Delivered by Michael in a sacrament meeting of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Montgomery Ward, Cincinnati Ohio East Stake, Sunday 15 December 2019



  1. Coloring with granddaughter
    1. you’re not doing it right
  2. Most of us have our own “right” version of what happened on that first Christmas
    1. Events of the nativity
      1. Joseph takes his pregnant wife to Bethlehem for the census
      2. The journey is long and hard
      3. They are alone and weary
      4. When they arrive, the city is so crowded, that there is no availability in any of the inns, they are not welcome
      5. One inn keeper feels sorry for them and lets them take shelter in a stable
      6. The stable is off by itself, and offers peace and quiet for the weary parents
      7. Jesus is born in the humblest of circumstances
      8. The shepherds, after seeing and hearing the heavenly hosts, go to the stable
      9. According to most Christmas pageants, the wise also show up at the stable, adorning the child with precious gifts
    2. What I learn from this story
      1. The world neither has nor makes room for the Savior
      2. The birth of Jesus was holy and private, separate from the world
      3. The story asks of me whether I am like the world, or do I make room for Jesus in the inn of my life
  3. However, when we open ourselves up to a different understanding, new and better meaning can emerge for us, possibly better than the good meaning of the traditional story
    1. Sometimes need to change what is familiar to us, what we have dictated as “right”
  4. Birth of Jesus re-visited
    1. Traveled with a group; not alone on the dangerous road from Jericho
    2. When arrived at Jerusalem, went directly to relative’s house
      1. Mary and Joseph were expected, anticipated
      2. Lots of other relatives were there as well
    3. “No room in the inn”
      1. Word is kataluma, same Greek word used to describe where Jesus had the last supper with his disciples
      2. Better translated as upper room or guest room
      3. Joseph climbs the latter, knowing where it was to take him, but discovered it was already full of other relatives
    4. The rest of the house was as crowded, teaming with lots of guests, all there for the same reason, the census
    5. The only place where there aren’t a lot of people is the area on the ground floor were the animals were lodged for the evening
      1. Not a private space
      2. Animals are not dirty; not a sign of indignity to be with the animals; they were part of the family
      3. The “stable” was still open to the rest of the house
    6. There was no escaping the hustle and bustle going on the in rest of the house
      1. It was not quiet
      2. It was not private
      3. There was no such thing as private in Palestinian culture
    7. After the baby is born, Joseph clears out the manager, which is hewn from stone not wood
    8. In the midst of the chaos going on around them, Mary and Joseph carve out their own private experience
      1. The baby is the only thing going on for them
    9. Meanwhile, the shepherds are tending their sheep as families
      1. Young children are working the flocks as much as the parents
      2. They are working as a family
      3. The whole family experiences the message of the angles together
    10. The whole family goes to the house were the Christ child was born
      1. Mary and Joseph, though in a strange place, allow others to join their experience, welcome the shepherds into their newly created family
      2. They accept the wonder and devotion of others
    11. The Wise Men recognize the sign when they are not expecting it
      1. They are accompanied with an entourage fit for kings
    12. It takes the Wise men several years to arrive
      1. The family now lives in another house
      2. Jesus has grown into a young child
    13. The arrival of the Wise Men is an unanticipated surprise for Mary and Joseph
      1. Just as they had welcomed the shepherds, they welcome strangers into their private family
    14. The Wise Men, too are surprised, though they have anticipated then event
      1. They accept the humbleness of the situation
      2. They are overwhelmed with happiness and joy
    15. Joseph and Mary are open enough to let this event, the adoration of the magi, transpire
  5. What I have learned from re-visiting the Christmas story
    1. Christ came to earth to experience mortality just the same way each of us does
      1. Not born on the outskirts of life, but in the very middle of its hustle and bustle
    2. Christ is born, comes to life, in the midst of busy families, in the midst of chaos
      1. Fourth verse of O Little Town of Bethlehem, not in our hymnbook version
        1. O Holy Child of Bethlehem Descend to us, we pray Cast Out our sin and enter inBe born in us today.”
      2. The Christmas story is about Christ being born in each of us, in our families
      3. Particularly a propos given our new emphasis on home-centered gospel learning and training
    3. Life is full of lots of expectations realized when we least expect them to
    4. We learn of Christ, we manifest our discipleship, we reverence Christ as families of shepherds bonding with other families experiencing life changing events
    5. Like Mary and Joseph, we do not have to go outside our homes to find wisdom
      1. We learn wisdom in our homes by inviting wise men and women with their stories, life history and gifts to come into our families, when we least expect it
      2. We do not need to shut ourselves off from the rest of the world
    6. The gift that our Heavenly parents give to us, just as Mary and Joseph’s gift to the Wise Men, is the sharing of their Son with the world, allowing others to be changed by Him, to be overwhelmed by Him
  6. May we share, may we give birth to the gift of the Son, the gift of the birth of Christ, with all those around us.