Dear family and friends,
Merry Christmas! I am writing my blog today as if I were addressing each one of you individually. I hope this letter finds you well and happy at this most special time of the year when our hearts turn to the Savior as we emulate his giving us the greatest of all gifts. We in turn give of our gifts, though humble and small in comparison.
The greatest gifts of all are the gifts of the heart. There are so many types of gifts we receive at Christmas and because each of us speak a different language of love, they may not always be received very well. This is when disappointment sets in and people get the “Christmas blues” and their bills; however, there is one thing we all appreciate and that is a gift from the heart such as Service. You most certainly will always remember an act of Service someone performed for you for the rest of your life but you may forget who gave you the T-shirt or bath soap by next month.
There is a special book I read for the Holiday entitled, The Message by Lance Richardson which ironically was given to my husband and I by a sweet family friend because of our “hospitality” in hosting him in our home. This book brought to my attention the true spirit of Christmas which is Service. “If a man were to die, and then return, what message might those from the world beyond send back to us?”. This is the message that will save each of us, our Nation and the World: “Service became the action form of that devotion and love towards God and others. With Service, unity replaced selfishness, as each person became deeply committed to the good of the whole rather than their own self interests.”
Lance shares some very interesting events that he saw while in a coma for over 3 weeks. His humble approach to such delicate and sacred events are shared with love. He most certainly saw many more events but his book is not a doom-and-gloom book rather, a book about Christ, love and the action form of love; charity. He said, “If we will break down the walls between us and join together for our common good-rather than thinking selfishly of our own interests-our homes, cities, and nation may become havens of peace such as I visited in the Spirit World. A paradise, a Zion, cities of consummate peace, can be created on earth I know it is so because they told me so, and because of my experiences. I yearn to see that day and believe completely that it is possible”.
Marjorie Pay Hinckley said, “We all have a responsibility-a responsibility to make a difference, to be an influence, to lift someone. We are all in this together to work out our salvation, to reach our potential, and to be our brother’s keeper-to help each other”. Small and Simple Things She quotes John A. Widtoe, “The least of us, the humblest, is in partnership with the Almighty in achieving the purpose of the eternal plan of salvation. That places us in a very responsible attitude toward the human race”. Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine 25 (October 1934): 189
Lance continues to say, “Indeed we live in troubled times. These things are of grave concern to all of us, for the stakes are exceedingly high. Our families, our society, our nation, and our world are at risk. If we do not join together, as friends and neighbors, taking a stand for these ideals by reinstating them as priorities in our lives, and by beginning to genuinely love one another through Service, we may lose them.”
To echo the message Lance gave in his book, I add my prayer of hope and faith, that this new year brings each of us a desire to perform Service. First to serve within our families and then out into our neighborhoods and communities. There are so many ways to volunteer. Each act will help to build us up in unity and love and we may never realize the far-reaching impact we’ve had on even one individual such as I had just few weeks ago while serving in the St. George temple which I’ll tell you about.
I play the organ in the temple two days a week and one day, I got the times mixed up, arriving to play on Wednesday at the hour I play on Thursday. It was such an odd thing for me to do, but knowing my mental status these past few months (It’s a Wonderful Life), I can see how the mishap happened. I shook my head and walked out of the chapel not sure what to do since I went to the effort to go. Suddenly, I remembered some family names my nephew had given me over a year earlier that had sat in my temple bag and become forgotten. I knew then why I had the confusion and that those names needed to be done. They were children who needed to be sealed to their parents, the rest of the work had been done for them, so I quickly walked up to the sealing rooms. I saw an old friend and we chatted for a bit, and then it was time to head into the sealing room. They invited my friend to join me. When we were nearly finished, my friend stood up and announced to all the people in the room how this young lady, (me), had saved his life 10 years ago. I was dumb founded!!! How did I save his life? He proceeded to tell the story about how I invited him to volunteer at the Elementary school where his grandchildren were attending (and my children) and where he continued to volunteer for the next 10 years. With tears in his eyes, he exclaimed how this one opportunity of Service renewed his life with purpose and meaning.
The Apostle Paul admonished, “By love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). Recall with me the familiar words of King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon: “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).
The Savior taught His disciples, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:24).
I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and figuratively lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish—and in effect save their lives. President Thomas S. Monson
I can attest to the great blessings of Service and have been so blessed to be able to volunteer largely in part because of the sacrifices made by my dear husband. I thank my husband from the bottom of my heart for his Service to me and our family. He makes my world go around. Because of all the good he does and gives to so many, I, in turn, can continue to share the gifts I have of my heart.
May we all continue to recognize the good in others as we serve even the least of these my brethren, as said in Matthew 25: 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. We are all in affect serving God, building one another and “saving lives” as well as ourselves, our nation and our world, when we offer Service.
Happy New Year….Here’s to the best 2016!