Dec. 23, 2013
Merry Christmas everyone from the beautiful country of Ukraine!
I feel super privileged to spend another Christmas here in this very special land where, unlike anywhere else in the world, we celebrate Christmas twice! Because of cultural traditions, Christmas has always been celebrated on the 7th of January here in Ukraine and usually in the Church we celebrate on the 25th of December. So between the two days turns into just one big Christmas! Regardless of how you celebrate, when, or with whom, I wanted to add my person witness and message about the One that we remember in this Christmas season.
Currently, we live in a special time in the history of mankind. There has never been a time so blessed than our day (to say the least of which I have the opportunity to write to you all so easily!), but, regardless of where we are, this also seems to be one of the hardest times of human history. Throughout the world the cultural, political, ethnic, and religious power struggles fill the headlines, - and to add to this, our already difficult lives are often coupled with emotional, physical, and spiritual struggles within the precious unit of the family as well as in our personal hearts. What is to be done?
In this warm season of Christmas-giving, there seems to be a shelter from the surroundings - a blanket that covers the dirt and darkness that at times seems to be in our lives. Our families are together, our focus is on others, and life seems just a little sweeter in this time of the year. But how can we get it to last? How can that peace that we feel so abundantly this Christmas season abound throughout the whole year - The spirit of love, self-sacrifice, and service? I think we know that answer, and I would submit that in making the reason for the season the focus of our lives, we can maintain such peace throughout our entire lives - in our world, our families, and in our hearts.
What is that reason? It is the Babe in Bethlehem, the Boy of Nazareth, the Messiah, the Savior of the World - Jesus the Christ.
Of Him, the prophet Isaiah wrote:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given...and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).
He is truly the Savior of the World and the Prince of Peace. I love that title of all the titles given to Him: The Prince of Peace. Of the Mission of our Savior the prophet Isaiah continues:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon [Him}; because the Lord hath anointed [Him} to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent [Him] to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;...
to comfort all that mourn;...to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; (Isaiah 61:1-3)
In our lives today I can think of no greater answer to all our lack of peace in the world than the Savior Jesus Christ. These are blessings we all seek: our broken hearts healed, liberty from our mistakes and sins, hope when all seems lost, comfort, beauty, joy, praise, and good tidings that soothe us to our core. There is no medication that can do what he can. There's no person that can council as He can. There is no one that loves us more than He does, and there is certainly no one that can bring that sought-after peace into our lives than he, who is the prince of peace:
O how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that is the founder of peace, yea, even the Lord, who has redeemed his people; yea, him who has granted salvation unto his people; (Mosiah15:18; The Book of Mormon)
So how do we do it? How do we take what our Lord and Savior did for each of us, and apply it into our lives that the healing, the comforting, and uplifting may occur. Again, we turn to the words of the great Prophet Isaiah:
...every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money;come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; (Isaiah 55:1-3)
He simply invites us all to come unto Him.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
And again the same words are repeated in his ministry to the people of the Book of Mormon:
Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy. And it came to pass that when he had thus spoken, all the multitude, with one accord, did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him...
...And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears. (3 Nephi 17:6-10)
This is my testimony to the world: Come unto to Christ and He can heal us. He is the Prince of Peace. Learning of Christ, acting as He would act, and listening to His spirit, we come to know Him - a knowledge that is unparralleled with any ointment, medication, or counsel in improving our lives. In this Christmas season, I would encourage all to make this next year dedicated to truly coming to Him - coming to know Him, to know of Him, and to have others know Him by you. He is the answer.
Merry Christmas to you all and may we take faith in the words of the Angel Gabriel along with the host of angles heralding the birth of our Savior:
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke2:10-14)
Come unto Him.
Elder MaKade Claypool
Ukraine Donetsk Mission
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints