.

He had spent much thought for those other packages, presents for his three sons and two daughters -- not extravagant, but good quality and thoughtfully chosen by him and Sara. His philosophy of good stewardship kept his house well painted, his granaries and barns in good repair, farm implements well oiled and sharp. Although his income was limited, his thrift and good husbandry made others think him well-to-do.

Tonight as they ate their supper, he watched the snow dance in the wind, whipping around the bare trees and across the farmyard. Their well-built home was warm and comfortable, but he wondered how it was at the Tiltons', with only chips and sawdust to burn. He would not sleep well that night, thinking of the little children huddled together, the air frosty in their bedrooms.

By dawn of the next day, a cloudy prelude to Christmas, Aaron was rolling two of the biggest and best pine logs from his winter wood supply. After the morning chores and a good breakfast, he was back at the woodpile with a two-man crosscut saw and his heavy double-bitted axe from the granary. He loaded one of the logs onto the notched log sawbucks and marked the log into stove lengths. The heavy saw would have pulled too hard for many men, but Aaron was a powerful man. He whipped the saw down almost to the bottom of each cut, hour after hour at a steady pace.

He looked at the little piles of sawdust beneath the log and watched them grow bigger with each stroke. When all the cuts were finished, he took the five-pound axe and, with a single stroke, cut each one free. Blocks of wood lay everywhere.

Now he felt the axe blade for sharpness; it was keen as a razor. Once when a neighbor had watched him test-shave the hair from the back of his hand, he had asked, "You lost your razor, Aaron?"

"No," Aaron had replied, "but when I cut wood, I want to cut it, not just bruise it."

Aaron removed the end-gate from the big wagon box and backed the wagon up to his chopping block. As he split each block into stovewood, he tossed it into the box where his boys stacked it. By nightfall the wide box was heaped high. He checked the top so that none would fall off when the wagon moved.

Christmas morning came, clear and clean. Several inches of new snow had fallen, covering the chips and bark around the chopping block. Even the load of wood was disguised under its covering. After chores was the wonderful family time of sharing gifts. Aaron held little Zillah on his lap and listened to her eager chatter about the beautiful doll and new doll clothes that had appeared for her under the tree. The odor of the roasting goose teased their noses.

Jacob watched Lew's double buggy pass their house and head back filled with the Tilton family. Aaron got up and beckoned to his sons. Excited, they followed him to the barn and helped him hitch the team to the loaded wagon. In three hours they were home again, rosy from the exercise, glowing with happiness, and impressively silent.

As the afternoon wore on, a fresh breeze came up. Soon the new snow was sifting across the old crust, filling every depression. Aaron was pleased. There would be no wagon tracks, no embarrassing "thank yous," and no way to diminish the quiet happiness warming him.


THE ENVELOPE


It's just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so. It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas -- oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it -- overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma -- the gifts given in desperation because you couldn't think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way. Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended; and shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church, mostly black. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford. Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn't acknowledge defeat. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, "I wish just one of them could have won," he said. "They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them."

Mike loved kids -- all kids -- and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That's when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me.

His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition -- one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on. The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents. As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure.

The story doesn't end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing round the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope ...

Mike's spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us. May we all remember the Christmas spirit this year and always.


THE EXTRA BABY JESUS


About a week before Christmas the family bought a new nativity scene. When they unpacked it they found 2 figures of the Baby Jesus. "Someone must have packed this wrong," the mother said, counting out the figures. "We have one Joseph, one Mary, three wise men, three shepherds, two lambs, a donkey, a cow, an angel and two babies. Oh, dear! I suppose some set down at the store is missing a Baby Jesus because we have two."

"You two run back down to the store and tell the manager that we have an extra Jesus. Tell him to put a sign on the remaining boxes saying that if a set is missing a Baby Jesus, call 7126. Put on your warm coats, it's freezing cold out there."

The manager of the store copied down mother's message and the next time they were in the store they saw the cardboard sign that read, "If you're missing Baby Jesus, call 7126." All week long they waited for someone to call. Surely, they thought, someone was missing that important figurine. Each time the phone rang mother would say, "I'll bet that's about Jesus," but it never was.

Father tried to explain there are thousands of these scattered over the country and the figurine could be missing from a set in Florida or Texas or California. Those packing mistakes happen all the time. He suggested just put the extra Jesus back in the box and forget about it.

"Put Baby Jesus back in the box! What a terrible thing to do," said the children. "Surely someone will call," mother said. "We'll just keep the two of them together in the manger until someone calls."

When no call had come by 5:00 on Christmas Eve, mother insisted that father "just run down to the store" to see if there were any sets left. "You can see them right through the window, over on the counter," she said. "If they are all gone, I'll know someone is bound to call tonight."

"Run down to the store?" father thundered. "It's 15 below zero out there!"

"Oh, Daddy, we'll go with you," Tommy and Mary began to put on their coats. Father gave a long sigh and headed for the front closet. "I can't believe I'm doing this," he muttered. Tommy and Mary ran ahead as father reluctantly walked out in the cold. Mary got to the store first and pressed her nose up to the store window. "They're all gone, Daddy," she shouted. "Every set must be sold."

"Hooray," Tommy said. "The mystery will now be solved tonight!"

Father heard the news still a half block away and immediately turned on his heel and headed back home. When they got back into the house they noticed that mother was gone and so was the extra Baby Jesus figurine. "Someone must have called and she went out to deliver the figurine," my father reasoned, pulling off his boots. "You kids get ready for bed while I wrap mother's present."

Then the phone rang. Father yelled "answer the phone and tell 'em we found a home for Jesus." But it was mother calling with instructions for us to come to 205 Chestnut Street immediately, and bring three blankets, a box of cookies and some milk. "Now what has she gotten us into?" my father groaned as we bundled up again. "205 Chestnut. Why that's across town. Wrap that milk up good in the blankets or it will turn to ice before we get there. Why can't we all just get on with Christmas? It's probably 20 below out there now. And the wind is picking up. Of all the crazy things to do on a night like this."

When they got to the house at 205 Chestnut Street it was the darkest one on the block. Only one tiny light burned in the living room and, the moment we set foot on the porch steps, my mother opened the door and shouted, "They're here, Oh thank God you got here, Ray! You kids take those blankets into the living room and wrap up the little ones on the couch. I'll take the milk and cookies."

"Would you mind telling me what is going on, Ethel?" my father asked. "We have just walked through below zero weather with the wind in our faces all the way."

"Never mind all that now," my mother interrupted. "There isn't any heat in this house and this young mother is so upset she doesn't know what to do. Her husband walked out on her and those poor little children will have a very bleak Christmas, so don't you complain. I told her you could fix that oil furnace in a jiffy."

My mother strode off to the kitchen to warm the milk while my brother and I wrapped up the five little children who were huddled together on the couch. The children's mother explained to my father that her husband had run off, taking bedding, clothing, and almost every piece of furniture, but she had been doing all right until the furnace broke down.

"I been doin' washin' and ironin' for people and cleanin' the five and dime," she said. "I saw your number every day there, on those boxes on the counter. When the furnace went out, that number kept going' through my mind. 7162 7162. Said on the box that if a person was missin' Jesus, they should call you. That's how I knew you were good Christian people, willin' to help folks. I figured that maybe you would help me, too. So I stopped at the grocery store tonight and I called your misses. I'm not missin' Jesus, mister, because I sure love the Lord. But I am missin' heat. I have no money to fix that furnace."

"Okay, Okay," said father. "You've come to the right place. Now let's see. You've got a little oil burner over there in the dining room. Shouldn't be too hard to fix. Probably just a clogged flue. I'll look it over, see what it needs."

Mother came into the living room carrying a plate of cookies and warm milk. As she set the cups down on the coffee table, I noticed the figure of Baby Jesus lying in the center of the table. It was the only sign of Christmas in the house. The children stared wide-eyed with wonder at the plate of cookies my mother set before them.

Father finally got the oil burner working but said, "You need more oil. I'll make a few calls tonight and get some oil. Yes sir, you came to the right place", father grinned.

On the way home father did not complain about the cold weather and had barely set foot inside the door when he was on the phone. "Ed, hey, how are ya, Ed?"

"Yes, Merry Christmas to you, too. Say Ed, we have kind of an unusual situation here. I know you've got that pick-up truck. Do you still have some oil in that barrel on your truck? You do?"

By this time the rest of the family were pulling clothes out of their closets and toys off of their shelves. It was long after their bedtime when they were wrapping gifts. The pickup came. On it were chairs, three lamps, blankets and gifts. Even though it was 30 below, father let them ride along in the back of the truck. No one ever did call about the missing figure in the nativity set, but as I grow older I realize that it wasn't a packing mistake at all.


THE FADED BLUE BLANKET
Fred Bauer


The most frightened shepherd that night was little Ladius, just ten. He cowered behind his three older brothers when the blinding star lit the hillside. When the angel appeared, he hid behind a huge rock.

Yet, after Ladius heard the glad news, fear left him, and he limped back to his brothers, who were planning to set out for Bethlehem.

"Who will tend the sheep?" asked Samuel, the oldest at sixteen. Ladius, leaning against his shepherd's crook to support a crippled foot, volunteered, "I'd only slow you down. Let me stay with the sheep." He wet his lip as he talked. The brothers weakly protested at first, then made plans to go.

"We must each take a gift," said Samuel. One brother chose his flint to start a fire for the Christ child. Another picked meadow lilies to make a garland for the king. Samuel decided on his most precious possession -- his gold ring.

"Here -- take my blanket to him," said Ladius. It was badly worn, a faded blue with patches.

"No, Ladius," said Samuel, tenderly. "The blanket is too tattered to give even a beggar -- let alone a king. Besides, you will need it tonight."

The brothers departed, leaving Ladius alone by the fire. He laid his head upon the blanket and buried his face in his hands. Tears forced their way between his fingers, but soon the hush of night soothed the boy's heartbeat. The world in silent stillness lay ...

"Are you coming, Ladius?" called a voice. Standing nearby was the same angel who had brought the news. "You wanted to see the child, didn't you?"

"Yes," nodded Ladius, "but I must stay here."

"My name is Gabriel," said the angel. "Your sheep will be watched. Take my hand, and bring your blanket. The child may need it."

Suddenly, Ladius was outside a stable. Kneeling by a manger were his brothers. Ladius started to call out, but the angel lifted a finger to his lips.

"Give me the blanket," Gabriel whispered. The angel took it and quietly covered the baby. But the blanket was no longer faded. Now it glistened like dew in the brilliance of a new day. Returning, Gabriel squeezed Ladius's hand, "Your gift was best because you gave all that you had ..."

"Wake up, Ladius, wake up!" The boy rubbed his eyes and tried to shield them from the glaring sun. Hovering over him was Samuel.

"Did you find him?" asked Ladius.

"Yes," replied Samuel, "but first tell me why you were sleeping without your blanket."

Ladius looked about with wonder. The faded blue blanket was nowhere to be found -- then, or thereafter.


THE FIRST CHRISTMAS TREE
author unknown


In a forest in the far, far East grew a great many pine trees. Most of them were tall trees, higher than the houses that we see, and with wide, strong branches. But there was one tree that was not nearly so tall as the others; in fact, it was no taller than some of the children in the kindergarten.

Now, the tall trees could see far, far out over the hilltops and into the valleys, and they could hear all the noises that went on in the world beyond the forest, but the Little Tree was so small and the other trees grew so high and thick about it that it could not see nor hear these things at all; but the other trees were very kind, and they would stoop down and tell them to the Little Tree. One night in the winter time there seemed to be something strange happening in the little town among the hills, for the trees did not go to sleep after the sun went down, but put their heads together and spoke in strange, low whispers that were full of awe and wonder. The Little Tree, from its place close down to the ground, did not understand what it was all about. It listened awhile, and then lifted its head as high as ever it could and shouted to its tall neighbor: "Will you not stoop and tell me what is happening?" And the big tree stooped down and whispered: "The shepherds out on the hilltops are telling strange stories while they watch their sheep. The air is filled with sweet music, and there is a wonderful star coming up in the east, traveling westward always, and the shepherds say that they are waiting for it to stop and shine over a humble stable in their little town. I have not heard why it is going to stop there, but I will look again and listen." So the tall tree lifted up its head again, and reached far out so that it might hear more of the wonderful story.

Bye and bye it stooped down again, and whispered to the Little Tree:

"Oh, Little Tree, listen! There are angels among the shepherds on the hills, and they are all talking together. They seem to be awaiting the birth of a little child, who will be a king among the people, and the beautiful star will shine above the stable where the little king will be laid in a manger."

The tree again raised its head to listen, and the Little Tree, much puzzled, thought within itself: "It is very strange, indeed.


* * * * *


"Oh, how I wish that I could see it all!"

It waited a little longer, and everything grew quiet, and a great peace came upon the forest.


* * * * *


Then suddenly the town, and even the forest was illuminated with a strange, white light that made everything as bright as day, and the air was filled with the flutter of angels' wings, and with music such as the world had never heard before.

The people and the trees, even the stars in the heaven, lifted up their voices and sang together and the whole world was filled with music and joy and love for the little Christ-child who had come to dwell upon the earth.

The Little Tree was filled with fear and wonder, for so great was the excitement that the other trees had almost forgotten it, and it could not understand the mysterious sounds; but bye and bye its tall friend said, "Listen, listen, Little Tree! Such news I have to tell! The Christ has come--the King! And the whole world is singing such beautiful music. There are wise men coming from the East, bringing beautiful gifts to the Christ-child. The angels, too, are upon the earth, and they bear gifts of gold and rare, beautiful stones. Wait! I will tell you more."

The tall tree had scarcely lifted up its head when it stooped again and whispered to the Little Tree, "Look! Look! Little Tree! They are coming this way; the angels are coming here, into our forest! Lift up your head high and you will see them as they pass."

The Little Tree lifted up its head and saw the white flutter of angel robes and heard the weird, sweet voices of the heavenly host who came with precious gifts into the forest.

"Oh," said the Little Tree, "they are coming here, toward me! What shall I do?" And in fear it bent its head so low that it almost touched the ground.

But the music came nearer and nearer, and the Little Tree felt a tender hand upon its branches, and a soft, gentle voice said to it, "Arise, Little Tree, and come with us, for we have come into the forest to seek you. Yes, you, the very smallest among the trees, are to be our gift-bearer. Come; lift up your head."

In fear and trembling the Little Tree did as the angel bade it. But when it looked into the angel's face and saw the love and kindness there, all fear was gone, and it said to the angel: "Yes; make me ready. I will come with you to the little Christ-child in the manger."

So all the angels brought their gifts of precious jewels and shining gold, and fastened them upon the branches of the Little Tree. Then the leader of the angels' band took up the Little Tree from the ground and bore it, laden with its precious burden, to the feet of the Christ-child.


THE FRIENDLY BEASTS


Jesus our brother kind and good
Was humbly born in a stable of wood
And the friendly beasts around him stood
Jesus our brother kind and good


"I" said the donkey shaggy and brown
I carried his mother up hill and down
I carried him safely to Bethlehem town
"I" said the donkey shaggy and brown


And "I" said the cow all white and red
I gave him my manger for a bed
I gave him my hay for to pillow his head
"I" said the cow all white and red


"I" said the sheep with a curly horn
I have him my wool for his blanket warm
And he wore my coat on that Christmas morn
"I" said the sheep with a curly horn


"I" said the dove from the rafters high
Cooed him to sleep that he should not cry
We cooed him to sleep my love and I
"I" said the dove from the rafters high


And "I" said the camel all yellow and black
Over the desert upon my back
I brought him a gift in the wise men's pack
"I" said the camel all yellow and black


Thus every beast remembering it well
In the stable dark was so proud to tell
Of the gifts that they gave Emmanuel
The gifts that they gave Emmanuel


THE HEAVENLY FARM HANDS
(Woman's Day 12/15/98, page 107)


The after-Christmas snowstorm had blanketed a wide patch of rural eastern Pennsylvania, and Chris Clark Davidson probably should have waited until the roads were plowed before she, her mother and her two small sons attempted a drive. But Chris' grandmother lived alone more than a hundred miles away, and couldn't get out to the store to buy her groceries. "We'll be fine," Chris assured her mother. "We'll take that shortcut that we use all summer."

However, Chris had forgotten how narrow the short-cut road was, especially with drifts piled high and wind blowing snow across the fields. When another vehicle roared around a curve, Chris swerved and skidded into a snowbank. The other car kept going. The wheels spun uselessly as she tried to pull out. "Mommy, are we stuck?" toddler Phillip asked from under his blanket in the back seat. "Looks that way, honey," Chris admitted. They had only seen that one car since they'd turned onto the shortcut. How long would it be before someone came along? How long before the freezing temperature invaded the car's interior? And why, oh why, had she worn stylish open shoes instead of warm boots? Chris got out, her almost-bare feet plunging into a high drift, and looked around. Lord, please send us some help, she prayed. Then she saw it -- a silo and barn roof about a quarter-mile away.

"Mom," Chris leaned in the car and said, "I'll walk down to that barn and see if anyone's there. Keep the kids warm." The journey was incredibly cold, and by the time Chris pushed open the barn door, her feet were icy. A welcome blast of heat greeted her, along with the mooing of heifers in their stalls. It was a working dairy, clean and well organized, with a shiny window fan circulating the air. Even better, Chris heard young male voices coming from behind a stall. Maneuvering around the animals, Chris followed the sound and came upon two farmhands in overalls and flannel shirts, kidding and teasing each other. They stopped and smiled when they saw her, and quickly she explained the situation. "Stay here!" one said, tramping past the cows and out the door. A few moments later, Chris heard a horn honking in front of the barn.

There he was, driving a blue pickup truck. "Get in!" he shouted. Chris hesitated. She didn't know these men. Yet there was something so merry about them that she couldn't feel afraid. She and the other farmhand scrambled into the pickup and bounced down the road. There was the car, her toddlers bundled up and Mom waving. The driver roared across the field, spun in a wide circle and screeches into position behind it. "Way to go!" his buddy yelled. Chris gripped the seat. "Do you always drive like this?" she asked, only half-joking. The driver shrugged. "Well, it ain't our truck." Within minutes the men had freed Chris' car, and she opened her purse to reward them. But both backed away. "It was our pleasure, ma'am. Just drive safely." Not like you, Chris grinned as she pulled away.

But they had been wonderful guys. Chris didn't realize just how wonderful until two weeks later when she and her mother decided to make a return visit to her grandmother. Since the snow was almost all gone by then, the shortcut was safer. "When we get to the barn I'd like to stop and let the guys know we made it to Grandma's that day," Chris told her mother. But when they pulled up in front to where Chris had climbed into the blue truck, she could hardly believe her eyes. The barn was vacant, shabby, with paint peeling and door hinges hanging loose. Bewildered, Chris wiped away a heavy film of dirt and cobwebs on the milk house window and peered inside. Where were the heifers, the floors littered with fresh manure? Even the fan was rusty.

"You couldn't have seen any farmhands or cattle there," the woman at the next house told Chris. "No one's worked that property for years." Chris got in the car. "Am I crazy, Mom?" she asked. "No." Her mother was firm. "This is definitely the place." Then how? Suddenly Chris understood, and like the shepherds at that first Christmas she was filled with awe. Her angels had worn blue jeans and flannel shirts instead of white robes. But they had delivered the same timeless message, to her and to anyone willing to listen: Fear not! The Savior is here! Alleluia!


THE LINE FOR THE FAMILY STABLE FORMS HERE
Tess Hoffman


One of my earliest memories of childhood involves a luminous record player/radio and our family nativity set. Our ancient cabinet model, with the lid that lifted to reveal a turntable, glowed invitingly, and in a home which did not have one of those new television sets, offered me a window to the outside world of Jack Benny, Father Knows Best, and my hero-of-heroes, Gene Autry. But perhaps the coolest spec that this machine offered was that it played at 16 2/3 RPM! The advantage of this speed was that a little kid could take the sheep from our manger, place them on the turntable and watch them revolve around the center post without hurtling off into space.

Our nativity figures were of a delicate plaster, simple in design, and they were to us children, of course, the only kind of figures anyone in the world would ever want to own. The nativity in front of the altar at church, the giant nativities in the department store windows -- those were all well and good, and quite wonderful. But those were Out There. A home could be quite happy with our figures, in their stable which my father constructed for his and my mother's first Christmas together.

The nativity story was so much a part of our lives in small-town Ohio that it was lodged in our spiritual DNA. My father, when he found that one of us had failed to close a door on a chilly day, would use the old challenge his own father used: "Close the door. Were you born in a barn?" And one day my four-year-old sister replied, puzzled, "Yes, I had to be in the barn, so the shepherds could come and see me."

Years later, when I married, my parents gave my husband and me a set very much like theirs, though we were not as handy with tools, and eventually bought a stable from Sears. This pageant of parents and child and legendary visitors has sat over the years on our mantle, on our piano and on our windowsill. It was always within reach of our two children who came along, though of course they received the same cautions as I had about being careful not to drop. By this time the old record player was long gone, and our new, modern turntable couldn't go any slower than a potentially disastrous 33-1/3 RPM, so I never pointed out to my own children the possible thrill rides our sheep could have taken.

Somewhere in those early years, Baby Jesus did get a hand broken off, but we found the hand and reattached it. Each year when the manger came out of the box, our children took the same sort of fascination in it as I had with ours when I was little. One day we came into the family room to discover that the nativity scene on the bay window sill had been organized by our daughter: Mary and Joseph were, of course, flanking the little crib. Lined up to the East, in order of size, were the animals, starting with the lambs, arrayed through donkey and cow, and ending with the camels. And lined up to the West, patiently waiting their turn to see the Baby, were the people: shepherds, then kings and their groom, then Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch in his garbage can, and Goofy.

When my brother and his wife had their first little girl, I went on a quest to buy them a manger like the one he and I had grown up with, but there was none to be had. During a now-unimaginable period of time, Christmas had become rather invisible, with Christmas carols nearly disappearing from the radio, television throughout the holiday season dripping with the same blood and flying bullets as throughout the year, and nativity sets so scarce that I actually tried to make them one in my kitchen out of plaster of Paris. As the white liquid ran from the molds and over my kitchen floor, my friend quoted the go-ahead, you-deserve-to-do-something-nice-for yourself-for-a-change Clairol hair color ad from the television: "This I do for myself," she grinned.

Click to see a bigger photo. Eventually I found them a set of figures made to look like children in a pageant. It was not exactly what I had in mind, but it had to do. And over the years I added figures to their set when I found angels or little farm animals which might roughly match.

When our daughter married, my mother gave her a little set. And this past Christmas, a terrifying time in our family when our one-year-old granddaughter went through three surgeries and seven weeks of IV antibiotics for osteomyelitis, my husband and I gave our Madeline her first set. It's a little fragile, but I want her to be able to hold it, and move it around, and organize the reception line as we did, and as her mother did.

My chiropractor took his out-of-town visitors to church last Christmas. Sitting in the crowded church, his brother's little boy had a hard time seeing anything but the backs of the other worshippers. But at Communion, he suddenly started, pointed, and said, loudly and delightedly, "Look, Daddy! They have a Jesus farm set just like ours!"

So, for all the Jesus farm sets out there in people's homes, I send a wish for the blessings of immediacy, of holding immense power in our child's hands, of living with the ancient past on our window sills, of expecting Oscar the Grouch, Goofy, G.I. Joe and our troll dolls to stop and take the time to line up to see something and somebody special.


THE OTHER WISE MAN
From the Story by Henry O. Van Dyke


The other wise man's name was Artaban. He was one of the Magi and he lived in Persia. He was a man of great wealth, great learning, and great faith. With his learned companions he had searched the scriptures as to the time that the Savior should be born. They knew that a new star would appear and it was agreed between them that Artaban would watch from Persia and the others would observe the sky from Babylon.

On the Night he believed the sign was to be given, Artaban went out on his roof to watch the night sky. "If the star appears, they will wait for me ten days, then we will all set out together for Jerusalem. I have made ready for the journey by selling all of my possessions and have brought three jewels: a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl. I intend to present them as my tribute to the king."

As he watched an azure spark was born out of the darkness, rounding itself with splendor into a crimson sphere. Artaban bowed his head. "It is the sign," he said. "The King is coming, and I will go to meet him." The swiftest of Artaban's horses had been waiting saddled and bridled in her stall, pawing the ground impatiently. She shared the eagerness of her master's purpose. As Artaban placed himself upon her back, he said, "God bless us both from falling and our souls from death." They began their journey. Each day his faithful horse measured off the allotted proportion of the distance, and at nightfall on the tenth day they approached the outskirts of Babylon.

In a little island of desert palm trees, Artaban's horse scented difficulty and slackened her pace. Then she stood still, quivering in every muscle. Artaban dismounted. The dim starlight revealed the form of a man lying in the roadway. His skin bore the mark of a deadly fever. The chill of death was in his lean hand. As Artaban turned to go, a sigh came from the sick man's lips. Artaban felt sorry that he could not stay to minister to this dying stranger, but this was the hour toward which his entire life had been directed. He could not forfeit the reward of his years of study and faith to do a single deed of human mercy. But then, how could he leave his fellow man alone to die?

"God of truth and mercy," prayed Artaban, "direct me in the path of wisdom which only thou knowest." Then he knew that he could not go on. The Magi were physicians as well as astronomers. He took off his robe and began his work of healing. Several hours later the patient regained consciousness. Artaban gave him all that was left of his bread and wine. He left a potion of the healing herbs and instruction for his care. He also left the sapphire, for the man to purchase food and warm clothes.

Though Artaban rode with the greatest haste the rest of the way, it was after dawn that he arrived at the designated meeting place. His friends arranged to attract his attention. It said, "We have waited till past midnight, and can delay no longer. We go to find the King. Follow us across the desert." Artaban sat down in despair and covered his face with his hands. "How can I cross the desert with no food and with a spent horse? I must return to Babylon, sell my sapphire and buy camels and provisions for the journey. I may never overtake my friends. Only the merciful God knows whether or not I shall lose my purpose because I tarried to show mercy."

Several days later when Artaban arrived at Bethlehem, the streets were deserted. It was rumored that Herod was sending soldiers, presumably to enforce some new tax, and the men of the city had taken their flocks into the hills beyond his reach.

The door of one dwelling was open, and Artaban could hear a mother singing a lullaby to her child. He entered and introduced himself. The woman told him it was now the third day since the three wise men had appeared in Bethlehem. They had found Joseph and Mary and the young child, and had laid their gifts at His feet. Then they had gone as mysteriously as they had come. Joseph had taken his wife and babe that same night and had secretly fled to Egypt. As Artaban listened, the baby reached up its dimpled hand and touched his cheek and smiled. His heart warmed at the touch.

Then, suddenly, outside there arose a wild confusion of sounds. Women were shrieking. Then a desperate cry was heard. "The soldiers of Herod are killing the children." Artaban went to the doorway. A band of soldiers came hurrying down the street. The captain approached the door to thrust Artaban aside, but Artaban did not stir. His face was as calm as though he were still watching the stars. Finally his outstretched hand revealed the giant ruby. He said, "I am waiting to give this jewel to the prudent captain who will go on his way and leave this house alone." The captain, amazed at the splendor of the gem, took it and said to his men, "March on, there are no children here."

Then Artaban prayed, "Oh, God, forgive me my sin, I have spent for men that which was meant for God. Shall I ever be worthy to see the face of the King?" But the voice of the woman, weeping with joy in the shadows behind him said softly, "Thou hast saved the life of my little one. May the Lord bless thee and keep thee and give thee peace."

Artaban, still following the King went on into Egypt seeking everywhere for traces of the little family that had fled before him. For many years we follow Artaban in his search. We see him at the pyramids. We see him in Alexandria taking counsel with a Hebrew rabbi who told him to seek the King not among the rich but among the poor. He passed through the countries where famine lay heavy upon the land, and the poor were crying for bread. He made his dwelling in plague-stricken cities. He visited the oppressed and the afflicted in prisons. He searched the crowded slave-markets.

Though he found no one to worship, he found many to serve. As the years passed, he fed the hungry, clothed the naked, healed the sick and comforted the captive. Thirty-three years had now passed away since Artaban began his search. His hair was white as snow. He knew his life's end was near, but he was still desperate with hope that he would find the king.

