Tuesday, January 4, 2011

42b Some Matters from Christmas Time I Didn't Want to Overlook.

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Please note that beginning with post (41x on December 7, 2010) a new post is being published every Tuesday morning. This will allow me to better accommodate the relatively large number of those (as Google Analytics informs me) who view my posts on Saturdays and Sundays. I had been publishing a new post every five days for several years.

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A special witness of Christ from the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, for each of us just after Christmas Season 2010 has ended:
2Nephi 11:1 AND now, Jacob spake many more things to my people at that time; nevertheless only these things have I caused to be written, for the things which I have written sufficeth me.
And now I, Nephi, write more of the words of Isaiah, for my soul delighteth in his words. For I will liken his words unto my people, and I will send them forth unto all my children, for he (Isaiah) verily saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him.
3 And my brother, Jacob, also has seen him as I have seen him; wherefore, I will send their words forth unto my children to prove unto them that my words are true. Wherefore, by the words of three, God hath said, I will establish my word. Nevertheless, God sendeth more witnesses, and he proveth all his words.

4 Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end hath the law of Moses been given; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him.

5 And also my soul delighteth in the covenants of the Lord which he hath made to our fathers; yea, my soul delighteth in his grace, and in his justice, and power, and mercy in the great and eternal plan of deliverance from death.

6 And my soul delighteth in proving unto my people that save Christ should come all men must perish.

7 For if there be no Christ there be no God; and if there be no God we are not, for there could have been no creation. But there is a God, and he is Christ, and he cometh in the fulness of his own time. (clarification and emphasis added)
Joseph Smith: a witness of Christ

The Prophet was a servant endowed 'with much power'
By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer. Published: Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010

Because Joseph Smith, a witness of Christ was born very close to Christmas, December 23, 1805 I invite you to read about his being a witness of the Lord Jesus Christ whose birthday we just celebrated on December 25, 2010. I was given permission by the Church News to use this article in this blog post.

Joseph Smith, a Witness of Christ

The Painting of Our Savior, Jesus Christ Appearing to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple was not available in the article you have just read, but I now make it available to you:

Christ appearing to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple -by Walter Rane

Despite causing this post to run longer than I had anticipated, I feel I should include in my "Christmas Post" something else. I know Christmas 2010 is over yet I hope each of you still feel its spirit. I believe I do and this Deseret News article dated: Friday, December 24, 2010 really added to my true enjoyment of the Christmas we just enjoyed. I hope you feel the same as I do about it:

The Birth of Jesus - Painting: Carl Heinrich Bloch
Like Mary, let's proclaim 'yes' to all good things, By Diana Butler New York Times Syndicate

"Hail Mary, full of grace: The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women."

These words, second nature to Catholics, always seem foreign to me, Growing up Methodist, I rarely heard anything of the Virgin Mary, Except, of course, at Christmas.

As a child, I eagerly awaited unpacking the creche. Year after year, I reverently woke Mary from her attic slumber, unwrapping her from yellowed newspaper. Oddly comforting, she never changed. Her blue robes flowed around her, arms crossed gently on her breast, and eyes cast downward watching her baby son in wonder. She embodied motherly love.

However, as I grew up, my childhood affection for Mary waned. Her example of submissive motherhood offered little inspiration to a baby boomer career woman. As feminist theologian Mary Daly put it, "The myth of the Incarnation logically implied the usurpation of female power."

In recent years, however, Mary's story has impressed me anew.

Two thousand years ago, an angel visited a young girl anxiously awaiting her own marriage. "Fear not, Mary," the angel said, "for you have found favor with God. You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus."

Astounded, Mary asked, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"

The angel replied, "God's spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you."

Then the heavens waited. Would she agree?

Although we don't often consider the possibility, Mary could have said no. If I had been she, I would have. God's favor? Pregnant out of wedlock? What of Joseph? What about the wedding? What would my parents say? No, thank you.

God asked her to give up love, honor, happiness and reputation. To accomplish God's will, she would become a social outcast.

The heavens waited. History hung on the word of a teenage girl.

"Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word."

Yes! Yes! Yes! The word reverberated throughout the universe. Angels rejoiced. Because of one girl's yes, God's son would be born.

Mary responded not in fear but in love. "My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!" Not a submissive woman, she risked everything with and extraordinary yes.

Mary's yes -- giving birth to Jesus --transformed the world. What if she had said no?

No is a powerful word. Filled with deadening power, no kills love, creativity and possibilities. Mary's no would have denied the world Jesus.

Yes opens doors. Yes breathes life into impossible dreams. Yes hopes when hope is not seen. Yes embodies courage.

Visionaries hear and speak yes when common sense says no. Martin Luther King's yes to racial equality. Desmond Tutu's yes to a democratic South Africa, Yitzhak Rabin's yes to Mideast peace.

The great Theologian Karl Barth believed that "no" is sin. Human beings say no to God and no to one another. In spite of our no, Barth insisted that God said yes to us. Entering into human history, God overcame every no with the resounding yes of a baby born into the world.

When the baby grew to a man, he said yes, too. Saying yes to God, Jesus submitted to humiliation, paidn and death -- all for the love of his brothers and sisters.

If not for Mary's yes, God's yes would have been silenced. No wonder generations have blessed her.

This holiday season, I suggest we change "just say no" to just say yes." When we say yest to God, yes to love, and yes to each other, healing and reconciliation come.

The Christmas story proclaims God's yes: Love and peace are born into the world. Truly, good news of great joy for all people!

Diana Butler is an author, speaker and independent scholar on religious issures. This column originally was published by the Deseret News in 1999.


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Neil Birch