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The Greatest Story Ever Told

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Jesus Christ is the greatest person to ever walk the face of the earth.  The influence of his life permeates the universe for all time and eternity.  Through him and by him we are able to live forever in love and harmony with our loved ones.  Today we celebrate the beginning of the greatest story ever told as recorded by Luke:

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed…And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem…To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.  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. 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.”

May your Christmas be merry and may the Lord of Hosts watch over and bless your life in the coming year. God Bless!

 

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An Envelope Of Giving (For The Man Who Hated Christmas)

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(The short Christmas story below was originally published in the December 14, 1982 issue of Woman’s Day magazine.)

Christmas Story: For the Man Who Hated Christmas

By Nancy W. Gavin

“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 ten years.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it – overspending and 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 on the wrestling team at the school he attended. Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church. 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. 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. He so enjoyed coaching 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 a small, white envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done, and that this was his gift from me.

Mike’s smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year. And that same bright smile lit up 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 white 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 small, white 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 the next morning, I found it was magically joined by three more. Unbeknownst to the others, each of our three children had for the first time placed a white envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing to take down that special envelope. Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit will always be with us.”

May all of us remember the true reason we celebrate this time of year. The greatest gifts are those given from the heart in recognition of the greatest man who ever walked on the face of this earth, even Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world!

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The Message On the ‘Other Side’ Of The Stone

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Almost all headstones list the date of birth and death of the person, or persons, that lie beneath. As I recently visited the grave of my Mother, deceased, and my Father who is still living, I couldn’t help but take in the message they were sending to me, and my siblings, by the engraving found on the ‘other side’ of the stone. As a bride ‘adorneth herself with her jewels,’ (Isaiah 61:10) so too my Mother went to great lengths to let us kids know, that we were paramount in her life. As my Father has often told me, my Mom sought no other worldly recognition than that of being a mother. She enjoyed it to the fullest and us children were the beneficiaries of it.

What does it say to the world when on the ‘other side’ of the stone there is a list of the children? What does it say to the children of that family? As I knelt in the snow by her graveside last week on a wintry day, I couldn’t help but contemplate the simple, yet profound meaning ascribed to such an inscription. My parent’s gravestone is not unique. There are many stones with the children’s named etched that dot that cemetery, and others throughout the world. I have seen them, and the message sent is powerful and clear. It brought to my mind the words of the Savior found in Luke, chapter eleven.

“If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

Knowing the powerful love that my parents have for me and my siblings makes it all the easier to understand the great love that God has for each one of His children. What is the message on ‘the other side of the stone?’ That day as I knelt there by her graveside, I didn’t need anyone to ‘spell it out for me,’ because it already was, and I was looking at it!

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See Me!

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(Based on a true story)
As he lay on his hospital death-bed, he watched as the Elders of the church passed him by. Somehow his religious affiliation has been left off his chart. As they administered and gave the sacred emblems of the Lord’s Sacrament to others around him, he wanted to cry out to not forget him. Never before had he felt such a desire to renew his covenants with God. His mind wandered back to the countless times he had eaten of the bread and drank of the water without much thought. It had become such a ‘rote’ thing in his life. But now, with death at the doorstep, the beauty and majesty of it’s meaning reached epic proportion till he felt his soul would burst with desire to partake. And now, as the Elders moved further and further away from his bed, his heart sank and he felt sorrow enter his soul.

As the Elders were about to leave his room he mustered up all his strength and weakly raised his hand up to catch their attention. But it was to no avail as the door slowly closed and they disappeared from view. He lay there for a moment as the tears formed in his eyes, but then, to his surprise, the door reopened and a lone holder of God’s priesthood entered back in. He must have forgotten something; yes, he had. He was headed over to pickup scriptures he had mistakenly left behind. Another chance, he silently exclaimed. Then, with the faith of Daniel, and with a prayer in his heart, he stretched forth his arm and extended his fingers. Please he cried in his heart, “See me!”

He headed towards the door with scriptures in hand, but something whispered to his soul, softly but with clarity, “See me!” The prompting stopped him in his tracks. “See me!” Once again came the soft sound that was carried by the spirit. The Elder turned and followed the light of the morning Sun as it cascaded across the hospital ward. The beam ended at the bedside of a man, who had his arm outstretched towards him. He felt the surge of the fire of God fill his soul as he headed towards him who was now seen!

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