He had come for the last time to Jerusalem. It was the season of the Passover and the city was thronged with strangers. Artaban inquired where they were going. One answered, "We are going to the execution on Golgotha outside the city walls. Two robbers are to be crucified, and with them another called Jesus of Nazareth, a man who has done many wonderful works among the people. He claims to be the Son of God and the priests and elders have said that he must die. Pilate sent him to the cross."

How strangely these familiar words fell upon the tired heart of Artaban. They had led him for a lifetime over land and sea. And now they came to him like a message of despair. The King had been denied and cast out. Perhaps he was already dying. Could he be the same one for whom the star had appeared thirty-three long years ago? Artaban's heart beat loudly within him. He thought, "It may be that I shall yet find the King and be able to ransom him from death by giving my treasure to his enemies."

But as Artaban started toward Calvery, he saw a troop of soldiers coming down the street, dragging a sobbing young woman. As Artaban paused, she broke away from her tormentors and threw herself at his feet, her arms clasped around his knees.

"Have pity on me," she cried, "And save me. My father was also of the Magi, but he is dead. I am to be sold as a slave to pay his debts."

Artaban trembled as he again felt the conflict arising in his soul. It was the same that he had experienced in the palm grove of Babylon and the cottage of Bethlehem. Twice the gift which he had consecrated to the King had been drawn from his hand to the service of humanity. Would he now fail again? One thing was clear, he must rescue this helpless child from evil.

He took the pearl and laid it in the hand of the girl and said, "Daughter, this is the ransom. It is the last of my treasures which I had hoped to keep for the King."

While he spoke, the darkness of the sky thickened and the shuddering tremors of an earthquake ran through the ground. The houses rocked. The soldiers fled in terror. Artaban sank beside a protecting wall. What had he to fear? What had he to hope for? He had given away the last of his tribute to the King. The quest was over and he had failed. What else mattered? The earthquake quivered beneath him. A heavy tile, shaken from a roof, fell and struck him. He lay breathless and pale. Then there came a still small voice through the twilight. It was like distant music. The rescued girl leaned over him and heard him say, "Not so, my Lord; for when saw I thee hungered and fed thee? Or thirsty and gave thee drink? When saw I thee sick or in prison and came unto thee? Thirty-three years have I looked for thee; but I have never seen thy face, nor ministered unto thee, my King." The sweet voice came again, "verily I say unto thee, that inasmuch as thou hast done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, thou hast done it unto me."

A calm radiance of wonder and joy lighted the face of Artaban as one long, last breath exhaled gently from his lips. His journey was ended. His treasure accepted. The Other Wise Man had found the King.


THE TECHNICAL NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS


'Twas the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period preceding the annual Yuletide celebration, and throughout our place of residence, kinetic activity was not in evidence among the possessors of this potential, including that species of domestic rodent known as Mus musculus. Hosiery was meticulously suspended from the forward edge of the wood burning caloric apparatus, pursuant to our anticipatory pleasure regarding an imminent visitation from an eccentric philanthropist among whose folkloric appellations is the honorific title of St. Nicholas.

The prepubescent siblings, comfortably ensconced in their respective accommodations of repose, were experiencing subconscious visual hallucinations of variegated fruit confections moving rhythmically through their cerebrums. My conjugal partner and I, attired in our nocturnal head coverings, were about to take slumberous advantage of the hibernal darkness when upon the avenaceous exterior portion of the grounds there ascended such a cacophony of dissonance that I felt compelled to arise with alacrity from my place of repose for the purpose of ascertaining the precise source thereof.

Hastening to the casement, I forthwith opened the barriers sealing this fenestration, noting thereupon that the lunar brilliance without, reflected as it was on the surface of a recent crystalline precipitation, might be said to rival that of the solar meridian itself -- thus permitting my incredulous optical sensory organs to behold a miniature airborne runnered conveyance drawn by eight diminutive specimens of the genus Rangifer, piloted by a minuscule, aged chauffeur so ebullient and nimble that it became instantly apparent to me that he was indeed our anticipated caller. With his ungulate motive power travelling at what may possibly have been more vertiginous velocity than patriotic alar predators, he vociferated loudly, expelled breath musically through contracted labia, and addressed each of the octet by his or her respective cognomen -- "Now Dasher, now Dancer ..." et al. -- guiding them to the uppermost exterior level of our abode, through which structure I could readily distinguish the concatenations of each of the 32 cloven pedal extremities.

As I retracted my cranium from its erstwhile location, and was performing a 180-degree pivot, our distinguished visitant achieved -- with utmost celerity and via a downward leap -- entry by way of the smoke passage. He was clad entirely in animal pelts soiled by the ebony residue from oxidations of carboniferous fuels which had accumulated on the walls thereof. His resemblance to a street vendor I attributed largely to the plethora of assorted playthings which he bore dorsally in a commodious cloth receptacle.

His orbs were scintillant with reflected luminosity, while his submaxillary dermal indentations gave every evidence of engaging amiability. The capillaries of his malar regions and nasal appurtenance were engorged with blood which suffused the subcutaneous layers, the former approximating the coloration of Albion's floral emblem, the latter that of the Prunus avium, or sweet cherry. His amusing sub- and supralabials resembled nothing so much as a common loop knot, and their ambient hirsute facial adornment appeared like small, tabular and columnar crystals of frozen water.

Clenched firmly between his incisors was a smoking piece whose gray fumes, forming a tenuous ellipse about his occiput, were suggestive of a decorative seasonal circlet of holly. His visage was wider than it was high, and when he waxed audibly mirthful, his corpulent abdominal region undulated in the manner of impectinated fruit syrup in a hemispherical container. He was, in short, neither more nor less than an obese, jocund, multigenarian gnome, the optical perception of whom rendered me visibly frolicsome despite every effort to refrain from so being. By rapidly lowering and then elevating one eyelid and rotating his head slightly to one side, he indicated that trepidation on my part was groundless.

Without utterance and with dispatch, he commenced filling the aforementioned appended hosiery with various of the aforementioned articles of merchandise extracted from his aforementioned previously dorsally transported cloth receptacle. Upon completion of this task, he executed an abrupt about-face, placed a single manual digit in lateral juxtaposition to his olfactory organ, inclined his cranium forward in a gesture of leave-taking, and forthwith effected his egress by renegotiating (in reverse) the smoke passage. He then propelled himself in a short vector onto his conveyance, directed a musical expulsion of air through his contracted oral sphincter to the antlered quadrupeds of burden, and proceeded to soar aloft in a movement hitherto observable chiefly among the seed-bearing portions of a common weed. But I overheard his parting exclamation, audible immediately prior to his vehiculation beyond the limits of visibility: "Ecstatic Yuletide to the planetary constituency, and to that self same assemblage, my sincerest wishes for a salubriously beneficial and gratifyingly pleasurable period between sunset and dawn."


THE TEJANO/TEX-MEX "NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS"
Jim and Nita Lee (Dec. 1972)


'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the casa,
Not a creature was stirring -- Caramba! Qué pasa?
Los niños were tucked away in their camas,
Some in long underwear, some in pajamas,
While hanging the stockings with mucho cuidado
In hopes that old Santa would feel obligado
To bring all children, both buenos and malos,
A nice batch of dulces and other regalos.
Outside in the yard there arose such a grito
That I jumped to my feet like a fightened cabrito.
I ran to the window and looked out afuera,
And who in the world do you think that it era?
Saint Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero
Came dashing along like a crazy bombero.
And pulling his sleigh instead of venados
Were eight little burros approaching volados.
I watched as they came and this quaint little hombre
Was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre:
"Ay Pancho, ay Pepe, ay Cuco, ay Beto,
Ay Chato, ay Chopo, Macuco, y Nieto!"
Then standing erect with his hands on his pecho
He flew to the top of our very own techo.
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea,
He struggled to squeeze down our old chiminea,
Then huffing and puffing at last in our sala,
With soot smeared all over his red suit de gala,
He filled all the stockings with lovely regalos --
For none of the niños had been very malos.
Then chuckling aloud, seeming very contento,
He turned like a flash and was gone like the viento.
And I heard him exclaim, and this is verdad,
Merry Christmas to all, and Feliz Navidad!


The 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS, DECONSTRUCTED


On the 12th day of the Eurocentrically imposed midwinter festival, my potential-acquaintance-rape-survivor gave to me:

◆ TWELVE males reclaiming their inner warrior through ritual drumming.

◆ ELEVEN pipers piping (plus the 18-member pit orchestra made up of members in good standing of the Musicians Equity Union as called for in their union contract even though they will not be asked to play a note ...)

◆ TEN melanin-deprived testosterone-poisoned scions of the patriarchal ruling class system leaping,

◆ NINE persons engaged in rhythmic self-expression,

◆ EIGHT economically disadvantaged female persons stealing milk-products from enslaved Bovine-Europeans,

◆ SEVEN endangered swans swimming on protected wetlands,

◆ SIX enslaved fowl-Europeans producing stolen nonhuman animal products,

◆ FIVE golden symbols of culturally sanctioned enforced domestic incarceration,

NOTE: after member of the Animal Liberation Front threatened to throw red paint at my computer, the calling birds, French hens and partridge have been reintroduced to their native habitat. To avoid further animal-European enslavement, the remaining gift package has been revised.

◆ FOUR hours of recorded whale songs,

◆ THREE deconstructionist poets,

◆ TWO Sierra Club calendars printed on recycled processed tree carcasses

◆ And an Animal Rights activist chained to an old-growth pear tree.


THE TWENTY-EIGHT CENT CHRISTMAS TREE
LaVarr B. Webb


It was a cold day. A gray day, gray with the threat of snow, and gray with the threat of tears. There were children in our family, three of them, ages one, twelve, and fourteen. There were two children missing on that cold, gray day. They had died one Easter season some four years before. Scarlet Fever had wracked their bodies and blotched their skin.

But now the memory of that sad season was replaced by what could be a happier one. It was Christmas Eve 1935, a Depression year. My father was without a job, trying to get on WPA (Works Progress Administration). I don't know where he was that night, just that he wasn't home, but I remember my mother trying to create Christmas joy with nothing to work with.

I was fourteen. My older sister was twelve. I don't remember that we were too concerned about receiving Christmas presents, at least I wasn't. My sister probably wanted a doll. She always wanted a doll, a baby doll, a doll like my baby sister had been, with fat, pink cheeks, and chubby hands and arms.

But now, Christmas Eve, my baby sister was thin and listless. I remember my mother telling my father, "My baby isn't getting proper food."

I don't remember much about that Christmas of 1935 other than I wanted a Christmas Tree. I told my mother, "Christmas will not be Christmas if we do not have a Christmas tree."

My sister and I begged for a tree. My mother told us "Time, and time again," "We have no money and I cannot buy a Christmas Tree."

My sister and I would not be deterred. We took colored paper from catalogs, cut it into strips, curled the strips into circles, and using flour and water paste, pasted one link into another until we had long lengths of highly colored paper chains.

We looked for tin foil from discarded chewing gum wrappers and cigarette packs. Some of the foil we cut into thin strips for icicles. Our neighbor had an English Walnut tree. We took halves of walnut shells, wrapped them with foil, and had beautiful ornaments that would rival anything found in a store.

We popped pop corn and made chains. We found discarded cranberries and made cranberry chains, but we had no Christmas Tree for our lovely ornaments. Finally, as day was fading, and the dark was creeping across the valley, I asked my mother, "See how much money you have. Maybe someone will sell me a tree."

She went to her purse, and handed me twenty-eight cents. She was crying when she said, "That is all I have."

I jumped on my bike, and rode up to Twenty First South Street in Salt Lake City where all the Christmas Tree lots were located. I went from lot to lot, but no one would sell me a tree for twenty-eight cents.

About nine o'clock, up on Twenty First South and State Street, I found a man turning off his lights and shutting down for the day, shutting down for the season. I asked him, "Do you have a tree you will sell for twenty-eight cents?"

His exact words were, "What the heck! I can't sell anymore anyway. Take your pick."

I found one just a little taller than I was, gave him my twenty-eight cents, put the tree across my handle bars, and headed home. As I peddled out of the lot, I heard him cry, "Merry Christmas" -- and it was.

To read more stories by LaVarr B. Webb, go to http://www.utahoutdoors.com/nostalgia/lavarrbwebb/index.htm


THE UNEXPECTED CHRISTMAS
Enid O. Ellis


With wind howling down from the Cascade Mountains, December 1969 was bitterly cold and snowy in Wenatchee, Washington. As a single mother, I and my children struggled just to stay warm and fed. I worked at minimum-wage jobs and attended nursing school, and often I went two or three days without eating at the end of the month to give the children more food. At times even the children went to bed hungry, and none of us had adequate winter clothing.

Wendell was in grade school, Brent was in preschool, and my three-year-old twins, Michael and Michelle, stayed with a state-paid baby-sitter while I was gone. Just four months before, Wendell and I had joined the Church and as a result my parents, brothers and sisters wanted nothing to do with us. With the holidays approaching, we really had no one to turn to for help; as a new convert, I didn't know I could ask my bishop.

Ten days before Christmas, after a great deal of whispering among themselves, my children approached me one evening while I was studying. Nine-year-old Wendell tugged my sleeve and asked, "Mama, when are we going to get a Christmas tree and some presents? Brent piped up and asked, "Or are we going to Grandma and Grandpa's for Christmas this year?"

These were the questions I'd been dreading. I swallowed a lump in my throat, blinked away my tears, and said, "I'm afraid we're not going to have any Christmas presents this year."

"Why not, Mama?" they asked.

"Well, Grandma and Grandpa have asked us not to come over since we joined the Church, and we just don't have any money for our own Christmas," I answered.

"Oh, Mama, nothing?" asked Wendell. "Santa won't forget us though, will he?"

I replied that Santa probably wouldn't be able to stop at our house that year.

For the next few days the children seemed somber. They often stood by the front window and looked out at passersby and neighboring festive houses. While their playmates bubbled with excitement about the presents and goodies being prepared in their homes, my children quietly accepted the fact that no packages or decorations or other signs of Christmas were appearing in our house.

Our ward had a Christmas party planned for Saturday night, 20 December, but we decided not to go because the meetinghouse was a mile and a half away and walking was our only means of transportation. However, a car pulled up at our house on the evening of the party, and our home teacher knocked on our door.

"Come on," he said. "Let's go to the Christmas party! Get your coats on, kids."

The party was the first real Christmas flavor to come into my children's lives that year. I don't know what they talked with Santa about, but they appreciated his gifts of candy and oranges, and their spirits seemed much uplifted afterward. Buoyed by my children's renewed enthusiasm. I used their watercolors to paint a Santa face on our front window. Now we had some decorations!

When Christmas Eve arrived, I had only $1.25 in my purse. We walked to the grocery store, where I bought each child two tangerines and the cashier handed each of them a large candy cane. Along with the story of Jesus' birth, that would be the extent of our Christmas. As we rounded the comer on our way home, Wendell shouted, "Hey, Santa came!" The other children echoed his cries upon seeing a beautifully decorated Christmas tree on our porch. Mounting the porch steps, we saw two large boxes, previously hidden from view, placed next to the tree.

One box was full of food, and the other was full of presents. I could hardly believe my eyes. Wendell plugged in the Christmas tree lights as soon as we moved the tree inside, and the children pinched and shook each present as they set it under the tree. Their eyes were full of wonder.

Next we unpacked the food in the kitchen. The children had never seen so much in one place except at the grocery store. Even Wendell couldn't remember having a whole turkey in the house.

"We won't have to go to bed hungry tonight!" said Brent.

I fixed the children a special Christmas Eve supper. Afterward we sat around the Christmas tree and enjoyed the lights while I read the story of the birth of Jesus. "We have a lot to thank Heavenly Father for tonight," I said. We knelt in a circle and said a prayer of gratitude.

When we opened the presents the next morning, each child received exactly what he or she had wanted. In addition, each child got a warm outfit, gloves, and mittens, and money for boots. Someone had made clothes for the doll my daughter received. The food was enough to last us several weeks beyond Christmas.

I may never know who played Santa that year or how they knew what the children wanted. Everyone in our ward denied involvement, but I'm certain it was some of them. I'll always remember that Christmas as the best of my life, and my grown-up children feel the same way. We felt the Spirit of Christ that day more than we ever had before and realized that our Savior does watch over his children.


THE VOICE OF CHRISTMAS
Birgit Jensen


The music of children's laughter and excited voices broke the silence in the room. Jacob and his sister, Emily, had just finished wrapping some presents for their family. Scattered around the floor lay a vision of brightly colored paper, tissue, miles of metallic ribbon, and bags of brilliant bows. All the two could think about and talk about were the presents under the tree ...

Jacob picked up a gift and a tiny silver bell tinkled as he said, "Ha, ha, another one for me!"

Emily crawled through the bows and reached far under the tree, exclaiming with joy, "And here's another one for me! And on Christmas morning, there will be ..."

"... lots more gifts from Santa Claus for you and me," chimed Jacob, grinning from ear to ear.

"Now wait a minute, you two," a gentle voice remarked softly.

Emily and Jacob looked around the room, then gazed at each other, bewildered. Who had spoken to them because there was no one else in the room? Emily edged closer to her brother by the Christmas tree. The same voice whispered behind them, "It's me." The tree's branches moved slightly.

A talking tree? Impossible! No, that only happened in stories. Jacob and Emily giggled nervously.

"But I am speaking to you, Jacob and Emily," the soft voice commented quietly. "Christmas is so much more than presents and Santa Claus."

The two siblings turned around and huddled together as they glanced up at the beautiful fir tree decorated in silver, gold, and blue bells, white angels, red hearts, and strands of sparkling star lights.

The voice continued, "Christmas is about the joy of giving to others, bringing smiles to the faces of loved ones and friends, and warmth to the heart. Santa is God's spirit of generosity and good will during the season when giving is so much better than receiving. And there is so much more."

Before the children's eyes, a vision appeared; the three Wise Men from the Nativity scene on the mantle graced the living room. Jacob and Emily could merely stare in awe and wonder.

"Long ago, it was written that we came to honor the birth of a humble babe in Bethlehem by bringing him special gifts; this is more than just a story. God sent His Son, a King, to bring us love and salvation. Would you like to see him?"

Emily and Jacob, speechless, merely nodded their heads and took the hands offered. In a flash, they stood before the holy family, gazing in wide-eyed wonder at the tiny baby in the manger. Something special touched their hearts at that moment.

Emily noticed that she had brought a golden bow with her so she laid it gently next to the babe, while Jacob placed the tiny silver bell he held in his palm beside the bow. Brother and sister glanced at each other and smiled, and before they could blink their eyes, they were back in their living room.

"So tell me, my children, what did you see?" the tree asked.

Jacob responded, "First, a bright star."

"Like the one you placed on my tree top?" Both children nodded. "This star reminds us of God's promise so long ago to send a Savior to His children. A promise fulfilled in the birth of Jesus."

Then Emily spoke, "We saw the baby Jesus in his manger, and Mary smiled at us."

"What did you feel at that moment?"

Both young voices said in unison, "Very special."

"And you are special as all God's children are special," the voice remarked lovingly.

"I think I saw an angel, too," Emily whispered.

Jacob and his sister moved closer to the tree, and Emily touched one of the boughs. "Why are you still green when other trees have lost their leaves and why do your needles reach upwards?"

"So many questions," laughed the tree's voice, "but that is good, little one. I'm an evergreen that is green all year round and my needles do reach towards heaven. The Christmas green symbolizes God's everlasting hope. With God in your life, there is always hope for a better tomorrow."

Caught up in the magic of the moment, Jacob commented, "You are so smart. What else do you know?" Then he grinned because he knew instinctively that there was more to come.

"I can tell you about the other Christmas colors. Look at the other decorations on me. Blue is for the sky that sent the angel to tell of the Savior's birth, and white represents the angel, the purity of the Virgin birth and the Lamb of God."

Jacob and Emily stared at the tree, confusion covering their small faces.

"You will understand it all when you're older but white means that Jesus was born very special and would never be bad in any way. He could not commit sin like people do today." Heads nodded in understanding. Brother and sister knew that they weren't always 'good'.

"What about gold and silver? I like the way they sparkle on you," giggled Emily.

"Oh, they're important, too. They symbolize all the richness of God's blessings and the things that He can do for each one of us, if we let Him into our lives," the soft voice responded. "And do you see the red of the hearts and the red berries in the holly leaves decorating your house? Red stands for the blood of Christ when He died for our sins."

"That's sad," said Emily, tears glistening on her eyelashes.

"Dear one, there's also happiness because Jesus still lives today and waits for us in heaven. One day you can live forever with Him but you must follow His path."

A silent moment caressed the room. Peace filled their hearts.

Finally, the soft voice spoke again. "Look around your house and tell me what else might be important about your Christmas. Things you have every year."

"Daddy likes to kiss mommy under the mistletoe, and we give mommy a pointsetter. Oh, its flowers look like a star, too, and its usually red! Wow!" cried Emily with passion and new comprehension.

"Yes, poinsettia's could be a natural reminder of the Star of Bethlehem and some people believe that the mistletoe symbolizes the healing power of Christ, but I don't know if kissing under it is supposed to be special or make that person special. Interesting myth."

"Yuk," said Jacob. "Not me. Don't like kissing, but I like candles -- lots of candles. We burn the Advent candles before Christmas and say prayers for people. It feels good. Mom says that our candles are important because they tell everyone that Christ is the light of our world."

"Good for you, Jacob. Does your mom also hang a wreath on your front door?" the voice asked. Two heads nodded. "The pine wreath shows us the real nature of love because the love of God never stops but is continuous like the circle the wreath forms. Hanging it on your door tells people that your house is blessed with love."

"What about this?" asked Emily as she held up her favorite treat. Jacob took one, too.

"That's yummy candy," commented the tree.

"We know, but does it mean anything for Christmas?" two voices echoed and giggled.

The tree-voice asked quietly, "What do you think? What does it look like to you?"

Jacob held it up and said, "It looks like the thing shepherds have for their sheep."

"Or 'J' for Jesus," whispered Emily as she turned it upside down.

"It could be the shepherd's crook or staff and just like the shepherd took care of his sheep, we can take care of each other, and it could also be a symbol for Jesus. Both are good."

"Mr. Tree," murmured Emily, "why do we call it Christmas? Some people just call it a holiday and it doesn't seem to mean much to them. That's real sad."

"You're right, Emily. It is more than sad that all God's children don't believe in Him or His son," the voice commented quietly. "The word 'Christmas' is made up of Christ, which means 'Messiah' or Savior and Mass, which is a religious celebration. So Christmas should really be a spiritual time celebrating our Savior. Christmas is a time of fellowship and sharing with family and friends. However, Jesus is the best part of all because He brings God's love and eternal life for us."

Silence filled the living room once more as the two children sat mesmerized, gazing in wonder at their beautiful tree and thinking about all the things they had heard. They would share it all with their friends and family. It was so quiet in the room that their mother decided to check up on them.

"I heard a strange voice. Who were you two talking to?"

Suddenly, Emily smiled at her brother knowingly and whispered, "Jesus."

The twinkling star on the top of the Christmas tree shimmered bright and lit up the room with a warmth and abounding love like the Star of Bethlehem on that glorious night so long ago.


THE WHITE STOCKING
Carol Inman


The idea of the white stocking is to fill it with a piece of paper that has gifts to the Savior that you will personally work on for the next year.

Here is a wonderful Christmas tradition to think about starting with your family or sending as a substitute for Christmas cards to your friends!

Give this poem attached to a white stocking:


The White Stocking


It wasn't that anyone had really been forgotten,
no children had been slighted or made unhappy and
no adult had been left unremembered.
The presents had all been distributed and all the stockings
were beautifully filled, all that is except one;
It was the stocking intended for the child of Bethlehem.
Of all the people belonging at that Christmas gathering,
only he had been forgotten.
Only he had been left out of the festivities.
This didn't seem quite right,
inasmuch as it was His birthday that was being celebrated.
This year, the little white stocking
will be hung in a special place in our home.
On Christmas Eve, we will gather the family together
And each of us will write on a piece of paper,
A gift for Jesus to be placed in the stocking.
It will remain in the stocking
Until next year's Christmas Eve,
When we will reach into the stocking
and pass out the papers from the year before.
We hope that you will enjoy beginning this
Holiday tradition in your home. Your gift could include:
personal goals you wish to achieve, family goals,
ways you will be of service to others in the coming year,
or relationships you wish to improve.


The White Stocking
Louise Wadsworth


'Twas the night before Christmas as I walked through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The presents were wrapped and placed under the tree
I paused, tired, excited, then laughed with glee.
The stockings were hung and filled to the brim
with beautiful gifts adorned with gold trim.
As I looked at the stockings that hung on the ledge
I noticed one empty, the one on the edge.
How could this be, oh what have I done?
All the stockings are filled except for this one.
The stocking intended for the Christ child.
The white stocking for Jesus, the perfect and mild.
Of all the people at Christmas that might be forgotten
How could I forget the Father's only Begotten?
We had presents and parties, food and good cheer,
only He had been absent this time of the year.
As I pondered this thought, I knew I'd been wrong
I should have rejoiced in His birth, with praise and song.
I resolved then and there to remember the Lord,
in my thoughts and actions, my heart and my word.
I hung the white stocking in the center this time.
The change was miraculous and cost not a dime.
I focused my thoughts and concerns on others
After all, these were my sisters and brothers.
On Christmas morn we all gathered 'round
And each wrote a note, there wasn't a sound
We gave Christ a gift which we placed in the stocking.
A sincere change of heart, not simply just mocking.
This white stocking is hung, as a symbol for us
Of the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus.
Please take this white stocking and hang it with pride
Remember the Savior, and a gift of love put inside.


TROUBLE AT THE INN
Dina Donahue


For years now, whenever Christmas pageants are talked about in a certain little town in the Midwest, someone is sure to mention the name of Wallace Purling. Wally's performance in the annual production of the Nativity play has slipped into the realm of legend. But, the old-timers, who were in the audience that night, never tire of recalling exactly what happened.

Wally was nine that year and in the second grade, though he should have been in the fourth. Most people in town knew that he had difficulty in keeping up. He was big and clumsy and slow in movement and mind. Still, Wally was well liked by the other children in his class, all of whom were smaller than he. Though the boys had trouble hiding their irritation when Wally would ask to play ball with them, or any game for that matter, in which winning was important. Most often they'd find a way to keep him out. But, Wally would hang around anyway not sulking, just hoping. He was always a helpful boy, a willing and smiling one. He was the natural protector, paradoxically, of the underdog. Sometimes, if the older boys chased the younger ones away, it would always be Wally who'd say, "Can't they stay? They're no bother."

Wally fancied the idea of being the shepherd with a flute in the Christmas pageant that year, but the play's director, Miss Lumbard, assigned him to a more important role. After all, she reasoned, the Innkeeper did not have too many lines, and Wally's size would make his refusal of lodging to Joseph more forceful. And, so it happened that the usual large audience gathered for the town's yearly extravaganza of crooks and creches, of beards, crowns, halos, and a whole stageful of squeaky voices. No one on stage or off was more caught up in the magic of the night than Wallace Purling. They said later that he stood in the wings and watched the performance with such fascination that from time to time Miss Lumbard had to make sure he didn't wander onstage before his cue.

Then came the time when Joseph appeared, slowly, tenderly, guiding Mary to the door of the inn. Joseph knocked hard on the wooden door set into the painted backdrop. Wally the Innkeeper was there watching.

"What do you want?" Wally asked, swinging the door open with a brusque gesture.

"We seek lodging." Joseph answered.

"Seek it elsewhere," Wally said, as he looked straight ahead but spoke vigorously. "The inn is filled."

"Sir, we have asked in vain. We have traveled far and are very weary." Joseph said.

"There is no room in this inn for you." Wally looked properly stern.

"Please, good Innkeeper, this is my wife, Mary. She is heavy with child and needs a place to rest. Surely you must have some small corner for her. She is so tired." Joseph pleaded.

Now, for the first time, the Innkeeper relaxed his stiff stance and looked down at Mary. With that, there was a long pause. Long enough to make the audience a bit tense with embarrassment.

"No! Begone!" the prompter whispered from the wings.

"No!" Wally repeated automatically. "Begone."

Joseph sadly placed his arm around Mary and Mary laid her head upon her husband's shoulder and the two of them started to move away. The Innkeeper did not return inside his Inn, however. Wally stood there in the doorway watching the forlorn couple. His mouth was open, his brow creased with concern, his eyes filling unmistakably with tears. And, suddenly this Christmas pageant became different from all the others.

