The Joy of Bethlehem

Luke 2:10-11: 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."

Christmas Day remembers the joy of Bethlehem, both the Bethlehem of long ago and that of our present. For some of us the joy of those good tidings came in a flash, sometimes a moment of surprise, sometimes a moment long hoped and prayed for. For others the light of Bethlehem's star came into our lives gradually, growing almost unnoticed, but no less real. Others still wait to hear the angel's voice and see the promised star, hoping and remembering Bethlehem in that hope to hear its tidings for themselves. The voice of the angel is to all, even to those who neither hear it yet nor even hope for it.

3 Nephi 9:15: Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name. . . . I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

The angel's tidings, like the voice of God, are that God himself, the Creator of the world, has become one of us. He is not far away. He is not absolutely other than us, inaccessible to our pains and fears. He came into the world as we do, a helpless creature of flesh. He left it in death as we do, failing flesh. The Light of the World, its Beginning and End, has come and will come. He is with us, and being with us he would save us from sin.

3 Nephi 9:21-22: Behold, I have come unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin. Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved

Titus 2:11-14: For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, came into the world, suffered, died, and was resurrected to make our salvation possible. Godly life is our proper response, our gift of gratitude: repentance—genuine change rather than mere breast-beating—godly, sober life, joyous life, life that celebrates our redemption by working for the temporal and spiritual redemption of others. If we respond with repentance, coming to him as he has come to us, then he will make us his own.

Psalm 96:1-3, 11-13: O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth. Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people. . . . Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice. Before the Lord: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.

Isaiah 9:6-7: 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. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.

May the tidings of Bethlehem open our hearts to the joy of its Child. May his kingdom and peace increase forever and ever.

12/22/2011 5:00:00 AM
  • Mormon
  • Speaking Silence
  • Bethlehem
  • Christmas
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  • James Faulconer
    About James Faulconer
    James Faulconer is a Richard L. Evans Professor of Religious Understanding at Brigham Young University, where he has taught philosophy since 1975.