A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Spirit of Christmas

Tonight I spent some time wrapping Christmas presents. I really do like finding things that I think will be the perfect gift - it's so fun to anticipate the recipient's joy! Hopefully as we get older, Christmas becomes less about what we GET and more about what we GIVE. I wanted to share some really good quotes I heard tonight about the Spirit of Christmas and giving.

"True happiness comes only by making others happy--the practical application of the Savior's doctrine of losing one's life to gain it. In short, the Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit, that makes our hearts glow in brotherly love and friendship and prompts us to kind deeds of service. It is the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ, obedience to which will bring "peace on earth," because it means--goodwill toward all men." - David O. McKay

This quote is much longer, from Hugh B. Brown's Book, The Abundant Life:

Christmas time with its cargo of love is the greatest of all anniversaries for those who worship the God of love. It brings peace of mind to millions who, for one day at least, think more of others than of selves; more of giving than of getting.

This is the secret of the popularity of Christmas. It is the best day of the year, the most joyous because we seek the happiness of others rather than of ourselves. It is the day when love takes command, and men, women, and children, by losing themselves, find joy and peace. For one day, at least, Christendom practices Christianity.

For fifty-one weeks most men desire to wring personal profit, economic, social or political, out of every situation, often without regard to the effect on the lives and happiness of others.

The Yuletide is to many people an annual seven-day Sabbath. It is a holy season when men rest from the agitating business of getting and relax into the serene joy of giving.

The spirit of Christmas creates interest in others, minimizes self-serving interests and activities, and searches for opportunities to make others happy. The spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world's busy life and become more interested in people than in things. We see people struggling and competing with each other and wish we could somehow touch their lives with the joy and gladness of Christmas. The Spirit whispers, "They are your kinfolk, and their happiness is your concern."

During this joyous week we apply the brakes to the driving power of self-interest and, like the propeller on an airplane when its blades are reversed, the pull is in the opposite direction. When speed and altitude are reduced, the details and beauty of life refresh the soul and inspire gratitude and a desire to serve and partially repay our debt to the Giver of life.

And after the Christmas season has passed, we discover an amazing paradox. We ourselves have experienced more joy while seeking to bring happiness to others than we have known during all the other weeks of the year when we were so selfishly seeking it. How strange it is that, despite this annual lesson, men continue to try to find joy where it has never yet been found--in self-aggrandizement, the gratification of appetites, following after pride and vain ambition, or attempting to snatch some advantage from others. During this one week when we lose ourselves we really find ourselves as the Savior promised, and in this discovery we find enduring satisfaction. We become servants, voluntary servants, and thereby find a joy we have not known through the balance of the year.

The compass of the spirit of Christmas points constantly toward others, never toward ourselves, except to beckon us into the realm of service and comradeship. The spirit of Christmas is ever buoyant, never earthbound or grounded by accumulated mundane things. It soars by the lifting wings of love and distils its blessings, even as the dews from heaven.

This richest of all seasons extends its joy into the New Year but is sobering and humbling; it causes introspection and self-analysis which result in resolutions for future conduct, especially toward other people.

To catch the real meaning of the "Spirit of Christmas" we need only to drop the last syllable of the word, and it becomes the "Spirit of Christ." It beckons us to follow Him and become worthy of the blessedness which He promised to the most unlikely people--the poor in spirit, the sorrowful, the meek, the seekers after righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peace makers, and even the persecuted and the oppressed.

It is a blessed spirit and is available to all, not alone to the rich, the influential, the heralded or popular. It may pervade the humblest cottage or the palace of the king, but only when it is in the hearts of men.

Let each man examine his own heart as he gives thanks for the peace of this Christmas and try to discover his true feelings toward his fellow men, toward those who are his neighbors, his brothers in the Church, his new friends of an allied country. Let him vigorously weed out all envy, jealousy, greed, and hatred and undertake to radiate the spirit of goodwill, of love of fellow men, not for the season only but throughout the year.

If this formula for happiness--love one another--is effective for one day, may it not work at other times, at all times? If by giving we receive, and by dividing we increase, why not make happiness permanent by carrying the Christmas spirit throughout the year? May we all enjoy the spirit of Christmas for the next 365 days. (The Abundant Life, p.305-307)

No comments:

Post a Comment