"Don't go, Joseph!" Wally called out. "Bring Mary back." And, Wallace Purling's face grew into a bright smile. "You can have MY room." Some people of the town thought that the pageant had been ruined. Yet, there were others -- many, many others -- who considered it the most Christmas of all Christmas pageants they had ever seen.


WE THREE KINGS OF ORIENT ARE
John Henry Hopkins, Jr., 1857


We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star


O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light


Born a King on Bethlehem's plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign


O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light


Frankincense to offer have I
Incense owns a Deity nigh
Prayer and praising, all men raising
Worship Him, God most high


O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light


Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb


O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light


Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and Sacrifice
Alleluia, Alleluia
Earth to heav'n replies


O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light


WHY SANTA HAS A BEARD


You've all heard many stories about Santa and his workshop at the North pole. You have also heard stories about his sleigh and reindeer. But this is a story about Santa that very few people know, read closely, I'll tell you why my hu ... I mean why Santa decided to grow a beard.

As you know, the weather is very, very cold at the North pole. Santa didn't like the cold, but he needed room for a BIG workshop, and the price was right, so there he was. He worked hard all year making toys for his Christmas Eve visit. During his few leisure moments, he dreamt of going to California (a place he'd flown over while delivering toys) and driving a great car down Highway 1 to the beach at Malibu (with his radio blaring out "Surfing USA" www.youtube.com/watch?v=2s4slliAtQU ). He dreamt of roasting marshmallows with Mrs. Claus at a bonfire on the beach and of riding the waves at Big Sur, Huntington, La Jolla and wind surfing at Zuma Beach. The truth is, that after hundreds of years of making toys, Santa needed relaxation and a chance to get away from the snow and ice. One year, 1984 to be exact, while flying his sleigh over a junkyard in Franklin County Idaho, he saw the rusted-out body of a 1956 Bel Air Convertible. On his return flight, he stopped at the junk yard, bought the convertible and hauled it home. Mrs. Claus just shook her head. He pounded away on that body for years, filled, sanded, painted and rebuilt everything mechanical. Then he turned it over to the elves to re-upholster. He could hardly wait for it to be done.

Soon Santa's favorite way to relax after a stressful day in the shop was to take a leisurely ride in his "sports" sleigh (picture a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible on runners). Santa put the top up, turned his wonder bar radio to a beach boys station, cranked the heater up full blast, and bundled up for his Chevy sleigh for a ride nearly every day. Once, after a particularly frustrating day, he was in such a hurry that he left the top down and forgot to wrap his heavy wool scarf around his face. When he got back from his ride, Santa had the most beautiful white icicles hanging down the sides of his face and chin, just like a beard. He walked into the shop where Mrs. Claus was making cookies and the elves were busily working.

When Mrs. Claus looked up and saw Santa, she squealed with delight. "Why, Santa Claus-y Dear, you look absolutely marvelous with your sparkling white beard." When Santa saw how delighted his wife was, he was very flattered and decided right then and there to grow a long, flowing white beard and mustache. And that is exactly what he did.

Of course, by doing this, he made himself so handsome that Mrs. Claus used to make special trips out to the workshop just to give him a big smile and a kiss. This made Santa blush so much that to this day, he is still blushing. That's why his cheeks look so rosy.

These days Mrs. Claus takes sleigh rides with Santa on their new sleigh which looks just like a Can Am 2 up 4-Wheeler because she loves to wrap her arms around him and hold him tight!

Now you know.


WORKING CHRISTMAS DAY
Victoria Schlintz


It was an unusually quiet day in the emergency room on December twenty-fifth. Quiet, that is, except for the nurses who were standing around the nurses' station grumbling about having to work Christmas Day.

I was triage nurse that day and had just been out to the waiting room to clean up. Since there were no patients waiting to be seen at the time, I came back to the nurses' station for a cup of hot cider from the crockpot someone had brought in for Christmas. Just then an admitting clerk came back and told me I had five patients waiting to be evaluated.

I whined, "Five, how did I get five; I was just out there and no one was in the waiting room."

"Well, there are five signed in." So I went straight out and called the first name. Five bodies showed up at my triage desk, a pale petite woman and four small children in somewhat rumpled clothing.

"Are you all sick?" I asked suspiciously.

"Yes," she said weakly, and lowered her head.

"Okay," I replied, unconvinced, "who's first?" One by one they sat down, and I asked the usual preliminary questions. When it came to descriptions of their presenting problems, things got a little vague. Two of the children had headaches, but the headaches weren't accompanied by the normal body language of holding the head or trying to keep it still or squinting or grimacing. Two children had earaches, but only one could tell me which ear was affected. The mother complained of a cough, but seemed to work to produce it.

Something was wrong with the picture. Our hospital policy, however, was not to turn away any patient, so we would see them. When I explained to the mother that it might be a little while before a doctor saw her because, even though the waiting room was empty, ambulances had brought in several, more critical patients, in the back, she responded, "Take your time, it's warm in here." She turned and, with a smile, guided her brood into the waiting room.

On a hunch (call it nursing judgment), I checked the chart after the admitting clerk had finished registering the family. No address -- they were homeless. The waiting room was warm.

I looked out at the family huddled by the Christmas tree. The littlest one was pointing at the television and exclaiming something to her mother. The oldest one was looking at her reflection in an ornament on the Christmas tree.

I went back to the nurses station and mentioned we had a homeless family in the waiting room -- a mother and four children between four and ten years of age. The nurses, grumbling about working Christmas, turned to compassion for a family just trying to get warm on Christmas. The team went into action, much as we do when there's a medical emergency. But this one was a Christmas emergency.

We were all offered a free meal in the hospital cafeteria on Christmas Day, so we claimed that meal and prepared a banquet for our Christmas guests.

We needed presents. We put together oranges and apples in a basket one of our vendors had brought the department for Christmas. We made little goodie bags of stickers we borrowed from the X-ray department, candy that one of the doctors had brought the nurses, crayons the hospital had from a recent coloring contest, nurse bear buttons the hospital had given the nurses at annual training day and little fuzzy bears that nurses clipped onto their stethoscopes. We also found a mug, a package of powdered cocoa, and a few other odds and ends. We pulled ribbon and wrapping paper and bells off the department's decorations that we had all contributed to. As seriously as we met physical needs of the patients that came to us that day, our team worked to meet the needs, and exceed the expectations, of a family who just wanted to be warm on Christmas Day.

We took turns joining the Christmas party in the waiting room. Each nurse took his or her lunch break with the family, choosing to spend their "off duty" time with these people whose laughter and delightful chatter became quite contagious.

When it was my turn, I sat with them at the little banquet table we had created in the waiting room. We talked for a while about dreams. The four children were telling me about what they would like to be when they grow up. The six-year-old started the conversation. "I want to be a nurse and help people," she declared.

After the four children had shared their dreams, I looked at the Mom. She smiled and said, "I just want my family to be safe, warm and content -- just like they are right now."

The "party" lasted most of the shift, before we were able to locate a shelter that would take the family in on Christmas Day. The mother had asked that their charts be pulled, so these patients were not seen that day in the emergency department. But they were treated.

As they walked to the door to leave, the four-year-old came running back, gave me a hug and whispered, "Thanks for being our angels today." As she ran back to join her family, they all waved one more time before the door closed. I turned around slowly to get back to work, a little embarrassed for the tears in my eyes. There stood a group of my coworkers, one with a box of tissues, which she passed around to each nurse who worked a Christmas Day she will never forget.


ESPAÑOL


EL CAMPEÓN


El corredor común corre
Hasta que no tenga más aire;
Pero el campeón tiene la voluntad de fierro,
Que le hace perseguir.


Por descanso ruega el corredor común,
Cuando débiles está los músculos;
Pero el campeón corre con piernas plomosas
Su espíritu le hace ir.


El hombre común está complaciente
Cuando hace lo major para ganar;
Pero el campeón hace lo mejor
Y después hace un poco más.


"No hay un hombre vivo que no sea capaz de hacer más de lo que piensa que puede."

Henry Ford


"Hermanos (y hermanas) ¿No hemos de seguir adelante en una carga tan grande? Avanzad, en vez de retroceder. ¡Valor, hermanos; e id adelante a la victoria!"

Doctrina y Convenios 28:22


EL REGALO DE NAVIDAD PARA BOSS


Por Melissa Sedrick, según le fue contado a Sarah Leone Christensen (Una historia real)


Era Nochebuena y caían ligeramente copos de nieve grandes y suaves. Tres niñas pequeñas: Mary Ellen, Caroline y Sarah Amelia, a quien con frecuencia llamaban Pet, estaban solas en casa mientras su madre viuda estaba trabajando. Las tres pequeñas estaban preocupadas de que Papá Noel no pudiera bajar por la chimenea, por lo que decidieron barrerle un caminito desde el portón de afuera hasta la puerta principal.

Después de que terminaron, Mary Ellen, Caroline y Pet entraron en casa y se acurrucaron en una mecedora grande. Cuando empezó a darles sueño, oyeron a la vaca, Boss, mugir una y otra vez.

-- Pobrecita Boss -- dijo Pet --. Ha de tener hambre.

Se quedaron en silencio un momento, y después Pet dijo:

-- Es Navidad y Boss no tiene ni un regalo de Navidad, ni siguiera algo de comer.

A Caroline se le ocurrió una brillante idea:

-- Nuestro colchón está relleno de paja seca muy buena. Démosla a Boss para que coma.

De modo que Mary Ellen, Caroline y Pet quitaron las mantas de la cama, se esforzaron para agarrar firmemente el colchón y tiraron de él hasta llegar a la sala. Se pusieron el abrigo y los guantes, y después arrastraron el colchón a través de la puerta hasta llegar al corral; rompieron el colchón y volcaron la paja. Boss dejó de mugir y se ocupó en comer su cena de Nochebuena. Las pequeñas regresaron sumamente cansadas a casa, se acurrucaron en la gran mecedora y pronto se quedaron profundamente dormidas.

Cuando la madre regresó a casa, las despertó y les dijo que se fueran a acostar a la cama. Mary Ellen, Caroline y Pet le dijeron que no podían ¡porque le habían dado de comer su cama a la vaca! Su madre has dejó dormir en la gran mecedora.

En algún momento durante la noche llegó Papá Noel y llenó las medias, con muchas golosinas. Y a la mañana siguiente, un buen vecino fue a regalarles una carga de heno y paja. Así que a Boss le tocó un segundo regalo de Navidad, y Mary Ellen, Caroline y Pet recibieron una nueva cama de paja.


HOMBRES GRANDES


Los hombres grandes siempre son mejores con grandes oportunidades. Esas ocasiones demuestran su grandeza. Perot al como en las dispensaciones divinas, se tiene que esperar las grandes oportunidades. No son fabricados ni anticipados. Llegan solos, sin influencia humana, sea impedimiento, o adelantamiento. Son los misterios de la diedad, y nunca nos llegan antes de su tiempo. Los hombres pequeños tartan de manipularlas o crearlas por motivos propios. Pero siempre pierdan al igual que todos los se atreven a esforzar la naturaleza o anticipar la divinidad. Nunca han sido tan precisos, y siempre, en los ojos de la sabiduria, se hacen ridiculos por haberignorado lo grande y magnificado lo insignificante. Se comprueban menores que las oportunidades magnificas. El hombre grande no juega en cosas asi; o sea, nunca se hace el tonto. El es genuine hasta el Corazon. Tiene sabiduria que supera la de los demas. Nunca disputa el insignificante. No ve su propia interes. No quiere hacer caso de lo pequeño. Espera la oportunidad indicada por su compañero, la necesidad. Cuando llega la ocasion grande, ya esta listo, y llega para aprovechar de ella como el hombre que es.

Asi fue con Brigham Young. El no esperaba el momento supremo, la oportunidad grande que le habia llegado. Tampoco tropezo cuando le llego. El hizo lo que calquier hombre grande hubiera hecho. Confronto la oportunidad, y la conquisto.


LA ROCA


Existe una historia narrada por un padre a su hijo, concerniente a un hombre que estaba durmiendo una noche en su cabaña, cuando de repente su cuarto iluminó completamente y se apareció El Salvador.

El Señor le dijo que lenía un trabajo para él, y mostrandole una roca enorme, le explicó que tendría que empujarla con todas sus fuerzas. El hombre lo hizo, y por muchos días trabajó fuertemente de sol a sol poniendo su hombro contra la superficie dura y fría de la roca, y empujandola con todas sus energías. Cada noche regresaba a su aposento agotado de la larga jornada, sintiendo que otro día más sus esfuerzos babían sido vanos.

Al observar que el bombre mostraba señales de desánimo, Satanas decidió entrar en escena, poniendo en la mente del hombre pensamientos tales como: "Por qué matarme por esto, nunca vas a moverla," o "hombre, has estado en ello mucho tiempo y ni siquiera has logrado arañar su superficie," etc. ... Dando al hombre la impresión de que su tarea era imposible y que él era un siervo indigno e inútil, porque no estaba moviendo la voluminosa piedra.

Estos pensamientos desanimaron y descorazonaron al hombre y empezó a dejo de esforzarse, "por qué matarme, pensó, simplemente pondré mi tiempo y el minimo esfuerzo y esto será suficiente," Y eso hizo, o por lo meno eso planeó hacer, hasta que decidió llevar sus pesares ante el Señor.

Señor, dijo: "He trabajado mucho y duro en tu servicio, poniendo todos mis esfuerzos en hacer aquello que me pediste y ahora después de todo esto ni siquiera he desplazado la roca medio milimetro. ¿Qué he hecho mal?, ¿Porqué estoy fallando?

A esto el Señor le respondió con compasión: "Amigo mio, cuando hace tiempo te pedí que me sirvieras, tu aceptaste, te dije que empujaras la roca con todas tus juerzas y lo has hecho, pero ni una sola vez mencioné que esperaba que la movieras, por lo menos tú solo, Tu tarea era empujar y ahora vienes a mí, agotadas tus fuerzas, pensando que has fallado y listo para desistir. Pero, ¿es esto así?. Mirate, tus brazos están fuertes y musculosos, tu espalda vigorizada y morena, tus manos se han encallecido por la presión constante y tus piernas se han fortalecido, Mediante solias tener. Aunque todavia no has tenido éexito en mover la roca y has venido a mi con pesar de corazón y agotados tus esfuerzos, yo, amigo mio moveré la roca. Tu liamamiento era ser obediente y empujar y ejercitar la fé y confianza en mi sabiduría, y esto lo has hecho."


NO ME OLIVIDES


Como estás?
tenía que mandarte
esta nota para decirte lo
mucho que me importas. -- Ayer
te ví cuando caminabas y platicabas
con tus amigos. -- Yo espere todo el dí de --
séando que tú quisieras también hablar
conmigo. -- Conforme avanzaba el día te dí
una caida de sol para cerrar tu día, te dí
brisa suave y fresca para descansarte, esperé,-
pero siempre tea mo porque soy tu amigo. --
Te vi quedarte dormido anoche y tenía
ganas de tocarte la frente, así que déjà que
unarayo te acariciara el rostro. -- Esperé otra
vez, queriendo apurarme para que pudiéramos hablar,
tengo tantos regalos para tí, te lavantaste
esta mañana muy de prisa y no tuviste
tiempo de hablrme; mis lágrimas estaban en la lluvia
y el rocío de ésta mañana. -- Hoy te vez tan
triste, tan solo me duele el corazón de verte,
yo te comprendo porque mis amigos también me
nan desilucionado. Perot e quiero ... Yo trato
de decirtelo a través del cielo azul y el pasto
verde ... de las flores. --- Te grito en los riachuelós
de las montañas y les doy a los pajaros
canciones de amor para cantarte,
te visto con cálidos rayitos de sol y
perfume el aire con las esencias de la naturaleza. --
Mi amor por tie s mas hondo que
los mares y mas grande que calquier necesidad
que tengas en el corazón. -- Oh, si tan solo supieras
cuanto anhelo hablar y caminar contigo, nos pasaríamos
una eternidad juntos en el cielo. Yo sé lo duro
que es la vida en la tierra, yo í que lo se y
quiero yudarte, quiero que conozcas a mi padre, él
quiere ayudarte tambié, solamente tienes que llamarme y
preguntarme, hablar conmigo, no me olivdes por favor,
tengo tanto que compartir contigo! Ya no te molesto
mas, eres libre de escogerme sit u quieres, es tu decisión
personal. -- Yo sit e he escogido a tí, por esta
razón saber esperar porquente amo.
TU AMIGO JESUS


PENSAR
Walter D. Wintle


Si piensas que estás vencido, lo estás.
Si piensas que no te atreves, no lo harás.
Si te gusta ganar, pero piensas que no puedes,
Es casi seguro que no podrás ganar.
Si piensas que perderás, estás perdido.
Porque en el mundo encontrarás que:
El Exito comienza por la VOLUNTAD,
Todo depende de el estado mental.


Si piensas que estás vencido, lo estás.
Si piensas que no te atreves, no lo harás.
Para muchos la carrera está perdida
Aún antes de comenzar.
Piensa en grande y tus actos crecerán.
Si piensas en poco, atrás te quedarás.
Piensa que puedes, y podrás.
Todo depende de el estado mental.


Si piensas que eres superior, lo eres.
Tienes que pensar en alto y elevarte.
Tienes que estar seguro de ti mismo,
Antes de poder un premio ganar.


Las batallas de la vida no siempre son
Del mas fuerte o del mas rápido.
Porque tarde o temprano el que gana
Es el que piensa que va a ganar.


SER REALMENTE HOMBRE


Ser hombre, no es ser más
Ser varón, simple individuo
del sexo masculino.


Ser Hombre, es hacer las cosas,
no buscar razones para
justificar que no se puede hacer.


Ser hombre, es levantarse cada
vez que se case ó se fracasa,
en vez de explicar, por que se fracasó.


Ser hombre, es ser digno, conciente
de sus actos y responsable.


Ser hombre, es trazarse un plan
y seguirlo, pese a todas las
circunstancias exteriores.


Ser honbre, es levantar los ojos
de la tierra, elevar el Espiritu,
soñar con algo grande.


Ser hombre, es saber lo que se tiene
que hacer y hacerlo;
saber lo que se tiene que decir y decirlo.


Ser hombre, es ser persona,
es decir, alguien distinto
y diferente a los demás.


Ser hombre, es tener verguenza;
sentir verguenza de burlarse
de una mujer, de abuser del debíl,
de mentir al ingueno ...


Ser hombre, es saber decir: me equivoque;
y proponerse no repetir
la misma equivocación.


Ser hombre, es comprender la necesidad
de adopter una diciplina,
basada en principios sanos,
y sujetarse por su propia y
deliberada voluntad, a esa diciplina.


Serr hombre, es saber comprender que la vida
no es algo que se nos dá
ya hecho, sinó que es la oportunidad
para hacer algo bien hecho,
hombres de está talla y de
está alcurnia, los necesita el mundo,
los reclama, ... y los exige Dios.


SOY UN MISIONERO DE TIEMPO COMPLETO
George S. Durant


Soy un misionero de tiempo complete y estoy desanimándome porque los bautismos no vienen. ¿Que es el "éxito" cuande no estoy trayendo personas a la Iglesia?

Medimos, y así debemos medir, el éxito de una misión por la calidad y cantidad de conversos que misionero ayuda a traer a la Iglesia. Pero esa misma medida es solo una parte de como medimos el éxito de una persona. Teniendo esto en cuenta, primero intentamos medir el éxito de su misión y luego éxito como una persona.

Si Usted o yo en cualquier momento decidiera que el éxito de una misión no tiene que ver con la cantidad y calidad de nuevos conversos, entonces ninguno de los dos seria un buen misionero. Un negocio exitoso brinda un servicio o produce algo que beneficia a la gente, pero su verdadero éxito se determina por la ganancia. Un equipo deportivo es exitoso cuando gana. Y una misión es un éexito si es el medio de traer muchas personas a la Iglesia, y esta es la verdadera y dur averdad.

Cuando tenemos esta idea de éxito en mente y trabajamos, actuamos y oramos de acuerdo con esto, entonces somos misioneros verdaderos. Algunos dicen, "No podemos hacer conversos aquí. Con esta gente, no. Ahora no." Así, a través de sus excusas se sienten cómodos. Al tener tal comodidad, ellos pagan el precio de bajar sus metas. Su entusiasmo disminuye y pierden el gran filo que se describe como "el Espíritu Misional."

Tales excusas y aspiraciones diminuidas alivian un dolor que no debe ser aliviado. Si Usted no se esfuerza al máximo a fin de bautizar, se sentirá apenado durante toda su misión y vida cuando recuerda que su misión no fue tan exitosa como le hubiera gustado que fuera. Estos sentimientos no le lastimarán; de hecho pueden ayudarle. Por otro lado, el bajar sus expectativas siempre le será un tropiezo y si es repetido en otras situaciones, le garantizará una vida de mediocridad.

Me acuerdo de un misionero con quien hablé un día frío de invierno en Kentucky. Estábamos solos, él y yo, en una pequeña oficina. Sus ojos se llenaron de lágrimas y dijo. "Siento que mamá y papá se preguntaron por que nosotros no estamos bautizando a nadie." Se le caían las lágrimas mientras trataba de continuar, "Ellos tenían una esperanza tan grande en mi y ahora estoy fallándoles. Intento, presidente. ¡Realmente intento! Pero parece que no puedo hacerlo." Le escuchaba en silencio mientras que él lloraba suavemente. ¡Oh como le amaba! Como yo deseaba que tuviera un hijo que se preocupara tanto. ¿Ven? Lo conocía, y cuando él decía que había intentado, realmente lo había hecho.

Me encontré esperando que pudiera mirarle a los ojos del padre de este joven misionero y preguntarle, "¿Cómo criaron a tal hijo? ¿Cómo es que le inculcaron tanto honor e integridad? ¿mo es que le enseñaron a amar tan plenamente? ¿Cómo es que llegó a ser totalmente responsable?" Yo podría aprender muchas cosas del padre de un hijo como él.

El Espíritu del Señor llenó mi alma mientras me sentaba con él. Sabía que estaba en la presencia de un hombre de Dios. Le hablé del amor y respeto que le tenía. Le hablé muchas cosas y él habló de nuevo, "Presidente, mi compañero y yo trabajaremos aún más fuerte. Yo sé que hay una familia esperandonos. Vamos a encontrarla y traerla a la Iglesia. ¡Va a ver!" Los días vinieron y se fueron, y la misión de ese misionero se terminó y no había a encontrado a esa familia. Pero oh ¡Cómo había buscado, orado y trabajado!

Un tiempo ha pasado desde la última vez que le vi, y deseo verle. Él fue uno de mis misioneros más exitosos, pues era un hombre verdadero. Mientras pasan los años nos reuniremos algún día y hablaremos. Él dirá, "Presidente, y quería encontrar una familia tanto. Quebrantaba mi alma en aquel tiempo y ahora también lo hace." Después de una pausa pensativa él dirá, "Pero intenté."

Le miraré y le diré, "Sí, lo hizo. Intentó con todo su corazón." Después pensaré, "Espero que mis hijos intentaran en igual manera y fueran tan exitosos."

Misionero, continúe estando apendado durante su misión hasta que tenga bautismos, y si vienen algunos, esté apenado si no vienen más. Durante todas las pruebas de su misión, manéjese de tal manera que nunca se sienta mal de sí mismo. Si ese es el caso con Usted, mi amigo, entonces habrá sido y siempre será una persona exitosa.


TIEMPO PARA ORAR


Querido Padre Celestial.

¿Sí?

No me interrumpas, esto y orando.

PERO ME LLAMASTE.

¿Te llamé? Yo no te llamé. Estoy orando ... Mi querido Padre Celestial ...

AHÍ ESTA, LO HICISTE OTRA VEZ.

¿Qué hice?

ME LLAMASTE --, DIGISTE: "MI QUERIDO PADRE CELESTIAL," Y AQUÍ ESTOY. ¿EN QUE ESTAS PENSANDO?

Pero yo no quise decir nada con eso. Yo sólo, tu sabes, estaba haciendo mis oraciones de la noche. Yo siempre hago mis oraciones. Me hace sentir bien, como que he cumplido con mi deber.

¡AH! ESTA BIEN. CONTINUA.

Estoy agradecido por mis muchas bendiciones.

¡ESPERAI ¿CUAN AGRADECIDO ESTAS?

¿Qué?

¿CUAN AGRADECIDO ESTAS POR TUS "MUCHAS BENDICIONES?"

Bueno, yo estoy ... no lo sé. ¿Cómo lo sabrí? Es sólo parte de mi oración. Todos siempre dicen que debo expresar mi agradecimiento.

¡AH! POR NADA. CONTINÚA.

¿Continúa?

CON LA ORACIÓN.

¡Ah!, Sí. Déjame ver ... bendice a los pobres y a los enfermos Y a los necesitados y a los afligidos.

¿REALMENTE SIENTES ESO?

Bueno. Seguro que lo siento.

¿QUE ESTAS HACIENDO AL RESPECTO?

¿Haciendo? ¿Quién yo? Nada, creo. Yo sólo pensé que sería lindo y bueno si tuvieras control sobre las cosas aquí abjo, como lo tienes allá arriba, para que la gente no sufriera tanto.

¿TENGO ACASO CONTROL SOBRE TI?

Bueno, yo voy a la Iglesia, pago mis diezmos. Yo no ...

ESO NO ES LO QUE TE PREGUNTE. ¿QUE PASA CON TU CARÁCTER? AHÍ TIENES UN PROBLEMA, Y TUS AMIGOS Y TU FAMILIA SUFREN POR ESO. Y TAMBIÉN, LA FORMA EN QUE UTILIZAS TU DINERO ... TODO EN TI MISMA. ¿Y QUE PASA CON LA CLASE DE LIBROS QUE LEES?

¡Deja de molestarme! Soy tan bueno como la mayoría de los que veo los domingos en la Iglesia.

PERDÓNAME ... PENSÉ QUE ESTABAS ORANDO PARA QUE YO BENDIJERA A LOS NECESITADOS; SI VOY A HACERLO, VOY A NECESITAR LA AYUDA DE AQUELLOS QUE STA&193;N ORANDO POR ESO ... COMO TU.

Ah, esta bien. Creo que tengo algunas cuentas pendientes; ahora que lo mencionas, probablemente yo podría mencionar algunas otras.

YO TAMBIÉN.

Mira Padre, yo necesito terminar ya, esto esta tardando más de lo usual. Bendice a los misioneros para que sean guiados a las puertas de los honestos de corazón.

¿TU QUIERES DECIR PERSONAS COMO ALBERTO?

¿Alberto?

S&205;. EL CHICO A LA VUELTA DE LA ESQUINA.

¿ Ese Alberto? ¿Yo? Pero el fuma y toma y nunca va a la Iglesia.

¿HAS MIRADO A SU CORAZÓN ÚLTIMAMENTE?

Por supuesto que no. ¿Cómo podría ...

YO HE MIRADO ... Y ES UNO DE ESOS CORAZONES HONESTOS POR LOS QUE TU JUSTO ESTABAS ORANDO.

Bueno entonces, manda a los misioneros para allá. ¿ Piensas que me gusta tener vecinos que no son miembros?

¿NO SE SUPONE QUE TÚ ERES UNA MISIONERA? PENSÉ QUE HABÍA DEJADO ESO BASTANTE CLARO.

¡Oye! Espera un minuto. ¿Qué es esto, un día especial para criticarme? Aquí estoy, cumpliendo con mi deber, obedeciendo tu mandamiento de orar; y de repente, tu me interrumpes y empiezas a recordarme todos mis problemas.

BUENO, TU ME LLAMASTE, Y AQUÍ ESTOY; SIGUE ORANDO, ESTOY INTERESADO EN LA PRÓXIMA PARTE. ¿NO HAS CAMBIADO EL ORDEN, CIERTO? CONTINUA ...

No quiero.

¿PORQUE NO?

Yo sé lo que vas a decir.

PRUÉBAME Y VERAS.

Por favor perdóname por todos mis pecados, y ayúdame a perdonar a los demás.

¿QUE PASA CON JOSÍ?

¡Viste, yo sabía que lo mencionarías. Escucha Señor: él mintió acerca de mí y yo perdí mi trabajo. Todos en esa oficina piensan que soy una porquería y yo no hice nada.

PERO ... TUS ORACIONES. ¿QUE PASA CON TUS ORACIONES?

