Each year I am grateful for time set aside in the calendar to celebrate the many blessings in my life. What a gift it is to spend a day with family and friends, honoring the people who really matter in our lives. I am amazed at all my Heavenly Parents have given me and I hope each day throughout the year that I find a way to thank them by serving Their children on this Earth. Merry Christmas and may the spirit of this season be with you!
Each year, just as the sun turns back north toward the long, bright days of summer, Christmas reminds me of the most important things in life. During the coldest, darkest time of the year, we celebrate the birth of a child, who would preach the Gospel of Light, and turn the world on its head. Standing up to the rich and powerful in his own culture, Jesus declared:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
These are the values of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus preached of a world turned upside down, where love, humility and peace would reign. He rejected the idea that God blesses the rich and powerful, because of their virtue. Instead he preached: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Matthew 10:25.
He also rejected the male dominated culture of his time. He praised Mary for sitting at his feet to hear his teachings, rather than do the “women’s work” expected by her culture. Luke 10:38-42. He healed women, who his culture considered unclean. He stopped men intent on stoning a woman for adultery, and was known for having many women in his inner circle. Romans 16: 1-7 tells us that in the early Christian church, women served in many leadership positions, including house church heads, deacons and even apostles. Through his actions and words, Jesus taught us radical equality.
During this Christmas Season, I am blessed to serve on the board of Ordain Women. I am blessed to serve with women and men, who work tirelessly for the radical equality taught by Jesus. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.
Christmas reminds me to look beyond the worldly and into the celestial in order to understand my relation to the things and people around me. It reminds me that the most important thing to remember is that the “worth of souls is great.” As demonstrated by Jesus’ humble and unremarkable beginnings, initial circumstance or material possessions do not determine the worth of any person. We all have worth independent from anything that happens in this world. We are all worthy of love and salvation. We all deserve to be treated with love and respect. We all deserve equality.
I know the history behind the Christmas holiday. I know that Christ was most likely born in the spring; I know that the celebration of His birth was moved to the winter solstice to overlap with pagan rituals. But still I love it. I love Christmas music. I love Christmas stories. My favorite Christmas story is “A Christmas Carol.” I identify with Ebenezer Scrooge. Much of the year you’re more likely to find me feeling cynical rather hopeful.
But every year when the weather gets cold, and the lights start to twinkle and “O Holy Night” starts playing on a loop in my head, my heart swells with joy. I love how at every turn there is some song or décor that reminds me of my celebration of my Savior and what He means to me. During the Christmas season, I remember the Prince of Peace more often in my heart and recommit myself to treating others with more kindness and love. I renew my desire to do as Scrooge says, and “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”
Leah Marie Pickren Silverman
This season I am especially thankful my foremothers and forefathers that gave me the traditions that remind me of my faith and the the foundation I was given. I hope to maintain that for my kids… I hope to give them the knowledge that their faith is worth fighting for. I hope to give them the desire to believe in things not seen and things that are bigger then themselves. I hope they have the confidence to work for and sacrifice for those beliefs. My Holiday wish is that maybe we can all hang onto a little bit of the faith of those that came before and that we can also learn from that shared past, that we can look towards the future and dream of things not seen.
Honoring our Past,
Envisioning our Future.