Yo no lo sentía.

BUENO, POR LO MENOS ERES HONESTA. YO CREO QUE DISFRUTAS ANDAR CON ESA CARGA DE AMARGURA SOBRE TI, ¿NO ES CIERTO?

No, no me gusta; pero me sentiré mejor tan pronto como pueda vengarme de él.

¿QUIERES SABER UN SECRETO?

¿Qué secreto?

NO TE SENTIRÁS MEJOR, TE SENTIRÁS PEOR. ESCÚCHAME: TU PERDONAS A JOSÍ Y YO TE PERDONO A TI.

Pero ... Señor yo no puedo perdonar a José.

ENTONCES YO NO PUEDO PERDONARTE A TI.

¿No importa lo que haga?

NO IMPORTA LO QUE HAGAS. PERO AUN NO HAS TERMINADO CON TU ORACIÓN. CONTINUA.

Bueno está bien ... ayúdame a controlar mis sentimientos y a no cedar a la tentación.

BUENO, BUENO. YO HARÍ ESO PERO TU DEJA DE METERTE EN LUGARES DONDE PUEDES SER TENTADA.

¿Qué quieres decir con eso?

DEJA DE PERDER EL TIEMPO EN LOS PUESTOS DE REVISTAS Y DEJA DE ESTAR TANTO TIEMPO ENFRENTE DEL TELEVISOR, ESAS COSAS VAN A AFECTARTE TARDE O TEMPRANO, VAS A ENCONTRARTE EN COSAS TERRIBLES MUY PRONTO Y TAMPOCO ME USES COMO UNA VENTANA DE ESCAPE.

¿Una ventana de escape, no entiendo?

SEGURO QUE SI, LO HAS HECHO MUCHAS VECES -- TE ENCUENTRAS EN UNA SITUACIÓN ENTONCES VIENES CORRIENDO A MÍ. "SEÑOR AYÚDAME. SÁCAME DE ESTE LÍO Y TE PROMETO QUE NUNCA LO HARÉ OTRA VEZ." ES ASOMBROSO, ADEMÁS CUANTO METORA LA CALIDAD E INTENSIDAD DE TUS ORACIONES CUANDO ESTAS EN PROBLEMAS. ¿TE ACUERDAS DE ALGUNOS DE ESOS CONVENIOS QUE TRATASTE DE HACER CONMIGO?

Bueno, no pienso que ... ¡ah! Sí ... Como cuando la maestra visitante de mamá me vio salir de esa película sobre ... ¡Oh, no!

¿TE ACUERDAS DE TU ORACIÓN? YO S&205;. "OH DIOS POR FAVOR NO PERMITAS QUE ELLA LE CUENTE A MI MADRE DONDE HE ESTADO, TE PROMETO QUE DESDE AHORA EN ADELANTE NO IRÉ A VER NINGUNA PELÍCULA QUE NO SEA APTA PARA TODO PUBLICO." ELLA NO LE DIJO A TU MADRE, PERO TU NO CUMPLISTE CON TU PROMESA, ¿CIERTO?

No Señor, no lo hice. Lo siento.

YO TAMBIÉN. CONTINUA Y TERMINA TU ORACIÓN.

Espera un minuto, quiero hacerte una pregunat. ¿Tu siempre escuchas mis oraciones?

CADA PALABRA, CADA VES.

¿Entonces, por qué nunca antes me respondiste?

¿CUANTAS OPORTUNIDADES ME HAS DADO TU? NO HAY SUFICIENTE TIEMPO PARA QUE YO PUEDA RESPIRAR ENTRE CUANDO DICES "AMEN" Y CUANDO TU CABEZA GOLPEA LA ALMOHADA.

¿CÓMO SE SUPONE QUE VOY A DAR UNA RESPUESTA?

Tu podrías, si realmente quisieras.

NO, YO PODRÍA, SÚ TU REALMENTE QUISIERAS. HIJO, YO SIEMPRE QUIERO.

Padre, lo siento. ¿Me perdonarás?

YA LO HE HECHO, Y GRACIAS POR PERMITIRME INTERRUMPIR. A VECES ME SIENTO SOLO AL HABLAR CONTIGO. BUENAS NOCHES. TE AMO.

Buenas noches, y yo también te amo.


THOMAS S. MONSON


Podemos aprender otra lección inspirada de un articulo titulado "Viewpoint," publicado hace algún tiempo en el diario Church News. Dice así:

"Para muchas personas puede resultar extraño ver barcos de diferentes banderas cargando y descargando mercancías en los muelles de Portland, Oregón, ciudad que se encuentra a 160 kilómetros de distancia del mar. El llegar hasta allí constituye una viaje difícil y a menudo turbulento a través del banco de arena del río Columbia y un largo recorrido a lo largo de ese río y del Willamette.

Pero a los capitanes de barco les gusta atracar en Portland. Saben que al desplazarse sus naves por los mares, un curioso crustáceo de agua salada llamado broma se adhiere al casco del buque y permanece allí el resto de su vida, cubriéndose con una cáscara semi rocosa. Cuantos más de estos crustáceos se adhieren al casco, más pesada hacen la marcha de la embarcación, reducen su progreso y disminuyen su eficiencia.

"Periódicamente, llevan la embaración a un muelle, en donde, con gran esfuerzo, desprenden los crustáceos con cincel o raspándolos. Se trata de un proceso difícil y caro que detiene al barco en el puerto durante varios días.

"Pero esta operación no es necesaria si los barcos van a Portland, dado que los crustóceos no pueden sobrevivir en agua dulce. Allí, en las frescas y dulces aguas del Willamette o del Columbia, los crustáceos muren y otros se desprenden, mientras que los que se quedan se pueden quitar con facilidad. Así, el barco vuelve a su tarea, liviano y renovado.

"Los pecados son como esos crustáceos. Casi nadie pasa por la vida sin que se le queden prendidos algunos; así, aumentan la lentitud, detienen nuestro progreso, disminuyen nuestra eficiencia. Al no haber arrepentimiento y al ir apilóndose uno sobre otro, acanarón por hundirnos.


CHURCH PROGRAMS


CHRISTMAS PROGRAM -- 1998
Christiansburg Ward


Okay, here's our Christmas Program as promised. I didn't post the words to the two choir pieces (or those in the hymn book) because they are copyrighted pieces. If you want more information about those let me know and I'll pull the pieces and check them out for you. The final choir piece is really good, because it speaks directly to the theme our Bishop assigned.

The closing poem will be read by a six year old Primary girl in our ward that has a beautiful voice and an awesome Mom who really works with her. Knowing the child as I do, she'll probably memorize the poem to deliver it. We think it will add a lot of impact and help cement the Bishop's message.

I changed some of the words to the songs to bring them in line with the Gospel as we understand it. They are in brackets [].


Open Hymn: 208 O Little Town of Bethlehem


Sacrament Hymn: 196 Jesus, Once of Humble Birth


Christmas Program: Keeping the Spirit of Christmas all year.


Good King Wenceslas: Choir, male adult as king, male child as page


Good King Wenceslas

Good King Wenceslas look'd out

On the feast of Stephen,

When the snow lay round about

Deep and crisp and even.

Brightly shone the moon that night

Though the frost was cruel,

When a poor man came in sight

Gath'ring winter fuel.


"Hither, page, and stand by me

If thou know'st it, telling,

Yonder peasant, who is he?

Where and what his dwelling?"

"Sire, he lives a good league hence

Underneath the mountain;

Right against the forest fence

By Saint Agnes' fountain."


"Bring me flesh and bring me wine

Bring me pine logs hither.

Thou and I will see him dine

When we bear him thither."

Page and monarch forth they went

Forth they went together,

Through the rude wind's wild lament

And the bitter weather.


"Sire the night is darker now

And the wind blows stronger,

Fails my heart, I know not how

I can go no longer."

"Mark my footsteps my good page

Tread thou in them boldly.

Thou shalt find the winter's rage

Freeze thy blood less coldly."


In his master's steps he trod

Where the snow lay dinted.

Heat was in the very sod

Which the Saint had printed.

Therefore, Christian men, be sure

Wealth or rank possessing;

Ye who now will bless the poor

Shall yourselves find blessing.


Narrator: Picture in your mind, an old man bowed against winter's cold, carrying a bundle of gnarled sticks on his back. Feel yourself, as King, looking out over the winter landscape from your warm home. King Wenceslas left his warm home to give to another, just like the kings of old, who when they saw the star high in the sky, took their journey though the elements and miles to give their gifts unto the Son of God.


A Baby is Born: Choir


Narrator: And the angels joined together in song in the village of Bethlehem. They sang their joy at the birth of our King.


The Birthday of a King: Choir, Male solo


The Birthday of a King W. H. Nedlinger (Abridged)

In the little village of Bethlehem,

There lay a child one day,

And the sky was bright with a holy light,

O'er the place where Jesus lay:


Refrain

Alleluia! O how the angels sang,

Alleluia! How it rang;

And the sky was bright with a holy light,

'Twas the birthday of a King.

'Twas a humble birthplace, but oh!


How much God gave to us that day

From the manger bed, what a path has led,

What a perfect holy way:


(refrain)


Narrator: And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them (Luke 2:15-18, 20).


While By My Sheep: Group of Eight (4 male & 4 female voices, sung a cappella, awesome harmony)


While By My Sheep, 17th century Christmas Hymn

While by my sheep I watch'd at night,

Glad tidings brought an angel bright:


Refrain

How great my joy,

great my joy,

Joy, joy, joy,

joy, joy, joy!

Praise we the Lord in heav'n on high.

Praise we the Lord in heav;n on high.


There shall be born, so he did say,

In Bethlehem a child today:


(refrain)


There shall He lie, in manger mean,

Who shall redeem the world from sin:


(refrain)


Lord, evermore to me be nigh,

Then shall my heart be fill'd with joy:


(refrain)


Narrator: Hearts were also full of joy in a land far from Bethlehem. Five years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Samuel foretold of the night that would be as a day and the people sang of their joy when the signs were received that Christ had come to Earth.


Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus: Primary


Narrator: One of the signs that Samuel foretold was the new Star that would arise. He said, 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 (Helaman 14:5). The Star of Bethlehem has become a symbol for us of the guiding Light of Christ.


The Star of Bethlehem: Woman's solo

For the words and music to this solo, please visit Sally DeFord's page:


The Star of Bethlehem

High above the weary world, amid the stars of heaven

To men of old a wondrous sign of peace and hope was given

A brighter star was kindled there, to reign among the skies

To mark the way to Bethlehem and everlasting light

And high above the weary world, for eyes to see that will

The star of Bethlehem will shine for those who seek him still


High above the weary world it shone upon their road

And thus it led the wise men on, to seek a poor abode

And is there now no humble home to which its light may lead?

No quiet need? No tears of grief? No hungering soul to feed?

Look high above the weary world -- for eyes to see that will,

The star of Bethlehem will shine for those who seek him still


High above the weary world his star still shines for me

It bids me seek the Holy Child, adoring on bended knee

It beckons me through ages past, by countless years undimmed

It bids me serve his children now, thus to worship him

And high above the weary world, for eyes to see that will

The star of Bethlehem will shine for those who seek him still.


Narrator: As worship of Jesus Christ spread round the world, churches sprang up. To remind their members of their meetings, church bells would ring their songs of praise, beckoning all to come and worship the Savior.


I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day: Congregation (all verses)


Narrator: After the birth of the Savior and down through the dark ages of mankind Satan increased his efforts to lead all astray from the teachings of Christ. But to the dreary world fighting the apostasy that Satan encouraged, songs of faith added hope and light to the hearts of Christians everywhere reminding them of Christ's message of comfort and joy.


God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen: Choir, various soloists & voices, Congregation joins on 7th verse)


[ ] indicate where I have changed the words.


God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (verses 4-7 are less commonly known and are included below)

"Fear not then," said the Angel,

"Let nothing you affright,

This day is born a Savior

Of a pure Virgin bright,

To free all those who trust in Him

From Satan's power and might."


(refrain)


The shepherds at those tidings

Rejoiced much in mind,

And left their flocks a-feeding

In tempest, storm, and wind:

And went to Bethlehem straightway

The Son of God to find.


(refrain)


And when they came to Bethlehem

Where our dear Savior lay,

They found Him in a manger,

Where oxen feed on hay;

[The shepherds there were] kneeling down,

Unto the Lord [they said].


(refrain)


Now to the Lord sing praises,

All you within this place,

And with true love and brotherhood

Each other now embrace;

This holy tide of Christmas

All other doth [outrace].


Narrator: Today's world assaults us on all sides with a commercial meaning for Christmas, encouraging us to focus on what we might receive. How wise we would be if we remembered the meaning held in the word "Christmas".


C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S: Girl's Choir (older Primary & younger YW)


C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S

When I was but a youngster, Christmas meant one thing,

That I'd be getting lots of toys that day.

I learned a whole lot different when Mother sat me down

And taught me to spell Christmas this way:


"C" is for the Christ child born [to save us all];

"H for herald angels in the night.

"R" means our Redeemer;

"I" means Israel;

"S" is for the star that shown so bright.

"T" is for [the] wise men, They who traveled far.

"M" is for the manger where He lay.

"A" is for all He stands for;

"S" means shepherds came,

And that's why there's a Christmas Day.


Bishop gives his Christmas Message on Keeping the True Spirit of Christmas all Year (KISS: keep it short sweetie: we still have more singing to do!) Your closing Sentence: May the Light of Christmas fill our hearts as we reach beyond Christmas day to share Christ's message of peace and love throughout the world.


Closing song: A Carol of Hope: choir


Last narration before prayer: Keeping Christmas Always: 6 year old Primary child

Why can't it be Christmas everyday of the year?

I'm not talking presents now, just peace, good will, and cheer.

Treat me just the way you'd like for me to treat you,

Remembering Christ, our Savior, in all that we say and do.

The joyful spirit 'round me now I don't want to lose,

The spirit responds to kindness and it's up to us to choose ...

We can be a beacon and a light unto the world

If we will but remember to keep Christmas oft unfurled

like a glorious banner in our homes and in our life;

Christmas will eliminate all unnecessary strife.


So why can't it be Christmas everyday and all the year?

Keeping Christmas always will wipe out all doubts and fear.

If we'll just remember now what Christmas really is ...

Not just hustle, bustle, buy ... not our great day, but HIS.

In our hearts and in our minds each day of the year

Setting aside our differences, not giving cause for tears.

Father, Mother, Daughter, Son, Husband, Wife, Sister, Brother;

Christmas can be more than just one day if we have real love, one to another.

"Peace on earth, good will to men", that's how it's got to be ...

Keeping Christmas always must begin with you and me!


Closing Prayer:


CHRISTMAS PROGRAM -- 2006


[Our thought as we prepared this program was to focus on what we can learn from the examples of the people who were involved in the birth of Christ. Also, why it was necessary for Christ to be born on the earth.]


Music: (Primary Children) Picture a Christmas, Pg. 50


Talk: "Behold the Handmaiden of the Lord" Are we as willing as Mary was to follow the commandments of the Lord and/or to submit to his will -- "Thy will be done"? Joseph's example could also be used.


Music: (Choir) O Holy Night


Music: (Soloist) The Innkeeper "Let Him In"


Talk: "Wise Men Still Seek Him" Wise men - The wise men had studied the scriptures, knew what to look for and were watching for the sign. Then they acted by following the star. They also followed the promptings of the spirit and did not go back to King Herod.


Music: (Congregational Hymn) Angels We Have Heard on High, Pg. 203


Music: (Soloist) The Shepherd "You Were Not There in Bethlehem"


Talk: "Why Jesus?" We want this to be a doctrinal talk on the Plan of Salvation but in language for nonmember friends and family who may be attending that day. Why we need Jesus; why did he have to come to earth?


Music: (Closing Hymn) Joy to the World, Pg. 201


"Let Him In" & "You Were Not There in Bethlehem" are from Michael McLean's "Forgotten Carols".


CHRISTMAS PROGRAM -- 2009


Prelude


Greetings


Opening Hymn: #202, Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful


Opening Prayer


Talk (about 1-3 minutes)


The Angel Gabriel Visits Mary

Scripture: Luke 1:26-33

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.


Choir Sings #207, It Came Upon the Midnight Clear


Talk (about 1-3 minutes)


Mary & Joseph go to Bethlehem

Scripture: Luke 2:1-5

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.


Hymn: #208, O Little Town of Bethlehem


Talk (about 1-3 minutes)

We have received many gifts from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

First, He gave us the perfect model -- Himself -- after which we are to pattern our lives.

Second, in addition to the gift of the life of Christ, is the gift of His Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- "the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth."

Third, in addition to the gifts of the life of Christ and His Church, is the gift of scripture, particularly the Book of Mormon.

Christ's life, His Church, and the Book of Mormon are but a few of the gifts of Christ that bless us, not only at this Christmas season but throughout our lives.


Samuel the Lamanite

Scripture: Helaman 14:1-9

1 And now it came to pass that Samuel, the Lamanite, did prophesy a great many more things which cannot be written.

2 And behold, he said unto them: 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.

3 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.

4 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.

5 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.

6 And behold this is not all, there shall be many signs and wonders in heaven.

7 And it shall come to pass that ye shall all be amazed, and wonder, insomuch that ye shall fall to the earth.

8 And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall believe on the Son of God, the same shall have everlasting life.

9 And behold, thus hath the Lord commanded me, by his angel, that I should come and tell this thing unto you; yea, he hath commanded that I should prophesy these things unto you; yea, he hath said unto me: Cry unto this people, repent and prepare the way of the Lord.


Hymn: #212, Far, Far Away on Judea's Plains


Talk (about 1-3 minutes)


The Night Before the Savior's Birth

Scripture: 3 Nephi 1:4-23

4 And it came to pass that in the commencement of the ninety and second year, behold, the prophecies of the prophets began to be fulfilled more fully; for there began to be greater signs and greater miracles wrought among the people.

5 But there were some who began to say that the time was past for the words to be fulfilled, which were spoken by Samuel, the Lamanite.

6 And they began to rejoice over their brethren, saying: Behold the time is past, and the words of Samuel are not fulfilled; therefore, your joy and your faith concerning this thing hath been vain.

7 And it came to pass that they did make a great uproar throughout the land; and the people who believed began to be very sorrowful, lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass.

8 But behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night, that they might know that their faith had not been vain.

9 Now it came to pass that there was a day set apart by the unbelievers, that all those who believed in those traditions should be put to death except the sign should come to pass, which had been given by Samuel the prophet.

10 Now it came to pass that when Nephi, the son of Nephi, saw this wickedness of his people, his heart was exceedingly sorrowful.

11 And it came to pass that 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.

12 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:

13 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 fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.

14 Behold, I come unto my own, to fulfil all things which I have made known unto the children of men from the foundation of the world, and to do the will, both of the Father and of the Son -- of the Father because of me, and of the Son because of my flesh. And behold, the time is at hand, and this night shall the sign be given.

15 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 the people began to be astonished because there was no darkness when the night came.

16 And there were many, who had not believed the words of the prophets, who fell to the earth and became as if they were dead, for they knew that the great plan of destruction which they had laid for those who believed in the words of the prophets had been frustrated; for the sign which had been given was already at hand.

17 And they began to know that the Son of God must shortly appear; yea, in fine, 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, were so exceedingly astonished that they fell to the earth.

18 For they knew that the prophets had testified of these things for many years, and that the sign which had been given was already at hand; and they began to fear because of their iniquity and their unbelief.

19 And it came to pass that there was no darkness in all that night, but it was as light as though it was mid-day. And it came to pass that the sun did rise in the morning again, according to its proper order; and they knew that it was the day that the Lord should be born, because of the sign which had been given.

20 And it had come to pass, yea, all things, every whit, according to the words of the prophets.

21 And it came to pass also that a new star did appear, according to the word.

22 And it came to pass that from this time forth there began to be lyings sent forth among the people, by Satan, to harden their hearts, to the intent that they might not believe in those signs and wonders which they had seen; but notwithstanding these lyings and deceivings the more part of the people did believe, and were converted unto the Lord.

23 And it came to pass that Nephi went forth among the people, and also many others, baptizing unto repentance, in the which there was a great remission of sins. And thus the people began again to have peace in the land.


Hymn: #205, Once in Royal David's City


Talk (about 1-3 minutes)


The Birth in the Manger

Scripture: Luke 2:6-7

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.


Primary Sings: #206, Away in a Manger


Talk (about 1-3 minutes)


The Angels Sing

Scripture: Luke 2:8-14

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.


Hymn: #203, Angels We Have Heard on High


Talk (about 1-3 minutes)


The Shepherds Response

Scripture: Luke 2:15-20

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.


Hymn: #211, While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks


Talk (about 1-3 minutes)


Visit of the Wise Men

Scripture: JST Matthew 3:1-25

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

2 Saying, Where is the child that is born, the Messiah of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and have come to worship him.

3 When Herod the king had heard of the child, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests, and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them, saying, Where is the place that is written of by the prophets, in which Christ should be born? For he greatly feared, yet he believed not the prophets.

5 And they said unto him, It is written by the prophets, that he should be born in Bethlehem of Judea, for thus have they said,

6 The word of the Lord came unto us, saying, And thou Bethlehem, which lieth in the land of Judea, in thee shall be born a prince, which art not the least among the princes of Judea; for out of thee shall come the Messiah, who shall save my people Israel.

7 Then Herod, when he had called the wise men privily, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found the child, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and lo, the star which they saw in the east, went before them, until it came and stood over where the young child was.

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child, with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshiped him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord, appeared to Joseph in a vision, saying, Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and tarry thou there until I bring thee word; for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

14 And then he arose, and took the young child, and the child's mother, by night, and departed into Egypt;

15 And was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord, by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my Son.

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth; and sent forth and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,

18 In Ramah there was a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning; Rachael weeping for the loss of her children, and would not be comforted because they were not.

19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a vision to Joseph in Egypt,

20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel; for they are dead who sought the young child's life.

21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.

22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judea, in the stead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither; but, notwithstanding, being warned of God in a vision, he went into the eastern part of Galilee;

23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

24 And it came to pass that Jesus grew up with his brethren, and waxed strong, and waited upon the Lord for the time of his ministry to come.

25 And he served under his father, and he spake not as other men, neither could he be taught; for he needed not that any man should teach him.


Closing Hymn: #201, Joy to the World


Closing Prayer


CHRISTMAS PROGRAM -- 2010


Prelude


Greetings


Opening Hymn: #202, Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful


Opening Prayer


Talk (1-2 min)


The Announcement to Mary

Scripture: Luke 1:26-33

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.


Hymn: #207, It Came Upon the Midnight Clear


Talk (1-2 min)


Elizabeth & Mary

Scripture: Luke 1:39-56

39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;

40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.

41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

46 And Mary asaid, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;

55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.


Choir Sings


Hymn: #208, O Little Town of Bethlehem


Talk (1-2 min)


The Night Before the Savior's Birth

Scripture: 3 Nephi 1:4-23

4 And it came to pass that in the commencement of the ninety and second year, behold, the prophecies of the prophets began to be fulfilled more fully; for there began to be greater signs and greater miracles wrought among the people.

5 But there were some who began to say that the time was past for the words to be fulfilled, which were spoken by Samuel, the Lamanite.

6 And they began to rejoice over their brethren, saying: Behold the time is past, and the words of Samuel are not fulfilled; therefore, your joy and your faith concerning this thing hath been vain.

7 And it came to pass that they did make a great uproar throughout the land; and the people who believed began to be very sorrowful, lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass.

8 But behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night, that they might know that their faith had not been vain.

9 Now it came to pass that there was a day set apart by the unbelievers, that all those who believed in those traditions should be put to death except the sign should come to pass, which had been given by Samuel the prophet.

10 Now it came to pass that when Nephi, the son of Nephi, saw this wickedness of his people, his heart was exceedingly sorrowful.

11 And it came to pass that 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.

12 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:

13 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 fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.

14 Behold, I come unto my own, to fulfil all things which I have made known unto the children of men from the foundation of the world, and to do the will, both of the Father and of the Son -- of the Father because of me, and of the Son because of my flesh. And behold, the time is at hand, and this night shall the sign be given.

15 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 the people began to be astonished because there was no darkness when the night came.

16 And there were many, who had not believed the words of the prophets, who fell to the earth and became as if they were dead, for they knew that the great plan of destruction which they had laid for those who believed in the words of the prophets had been frustrated; for the sign which had been given was already at hand.

17 And they began to know that the Son of God must shortly appear; yea, in fine, 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, were so exceedingly astonished that they fell to the earth.

18 For they knew that the prophets had testified of these things for many years, and that the sign which had been given was already at hand; and they began to fear because of their iniquity and their unbelief.

19 And it came to pass that there was no darkness in all that night, but it was as light as though it was mid-day. And it came to pass that the sun did rise in the morning again, according to its proper order; and they knew that it was the day that the Lord should be born, because of the sign which had been given.

20 And it had come to pass, yea, all things, every whit, according to the words of the prophets.

21 And it came to pass also that a new star did appear, according to the word.

22 And it came to pass that from this time forth there began to be lyings sent forth among the people, by Satan, to harden their hearts, to the intent that they might not believe in those signs and wonders which they had seen; but notwithstanding these lyings and deceivings the more part of the people did believe, and were converted unto the Lord.

23 And it came to pass that Nephi went forth among the people, and also many others, baptizing unto repentance, in the which there was a great remission of sins. And thus the people began again to have peace in the land.


Hymn: #205, Once in Royal David's City


Talk (1-2 min)


The Birth in the Manger

Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was con this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.

20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.


Hymn: #206, Away in a Manger


Choir Sings


Talk (1-2 min)


The Shepherds and Angels Came

Scripture: Luke 2:8-20

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.


Hymn: #203, Angels We Have Heard on High


Talk (1-2 min)


Presentation in the Temple

Scripture: Luke 2:21-38

21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

22 And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;

23 (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)

24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.

26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,

28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,

29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:

30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,

31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;

32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.

34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;

35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;

37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.


Choir Sings


Hymn: #209, Hark the Herald Angels Sing


Closing Hymn: #204, Silent Night


Closing Prayer


CHRISTMAS PROGRAM -- 2011


Prelude


Greetings


Opening Hymn: #202, Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful


Opening Prayer


Choir Sings


Reading


The Angel Visits Mary

Scripture: Luke 1:26-33

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.


Hymn: #207, It Came Upon the Midnight Clear


Samuel the Lamanite

Scripture: Helaman 14:1-9

1 And now it came to pass that Samuel, the Lamanite, did prophesy a great many more things which cannot be written.

2 And behold, he said unto them: 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.

3 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.

4 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.

5 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.

6 And behold this is not all, there shall be many signs and wonders in heaven.

7 And it shall come to pass that ye shall all be amazed, and wonder, insomuch that ye shall fall to the earth.

8 And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall believe on the Son of God, the same shall have everlasting life.

9 And behold, thus hath the Lord commanded me, by his angel, that I should come and tell this thing unto you; yea, he hath commanded that I should prophesy these things unto you; yea, he hath said unto me: Cry unto this people, repent and prepare the way of the Lord.


Hymn: Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus, Children's Songbook, p. 36


Reading


Mary and Joseph go to Bethlehem

Scripture: Luke 2:1-5


1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judæa, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.


Hymn: When Joseph Went to Bethlehem, Children's Songbook, p. 38


Reading


The Night Before the Savior's Birth

Scripture: 3 Nephi 1:4-23

4 And it came to pass that in the commencement of the ninety and second year, behold, the prophecies of the prophets began to be fulfilled more fully; for there began to be greater signs and greater miracles wrought among the people.

5 But there were some who began to say that the time was past for the words to be fulfilled, which were spoken by Samuel, the Lamanite.

6 And they began to rejoice over their brethren, saying: Behold the time is past, and the words of Samuel are not fulfilled; therefore, your joy and your faith concerning this thing hath been vain.

7 And it came to pass that they did make a great uproar throughout the land; and the people who believed began to be very sorrowful, lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass.

8 But behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night, that they might know that their faith had not been vain.

9 Now it came to pass that there was a day set apart by the unbelievers, that all those who believed in those traditions should be put to death except the sign should come to pass, which had been given by Samuel the prophet.

10 Now it came to pass that when Nephi, the son of Nephi, saw this wickedness of his people, his heart was exceedingly sorrowful.

11 And it came to pass that 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.

12 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:

13 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 fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.

14 Behold, I come unto my own, to fulfil all things which I have made known unto the children of men from the foundation of the world, and to do the will, both of the Father and of the Son -- of the Father because of me, and of the Son because of my flesh. And behold, the time is at hand, and this night shall the sign be given.

15 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 the people began to be astonished because there was no darkness when the night came.

16 And there were many, who had not believed the words of the prophets, who fell to the earth and became as if they were dead, for they knew that the great plan of destruction which they had laid for those who believed in the words of the prophets had been frustrated; for the sign which had been given was already at hand.

17 And they began to know that the Son of God must shortly appear; yea, in fine, 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, were so exceedingly astonished that they fell to the earth.

18 For they knew that the prophets had testified of these things for many years, and that the sign which had been given was already at hand; and they began to fear because of their iniquity and their unbelief.

19 And it came to pass that there was no darkness in all that night, but it was as light as though it was mid-day. And it came to pass that the sun did rise in the morning again, according to its proper order; and they knew that it was the day that the Lord should be born, because of the sign which had been given.

20 And it had come to pass, yea, all things, every whit, according to the words of the prophets.

21 And it came to pass also that a new star did appear, according to the word.

22 And it came to pass that from this time forth there began to be lyings sent forth among the people, by Satan, to harden their hearts, to the intent that they might not believe in those signs and wonders which they had seen; but notwithstanding these lyings and deceivings the more part of the people did believe, and were converted unto the Lord.

23 And it came to pass that Nephi went forth among the people, and also many others, baptizing unto repentance, in the which there was a great remission of sins. And thus the people began again to have peace in the land.


Primary: #212, Far, Far Away on Judea's Plains


Reading


The Birth in the Manger

Scripture: Luke 2:6-7

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.


Hymn: #201, Joy to the World


Reading


The Angel's Song

Scripture: Luke 2:8-14

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.


Hymn: #209, Hark the Herald Angels Sing


Reading


The Shepherds' Response

Scripture: Luke 2:15-20

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.


Hymn: #211, While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks


Closing Hymn: #204, Silent Night


Closing Prayer


CHRISTMAS PROGRAM -- 2013
(Written by Kimberly Cole)


"Joy to the Word" Hymn 201 Congregational Hymn


John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.


Moses 6:57 Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge, who shall come in the meridian of time.


Isaiah 7:14-15 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. "Away in a Manger" pg 206


Helaman 14:1-5 AND now it came to pass that Samuel, the Lamanite, did prophesy a great many more things which cannot be written. And behold, he said unto them: 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.


"Stars were Gleaming" p. 37 Children's song book Or "With Wondering Awe" Hymn 210


Helaman 16:13-14 But it came to pass in the ninetieth year of the reign of the judges, there were great signs given unto the people, and wonders; and the words of the prophets began to be fulfilled. And angels did appear unto men, wise men, and did declare unto them glad tidings of great joy; thus in this year the scriptures began to be fulfilled.


Matthew 1:18-24 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.


Luke 2:4-5 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.


"Joseph, I was Not His Father, He was Mine" (optional) -- by Michael McLean -- lyrics and mp3


3 Nephi 1:5, 10-14, 19 But there were some who began to say that the time was past for the words to be fulfilled, which were spoken by Samuel, the Lamanite. Now it came to pass that when Nephi, the son of Nephi, saw this wickedness of his people, his heart was exceedingly sorrowful. And it came to pass that 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 fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets. Behold, I come unto my own, to fulfil all things which I have made known unto the children of men from the foundation of the world, and to do the will, both of the Father and of the Son -- of the Father because of me, and of the Son because of my flesh. And behold, the time is at hand, and this night shall the sign be given. And it came to pass that there was no darkness in all that night, but it was as light as though it was mid-day. And it came to pass that the sun did rise in the morning again, according to its proper order; and they knew that it was the day that the Lord should be born, because of the sign which had been given.


Luke 2:6-7 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.


"Mary's Lullaby" pg 44 Children's Song Book


Luke 2:8-14 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, 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. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.


"Far, Far Away on Judea's Plains" pg 212 Congregational Hymn


Luke 2:15-17 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.


"O Holy Night" (Sally DeFord Music)


3 Nephi 1:20-21 And it had come to pass, yea, all things, every whit, according to the words of the prophets. And it came to pass also that a new star did appear, according to the word.


Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11 NOW when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.


"Silent Night," pg 204 Congregational Hymn


3 Nephi 11:10-11, 14 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning. Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.


3 Nephi 15:9-10 (person not seen just voice only) Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life. Behold, I have given unto you the commandments; therefore keep my commandments. And this is the law and the prophets, for they truly testified of me.


"I Know that my Redeemer Lives" Hymn 136 Congregational Hymn


"Hark! the Herald Angels Sing" Hymn 209 Congregational Hymn


COME UNTO CHRIST


As you celebrate Christmas, this program will help you and your family remember Jesus and His love for you. Before you begin, have family members draw pictures of scenes to use during the program, or use pictures from your ward/branch library. Costumes and props could also be used to dramatize the scenes described. Combine or divide the speaking parts, depending on how many people participate.


Song: "He Sent His Son" (Children's Songbook, page 34)


First Reader: Come unto Christ this Christmas.

Come unto the Savior of all,

Come, do the things He has asked you

Come, follow Him; hear His call.


Second Reader: When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the shepherds came to worship the Babe that the prophets testified should come into the world.


Third Reader: "And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, 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." (Luke 2:10-11)


Fourth Reader: "And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which the Lord hath made known unto us." (Luke 2:15)


Everyone: And they came unto Christ.


Third Reader: "Behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him." (Matthew 2:1-2)


Fourth Reader: "And, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy." (Matthew 2:9-10)


Everyone: And they came unto Christ.


Song: "Away in a Manger" (Children's Songbook, page 42)


Second Reader: During Jesus' earthly ministry, many people came to hear Him preach the gospel and see Him perform miracles.


Third Reader: "And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching ... and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people ... And there followed him great multitudes of people." (Matthew 4:23, 35)


Fourth Reader: Jesus said: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)


Everyone: And they came unto Christ.


Song: "Tell Me the Stories of Jesus" (Children's Songbook, page 57)


Second Reader: The resurrected Christ showed himself to the Nephites on the American continent and asked them to come unto Him.


Third Reader: "Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world." (3 Nephi 11:14)


Fourth Reader: "And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying: Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him." (3 Nephi 11:16-17)


Everyone: And they came unto Christ.


Song: "Easter Hosanna" (Children's Songbook, page 68)


First Reader: Jesus suffered for our sins, gave His life, and was resurrected so that all men everywhere could have eternal life if they would but come unto Him.


Third Reader: "For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him." (D&C 18:11)


Second Reader: Jesus Christ lives today, and He loves us. He wants all of us to come unto Him so that we can return to heaven and live with Him again.


First Reader: I can come unto Christ by reading the scriptures and praying to Heavenly Father.


Second Reader: I can come unto Christ by following His example and by keeping His commandments.


Third Reader: I can come unto Christ by repenting, by being baptized, and by receiving the Holy Ghost.


Fourth Reader: I can come unto Christ by partaking of the sacrament.


First Reader: I can come unto Christ by living worthily so that I can receive the blessings of the temple.


Song: "I Feel My Savior's Love" (Children's Songbook, page 74)


Fourth Reader: In the Book of Mormon we read: "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him." (Moroni 10:32)


First Reader: Yes, come unto Christ this Christmas.

Come, learn of Him and His love.

Come and learn to be like Him.

Come honor Him above.


Song: "Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful (Hymns, page 202)

(Friend, December 1989, pg. 8)


DRAMATIZATION OF "THE CHRIST CHILD STORY"


Ideally, there should be enough participants to have Mary and Joseph, three innkeepers, at least two shepherds, three wise men, and an angel. Of course, this is not possible in a small mother's group, so adjustments must be made.

You must have a Mary and Joseph. One child could be an innkeeper and move to the three positions of the three innkeepers. That same child could then change costumes and become a wise man. One child could represent the shepherds, one the wise men, and one the angel. Thus, you could get by with a minimum of five children. You may want to incorporate younger siblings into the show if they are not too disruptive. At the "family" Christmas party, older siblings or even parents could join in just by following the lead of the children and the narration.

Set up the stage with Mary kneeling, profile to audience, head bowed, hands together in prayer fashion. Others are standing.


Narration (with action in parentheses):


LONG AGO, FAR ACROSS THE SEA LIVED A BEAUTIFUL LADY NAMED MARY. ONE DAY AN ANGEL CAME TO MARY.

(Angel comes and stands facing Mary, Mary looks at angel.)


THE ANGEL SAID, "MARY, GOD LOVES YOU. YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE A LITTLE BABY BOY AND YOU SHOULD CALL HIS NAME JESUS." THEN THE ANGEL WENT AWAY.

(Angel goes back to place. Mary bows her head.)


MARY THOUGHT AND THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT THE ANGEL HAD SAID.


MARY AND JOSEPH NEEDED TO GO TO BETHLEHEM TO PAY THEIR TAXES.

(Joseph comes to Mary, she stands and takes his hand, and they walk slowly around the "stage" as narrator says:)


THEY TRAVELED A LONG WAY AND WHEN THEY GOT TO BETHLEHEM, IT WAS DARK AND LATE AND THEY WERE VERY TIRED, SO THEY WENT TO AN INN.

(Mary and Joseph face first innkeeper.)


JOSEPH KNOCKED ON THE DOOR.

(Joseph pretends to knock.)


BUT THE INNKEEPER SAID, "NO ROOM."

(Innkeeper shakes his head.)


THEY WENT TO ANOTHER INN. JOSEPH KNOCKED ON THE DOOR, AND THE INNKEEPER SAID, "NO ROOM."

(Joseph knocks and innkeeper shakes head.)


SO THEY WENT TO ANOTHER INN. JOSEPH KNOCKED ON THE DOOR AND THE INNKEEPER SAID, "NO ROOM, BUT YOU CAN STAY IN MY STABLE AND I'LL PUT SOME CLEAN STRAW THERE FOR YOU."

(Joseph knocks, innkeeper shakes his head, then leads Mary and Joseph to center stage, where you or a helper have placed the manger, the baby and a small chair as in diagram at end of supplement. Innkeeper returns to his place. Mary sits on chair and Joseph stands behind manger.)


THAT NIGHT THE LITTLE BABY, JESUS WAS BORN. MARY WRAPPED HIM IN SWADDLING CLOTHES AND LAID HIM IN A MANGER.

(Joseph picks up baby from behind manger and hands it to Mary who cradles it a moment and then lays it in the manger.)


FAR OUT IN THE FIELDS THE SHEPHERDS WERE TENDING THEIR SHEEP. THEY SAW A BRIGHT NEW STAR IN THE SKY AND THEY HEARD SOMEONE SINGING.

(Shepherds point to the star. It should be hanging over the manger.)


THEY WERE VERY FRIGHTENED -- BUT AN ANGEL CAME TO THE SHEPHERDS.

(Angel comes and stands facing the shepherds. If you have more than one angel, you could use a different one this time.)


THE ANGEL SAID, "DON'T BE AFRAID. TONIGHT THE BABY JESUS WAS BORN IN BETHLEHEM. IF YOU FOLLOW THE STAR, YOU WILL FIND HIM WRAPPED IN SWADDLING CLOTHES, LYING IN A MANGER. THEN THE ANGEL WENT AWAY.

(Angel goes back to place.)


THE SHEPHERDS SAID TO ONE ANOTHER, "LET'S GO TO BETHLEHEM AND SEE THE LITTLE BABY THAT THE ANGEL HAS TOLD US ABOUT."

(Shepherds pretend to talk to each other.)


SO THEY FOLLOWED THE STAR.

(Shepherd's move slowly across "stage" crossing in front of Mary and Joseph as narrator says:)


AND THEY CAME AND FOUND MARY AND JOSEPH AND THE BABE LYING IN THE MANGER. AND THEY KNELT DOWN AND WORSHIPPED HIM.

(Shepherds turn and kneel at left of Mary and Joseph.)


FAR AWAY IN THE EAST, THE WISE MEN SAW THE STAR, ALSO.

(Wise men point to the star.)


THEY KNEW THAT IT MEANT THAT THE BABY, JESUS, HAD BEEN BORN. SO THEY FOLLOWED THE STAR.

(Wise men move slowly across the stage, crossing in front of Mary and Joseph as narrator says:)


THEY BROUGHT GIFTS FOR THE BABY AND THEY KNELT DOWN AND WORSHIPPED HIM, ALSO.

(Wise men place gifts by the manger and then kneel on the right of Mary and Joseph. Then angels and innkeepers come and stand behind Mary and at the side of Joseph. Mary picks up the baby and holds him in her arms and all the children sing the song, "In a Little Stable." All children should face front before singing.)


Suggestions:

It helps to have small pieces of tape (different colors for different characters) stuck to the floor for the children to position themselves on for the final scene. This is especially helpful if they perform at a rest home where they will not have had a chance to practice. This could be masking tape colored with magic markers.

If the angels stand on chairs or something at the back of the "stage," they can be seen better and pretend they are in the sky.

Some adult should put the manger and chair in place while Mary and Joseph are going to the inns. Place the baby on the floor behind the manger and the chair to the side of the manger. Many groups have used real babies in a straw basket, if one is available among the families in the group. Have the mother place the baby at the right moment. Have an "understudy" (a doll) ready in case the baby doesn't cooperate.

Soft recorded background music such as "Silent Night" played during the narration adds to the effect.

Each time you practice the show, give the children turns to take different parts. It doesn't matter if a girl is a wise man or a boy is Mary. They will enjoy playing different characters.

The entire show including the song takes less than five minutes, so you can practice it as many times as the children enjoy it.


COSTUMES AND PROPS FOR DRAMATIZING THE NATIVITY


The costumes can be very simple. Children have great imaginations and do not need elaborate costumes or props to feel the part. It is best if the costumes are used from the very first time the story is acted out. The children will enjoy it more that way. The following are just Suggestions:

Mary can wear a square blue scarf on her head, two corners tied underneath in back so that it resembles a veil (see diagram).

Joseph -- wears a dark colored (plain or patterned) square scarf, one edge placed over the forehead and the two corners tied in back over the draping part (see diagram).

Shepherds -- wear any color scarf placed over the head and tied on with a band of cloth or heavy yarn around the head (see diagram). They carry staves which can be made with a broomstick or other dowel with a crook made of posterboard fastened to it. If the crook is made quite wide at the bottom, it can be wrapped around the top of the dowel and be fastened on with tape or glue (see diagram).

Wise Men -- wear cardboard crowns covered with aluminum foil (see diagram). Make them adjustable with paper clips. They carry small gifts which could be fancy perfume bottles or small foil-wrapped packages.

Angels -- need only a ring of bright tinsel around their heads (see diagram).

Innkeepers -- wear small skull caps (see diagram).

The Manger could be a shallow cardboard box with a few crumpled newspapers in the bottom, covered with many thin strips cut from brown paper bags placed on top for straw.

The Christ Child should be an appropriate, medium-size doll wrapped in white cloth and tied (criss-cross with colored ribbon or yarn).

You will also need a cardboard star (about 5 or 6 inches in diameter) to hang on a thread from the ceiling. It could be painted with glue and sprinkled with gold or silver glitter on each side.

These costumes are suggestions only and can be adapted or changed as you see fit, but they should be kept simple so they can be put on and taken off very quickly and easily.


THE CHRISTMAS STORY FROM THE BOOK OF MORMON


Directions: This program can be presented with your family during the Christmas season. Some family members will be readers. They could wear costumes, or you could display the pictures on this page to identify the characters.

Assign the parts, and write each reader's name in the blank by his part. Make copies of the parts so that everyone can practice reading slowly and with expression.


Ask someone to lead the music and someone to play the songs. Practice the songs before the program begins. As the director, it is your responsibility to help everyone do his part well.


Song: "December" (Sing With Me, F-9)


Young Child _____: The best part of December --

My favorite time, by far --

Is when we read the story

Of the Baby and the star.


Narrator _____: At Christmastime we all love to read from the Bible the familiar story of the birth of baby Jesus.


Narrator _____: The Book of Mormon also tells about the birth of Jesus and about the star. People on both sides of the world knew of the coming of the Savior.


Song: "Beautiful Savior" (Sing With Me, B-6)


Narrator _____: A few years after Lehi and his family journeyed to America, his son Nephi beheld a vision of the city of Nazareth and a beautiful virgin who was to be the mother of the Son of God ...


Nephi, the son of Lehi _____: And it came to pass that I looked and beheld ... the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white. And again I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms. And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! (1 Nephi 11:13, 20-21)


Narrator _____: Later the Nephites and the Lamanites were also told of the coming of Jesus by Samuel, a Lamanite prophet.


Samuel, the Lamanite _____: And behold, he said unto them: 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. 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.


Song: "Christmas in Zarahemla" (Friend, December 1985, page 29), first verse only.


Narrator _____: Many Nephites did not believe Samuel. They threw rocks and shot arrows at him. But Samuel was protected until he had delivered his message. Then he returned to his own people in Zarahemla. Some of the people, however, did believe Samuel's words, and they repented and were baptized. Nephi, the grandson of Helaman, was a leader among those who believed. When five years had almost ended, the wicked unbelievers said that they would kill the righteous people if the signs prophesied by Samuel did not appear. Nephi prayed for the people who believed in Jesus Christ. He did not want the wicked people to kill them. He prayed all day, and then the Lord spoke to him.


Voice of the Lord _____: 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 fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.


Narrator _____: It all happened. Here is how Mormon recorded it from the Large Plates of Nephi: "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 the people began to be astonished because there was no darkness when the night came. And it came to pass also that a new star did appear, according to the word." (3 Nephi 1:15, 21)


Song: "Christmas in Zarahemla," second verse.


Young Child _____: I love the Christmas story,

I love the songs we sing.

But most of all I love the Savior --

Jesus Christ, the King.


Song: "Once Within a Lowly Stable" (Sing with Me, F-12). A girl dressed like Mary could pose holding doll while family sings.


Narrator _____: The star had risen. The prophecy had been fulfilled. And faithful people in both hemispheres saw the sign and understood. Jesus was born in Bethlehem.


Song: "Christmas Bells" (Sing With Me, F-13), voice or bell descant, and/or "Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful" (Hymns, no. 202), first verse only.


THE LIVING CHRISTMAS
Texas Fort Worth Missionaries, 1988


Nearly 2000 years ago an event took place which has affected the lives of billions of people. At this time of year we remember the mortal birth of Jesus, the Son of God. He is the greatest being ever born on this earth -- He is Christ, the Messiah, our Lord.

This glorious event was revealed to man through the prophets that lived many hundreds of years before the birth of our Savior, so that those people could look forward to the source of their salvation and eternal joy. About 700 BC, Isaiah, the Israelite prophet, prophesied of this gift from God:


For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (ISAIAH 9:6)


As God loves all of His children, he also shared this wonderful message with other prophets in other lands. One such prophet that lived on the American continent nearly 600 years before Christ's birth was Nephi. Nephi recorded his prophecies, and they are found today in what we know as the Book of Mormon. He was visited by an angel and shown the following vision:


And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem, and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white.

And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; 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: Knowest thou the condescension of God?

And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.

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 it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look!

And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms.

And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw? (1 NEPHI 11:13-21)


Alma, a prophet also in the Book of Mormon, lived about 80 BC, testified of the glorious mission of our Lord:


And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. (ALMA 7:10-12)


During the Christmas season, we are reminded of the Heavenly manifestations given in the area around Jerusalem. Luke relates to us the account of an angel appearing to Mary:


And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. (LUKE 1:28-31)


Luke also recorded the event of the shepherds being visited by angelic hosts that announced Christ's birth, and praised God. Matthew tells us of wise men who watched for the new star which had been a prophesy of the King's birth. These righteous men traveled far to worship the Babe and bring Him their gifts.

On the other side of the world, God was revealing His plans to his prophets, in the Book of Mormon. Samuel, a prophet in ancient America, spoke to the people of his day:


And behold, he said unto them: 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. (HELAMAN 14:2-6)


As with most prophets, only a small minority of the people believed Samuel's words, while the rest caused him to flee for his life. The Lord raised up another prophet among this people, another man named Nephi. As these few years passed, Nephi preached unto his people, but most hardened their hearts even to the point that they chose a day when they would put all the believers in Christ to death if the prophesied signs did not come to pass. Nephi was very saddened by the wickedness of his people and prayed unto the Lord, and in answer to his earnest prayer came the voice of the Lord:


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 fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.

Behold, I come unto my own, to fulfil all things which I have made known unto the children of men from the foundation of the world, and to do the will, both of the Father and of the Son -- of the Father because of me, and of the Son because of my flesh. And behold, the time is at hand, and this night shall the sign be given.

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 the people began to be astonished because there was no darkness when the night came.

And there were many, who had not believed the words of the prophets, who fell to the earth and became as if they were dead, for they knew that the great plan of destruction which they had laid for those who believed in the words of the prophets had been frustrated; for the sign which had been given was already at hand.

And they began to know that the Son of God must shortly appear; yea, in fine, 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, were so exceedingly astonished that they fell to the earth.

For they knew that the prophets had testified of these things for many years, and that the sign which had been given was already at hand; and they began to fear because of their iniquity and their unbelief.

And it came to pass that there was no darkness in all that night, but it was as light as though it was mid–day. And it came to pass that the sun did rise in the morning again, according to its proper order; and they knew that it was the day that the Lord should be born, because of the sign which had been given.

And it had come to pass, yea, all things, every whit, according to the words of the prophets.

And it came to pass also that a new star did appear, according to the word. (3 NEPHI 1:13-21)


This great event in mankind's history was prophesied hundreds of years in advance. Those prophecies were fulfilled, and Jesus Christ was born of Mary. This even was so important that it was heralded by angelic hosts showing forth signs and wonders; it was so important that even today, 2000 years later, we still remember and praise this birth in a lowly manger. Without a doubt, the importance of this event is based on the divine mission of the Infant. The apostle John wrote:


For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (JOHN 3:16)


Jesus Christ made it possible for us to return to live with our Father in Heaven and have joy with Him forever. He is the center of our religion and our rejoicing:


And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. (2 NEPHI 25:26)


May we each take the opportunity this Christmas season to remember the real meaning of Christmas. May we each gain a greater understanding of the life and mission of Jesus Christ, that we may know to what source we may look for a remission of our sins.


We read this for our FHE lesson and look up the scriptures as we go along. This is great to share with our non-member friends as well. We give out a copy of the Book of Mormon as a gift and inside it, it says, "We would like to leave you with this Christmas gift. This is a copy of the Book of Mormon. As it says on the cover, it is another witness of Jesus Christ. This book, like no other book, has helped us develop a personal love and relationship with the Savior, as it has strengthened and supported the truths taught in the Bible. I'm sure you'll enjoy it ..."


THE WOMEN WHO KNEW JESUS


OPENING HYMN: "Once in Royal David's City" (Hymns #205)


ELIZABETH, mother of John:

I am Elizabeth, the wife of Zacharias, the mother of John, called the Baptist, the cousin of the girl Mary.

The miracle of my conception, the strange and wonderful things that occurred in the life of my husband, the life and death of my son, are most wondrous and filled with the power of the Lord. Were there time, I would tell you of it all from the beginning of those lonely and despairing years when Zacharias and I became convinced that I was the most useless of all vessels, a barren woman, to the tragic death of my fine son at the whim of a court harlot.

I would tell you of the glory and wonder of that day in the house of the Lord, the Temple of the Most High, when a heavenly radiance shone round, and for the first time in many generations, a heavenly messenger appeared. I would try to describe to you the look in the eyes of my aged husband as he suffered the silence of discipline and his exaltation when he was finally able to cry that I, an old woman was to conceive and bare the man child that would make straight the way for the coming of the Lord. I would tell you of that child, of his strength and goodness, of his power and humility, of his complete submission to the will of the Almighty God.

But there is no time, and so, I will share with you only one small moment, most precious to me, that lifted my spirit and made my heart overflow with gratitude and goodness of God.

Within my body, I carried a child. You women who have experienced the wonder and awe of those first trembling movements of beginning life will know what I knew when, as my cousin Mary came to my door, I felt my babe leap within me, as the Holy Ghost bore solemn witness that the chosen mother of the Lord stood before me. I knew that thrill incident to the quickening spirit of my own blessed conception, and I returned her greeting with gratitude and reverence: "Blessed are thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb." She responded, that flawless vessel of the Lord, with one of most beautiful and glorious hymns of praise know to mankind:

"My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God, my Savior. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden; for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the might from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath helped his servant Israel in remembrance of this mercy; as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and his seed forever."

Indeed, he had done all those glorious things. But even more, He had given to mankind, His own son, and for one precious instant in eternity, He had granted to an ordinary old woman, the privilege of a personal witness that this was, indeed, the Christ -- Savior of the world. I bear to each of you this day, that same witness.


MUSICAL SELECTION: "O Holy Night"


THE MOTHER OF JOSEPH, the carpenter:

Joseph is my son. He is a quiet man, strong and steady, with eyes, wonderful eyes, kind, and gentle, and warm. When he enters our home in the evenings, with the clean scent of new wood about him and the tiny fragile shavings still slinging to the coarseness of his robe, the room, filled with his presence becomes a place of peace and contentment. And while he is not given to laughter, this serious, soft-spoken son of mine, he has nevertheless, a slow, sweet smile that transforms his face and warms the hearts of those around him. He is a good man, my Joseph, with a deep and abiding faith in God and the strength to keep His laws.

And so it was, when he thought the law had been broken, his eyes spoke of the pain his lips could not, and shadows filled his home where had been only love and light.

You see, Joseph had finished his carpenter apprenticeship and was about to take a wife. He had chosen for his own, the girl Mary, fine and gentle, as pure and as faire as the morning light. And the love they bore, these two, one for the other, made our whole world a better place to be.

And so both families agreeing, the betrothal ceremony took place. It was as binding as marriage, indeed, by law if the bridegroom should happen to die, the betrothed girl is considered a widow. If she is unfaithful, she is labeled an adulteress. And once betrothed, the only way the contract can be broken is through divorce. I tell you this that you may know the custom here in Galilee, and that you might better begin to understand what was in our hearts in the days that followed.

We were nearly ready, Joseph and I, and Mary and her family. The marriage was to have taken place a year after the betrothal and our time had been spent in carefully, lovingly furnishing the small home that was to be their own, and in preparing for the solemn reception in that home. I was so proud -- proud of my strong son, and proud of the lovely woman he had chosen to share his life.

And then, suddenly, amazingly, heartbreakingly -- Mary was with child. It was not to be believed. Not Mary. And yet it was so. I had only to look into the face of my Joseph to know that the moral agony I saw had nothing to do with rumor or doubt. To divorce or send away the woman he loved; according to Jewish law these were the only two alternatives. She could be sent away to have her child and not return to Nazareth -- hurt, humiliated. Love of the law, love of one's wife-to-be. Joseph was torn with pain and I suffered with him.

And then, like a miracle, the shadows were gone. We say little of what happened that night, for it is a private thing and not to be subjected to the doubts and jeers of a mocking world. What was said in that moment when a messenger of the Lord spoke with my son, is for him alone to know. But the purpose was plain -- this woman most dear, was infinitely worthy to become even dearer. Mary of Nazareth, most blessed among women, was to become the mother of the Messiah. With strength and dignity, filled with faith, and the desire to give his Mary as much protection and devotion as possible, Joseph married her immediately, and my heart swelled with pride.

You see, of all the souls in heaven, the Lord God had His choice of the man to be the earthly father of his only begotten son. With great care and deliberation would he have chosen a man to do the thousand, no millions, of gentle, thoughtful things a father does for a beloved son. It was Joseph, who would cradle the babe in his strong, clean, work roughened hands. Joseph who would walk with him in and through the hills and streets and into the synagogues for evening prayers and smile at him across the table.

I, like the Lord, knowing I could not be the earthly companion of my beloved, my ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, were to choose such a companion to take my place, I would choose the best, the very best. I would choose from among the kind of men I had known and respected before the foundations of this world were laid, men like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, who was sold into Egypt, Noah, Moses, Enoch, and Elijah. And yet my son, Joseph, the carpenter, was chosen to be the earthly father of Jesus, the Christ -- Savior of the World. Joseph, my son.


MUSICAL SELECTION: "When Joseph Went to Bethlehem"


THE MOTHER OF THE GIRL, MARY:

I am the mother of Mary. And yes, you are right, there is not a great deal said of me, but that is as it should be. My place in the wrap and weave of the patterns of those days is inconspicuous, unheralded, yet it is not without its moments of attending glory. For you see, it is my grandson that is called Redeemer, Savior, Jesus the Christ.

It was my daughter -- young, sweet, pure, and ever obedient to whom Gabriel appeared, my daughter to whom he said, "Hail, thou that are highly favored; the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women."

In common with other daughters of Israel, specifically those of the tribe of Judah and of known descendant from David, my Mary had contemplated with holy joy and ecstasy, the coming of the Messiah through our royal line; she knew that some Jewish maiden was yet to become the mother of the Christ.

But was it possible that the angel's words to her had reference to this supreme expectation and hope of the nation? She had little time to turn these things in her mind, for the angel continued. "Fear not Mary, for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom, there shall be no end."

Even yet she comprehended but in part the importance of this momentous visitation. Not in the spirit of doubt such as had prompted Zacharias to ask for a sign but through an earnest desire for information, she asked, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" This answer to her natural and simple inquiry was the announcement of a miracle through the operation of higher law, such as the human mind ordinarily fails to comprehend or regard possible. Mary was informed she would conceive and in time bring forth a Son, of whom no mortal man would be the father. And the angel answered and said unto her. "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."

Then the angel told her of the blessed condition of her cousin Elizabeth, who had been barren; and by way of sufficient and final explanation added, "For with God nothing shall be impossible." With gentle submissiveness and humble acceptance the pure young virgin replied, "Behold the handmaiden of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word."

His message delivered, Gabriel departed, leaving the chosen Virgin of Nazareth to ponder over her wondrous experience. My daughter's promised son was to be "The Only Begotten" of the Father in the flesh. The child Jesus was to inherit the physical, mental and spiritual traits, tendencies, and powers that characterized his parents: one, immortal and glorified -- God; the other human -- woman ... my daughter Mary.

This child, whom I had conceived and reared, for whom I had wiped tears and mended broken dolls, who had prayed at my knee and worked at my side, was to be the mother of God. I knew her better than any other person on the face of the earth, and I say to you, she was fit for her calling -- pure, stainless, infinitely good. She had the strength and courage to humbly accept not only the birth, but the crucifixion and death of her perfect son, Jesus of Nazareth. I watched him grow, both in body and spirit, and long before I was called to leave this earth, indeed, even from the very beginning, when an angel of the Lord visited our simple Galilean cottage with the greatest news ever given, I knew that the child Jesus, was, indeed, the Christ. He was my grandson. He is my Lord. I know it. I glory in it. I testify of it. And so be it forever.


MUSICAL SELECTION: "Mary, Mary, Hush, See the Child"


THE WIFE OF THE SHEPHERD:

My husband is a shepherd. And at times, in the spring of the year, when the nights are cool, and the stars hang so low in the heavens I want to reach up and pull one to me with the crooked end of my husband's staff, we go into the fields, and there, together, we watch the flocks.

There are those who say we are poor, that of the many who come and go, wander and stay in this beloved and ancient land, we are the lowliest, and the most humble. Humble? Perhaps. Indeed, it is what we desire. But poor? Oh my friend, if only I could give you the eyes to see, the heart to feel the vastness and incredible beauty of the ageless Judean hills, the deep peace and contentment we've found in this land of unspoiled solitude, the quiet, almost unspeakable joy we feel in the companionship we share, one with another, and with Almighty God. Hardly poor -- in fact, infinitely richer than the madman Herod who sits decaying with disease and corruption in his marble palace beyond the hills.

They say of Herod that within his great palace are vast treasures of gold and precious gems. And yet, I, the wife of a lowly shepherd would not part with one instant, be it so small, of the miracle that unfolded before us in the fields, not so very long ago. No, not for a hundred times, and a hundred times again the wealth of the man who dares call himself our king.

They tell of that night, that night of all nights, in a great book -- the one you call Bible. It tells in words, lovely and true of that night when worlds and eternity alike stood still, and witnessed the birth of Jesus, the Christ.

And I was there, it was I, I who stood with my heart, my soul, soaring, shivering, singing, while the glory, of the Lord shone around about. The Glory of the Lord -- there are no words to describe it. It was like -- like the very first dawning on all creation, and every dawn thereafter glowing and melting into one -- shimmering, shining, throbbing, awesome and frightening. We WERE so afraid. But then came the voice -- clear, piercing sweet, beautiful beyond description. "Unto you is born this day, in the city of David a Savior, which Christ the Lord."

And suddenly, there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men."

Like an infinite and eternal exaltation of larks they sang; sang until my heart must surely shatter and the tears ran unchecked down my cheeks and dropped unnoticed upon my clasped and trembling hands.

To you, who have read my story, and considered it a tale for fools and children, I can say only this -- from this eternity to the next, never ending to never ending -- I SAW WHAT I SAW. And I tell you the truth, as pure and clean and bright as the noonday sun. Worlds without end, it cannot, will not change.

For the humble, it is easy to believe, as we believed what we heard that night. And because we believed, we went and did see the child, lying in a manger. We saw, that night, a sight multitudes of people -- past, present and future -- kings, and commoners, princes and potentates would give their lives to see, the infant son of the Lord God Almighty.

Poor? Ours was a divine gift, a sacred treasure, to be kept deep within the heart, wondered at, pondered upon, cherished. And then to be told, in great reverence and in the quiet of night, to children, and they to theirs, generation to generation. Forever.


MUSICAL SELECTION sung by audience: "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks" (Hymns #211)


WIFE OF THE KEEPER OF AN INN:

For generations, my husband's family have been keepers of an inn here in Bethlehem. And now, together, we do the same. Ours is a small inn, humble and unpretentious, nevertheless as clean as we can make it. We take pride in our simple but carefully prepared meals, our scrubbed floors, and well-aired bedding. Sometimes there are flowers growing from our window pots and we take pleasure in our small business.

It is not a large town, this Bethlehem of Judea, and most of those calling it home are simple farmers and shepherds. And yet, still and all, it is a beloved and revered village, endeared to Jewish hearts as the birthplace of David and that of the prospective Messiah.

Each morning, for many years, I have swept clean the pack earth in front of our door, and have looked into the faces of those passing through our small village. I have seen many things there -- anger, despair, pride, acceptance, peace, selfishness, exhaustion. The faces I forgot, but the things I saw there stay with me, reminding me of how fortunate I am to be at peace -- content with my life and those things the Lord has seen fit to bestow upon me.

And then came the time of the tax rolls, the proclamation of Caesar Augustus that here shall be a taxing and registration of the house of David. It was the second of three such registrations to be held at intervals of about twenty years. Sleepy Bethlehem was not itself. Its quiet streets were choked with dust and filled with the voice of tired, hurrying people. The outer inn was filled to the rafters, and to escape for a moment, the noise, the heat and the hurry, I fled to my dooryard.

As was my custom, I stood for a moment, gazing down the street, studying the faces. There was a donkey, and leading it, a strong young man, obviously fatigued and yet different somehow. There was pride in the face -- and dignity. He was a poor man, and yet I have seen, passing my door, great men of the world, with much less a look of nobility. This was a man of the house of David, a house of kings, and here was one of the same royal lineage. Yet he was more. And then I saw the face of the young woman riding, exhausted and great with child on the back of the donkey. If the man leading the animal had about him the air of royalty, this surely was a queen. Her face was drawn with fatigue and her simple robes powdered with the fine light dust that lies thick along the roads of Judea. And yet no trace of discontent, no shadow of complaint, no faint inclination to murmur could I see.

Slowly they came closer and stopped before me. Quietly the young man asked for lodging and my heart fell. Perhaps it was because I knew so well how it is to be tired and heavy with child, but perhaps I sensed something from the young couple that drew from me a desire to comfort and serve. I don't know, but I did know that within that hot, crowded, noisy and odorous inn there was no room, no single corner fit for the birth of a child -- any child -- but especially this child.

My mind raced. My own room? Impossible. It was crowded already with my own children and members of my family who had come to pay the same tax. The sheds behind? No again, they were small and dark, overrun with mice, dirty with disuse. But there was a stable -- the shelter we kept for our animals in the hills behind the inn. There would be clean sweet straw, open areas to admit freshness and light, but most of all, peace and privacy.

And so it was to a humble stable I led them -- these two extraordinary young people. And having done for them what I could, I left them to rest and returned to the inn.

Evening came, following it, the night -- that night. The night foretold for centuries, hoped for, prayed for, whispered of around campfires and in synagogues, during wars, under oppression, on death beds. For on that night, made glorious by a burning and brilliant star and the voices of the hosts of heaven itself, was born in my stable, the Son of God, the Redeemer of all mankind, the Savior of the world -- Jesus the Christ.

I saw him, lying still and small, in a common manager. I stood by while humble shepherds filled with the power and perception of the Holy Spirit bore witness that it was, indeed, the Messiah. I stood in the shadows, gazed at the radiance of his person, the indescribable look of joy and peace and love that transfigured the face of his mother and that of Joseph, the man chosen to care for him. I was, and I bear solemn testimony -- irrefutable, unshakable, even till death, that I saw born to Mary the virgin, the son of the highest, the only begotten of the Eternal Father -- Jesus, the Christ.

The rise and fall of dynasties, the birth and dissolution of nations, all the cycles of history as to war and peace, as to prosperity or famine, the awful happenings of earthquakes and storms, the triumphs of invention and discovery, the epochs of all the occurrences that make history are chronicled throughout the world by reference to the year before or after that night -- the birth of Jesus Christ.

A man never lived of whom more has been said and sung, none to whom is devoted a greater proportion of the world's literature. He is extolled by Christian, Muslim and Jew, by skeptic and infidel, by the world's greatest poets, philosophers, statesmen, scientists and historians. Even the profane sinner in the foul sacrilege of his oath acclaims the divine supremacy of Him whose name he desecrates.

I saw born that night, in the city of David, the one who was, and is, and always will be for eternity and ever , the son of the Living God, the Redeemer and Savior of the human race, the Eternal Judge of the souls of men, the chosen and appointed of the Eternal -- in short, the Christ. It is my solemn witness.


MUSICAL SELECTION: "Baby in a Manger"


THE MOTHER OF THE CHILD JESUS:

Yes, I am Mary, and yes, Jesus is my son. Indeed, blessed am I among women.

My story is an old one, told and retold from before time began and once again here today by those women whom I love so well. It is a story of spirit, rather than history, and its simple and inspiring truth must and will be manifest by the Holy Spirit rather than by the words of men.

I am a woman, much as the women among you, gifted with the divine opportunity of forming a partnership with God in providing a mortal temple for the spirits of his children. It is a sacred thing, motherhood, whether it concerns the Christ or anyone of the infinitely precious spirits sent to many of you. Sacred, holy and beautiful beyond description. For in the pure and undefiled love a mother for a child, mankind comes closer to approaching the love of God, than at any other time.


CLOSING HYMN: "Silent Night" (Hymns #204)


Notes from Kathy Fowkes:

When this was done for the Relief Society Christmas program, each woman wore a plain piece of cloth (about 4 or 5 feet long) over her head and across her shoulders. The women were seated together on the front row. One by one they took a seat facing the audience and read their parts. The simple head coverings made them equal and covered the modern day dress they were wearing for Christmas.

Since this is about women, it would also be appropriate for a Relief Society Mother's Day program, as well as for a Christmas program. The music selections were played on the piano, but might have been vocal performances or both.

So far no one has been able to determine who wrote this. Thanks to the unknown author who created this and may the person someday know how it has been enjoyed by many sisters.


TRY FAMILY THEATRE
"A CHILD IS BORN"
Mabel Jones Gabbott


How may the Christmas story acquire shape and reality for family members? One way is by using this reader's theater, in which the characters of the Bible share their thoughts on this sacred event. Families may add more characters, use props and sets, simplify, and develop ... the possibilities are endless.


JOSEPH:

Merciful God!

She is preserved.

Thy son is born.

How wondrous are thy ways;

How wise!

The Son of God, born of a virgin,

as the angel said,

For truly I knew her not.


How beautiful Mary looks

No weariness is in her now,

But a radiance past all believing.


Strange, indeed, that Caesar's own decree

should bring us this long way --

"And thou Bethlehem," it is written.


Mary was so weary,

and no room

but this lowly stable.


"That all might be fulfilled."


INNKEEPERS WIFE:

But there was no room;

we were crowded, overflowing,

Besides, she had no place

among that noisy crowd.

There would be no quiet for her coming labor,

for she was large with child.

She looked so pale and wan; her time was near.


I would gladly have made room at the inn,

But where was peace for her in all that merrymaking.


Yet, my husband would have turned them away.


I am glad the stable

where I found them rest

was sweet and clean.


SHEPHERD:

It was here we stood,

upon this hill,

We were not asleep.

The flocks were restless,

Perhaps they sensed the difference in the night.

For suddenly the sky was filled with radiance,

And the angel of the Lord came upon us,

The glory of the Lord shone round about us,

And we were sore afraid.


Had I been alone, I might

have doubted its reality,

But it was true.


We heard the angel say,

"Unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior."

We heard it!


And we saw the multitude of the heavenly host,

We heard them praising God.


"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth

peace, good will toward men!"


Oh, I am glad I went to Bethlehem

and saw the holy Child

wrapped in swaddling clothes

and lying in a manger --

the Savior, Christ the Lord.

How great for him to come so humbly to his own.


MARY:

It is over.

These long precious months he has been

heartbeat of my heart

and breath of my being.

Now he is here,

And he is whole and perfect.

I have borne a son.


That he is the Son of God is no less miracle

to me, than any who believe it so,

Oh, every birth is a little miracle --

a miracle of faith and love

and God's own wondrous working.


Yet none so great as this:


For Gabriel said, "That holy thing which shall be

born of thee shall be called the Son of God."


I wonder why this humble place -- this stable.

Does it portend the life of God's own son

among the lowly ones of earth?


Perhaps.


Yet kings will bow before him,

And wise men listen to his word

And little children love him.


The babe is quiet now.

Already my moment fades.


Let earth receive her king.

The Son of God is born.


WISE MEN (MAGI):

We beheld a flood of sudden light

breaking in glory,

quickening even endless space.


Magnetically the star, unparalleled,

led us from the east.

Impelled by study long and searching,

we gathered myrrh and frankincense and

gold, and hastened over desert dune and drift,

seeking always the heaven's foretold gift.


"Where is he," we asked, "That is born king

of the Jews?"


But Herod feigned no knowledge,

No sudden news of miracle or light or chosen being.


Until his chief priests and his scribes,

seeing we sought the truth,

remembered they had heard,

"In Bethlehem of Judea."


"Bring me word," said Herod, "When you have

found him, that I may worship, too."


And there in the house

we found the young child with Mary his mother,

and we knelt down

and worshipped him.


But we left another way,

returning to our own far land,

being warned in dreams what Herod planned.


He was the King.

We had seen his star in the east;

We came and worshipped him in Bethlehem.


We saw the King, foretold to save all earth.


TWO WITNESSES OF JESUS' BIRTH


(You can do this program with your family or friends for Christmas. As you tell the story, show the scenes, using a shadow box and the silhouettes pictured here. Or make living scenes by dressing like the characters in the program.)

(Instructions for shadow box and silhouette figures: Stretch and tack muslin on a piece of unpatterned bed sheet unto a picture frame. Or two people could hold a sheet tightly between them. Mount the silhouettes on cardboard and cut out. Using hot glue or clay, attach small dowels at right angles to the backs of the silhouettes. Light the fabric from behind and from the sides with a clip-on light or an overhead or a slide projector. The audience will see the silhouettes as soon as they touch the fabric.)


(Optional: Silhouette figures could be enlarged.)


Song: "Christmas Bells (Children's Songbook, page 54)


Child: Christmas is a happy time,

A time of joy and mirth.

When people all throughout the world

Proclaim the Savior's birth.


(Silhouette figure: Babe in Manger)


Child: Many years before He came

The prophets did foretell

That Jesus Christ, the Son of God,

Would come on earth to dwell.


(Silhouette figures: Add Bible and Book of Mormon.)


Child: The Bible tells of Jesus' birth;

The Book of Mormon, too --

Two witnesses that Christ was born,

And we know that they are true.


Child: Both scriptures tell that Jesus Christ

Would be the Baby's name.

Although the books are different

The truth is just the same.


(Silhouette figures: Nephi, Babe in manger)


Narrator 1: In the Book of Mormon the prophet Nephi testifies: "For according to the words of the prophets, the Messiah cometh in six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem; and ... his name shall be Jesus Christ" (2 Nephi 25:19).


(Silhouette figures: Angel, Joseph)


Narrator 2: In the Bible an angel appeared in a dream to Joseph, Mary's husband, and said: "[Mary] shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS" (Matthew 1:21).


Song: "Oh, Hush Thee, My Baby" (Children's Songbook, page 48)


(Silhouette figures: Mary, Babe in manger.)


Child: The mother of our Savior was

A virgin, pure and fair.

Her baby was the Son of God

The scriptures both declare.


(Silhouette figures: Isaiah, Mary, Babe in manger, angel)


Narrator 2: In the Bible we learn from the prophet Isaiah: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son" (Isaiah 7:14). And an angel told Mary: "That holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35)


(Silhouette figures: Nephi, Mary, Babe in manger)


Narrator 1: The prophet Nephi in the Book of Mormon tells us: "I beheld a virgin, and she was ... most beautiful and fair above all other virgins ... [And she was} the mother of the Son of God." (1 Nephi 11:13, 15, 18)


Song: "Who Is the Child?" (Chidren's Songbook, page 46)


Child: The scriptures testify that signs

Would tell of Jesus' birth.

The people knew when they appeared

That Christ would come to earth.


(Silhouette figures: Shepherds, sheep, angel)


Narrator 2: In Luke we read: "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night ... And the angel said unto them, ... "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." (Luke 2:8, 10-12)


(Silhouette figures: Star, Wise Men on camels)


Narrator 2: In Matthew we read about the sign of the star: "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem ... behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him ... And, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy." (Matthew 2:1-2, 9-10)


(Silhouette figures: Samuel on city wall; sun rising, setting, and rising again; star)


Narrator 1: In the Book of Mormon, Samuel the Lamanite stood upon the city wall and proclaimed: "And behold, this will I give unto you for a sign at the time of his coming; ... there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night; ... for ye shall know of the rising of the sun and also of its setting; ... 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." (Helaman 14:3-5)


Song: First verse of "Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus" (Children's Songbook, page 36).


(Silhouette figure: Book of Mormon)


Narrator 1: In the Book of Mormon, we read that the night before His birth, the voice of the Savior declared: "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 fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets." (3 Nephi 1:13)


(Silhouette figures: angels)


Child: The angels sang of peace on earth;

They sang o'er Bethlehem.

And in the Book of Mormon

There was peace, good will toward men.


(Silhouette figures: Bible, Book of Mormon, entire manger scene)


Child: Yes, the Bible tells of Jesus' birth,

The Book of Mormon, too --

Two witnesses that Christ was born,

And we know that they are true.


Song: "Joy to the World" (Hymns, no. 201)

(Friend, December 1988, pages 8-9)


MUSICALS


JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR


Heaven on Their Minds


(Judas)

My mind is clearer now.

At last all too well I can see where we all soon will be.

If you strip away the myth from the man,

You will see where we all soon will be.

Jesus!

You've started to believe

The things they say of you.

You really do believe

This talk of God is true.

And all the good you've done

Will soon be swept away.

You've begun to matter more than the things you say.


Listen Jesus I don't like what I see.

All I ask is that you listen to me.

And remember, I've been your right hand man all along.

You have set them all on fire.

They think they've found the new Messiah,

And they'll hurt you when they find they're wrong.


I remember when this whole thing began.

No talk of God then, we called you a man.

And believe me my admiration for you hasn't died.

But every word you say today

Gets twisted 'round some other way.

And they'll hurt you if they think you've lied.


Nazareth, your famous son should have stayed a great unknown

Like his father carving wood

He'd have made good.

Tables, chairs and oaken chests would have suited Jesus best.

He'd have caused nobody harm, no one alarm.


Listen Jesus, do you care for your race?

Don't you see we must keep in our place?

We are occupied; have you forgotten how put down we are?

I am frightened by the crowd.

For we are getting much too loud.

And they'll crush us if we go too far.


Listen Jesus to the warning I give.

Please remember that I want us to live.

But it's sad to see our chances weakening with every hour.

All your followers are blind.

Too much heaven on their minds.

It was beautiful, but now it's sour.

Yes it's all gone sour ...


WHAT'S THE BUZZ


(Apostles)

What's the buzz?

Tell me what's a-happening.

What's the buzz?

Tell me what's a-happening.

What's the buzz?

Tell me what's a-happening.

What's the buzz?

Tell me what's a-happening.

What's the buzz?

Tell me what's a-happening.

What's the buzz?

Tell me what's a-happening.

What's the buzz?

Tell me what's a-happening.

What's the buzz?

Tell me what's a-happening.


(Jesus)

Why should you want to know?

Don't you mind about the future?

Don't you try to think ahead?

Save tomorrow for tomorrow;

Think about today instead.


(Apostles)

What's the buzz?

Tell me what's happening.

What's the buzz?

Tell me what's a-happening.


(Jesus)

I could give you facts and figures.

Even give you plans and forecasts.

Even tell you where I'm going.


(Apostles)

When do we ride into Jerusalem?

When do we ride into Jerusalem?

When do we ride into Jerusalem?

When do we ride into Jerusalem?


(Jesus)

Why should you want to know?

Why are you obsessed with fighting

Times and fates you can't defy?

If you knew the path we're riding,

You'd understand it less than I.


(Apostles)

What's the buzz?

Tell me what's happening. (Repeat many times)


(Mary Magdalene)

Let me try to cool down your face a bit.

Let me try to cool down your face a bit.

Let me try to cool down your face a bit.

Let me try to cool down your face a bit.

Let me try to cool down your face a bit.


(Jesus)

Mary that is good,

While you prattle through your supper,

Where and when and who and how.

She alone has tried to give me

What I need right here and now.


(Apostles)

What's the buzz?

Tell me what's happening.

What's the buzz?

Tell me what's happening.

What's the buzz?

Tell me what's happening.

What's the buzz?

Tell me what's happening.


STRANGE THINGS MYSTIFYING


(Judas)

It seems to me a strange thing, mystifying

That a man like you can waste his time on women of her kind.


(Simon)

Hey, cool it man.


(Judas)

Yes, I can understand that she amuses,

But to let her kiss you, stroke your hair, that's hardly in your line.

It's not that I object to her profession,

But she doesn't fit in well with what you teach and say.

It doesn't help us if you're inconsistent.

Hey only need a small excuse to put us all away.


(Jesus)

Who are you to criticise her?

Who are you to despise her?

Leave her, leave her, let her be now.

Leave her, leave her, she's with me now.

If your slate is clean, then you can throw stones.

If your slate is not, then leave her alone.

I'm amazed that men like you can be so shallow, thick and slow

There is not a man among you who know or cares if I come or go.


(Apostles)

No, you're wrong!

You're very wrong!

No, you're wrong!

You're very wrong!

No, you're wrong!

You're very wrong!

No, you're wrong!

You're very wrong!

How can you say that?

How can you say that?

How can you say that?

How can you say that?


(Jesus)

Not one, not one of you!


THEN WE ARE DECIDED


(Caiaphas)

We've been sitting on the fence for far too long.


(Annas)

Why let him upset us?

Caiaphas, let him be.

All those imbeciles will see,

He really doesn't matter.


(Caiaphas)

Jesus is important,

We've let him go his way before.

And while he starts a major war,

We theorize and chatter.


(Annas)

He's just another scripture thumping hack from Galilee.


(Caiaphas)

The difference is they call him King,

The difference frightens me!

What about the Romans?

When they see King Jesus crowned,

Do you think they'll stand around,

Cheering, and applauding?

What about our people?

If they see we've lost our nerve,

Don't you think that they deserve,

Something more rewarding.


(Annas)

They've got what they want,

They think so, anyway.

If he's what they want,

Why take their toy away?

He's a craze!


(Caiaphas)

Put yourself in my place,

I can hardly step aside.

Can not let my hands be tied.

I am law and order.

What about our priesthood?

Don't you see that we could fall?

If we are to last at all,

We can not be divided.


(Annas)

Then say so to the council,

But don't rely on subtlety.

Frighten them, or they won't see.


(Caiaphas)

Then we are decided?


(Annas

Then we are decided.


EVERYTHING'S ALL RIGHT


(Mary Magdalene)

Try not to get worried, try not to turn on to

Problems that upset you, oh.

Don't you know

Everything's all right, yes, everything's fine.

And we want you to sleep well tonight.

Let the world turn without you tonight.

If we try, we'll get by, so forget all about us tonight


(Apostles' Wives)

Everything's all right, yes, everything's all right, yes.


(Mary Magdalene)

Sleep and I shall soothe you, calm you, and anoint you.

Myrrh for your hot forehead, oh.

Then you'll feel

Everything's all right, yes, everything's fine.

And it's cool, and the ointment's sweet

For the fire in your head and feet.

Close your eyes, close your eyes

And relax, think of nothing tonight.


(Apostles' Wives)

Everything's all right, yes, everything's all right, yes.


(Judas)

Woman your fine ointment, brand new and expensive

Should have been saved for the poor.

Why has it been wasted? We could have raised maybe

Three hundred silver pieces or more.

People who are hungry, people who are starving

They matter more than your feet and hair!


(Mary Magdalene)

Try not to get worried, try not to turn on to

Problems that upset you, oh.

Don't you know


(Apostles' Wives and Mary)

Everything's all right, yes, everything's all right, yes.


(Jesus)

Surely you're not saying we have the resources

To save the poor from their lot?

There will be poor always, pathetically struggling.

Look at the good things you've got.

Think while you still have me!

Move while you still see me!

You'll be lost, and you'll be sorry when I'm gone.


(Mary Magdalene)

Sleep and I shall soothe you, calm you and anoint you.

Myrrh for your hot forehead

Then you'll feel

Everything's all right, yes, everything's fine.

And it's cool and the ointment's sweet

For the fire in your head and feet.

Close your eyes, close your eyes, and relax

Think of nothing tonight.


(Apostles' Wives)

Everything's all right, yes, everything's all right, yes.


(Mary Magdalene)

Close your eyes, close your eyes, and relax


THIS JESUS MUST DIE


(Priest 1)

Good Caiaphas, the council waits for you.

The Pharisees and priests are here for you.


(Caiaphas)

Ah gentlemen, you know why we are here.

We've not much time, and quite a problem here


(Mob)

Hosanna! Superstar!

Hosanna! Superstar!

Hosanna! Superstar!

Hosanna! Superstar!


(Annas)

Listen to that howling mob of blockheads in the street!

A trick or two with lepers, and the whole town's on its feet.


(All the Priests)

He is dangerous!


(Mob)

Jesus Christ Superstar!


(All the Priests)

He is dangerous!


(Mob)

Tell us that you're who they say you are.


(Priest 2)

The man is in town right now to whip up some support.


(Priest 3)

A rabble rousing mission that I think we must abort.


(All the Priests)

He is dangerous!


(Mob)

Jesus Christ Superstar!


(All the Priests)

He is dangerous!


(Priest 2)

Look Caiaphas, they're right outside our yard.


(Priest 3)

Quick Caiaphas, go call the Roman guard.


(Caiaphas)

No, wait!

We need a more permanent solution to our problem.


(Annas)

What then to do about Jesus of Nazareth?

Miracle wonderman, hero of fools.


(Priest 3)

No riots, no army, no fighting, no slogans.


(Caiaphas)

One thing I'll say for him -- Jesus is cool.


(Annas)

We dare not leave him to his own devices.

His half-witted fans will get out of control.


(Priests)

But how can we stop him?

His glamour increases

By leaps every minute; he's top of the poll.


(Caiaphas)

I see bad things arising.

The crowd crown him king; which the Romans would ban.

I see blood and destruction,

Our elimination because of one man.

Blood and destruction because of one man.


(All the Priests)

Because, because, because of one man.


(Caiaphas)

Our elimination because of one man.


(All the Priests)

Because, because, because of one, 'cause of one, 'cause of one man.


(Priest 3)

What then to do about this Jesus-mania?


(Annas)

Now how to we deal with a carpenter king?


(Priests)

Where do we start with a man who is bigger

Than John was when John did his baptism thing?


(Caiaphas)

Fools, you have no perception!

The stakes we are gambling are frighteningly high!

We must crush him completely,

So like John before him, this Jesus must die.

For the sake of the nation, this Jesus must die.


(All the Priests)

Must die, must die, this Jesus must die.


(Caiaphas)

So like John before him, this Jesus must die.


(All the Priests)

Must die, must die, this Jesus must, Jesus must, Jesus must die!


HOSANNA


(Crowd)

Hosanna

Hey Sanna Sanna Sanna Hosanna

Hey Sanna Hosanna

Hey JC, JC won't you smile at me?

Sanna Hosanna

Hey Superstar


(Caiaphas)

Tell the rabble to be quiet, we anticipate a riot.

This common crowd, is much too loud.

Tell the mob who sing your song that they are fools and they are wrong.

They are a curse. They should disperse.


(Crowd)

Hosanna

Hey Sanna Sanna Sanna Hosanna

Hey Sanna Hosanna

Hey JC, JC you're alright by me

Sanna Hosanna

Hey Superstar


(Jesus)

Why waste your breath moaning at the crowd?

Nothing can be done to stop the shouting.

If every tongue were stilled

The noise would still continue.

The rocks and stone themselves would start to sing:


(Crowd and Jesus)

Hosanna

Hey Sanna Sanna Sanna Hosanna

Hey Sanna Hosanna


(Crowd)

Hey JC, JC won't you fight for me?

Sanna Hosanna Hey Superstar


(Jesus)

Sing me your songs,

But not for me alone.

Sing out for yourselves,

For you are bless-ed.

There is not one of you

Who can not win the kingdom.

The slow, the suffering,

The quick, the dead.


(Crowd and Jesus)

Hosanna

Hey Sanna Sanna Sanna Hosanna

Hey Sanna Hosanna


(Crowd)

Hey JC, JC won't you die for me?

Sanna Hosanna Hey Superstar


SIMON ZEALOTES


(Crowd and Simon)

Christ you know I love you.

Did you see I waved?

I believe in you and God

So tell me that I'm saved.

Christ you know I love you.

Did you see I waved?

I believe in you and God

So tell me that I'm saved.


(Crowd)

Jesus I am with you.

Touch me, touch me, Jesus.

Jesus I am on your side.

Kiss me, kiss me, Jesus.


(Simon)

Christ, what more do you need to convince you

That you've made it, and you're easily as strong

As the filth from Rome who rape our country,

And who've terrorized our people for so long.


(Crowd)

Jesus I am with you.

Touch me, touch me, Jesus.

Jesus I am on your side.

Kiss me, kiss me, Jesus.


(Crowd and Simon)

Christ you know I love you.

Did you see I waved?

I believe in you and God,

So tell me that I'm saved.


Christ you know I love you.

Did you see I waved?

I believe in you and God,

So tell me that I'm saved.


Christ you know I love you.

Did you see I waved?

I believe in you and God,

So tell me that I'm saved.


Christ you know I love you.

Did you see I waved?

I believe in you and God,

So tell me that I'm saved.


(Crowd)

Jesus I am with you.

Touch me, touch me, Jesus.

Jesus I am on your side.

Kiss me, kiss me, Jesus.


(Simon)

There must be over fifty thousand,


(Crowd)

Fifty thousand!


(Simon)

Screaming love and more for you.


(Crowd)

Love! Love! Love!


(Simon)

And everyone of fifty thousand

Would do whatever you asked them to.


(Crowd)

Go, Simon!


(Simon)

Keep them yelling their devotion,

But add a touch of hate at Rome.

You will rise to a greater power.

We will win ourselves a home.

You'll get the power and the glory


(Crowd)

You'll get the glory


(Simon)

For ever and ever and ever


(Crowd)

Ever and ever


(Simon)

You'll get the power and the glory


(Crowd)

You'll get the power


(Simon)

For ever and ever and ever


(Crowd)

Ever and ever


(Simon)

You'll get the power and the glory


(Crowd)

You'll get the power


(Simon)

For ever and ever and ever


(Crowd)

You'll get the glory


(Simon)

You'll get the power, you'll get the glory

You'll get the power, you'll get the glory


(Crowd)

You'll get the power


(Simon)

You'll get the power, you'll get the glory

Yeah!


(Crowd)

You'll get the glory


(Simon)

You ...


(Crowd)

You'll get the power


(Simon)

You'll get the power, you'll get the glory

You'll get the power, you'll get the glory


(Crowd)

You'll get the glory


(Simon)

You'll get the power, you'll get the glory

Yeah!


(Crowd)

You'll get the power


(Simon)

You ...


(Crowd)

You'll get the power,

Forever Amen!


(Crowd and Simon)

Amen!


POOR JERUSALEM


(Jesus)

Neither you, Simon, nor the fifty thousand,

Nor the Romans, nor the Jews,

Nor Judas, nor the twelve

Nor the priests, nor the scribes,

Nor doomed Jerusalem itself

Understand what power is,

Understand what glory is,

Understand at all,

Understand at all.


If you knew all that I knew, my poor Jerusalem,

You'd see the truth, but you close your eyes.

But you close your eyes.

While you live, your troubles are many, poor Jerusalem.

To conquer death, you only have to die.

You only have to die.


PILATE'S DREAM


(Pilate)

I dreamed I met a Galilean;

A most amazing man.

He had that look you very rarely find:

The haunting, hunted kind.


I asked him to say what had happened,

How it all began.

I asked again, he never said a word.

As if he hadn't heard.


And next, the room was full of wild and angry men.

They seemed to hate this man.

They fell on him, and then

Disappeared again.


Then I saw thousands of millions

Crying for this man.

And then I heard them mentioning my name,

And leaving me the blame.


(Choir)

Pilate.


THE TEMPLE


(Moneychangers and Merchants)

Roll on up Jerusalem,

Come on in Jerusalem,

Sunday here we go again,

Live in me Jerusalem.


Here you live Jerusalem,

Here you breathe Jerusalem,

While your temple still survives,

You at least are still alive.


I got things you won't believe,

Name your pleasure I will sell.

I can fix your wildest needs,

I got heaven and I got hell.


Roll on up, for my price is down.

Come on in for the best in town.

Take your pick of the finest wine.

Lay your bets on this bird of mine.


What you see is what you get.

No one's been disappointed yet.

Don't be scared give me a try,

There is nothing you can't buy.


Name your price, I got everything.

Hurry it's going fast.

Borrow cash on the finest terms.

Hurry now while stocks still last.


Roll on up Jerusalem,

Come on in Jerusalem,

Sunday here we go again,

Live in me Jerusalem.


Here you live Jerusalem,

Here you breathe Jerusalem,

While your temple still survives,

You at least are still alive.


I got things you won't believe,

Name your pleasure I will sell.

I can fix your ...


(screaming)


(Jesus)

My temple should be a house of prayer,

But you have made it a den of thieves.

Get out! Get out!


My time is almost through.

Little left to do.

After all, I've tried for three years.

Seems like thirty, seems like thirty.


(Lepers)

See my eyes, I can hardly see.

See me stand, I can hardly walk.

I believe you can make me whole.

See my tongue, I can hardly talk.


See my skin, I'm a mass of blood.

See my legs, I can hardly stand.

I believe you can make me well.

See my purse, I'm a poor, poor man.


Will you touch, will you mend me Christ?

Won't you touch, will you heal me Christ?

Will you kiss, you can cure me Christ?

Won't you kiss, won't you pay me Christ?


See my eyes, I can hardly see.

See me stand, I can hardly walk.

I believe you can make me whole.

See my tongue, I can hardly talk.


See my skin, I'm a mass of blood.

See my legs, I can hardly stand.

I believe you can make me well.

See my purse, I'm a poor, poor man.


Will you touch, will you mend me Christ?

Won't you touch, will you heal me Christ?

Will you kiss, you can cure me Christ?

Won't you kiss, won't you pay me Christ?


(Jesus)

There's too many of you ... Don't push me.

There's too little of me ... Don't crowd me.

Leave me alone!


I DON'T KNOW HOW TO LOVE HIM


(Mary Magdalene)

I don't know how to love him

What to do, how to move him

I've been changed, yes really changed

In these past few days

When I've seen myself

I seem like someone else


I don't know how to take this

I don't see why he moves me

He a man, he's just a man

And I've had so many men before

In very many ways

He's just one more


Should I bring him down?

Should I scream and shout?

Should I speak of love?

Let my feelings out?


I never thought I'd come to this

What's it all about?


Don't you think its rather funny

That I should be in this position?

I'm the one who's always been

So calm so cool

No lover's fool

Running every show

He scares me so


I never thought I'd come to this

What's it all about?


Yet, if he said he loved me

I'd be lost, I'd be frightened

I couldn't cope, just couldn't cope

I'd turn my head, I'd back away

I wouldn't want to know

He scares me so

I want him so

I love him so


DAMNED FOR ALL TIME/BLOOD MONEY


(Judas)

Now if I help you

It matters that you see

This sorta kind of things are coming hard to me

It's taken me some time

To work out what to do

I waited the whole thing up

Before I came to you

I have not thought at all

about my own reward

I really didn't come here

Of my own accord

Just don't say I'm

Damned for all time!


I came because I had to

I'm the one who saw

Jesus can't control it

Like he did before

And furthermore I know

That Jesus thinks so too

Jesus wouldn't mind that I was here with you

I have not thought at all

about my own reward

I really didn't come here

Of my own accord

Just don't say I'm

Damned for all time!


Annas, you're a friend

A holy man and wise

Caiaphas, my friend

I know you sympathise


Why are we the prophets?

Why are we the ones?

Who see the sad solution

Now what must be done?

I have not thought at all

about my own reward

I really didn't come here

Of my own accord

Just don't say I'm

Damned for all time!


(Annas)

Cut the protesting

Forget the excuses

We want information

Get up off the floor


(Caiaphas)

We have the papers

We need to arrest him


You know his movements

We know the law


(Annas)

Your help in this matter

Won't go unrewarded


(Caiaphas)

We'll pay you in silver

Cash on the nail

We just need to know

Where the soldiers can find him

With no crowd around him

Then we can't fail


(Judas)

I don't want your blood money


(Caiaphas)

Oh, that doesn't matter

Our expenses are good


(Judas)

I don't need your blood money


(Annas)

But you might as well take it

We think that you should


(Caiaphas)

Think of the things

You can do with that money

Choose any charity

Give to the poor

We've noted your motives

We've noted your feelings

This isn't blood money

It's --


(Annas) (spoken)

A fee


(Caiaphas)

A fee nothing more


(Judas)

On Thursday night

You'll find him where you want him

Far from the crowds

In the garden of Gethesmene


(Chorus)

Well done Judas

Good old Judas


THE LAST SUPPER


(Apostles)

Look at all my trials and tribulations

Sinking in a gentle pool of wine.

Don't disturb me now, I can see the answers

'Till this evening is this morning, life is fine.


Always hoped that I'd be an apostle.

Knew that I would make it if I tried.

Then when we retire, we can write the Gospels,

So they'll still talk about us when we've died.


(Jesus)

The end...is just a little harder, when brought about by friends.

For all you care, this wine could be my blood.

For all you care, this bread could be my body.


The end ... This is my blood you drink.

This is my body you eat.

If you would remember me when you eat and drink.


I must be mad thinking I'll be remembered.

Yes, I must be out of my head.

Look at your blank faces. My name will mean nothing

Ten minutes after I'm dead.

One of you denies me.

One of you betrays me.


(Apostles)

No! No! Not I!


(Jesus)

Peter will deny me.


(Peter)

No! Not me!


(Jesus)

In just a few hours.

Three times will deny me,

And that's not all I see.

One of you here dining,

One of my twelve chosen

Will leave to betray me.


(Judas)

Cut up the dramatics!

You know very well who.


(Jesus)

Why don't you go do it?


(Judas)

You want me to do it!


(Jesus)

Hurry, they are waiting.


(Judas)

If you knew why I do it


(Jesus)

I don't care why you do it!


(Judas)

To think I admired you.

Well now I despise you.


(Jesus)

You liar. You Judas.


(Judas)

You wanted me to do it!

What if I just stayed here

And ruined your ambition.

Christ you deserve it.


(Jesus)

Hurry, you fool. Hurry and go.

Save me your speeches,

I don't want to know. Go!


(Apostles)

Look at all my trials and tribulations

Sinking in a gentle pool of wine.

What's that in the bread? It's gone to my head,

'Till this morning is this evening, life is fine.

Always hoped that I'd be an apostle.

Knew that I would make it if I tried.

Then when we retire, we can write the Gospels,

So they'll all talk about us when we've died.


(Judas)

You sad, pathetic man, see where you've brought us to,

Our ideals die around us and all because of you.

But the saddest cut of all:

Someone has to turn you in.

Like a common criminal, like a wounded animal.

A jaded mandarin,

A jaded mandarin,

Like a jaded, faded, faded, jaded, jaded mandarin.


(Jesus)

Get out they're waiting! Get out!

They're waiting, Oh, they are waiting for you!


(Judas)

Every time I look at you I don't understand

Why you let the things you did get so out of hand.

You'd have managed better if you had it planned ...

Oh ...


(Apostles)

Always hoped that I'd be an apostle.

Knew that I would make it if I tried.

Then when we retire, we can write the Gospels,

So they'll still talk about us when we've died.


(Jesus)

Will no one stay awake with me?

Peter, John, James?

Will none of you wait with me?

Peter, John, James?


GETHSEMANE (I ONLY WANT TO SAY)


(Jesus)

I only want to say,

If there is a way,

Take this cup away from me

For I don't want to taste its poison.

Feel it burn me,

I have changed.

I'm not as sure, as when we started.


Then, I was inspired.

Now, I'm sad and tired.

Listen, surely I've exceeded expectations,

Tried for three years, seems like thirty.

Could you ask as much from any other man?


But if I die,

See the saga through and do the things you ask of me,

Let them hate me, hit me, hurt me, nail me to their tree.


I'd want to know, I'd want to know, My God,

I'd want to know, I'd want to know, My God,

Want to see, I'd want to see, My God,

Want to see, I'd want to see, My God,


Why I should die.

Would I be more noticed than I ever was before?

Would the things I've said and done matter any more?


I'd have to know, I'd have to know, my Lord,

Have to know, I'd have to know, my Lord,

Have to see, I'd have to see, my Lord,

Have to see, I'd have to see, my Lord,

If I die what will be my reward?

If I die what will be my reward?

Have to know, I'd have to know, my Lord,

I'd have to know, I'd have to know, my Lord,


Why should I die? Oh why should I die?

Can you show me now that I would not be killed in vain?

Show me just a little of your omnipresent brain.

Show me there's a reason for your wanting me to die.

You're far to keen and where and how, but not so hot on why.

Alright, I'll die!

Just watch me die!

See how I die!


Then I was inspired.

Now, I'm sad and tired.

After all, I've tried for three years, seems like ninety.

Why then am I scared to finish what I started,

What you started -- I didn't start it.


God, thy will is hard,

But you hold every card.

I will drink your cup of poison.

Nail me to your cross and break me,

Bleed me, beat me,

Kill me.

Take me, now!

Before I change my mind.


THE ARREST


(Judas)

There he is

They're all asleep, the fools


(Jesus)

Judas, must you betray me

With a kiss?


(Peter and Apostles)

What's the buzz

Tell me what's happening

Hang on Lord

We're gonna fight for you


(Jesus)

Put away your sword

Don't you know that it's all over

It was nice but now it's gone

Why are you obsessed with fighting?

Stick to fishing from now on


(Crowd)

Tell me Christ how you feel tonight

Do you plan to put up a fight?

Do you feel that you've had the breaks?

What would you say were your big mistakes?

Do you think that you may retire?

Did you think you would get much higher?

How do you view your coming trial?

Have your men proved all worthwhile?


Come with us to see Caiaphas

You'll just love the high priest's house

You'll just love seeing Caiaphas

You'll just die in the high priest's house


Come on God this is not like you

Let us know what you're gonna do

You know what your supporters feel

You'll escape in the final reel


Tell me Christ how you feel tonight

Do you plan to put up a fight?

Do you feel that you've had the breaks?

What would you say were your big mistakes?


Come with us to see Caiaphas

You just love the high priest's house

You just love seeing Caiaphas

You'll just die in the high priest's house


Now we have him, now we got him

Now we have him, now we got him


(Caiaphas)

Jesus you must realize

The serious charges facing you

You say you're the son of God

In all your handouts

Well is it true?


(Jesus)

That's what you say

You say that I am


(Annas)

Now that we have the gentleman

What more evidence do we need?

Judas, thank you for the victim

Stay a while and you'll see him bleed!


(Crowd)

Now we have him, now we got him

Take him to Pilate, take him to Pilate


PETER'S DENIAL


(Maid by the fire)

I think I've seen you somewhere.

I remember.

You were with that man they took away.

I recognize your face.


(Peter)

You've got the wrong man lady.

I don't know him,

And I wasn't where he was tonight

Never near the place.


(Soldier)

That's strange, for I am sure I saw you with with him.

You were right by his side, and yet you denied.


(Peter)

I tell you I was never with him.


(Old Man)

But I saw you too.

He looked just like you.


(Peter)

I don't know him!


(Mary Magdalene)

Peter, don't you know what you have said?

You've gone and cut him dead.


(Peter)

I had to do it, don't you see?

Or else they'd go for me.


(Mary Magdalene)

It's what he told us you would do.

I wonder how he knew.


PILATE AND CHRIST


(Pilate)

Who is this broken man, cluttering up my hallway?

Who is this unfortunate?


(Soldier)

Someone Christ,

King of the Jews.


(Pilate)

Oh, so this is Jesus Christ,

I am really quite surprised.

You look so small,

Not a king at all.

We all know that you are news,

But are you king?

King of the Jews?


(Jesus)

Your words, not mine.


(Pilate)

What do you mean by that?

That is not an answer.

You're deep in trouble friend,

Someone Christ,

King of the Jews.


How can someone in your state be so cool about his fate?

An amazing thing, this silent king.

Since you come from Galilee, then you need not come to me,

You're Herod's race!

You're Herod's case!


(Crowd)

Hey Ho Sanna Hey Sanna Sanna Sanna Hosanna

Hey Sanna Ho and how

Hey J.C., J.C. please explain to me,

You had everything.

Where is it now?


KING HEROD'S SONG


(King Herod)

Jesus, I am overjoyed to meet you face to face.

You've been getting quite a name all around the place.

Healing cripples, raising from the dead.

And now I understand you're God,

At least, that's what you've said.


So, you are the Christ, you're the great Jesus Christ.

Prove to me that you're divine; change my water into wine.

That's all you need do, then I'll know it's all true.

Come on, King of the Jews.


Jesus, you just won't believe the hit you've made around here.

You are all we talk about, the wonder of the year.

Oh what a pity if it's all a lie.

Still, I'm sure that you can rock the cynics if you tried.


So, you are the Christ, you're the great Jesus Christ.

Prove to me that you're no fool; walk across my swimming pool.

If you do that for me, then I'll let you go free.

Come on, King of the Jews.


I only ask what I'd ask any superstar.

What is it that you have got that puts you where you are.

I am waiting, yes I'm a captive fan.

I'm dying to be shown that you are not just any man.


So, if you are the Christ, yes the great Jesus Christ

Feed my household with this bread.

You can do it on your head.

Or has something gone wrong. Jesus, why do you take so long?

Oh come on, King of the Jews.


Hey! Aren't you scared of me Christ?

Mr. Wonderful Christ?

You're a joke. You're not the Lord.

You are nothing but a fraud.

Take him away.

He's got nothing to say!

Get out you King of the,

Get out King of the,

Oh get out you King of the Jews!

Get out of here!

Get out of here you,

Get out of my life.


COULD WE START AGAIN, PLEASE


(Mary Magdalene)

I've been living to see you.

Dying to see you, but it shouldn't be like this.

This was unexpected,

What do I do now?

Could we start again please?

I've been very hopeful, so far.

Now for the first time, I think we're going wrong.

Hurry up and tell me,

This is just a dream.

Oh could we start again please?


(Peter)

I think you've made your point now.

You've even gone a bit too far to get the message home.

Before it gets too frightening,

We ought to call a vote,

So could we start again please?


(Mary Magdalene and Peter)

I've been living to see you.

Dying to see you, but it shouldn't be like this.

This was unexpected,

What do I do now?

Could we start again please?

I think you've made your point now.

You've even gone a bit too far to get the message home.

Before it gets too frightening,

We ought to call a vote,

So could we start again please?

Could we start again please? (Repeat 5 times)


(Mary Magdalene)

Could we start again?


JUDAS'S DEATH


(Judas)

My God! I saw him.

He looked three-quarters dead!

And he was so bad I had to turn my head.

You beat him so hard that he was bent and lame,

And I know who everybody's going to blame.

I don't believe he knows I acted for our good.

I'd save him all this suffering if I could.

Don't believe ... our good ...

And I'd save him if I could ...


(Annas)

Cut the confessions, forget the excuses.

I don't understand why you're filled with remorse.

All that you've said has come true with a vengeance.

The mob turned against him, you backed the right horse.


(Caiaphas)

What you have done will be the saving of everyone.

You'll be remembered forever for this.

And not only that, you've been paid for your efforts.

Pretty good wages for one little kiss.


(Judas)

Christ, I know you can't hear me,

But I only did what you wanted me too.

Christ, I'd sell out the nation,

For I have been saddled with the murder of you.


I have been spattered with innocent blood.

I shall be dragged through the slime and the mud.

I have been spattered with innocent blood.

I shall be dragged through the slime and the mud!


I don't know how to love him.

I don't know why he moves me.

He's a man. He's just a man.

He is not a king. He is just the same

As anyone I know.

He scares me so!

When he's cold and dead will he let me be?

Does he love me too? Does he care for me?


My mind is in darkness.

God, God I'm sick. I've been used,

And you knew all the time.

God, God I'll never ever know why you chose me for your crime.

Your foul, bloody crime.


(Choir)

So long Judas. Poor old Judas.

So long Judas. Poor old Judas.

So long Judas. Poor old Judas.

So long Judas. Poor old Judas.


(Judas)

You have murdered me!

Murdered me!

Murdered me!

Murdered me!

Murdered me!

Murdered ...


TRIAL BEFORE PILATE (AND 39 LASHES)


(Pilate)

And so the king is once again my guest.

And why is this? Was Herod unimpressed?


(Caiaphas)

We turn to Rome to sentence Nazareth.

We have no law to put a man to death.

We need him crucified.

It's all you have to do.

We need him crucified.

It's all you have to do.


(Pilate)

Talk to me Jesus Christ.

You have been brought here

Manacled, beaten by your own people.

Do you have the first idea why you deserve it?

Listen King of the Jews,

Where is your kingdom?

Look at me. Am I a Jew?


(Jesus)

I have no kingdom in this world.

I'm through.

There may be a kingdom for me somewhere.

If you only knew.


(Pilate)

Then you are a king?


(Jesus)

It's you that say I am.

I look for truth and find that I get damned.


(Pilate)

But what is truth?

Is truth a changing law?

We both have truths.

Are mine the same as yours?


(Crowd)

Crucify him! Crucify him!


(Pilate)

What do you mean?

You'd crucify your king?


(Crowd)

We have no king but Caesar!


(Pilate)

He's done no wrong.

No, not the slightest thing.


(Crowd)

We have no king but Caesar!

Crucify him!


(Pilate)

Well, is this new, respect for Caesar?

'Till now this has been noticeably lacking.

Who is this Jesus? Why is he different?

You Judes choose Messiahs by the sackfull.


(Crowd)

We need him crucified,

It's all you have to do.

We need him crucified,

It's all you have to do.


(Pilate)

Talk to me, Jesus Christ.

Look at your Jesus Christ.

I'll agree he's mad.

Ought to be locked up,

But that is not a reason to destroy him.

He's a sad little man.

Not a King or God.

Not a thief,

I need a crime!


(Crowd)

Crucify him! Crucify him!


(Pilate)

Behold a man,

Behold your shattered King.


(Crowd)

We have no King but Caesar.


(Pilate)

You hypocrites,

You hate us more than him.


(Crowd)

We have no King but Caesar,

Crucify him!


(Pilate)

I see no reason. I find no evil.

This man is harmless, so why does he upset you?

He's just misguided, thinks he's important,

But to keep you vultures happy I shall flog him.


(Crowd)

Crucify him! Crucify him!


(thirty-nine lashes, Pilate counts)


(Pilate)

One. Two. Three. Four.

Five. Six. Seven. Eight.

Nine. Ten. Eleven. Twelve.

Thirteen. Fourteen. Fifteen. Sixteen.

Seventeen. Eighteen. Nineteen. Twenty.

Twenty-one. Twenty-two. Twenty-three. Twenty-four.

Twenty-five. Twenty-six. Twenty-seven. Twenty-eight.

Twenty-nine. Thirty. Thirty-one. Thirty-two.

Thirty-three. Thirty-four. Thirty-five. Thirty-six.

Thirty-seven. Thirty-eight ...

Thirty-nine!


Where are you from Jesus?

What do you want Jesus?

Tell me.

You've got to be careful.

You could be dead soon,

Could well be.


Why do you not speak when

I hold your life in my hands?

How can you stay quiet?

I don't believe you understand.


(Jesus)

You have nothing in your hands.

Any power you have, comes to you from far beyond.

Everything is fixed, and you can't change it.


(Pilate)

You're a fool Jesus Christ.

How can I help you?


(Crowd)

Pilate, crucify him, crucify!

Remember Caesar.

You have a duty

To keep the peace, so crucify him!

Remember Caesar.

You'll be demoted.

You'll be deported. Crucify him!


Remember Caesar.

You have a duty

To keep the peace, so crucify him!

Remember Caesar.

You'll be demoted.

You'll be deported. Crucify him!


Remember Caesar.

You have a duty

To keep the peace, so crucify him!

Remember Caesar.

You'll be demoted.

You'll be deported. Crucify him!


(Pilate)

Don't let me stop your great self-destruction.

Die if you want to, you misguided martyr.

I wash my hands of your demolition.

Die if you want to you innocent puppet!


SUPERSTAR


(Voice of Judas)

Mmmmm Every time I look at you I don't understand

Why you let the things you did get so out of hand.

You'd have managed better if you'd had it planned.

Now why'd you choose such a backward time in such a strange land?

If you'd come today, you could have reached the whole nation.

Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication.


Don't you get me wrong

Don't you get me wrong

Don't you get me wrong

Don't you get me wrong


All I wanna know

All I wanna know

All I wanna know

I only wanna know


(Choir)

Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ

Who are you? What have you sacrificed?

Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ

Who are you? what have you sacrificed?

Jesus Christ, Superstar,

Do you think you're what they say you are?

Jesus Christ, Superstar,

Do you think you're what they say you are?


(Voice of Judas)

Tell me what you think about your friends at the top.

Now who'd you think besides yourself was the pick of the crop?

Buddha, was he where it's at? Is he where you are?

Could Mohammed move a mountain, or was that just PR?

Did you mean to die like that? Was that a mistake, or

Did you know your messy death would be a record breaker?


Don't you get me wrong

Don't you get me wrong

Don't you get me wrong

Don't you get me wrong


Only want to know

Only want to know

Only want to know

I only want to know


(Choir)

Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ,

Who are you? What have you sacrificed?

Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ,

Who are you? What have you sacrificed?


Jesus, I only wanna know

Tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me

Don't you get me wrong

I only wanna know

Jeeeeeeeeee-sus, I only want to know

Tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me, don't you get me wrong

I only wanna know


Come on, Jesus, Jesus, I only want to know

Tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me, don't you get me wrong

I only want to know

Come on Jesus, Please us, I only want to know

Tell me, tell me, tell me


THE CRUCIFIXION


(Jesus)


Father forgive them.

They don't know what they're doing.

My God, my God, why have you forgotten me?

Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit.


JOHN NINETEEN: FORTY-ONE


Instrumental


JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAM COAT


PROLOGUE


Some folks dream of the wonders they'll do,

Before their time on this planet is through.

Some just don't have anything planned,

They hide their hopes and theirs heads in the sand.


Now I don't say who is wrong who is right,

But if by chance you are here for the night.

Then all I need is an hour or two to tell the tale of a dreamer like you.


We all dream alot.

Some are lucky, some are not.

But if you think it, want it, dream it,

Then it's real.

You are what you feel.


But all that I say,

Can be told another way.

In the story of a boy who's dreams came true.

And he could be you.


ANY DREAM WILL DO


(Joseph)

I closed my eyes, drew back the curtain

To see for certain what I thought I knew

Far far away, someone was weeping

But the world was sleeping

Any dream will do


(Joseph & Children)

I wore my coat, with golden lining

Bright colors shining, wonderful and new

And in the east, the dawn was breaking

And the world was waking

Any dream will do


(Joseph)

A crash of drums, a flash of light

My golden coat flew out of sight

The colors faded into darkness

I was left alone


(Joseph & Children)

May I return to the beginning

The light is dimming, and the dream is too

The world and I, we are still waiting

Still hesitating

Any dream will do


(Joseph)

A crash of drums, a flash of light

My golden coat flew out of sight

The colors faded into darkness

I was left alone


(Joseph & Children)

May I return to the beginning

The light is dimming, and the dream is too

The world and I, we are still waiting

Still hesitating

Any dream will do


Give me my colored coat,

my amazing colored coat!!


JACOB AND SONS


(Narrator)

Way way back many centuries ago

Not long after the Bible began

Jacob lived in the land of Canaan

A fine example of a family man

Jacob. Jacob and sons

Depended on farming to earn their keep

Jacob. Jacob and sons

Spent all of his days in the fields with sheep

Jacob was the founder of a whole new nation

Thanks to the number of children he had

He was also known as Israel, but most of the time

His sons and his wives used to call him Dad

Jacob. Jacob and sons

Men of the soil, of the sheaf and crook

Jacob. Jacob and sons

A remarkable family in anyone's book


(Narrator, Brothers, Female Ensemble & Children)

Reuben was the eldest of the children of Israel

With Simeon and Levi the next in line

Napthali and Isaachar with Asher and Dan

Zebulon and Gad took the total to nine

Jacob. Jacob and sons

Benjamin and Judah, which leaves only one

Jacob. Jacob and sons

Joseph -- Jacob's favorite son

Jacob. Jacob and sons

Jacob. Jacob and sons

Jacob. Jacob and sons

Jacob, Jacob, Jacob

Jacob and sons


JOSEPH'S COAT


(Jacob)

Joseph's mother, she was quite my favorite wife

I never really loved another all my life

And Joseph was my joy because

He reminded me of her


(Narrator)

Through young Joseph, Jacob lived his youth again

Loved him, praised him, gave him all he could, but then

It made the rest feel second best

And even if they were


(Brothers)

Being told we're also-rans

Does not make us Joseph fans


(Narrator)

But where they had really missed the boat is


(Brothers)

We're great guys but no-one seems to notice


(Narrator)

Joseph's charm and winning smile

Failed to slay them in the aisle

And his father couldn't see the danger

He could not imagine any danger

He just saw in Joseph all his dreams come true


Jacob wanted to show the world he loved his son

To make it clear that Joseph was the special one

So Jacob bought his son a coat

A multi-colored coat to wear


(Brothers & Female Ensemble)

Joseph's coat was elegant

The cut was fine

The tasteful style was the

Ultimate in good design

And this is why it caught the eye

A king would stop and stare


(Narrator)

And when Joseph tried it on

He knew his sheepskin days were gone


(Narrator, Female Ensemble & Children)

Such a dazzling coat of many colors

How he loved his coat of many colors


(Narrator)

In a class above the rest

It even went well with his vest

Such a stunning coat of many colors

How he loved his coat of many colors

It was red and yellow and green and

Brown and blue

Joseph's brothers weren't

Too pleased with what they saw


(Brothers)

We had never liked him

All that much before

And now this coat

Has got our goat

We feel life is unfair


(Narrator, Female Ensemble & Children)

And when Joseph graced the scene

His bothers turned a shade of green

His astounding clothing took the biscuit


(Brothers)

Quite the smoothest person in the district


(Joseph & Female Ensemble)

I look handsome, I look smart

I am a walking work of art

Such a dazzling coat of many colors

How I love my coat of many colors


(Narrator, Joseph, Ensemble & Children)

It was red and yellow and green and brown

And scarlet and black and ocher and peach

And ruby and olive and violet and fawn

And lilac and gold and chocolate and mauve

And cream and crimson and silver and rose

And azure and lemon and russet and grey

And purple and white and pink and orange

And red and yellow and green and brown

Scarlet and black and ocher and peach

And ruby and olive and violet and fawn

And lilac and gold and chocolate and mauve

And cream and crimson and silver and rose

And azure and lemon and russet and grey

And purple and white and pink and orange

And blue


JOSEPH'S DREAMS


(Narrator)

Joseph's coat annoyed his brothers


(Brothers)

But what makes us mad

Are the things that Joseph tells us of the

Dreams he's often had


(Joseph)

I dreamed that in the fields one day

The corn gave me a sign

Your eleven sheaves of corn

All turned and bowed to mine

My sheaf was quite a sight to see

A golden sheaf and tall

Yours were green and second-rate

And really rather small


(Brothers)

Small! This is not the kind of thing

We brothers like to hear

It seems to us that Joseph and his

Dreams should disappear


(Joseph)

I dreamed I saw eleven stars

The sun the moon and sky

Bowing down before my star,

It made me wonder why

Could it be that I was born

For higher things than you?

A post in someone's government

A ministry or two


(Brothers)

The dreams of our dear brother are

The decade's biggest yawn

His talk of stars and golden sheaves

Is just a load of corn

Not only is he tactless but

He's also rather dim

For there's eleven of us and

There's only one of him

The dreams of course will not come true

That is, we think they won't come true

That is, we hope they won't come true

What if he's right all along?

The dreams are more than crystal clear

The writing on the wall

Means that Joseph some day soon

Will rise above us all

The accuracy of the dreams

We brothers do not know

But one thing we are sure about;

The dreamer, dreamer, the dreamer, dreamer, the dreamer,

dreamer, the dreamer, dreamer, the dreamer, dreamer, dreamer,

dreamer, dreamer has to go!


POOR POOR JOSEPH


(Narrator)

Next day, far from home

The brothers planned the repulsive crime


(Brothers)

Let us grab him now

Do him in, while we've got the time


(Narrator)

This they did and made the most of it

Tore his coat and flung him in a pit


(Brothers)

Let us leave him here

All alone and he's bound to die


(Narrator)

Then some Ishmaelites

A hairy crew came riding by

In a flash the brothers changed their plan


(Brothers)

We need cash. Let's sell him if we can


(Narrator, Female Ensemble & Children)

Poor, poor Joseph, what'cha gonna do?

Things look bad for you, hey, what'cha gonna do?

Poor, poor Joseph, what'cha gonna do?

Things look bad for you, hey, what'cha gonna do?


(Brothers)

Could you use a slave

You hairy bunch of Ishmaelites

Young, strong, well-behaved

Going cheap, and he reads and writes


(Narrator)

In a trice the dirty deal was done

Silver coins for Jacob's favorite son

Then the Ishmaelites

Galloped off with the slave in tow

Off to Egypt where

Joseph was not keen to go

It wouldn't be a picnic he could tell


(Joseph)

And I don't speak Egyptian very well


(Narrator)

Joseph's brothers tore

His precious multi-colored coat

Having ripped it up

They next attacked a passing goat

Soon the wretched creature was no more

They dipped his coat in blood and guts and gore


(Narrator, Ensemble & Children)

Oh now brothers, how low can you stoop?

You make a sordid group, hey, how low can you stoop?

Poor, poor Joseph, sold to be a slave

Situation's grave, hey, sold to be a slave

Sold to be a slave


THERE'S ONE MORE ANGEL IN HEAVEN


(Reuben)

Father we've something to tell you,

a story of our time. A tragic but

inspiring tale, of manhood in its prime.

You know you had a dozen sons?

Well now that's, not quite true.

But feel no sorrow, do not grieve, he

would not want you to.


(Reuben, Reuben's Wife & Male Ensemble)

There's one more Angel in Heaven,

there's one more star in the sky.

Joseph we'll never forget you.

It's tough but we're gonna get by.

There's one less place at our table.

There's one more tear in my eye.


(Brothers)

But Joseph the things that you stood for,


(Reuben)

Like truth and light never die.

When I think of his last great battle,

a lump comes to my throat.

It takes a man who knows no fear to wrestle with a goat.

His blood-stained coat is tribute to his final sacrifice.

His body may be past it's peak

but his soul's in paradise.


So long little Jo!

Adios Buckeroo!

Ten four good buddy ...


(Jacob)

There's one less place at our table

There's one more tear in my eye


(Brothers)

But Joseph the things that you stood for


(Reuben)

Like truth and light never die


(Brothers)

Carve his name with pride and courage


(Naphtali)

Let no tear be shed


(Brothers)

If he had not laid down his life

We all would now be dead


POTIPHAR


(Narrator)

Potiphar had very few cares.

He was one of Egypts millionaires.

Having made a fortune buying shares

Potiphar had made a huge pile.

Owned a large percentage of the Nile.

Meant that he could really live in style

And he did.


Joseph was an uniportant

Slave who found he liked his master,

Consequently worked much harder,

Even with devotion.

Potiphar could see that Joseph

Was a cut above the average

Made him leader of the household,

Maximum promotion.


Potiphar was cool and so fine,

But his wife would never tow the line.

It's all there in chapter thirty-nine of Genesis.

She was beautiful but evil.

Saw a lot of men against his will.

He would have to tell her

That she still was his.


Joseph's looks and handsome figure

Had attracted her attention

Ev'ry morning she would beckon

"Come and lie with me, love."

Joseph wanted to resist her

'Till one day she proved too eager.

Joseph cried in vain,

"Please stop! I don't believe in free love!"


Potiphar was counting shekels

In his den below the bedroom

When he heard a mighty rumpus

Clattering above him.

Suddenly he knew his riches

Couldn't buy him what he wanted

Gold would never make him happy

If she didn't love him.


Letting out a mighty roar,

Potiphar burst through the door:

Joseph, I'll see you rot in jail.

The thing you have done are beyond the pale.


Poor, poor Joseph, locked up in a cell.

Things aren't going well, hey,

Locked up in a cell.


Poor poor Joseph

Locked up in a cell

Things aren't going well,hey,

Locked up in a cell


Locked up

In a cell


CLOSE EVERY DOOR TO ME


(Joseph)

Close every door to me

Hide all the world from me

Bar all the windows

and shut out the light

Do what you want with me

Hate me and laugh at me

darken my daytime

and torture my night

If my life were important

I would ask will I live or die

But I know the answers

Lie far from this world


Close every door to me

Keep those I love from me

Children of Israel are never alone

For I know I shall find

my own peace of mind

for I have been promised

A land of my own


(Choir)

Close every door to me

Hide all the world from me

Bar all the windows

and shut out the light


(Joseph)

Just give me a number

Instead of my name

forget all about me

and let me decay


I do not matter

I'm only one person

Destroy me completely

Then throw me away

If my life were important

I would ask will I live or die

But I know the answers

Lie far from this world


Close every door to me

Keep those I love from me

Children of Israel

Are never alone

For we know we shall find

Our own piece of mind

For we have been promised

A land of our own


GO, GO, GO JOSEPH


(Narrator)

Joseph's luck was really out

his spirit and his fortune low

alone he sat, alone he thought

of happy times he used to know


(1st Man)

Hey dreamer, don't be so upset


(2nd Man)

Hey Joseph, you're not beaten yet


(Narrator & Ensemble)

Go, go go joseph you know what they say

hang on now joseph you'll make it some day

don't give up joseph, fight till you drop

we've read the book and you come out on top


(Narrator)

Now into joseph's prison cell

were flung two very frightened men


(Baker & Butler)

We don't think that we will ever

see the light of day again

hey joseph, help us if you can

we've had dreams that we don't understand


(Narrator & Ensemble)

Both men were servants of pharaoh the king

Both in the doghouse for doing their thing


(Narrator)

One was a baker, a cook in his prime

One was a butler, the jeeves of his time


(Joseph)

Tell me of your dreams my friends

and i will tell you what they show

though i cannot guarantee

to get it right, i'll have a go


(Narrator)

First the butler, trembling, took the floor

nervously he spoke of what he saw


(Butler)

There I was standing in front of a vine

I picked some grapes and I crushed them to wine

I gave some to pharaoh who drank from my cup

I tried to interpret but I had to give up


(Joseph)

you will soon be free, my friend

So do not worry any more

the king will let you out of here

you'll butle as you did before


(Narrator)

Next the baker rose to tell his dream

hoping it would have a similar theme


(Baker)

There I was standing with baskets of bread

high in the sky I saw birds overhead

who flew to my baskets and ate every slice

now give me the message -- like his, would be nice


(Joseph)

Sad to say your dream is not

the kind of dream I'd like to get

Pharaoh has it in for you

your execution date is set

don't rely on all I said I saw

it's just that i have not been wrong before


(Ensemble)

Go, go, go Joseph you know what they say

hang on now Joseph you'll make it some day

sha-la-la Joseph you're doing fine

you and your dreamcoat ahead of your time


Go, go, go Joseph you know what they say

hang on now Joseph you'll make it some day

sha-la-la Joseph you're doing fine

you and your dreamcoat ahead of your time


Go, go, go, go

Go, go, go, go

Go, go, go, go

Go, go, go, go

Go, go, go, go

Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go


Joseph you know what they say

hang on now joseph you'll make it some day

Sha-la-la joseph you're doing fine

you and your dreamcoat ahead of your time


Go, go, go, go, go, go, go

Joseph you know what they say

hang on now Joseph you'll make it some day

Sha-la-la Joseph you're doing fine

you and your dreamcoat ahead of your time


(Narrator)

Ahead of your time


(Joseph)

Ahead of my time


(Narrator)

Ahead of your time


(Joseph)

Ahead of my


(All)

Time


PHARAOH'S STORY


(Narrator)

Pharaoh he was a powerful man.

With the ancient world in the palm of his hands.

To all intents and purposes he,

was Egypt with a capital E.

Whatever he did, he was showered with praise.

If he cracked a joke, than you chortled for days.

No one had rights or a vote but the king,

in fact you might say he was fairly right wing.

When pharoh's around, than you got down, on the ground.

If you ever find yourself near ramases, get down on your knees.


(Female Ensemble & Children)

A pharaoh story

A pharaoh story

A pharaoh story

A pharaoh story


(Narrator)

Down at the other end of the scale,

Joseph is still spending time in jail.

For even though he's in with the guards,

a lifetime in prison seems quite in the cards.

If my analysis of the position is right,

at the end of the tunnel is a glimmer of light.

Because of all sudden there's been visions and things.

Disturbing the peace of both peasants and kings.

Strange as it seems, there's been a run of crazy dreams.

And a man who can interpret could go far,

Could become a star.


(Female Ensemble & Children)

Could be famous

Could be a big success

Could be famous

Could be a big success


(Narrator)

Strange as it seems, there's been a run of crazy dreams.

And a man who can interpret could go far,

Could become a star.


(Narrator & Ensemble)

Could be famous

Could be a big success,

Could be famous

Could be a big success

Strange as it seems

There's been a run of crazy dreams

And a man who can interpret

could go far


Ah

Could become a star

Could be famous

Could be a big success

Could be famous

Could be a big success

Could be a star!


POOR, POOR PHARAOH


(Narrator)

Guess What? In his bed Pharaoh

Had an uneasy night

He had had a dream that pinned him

To his sheets with fright

No-one knew the meaning of his dream

What to do, whatever could it mean?


Then his butler said


(Butler)

I know this bloke in jail

Who is hot on dreams,

Could explain old Pharaoh's tale


(Narrator)

Pharaoh said


(Pharaoh)

Well fetch this Joseph man

I need him to help me if he can


(Narrator & Ensemble)

Poor, poor Pharaoh

What's he gonna do

Dreams are haunting you, hey,

What'cha gonna do


(Narrator)

Chained and bound, afraid, alone

Joseph stood before the throne


(Joseph)

My service to Pharaoh has begun

Tell me your problems, mighty one


SONG OF THE KING (Seven Fat Cows)


(Pharaoh & Ensemble)

Well I was wandering along by the banks of the river

When seven fat cows came up out of the Nile, uh-huh

And right behind these fine healthy animals came

Seven other cows, skinny and vile, uh-huh


Well the think cows ate the fat cows which I

Thought would do them good, uh-huh

But it didn't make them fatter like such

A monster supper should


Well the thin cows were as thin

As they had, ever, ever, ever been

Well this dream has got me baffled

Hey, Joseph, won't you tell me what it means?


Well you know that kings ain't stupid

But I don't have a clue

So don't be cruel Joseph

Help me I beg of you


Well I was standing doing nothing in a field out of town

When I saw seven beautiful ears of corn, uh-huh

They were ripe, they were golden and

You've guessed it, right behind them came seven other ears

Tattered and torn, uh-huh


Well the bad corn ate the good corn

They came up from behind yes they did

Now Joseph here's the punch line

It's really gonna blow your mind


Well the bad corn was

As bad as it had ever, ever, ever been

Well this dream has got me all shook up

Treat me nice and tell me what it means


Hey, hey, hey Joseph

Won't you tell poor old Pharaoh

What does this crazy dream mean?

Oh yeah


PHARAOH'S DREAM EXPLAINED


(Joseph)

Seven years of bumper crops are on their way

Years of plenty, endless wheat and tons of hay

Your farms will boom, there won't be room

To store the surplus food you grow

After that, the future doesn't look so bright

Egypt's luck will change completely overnight

And famine's hand will stalk the land

With food an all-time low


Noble king, there is no doubt

What your dreams are all about

All these things you saw in your pajamas

Are a long-rang forecast for your farmers


(Joseph, Female Ensemble & Children)

And I'm sure it's crossed your mind

What it is you have to find

Find a man to lead you through the famine

With a flair for economic planning

But who this man could be

I just don't know

Who this man could be

I just don't know

Who this man could be

I just don't know


STONE THE CROWS


(Narrator)

Pharaoh said --


(Pharaoh)

Well stone the crows,

This Joseph is a clever kid

Who'd have thought that fourteen cows

Could mean the things he said they did?

Joseph, you must help me further;

I have got a job for you

You shall lead us through this crisis --

You shall be my number two


(Narrator & Female Ensemble)

Pharaoh told his guards to fetch

A chisel from the local store

Whereupon he ordered them

To cut the chains that Joseph wore

Joseph got a royal pardon

And a host of splendid things

A chariot of gold, a cloak,

A medal and some signet rings


Joseph --

Pharaoh's number two

Joseph --

Egypt looks to you


(Jospeh, Narrator & Female Ensemble)

Joseph --

Pharaoh's number two

Joseph --

Egypt looks to you


(Narrator & Female Ensemble)

Seven summers on the trot

Were perfect just as Joseph said

Joseph saw that food was gathered

Ready for the years ahead

Seven years of famine followed

Egypt didn't mind a bit

The first recorded rationing

In history was a hit


(Female Ensemble)

Joseph how can we ever say

All that we want to about you

We're so glad that you came our way

We would have perished without you


(Pharaoh)

Joseph we are the perfect team

Old buddies, that's you and me

I was wise to have chosen you

You'll be wise to agree


(Female Ensemble)

Joseph how can we ever say

All that we want to about you

We're so glad that you came our way

We would have perished without you


(Pharaoh)

We were in a jam

Would have baffled Abraham

But now we're a partneship

It's just a piece of cake


(Female Ensemble)

Greatest man since Noah

Only goes to shoah


(Joseph)

Anyone from anywhere can make it

If they get a lucky break


(Narrator & Female Ensemble)

This could be a happy ending,

Perfect place to stop the show

Joseph, after all, has gone

About as far as he can go

But I'm sure that Jacob and

His other sons have crossed your mind

How had famine hit the family

Joseph left behind?


THOSE CANAAN DAYS


(Simeon)

Do you remember the good years in Canaan?

The summers were endlessly gold

The fields were a patchwork of clover

The winters were never too cold

We'd stroll down the boulevards together

And averything round us was fine


(Jacob)

Now the fileds are dead and bare

No joie de vivre anywhere

Et maintenant we drink a bitter wine


(Brothers)

Those Canaan days we used to know

Where have they gone, where did they go?

Eh bien, raise your berets

To those Canaan days


(Simeon )

Do you remember those wonderful parties?

The splendour of Canaan's cuisine

Our extravagant, elegant soirees

The gayest the Bible has seen

It's funny but since we lost Joseph

We've gone to the other extreme

No one comes to dinner now

We only eat them anyhow

I even find I'm missing Joseph's dreams


(Brothers )

Those Canaan days we used to know

Where have they gone, where did they go?

Eh bien, raise your berets

To those Canaan days


(Simeon )

It's funny but since we lost Joseph

We've gone to the other extreme

Perhaps we all misjudged the lad

Perhaps he wasn't quite that bad

And how we miss his entertaining dreams


(Brothers )

Those Canaan days we used to know

Where have they gone, where did they go?

Eh bien, raise your berets


(Simeon )

To those Canaan days


(Brothers )

Eh bien, raise your berets

To those Canaan days


THE BROTHERS COME TO EGYPT


(Narrator )

So back in Canaan the future looked rough

Jacob's family were finding it tough


(Brothers )

For the famine has caught us unprepared

We are thin

We are ill

We are getting scared

It's enough to make anyone weep

We are down to our very last sheep


(Reuben )

We will starve if we hang around here


(Zebulun )

But in Egypt there's food going spare


(Asher )

They've got corn

They've got meat

They've got fruit and drinks


(Dan )

And if we have the time

We could see the Sphinx


(Narrator )

So they finally decided to go

Off to Egypt to see brother Jo

So they all lay before

Joseph's feet


(Brothers )

Mighty prince, give us something to eat


(Narrator )

Joseph found it a strain

Not to laugh because

Not a brother among them

Knew who he was


(Joseph )

I shall now take them all for a ride

After all they have tried fratricide


GROVEL, GROVEL


(Joseph)

I dreamed that in the fields one day,

The corn gave me sign

Your eleven sheaves of corn

All turned and bowed to mine

I dreamed I saw eleven stars,

The sun the moon and sky

Bowing down before my star,

And now I realise why

How do I know where you came from?

You could be spies

Telling me that you are hungry --

That could be lies

How do I know who you are?

Why do you think I should help you?

Would you help me?

Why on earth should I believe you?

I've no guarantee


(Narrator & Brothers)

Grovel, grovel, cringe, bow, stoop, fall

Worship, worship, beg, kneel, sponge, crawl


(Brothers)

We are just eleven brothers,

Good men and true

Though we know we count for nothing

When up next to you

Honesty's are middle name

Life is slowly ebbing from us,

Hope's almost gone

It's getting very hard to see us

From sideways on


(Narrator & Brothers)

Grovel, grovel, cringe, bow, stoop, fall

Worship, worship, beg, kneel, sponge, crawl


(Jospeh)

I rather like the way you're talking,

Astute and sincere

Suddenly your tragic story

It gets me right here


(Brothers )

This is what we hoped he'd say


(Jospeh)

All this tugging at my heartstrings

Seems quite justified

I shall give you what you came for

And lots more beside


(Narrator & Brothers)

Grovel, grovel, cringe, bow, stoop, fall

Worship, worship, beg, kneel, sponge, crawl


(Brothers)

Thank you, thank you, cringe, bow, stoop, fall

Worship, worship, beg, kneel, sponge, crawl


(Narrator)

Joseph handed them sackloads of food

And they grovelled with base gratitude


(Female Ensemble)

Then, unseen, Joseph out around the back

And planted a cup in young Benjamin's sack


(Narrator)

When the brothers were ready to go

Jospeh turned to them all

With a terrible stare and said


(Joseph)

No No No No No


WHO'S THE THIEF?


(Joseph)

Stop, you robbers --

Your little number's up

One of you has stolen

My precious gldn cup


(Narrator)

Joseph started serching

Through his brothers' sacks

Everyone was nervous,

No one could relax


(Children)

Who's the thief?

Who's the thief?

Who's the thief?

Who's the thief?


(Narrator & Children)

Is it Reuben? No.

Is it Simeon? No.

Is it Naphtali? No.

Is it Dan? No.

Is it Asher? No.

Is it Isaachar? No.

Is it Levi? No.

Who's the man? No.

Is it Zebulun? No.

Is it Gad? No.

Is it Judah? No.

Is it him?


(Children)

Could it be, could it be

Could it be, could it be

Could it be, could it be


(Narrator)

Could I possibly be Banjamin?


(Children)

Yes. Yes. Yes.


(Joseph)

Benjamin, you nasty youth,

Your crime has shocked me to the core

Never in my whole career

Have I encontered this before

Guards, seize him! Lock him in a cell

Throw the keys into the Nile as well


(Narrator)

Each of the brothers fell to his knees


(Brothers)

Show him some mercy, oh mighty one please

He would not do this, he must have been framed

Jail us and beat us, we should be blamed.

La la la la la la la la la. La la la la la la la la la.


BENJAMIN CALYPSO


(Brothers)

Oh no -- not he

How you can accuse him is a mystery

Save him -- take me

Benjamin is straightr than the tall palm tree


(Judah)

I hear the steel drums sing their song

They're singing man you know you've got it wrong

I hear the voice of the yellow bird

Singing in the tree this is quite absurd

Oh yes


(Brothers)

Oh yes


(Judah)

It's true


(Brothers)

It's true


(Judah)

Benjamin is straighter than the big bamboo

No ifs --


(Brothers)

No ifs --


(Judah)

No buts


(Brothers)

No buts


(Judah)

Benjamin is honest as coconuts

Sure as the tide wash the golden sand

Benjamin is an innocent man

Sure as bananas need the sun

We are the criminal guilty ones

Oh no


(Brothers & Female Ensemble)

Oh no


(Judah)

Not he


(Brothers & Female Ensemble)

Not he

How you can accuse him is a mystery


(Judah)

Save him


(Brothers & Female Ensemble)

Save him


(Judah)

Take me


(Brothers & Female Ensemble)

Take me

Benjamin is straighter than the tall palm tree


(Judah, Brothers & Female Ensemble)

Oh no

Not he

How can you accuse him is a mystery

Save him

Take me

Benjamin is straightr than the tall palm tree


(Judah)

Sure as the tide wash the golden sand

Benjamin is an innocent man

Sure as bananas need the sun

We are the criminal guilty ones

Oh no


(Brothers & Female Ensemble)

Oh no


(Judah)

Not he


(Brothers & Female Ensemble)

Not he


(Judah & Female Ensemble)

How you can accuse him is a mystery


(Judah)

Save him


(Brothers & Female Ensemble)

Save him


(Judah)

Take me


(Judah, Brothers & Female Ensemble)

Take me

Benjamin is straighter than the tall palm tree

Oh no -- not he

How can you accuse him is a mystery

Save him -- take me

La la la la la la la


JOSEPH ALL THE TIME


(Narrator)

Joseph knew by this his brothers now were honest men

The time had come at last to reunite them all again


(Joseph)

Can't you recognise my face? Is it had to see

That Joseph, who you thought was dead, your brother

It's me?


(Narrator & Children)

Joseph, Joseph, is it really true?

Joseph, Joseph, is it really you?


(Narrator, Ensemble & Children)

Joseph, Joseph


JACOB IN EGYPT


(Ensemble)

So Jacob came to Egypt,

No longer feeling old

And Joseph came to meet him

In his chariot

Of gold

Of gold

Of gold

Of gold


FINALE: ANY DREAM WILL DO/GIVE ME MY COLORED COAT


(Joseph)

I closed my eyes, drew back the curtain

To see for certain what I thought I knew

Far, far away, someone was weeping

But the world was sleeping

Any dream will do


(Joseph & Children)

I wore my coat, with golden lining

Bright colors shining, wonderful and new

And in the east, the dawn was breaking

And the world was waking

Any dream will do


(Joseph)

A crash of drums


(Narrator)

A flash of light


(Joseph)

My golden coat flew out of sight


(Joseph & Narrator)

The colors faded into darkness

I was left alone


(Joseph & Narrator & Children)

May I return to the beginning

The light is dimming, and the dream is too

The world and I, we are still waiting

Still hesitating, any dream will do

Still hesitating, any dream will do


(Full Company)

May I return to the beginning

The light is dimming, and the dream is too

The world and I, we are still waiting

Still hesitating, any dream will do

Give me my colored coat,

My amazing colored coat

Give me my colored coat,

My amazing colored coat



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