Posted by: 2thdocbob | 27 November 2022

An Invitation to Come unto Him; Learn of Him; Look to Him

Sometimes a particular message approaches me from so many different sides that I have stop and pay attention. This is one of those occasions. And the message is significant. Because I am still a little challenged in some of the formatting in this newer version of WordPress, everything in italics is a quote.

Following is the 2022 First Presidency Christmas message, released Nov. 25 and signed by President Russell M. NelsonPresident Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring:

This Christmas season, we invite you to find quiet moments to reflect on our Savior’s birth, life and atoning sacrifice. Come unto Him. Learn of Him. Look to Him for lasting peace and divine rest. In a world that often feels overwhelming and contentious, He offers peace that “passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

He has promised: “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; … and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

We testify that as you seek our Savior’s love, peace and rest, you will find it. You will be blessed to feel the true spirit of Christmas, the eternal joy that comes only from Him.[1]

I believe in prophetic promises, and I welcome the promise of peace through Christ. This is an important promise which is relevant to believers and non-believers.

I have been listening to Christmas music for nearly a month. It struck me, with some disappointment, that very few songs that receive airplay are actually about Christ. In fact, most of them are winter songs that are only played at Christmastime, so they have become associated with Christmas. Most of the rest are Santa Claus songs. There are also romance songs.

I honestly enjoy the vast majority of these songs. They are fun to listen to, and fun to sing along with. I enjoy the creativity that goes into dressing up old Christmas songs in current styles. But the absence of songs about him whose birth we celebrate is striking.

I have listened to more country Christmas songs this year than in years past, and I have concluded that Jesus Christ is still alive and well in Nashville, in Memphis, and even in Luckenbach, Texas. But he seems to be missing in New York and Los Angeles (Hollywood).

There were some notable songs that I hadn’t heard until just recently that I would like to highlight. Their messages are touching and significant.

First is “The Nativity,” by Lee Ann Womack. Don’t forget “the,” or you’ll get the wrong song.

I remember every Christmas on my mother’s china hutch
Sat a tiny nativity I was not allowed to touch.
I would stand on tip toes peering pensive and eyes wide
Imagining what I would do if I were there inside
Would I kneel beside the manger and worship him on my knees
Would I be of any service to the savior soon to be
Could I persuade the unknowing to accept him in their home
If I were there with Jesus would I help to right the wrong
.[2]

This is a wonderful way to invite Christ into your life this season and always. Imagine what you would do if you had been there. I believe most of us would have knelt with the shepherds as they worshiped him. Except we were probably in the angelic choir that sang. Have you thought about that?

Next is a song by Rhett Akins, “No Room.” Akins sings of the well-known events prior to the birth of Christ, when Mary laid Jesus in a manger because there was “no room at the inns.”[3] Akins sings:

Once again Christmas is here
Busiest time of the year
There’s a growing list of last minute things still to do

Not many shopping days left
Still got presents to wrap
People are saying parties we’ve got to go to

No room, no room
Sorry, but life’s too full to let you in
No space, no place for the Savior Jesus
No room

No room, no room
Lord, help us find, help us find the room
[4]

Akins invites us to make room for Jesus, and begs the question “Is my life too full to let the Savior in?” This is a question all believers should ask themselves regularly. It suggests that I need to realign some of my priorities.

Next is Reba McEntire’s reading of a poem by Helen Steiner Rice, “The Story of The Christmas Guest,” which Reba simply calls “The Christmas Guest.”[5] This is a poem I have heard infrequently throughout my life, but it has great meaning. It is based on the Savior’s words to his Apostles shortly before his crucifixion, as told in Matthew 25:34-47. It is likely an adaption of a German folktale about Martin, the cobbler. There are also connections to Tolstoy’s “Where Love Is, There God Is.”[6]

Rice tells the story of Conrad, a humble cobbler, who saw the Lord in a dream.

“The Lord appeared in a dream to me
And said, ‘I am coming your guest to be.’”

Conrad waits in his shop for his honored guest with increasing concern as the day passes. He helped three individuals in their time of need, but with sadness turned to the Lord in prayer:

“He knew that the Lord was not coming today
For the hours of Christmas had passed away.

So he went to his room and knelt down to pray

And he said, ‘Dear Lord, why did you delay?

What kept You from coming to call on me,
For I wanted so much Your face to see.’

When soft in the silence a voice he heard,
‘Lift up your head, for I kept My word –

Three times My shadow crossed your floor –
Three times I came to your lonely door –

For I was the beggar with bruised, cold feet,
I was the woman you gave to eat,
And I was the child on the homeless street.

Three times I knocked and three times I came in,
And each time I found the warmth of a friend.
Of all the gifts, love is the best,
And I was honored to be your Christmas Guest.’”

This tale suggests a wonderful way to invite Christ into our lives: through serving his children in need. And that is probably the best gift we can offer to Jesus as we celebrate his birth. It will certainly help us to feel his love.

Honorable mention goes to “Thank God for Kids.” It gets honorable mention because it mentions God, but not Jesus; but Christmas isn’t the same without children around, and that we should be thankful for the children in our lives.

“When I look down in those trusting eyes
That look to me I realize
There’s love that I can’t buy
Thank God for kids.


Thank God for kids, there’s magic for a while
A special kind of sunshine in a smile.

Do you ever stop to think or wonder why?
The nearest thing to heaven is a child
When you get down on your knees
Tonight to thank the Lord for His guiding light
And pray they turn out right thank God for kids.
[7]

Because of their nearness to heaven, the children understand that Baby Jesus is important to Christmas. Just watch a young child looking at a creche, or nativity. The focus is almost always on Baby Jesus. We can learn from that.

A final thought comes from Lloyd Newell, in his weekly Music & The Spoken Word message on November 27, 2022.[8] Newell suggest to us that although the word Christmas is not a Spanish word, the word más means more. So when we see the word Christmas, it could remind us to give more of Christ to this holiday season: “More of Him in our thoughts, in our actions, in our anticipation for Christmas — so much more, in fact, that one day can’t hold our love for Him, and it overflows into every part of our lives every season of the year.” 

I look forward to a Christ-centered Christmas season this year. I plan on giving him more intentional time between now and Christmas as I seek to feel his love and his peace. I hope my gentle readers will consider this in their own lives.


[1] The Church News, https://www.thechurchnews.com/leaders/2022/11/25/23476097/first-presidencys-christmas-message-2022.

[2] My own transcription, because I couldn’t locate the lyrics. Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ly0ks6jzid0.

[3] KJV, Luke 2:7 (JST). We should note that the innkeepers’ stories are romanticized fictional additions to St. Luke’s account, and are not scriptural.

[4] No Room, https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/rhettakins/noroom.html. Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zshhrUTwQTs.

[5] Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Grandpa Jones also recorded versions of this. Johnny’s version can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTwAKf0OLo4.

[6] Who Wrote the Song, “The Christmas Guest?” https://atkinsbookshelf.wordpress.com/2016/12/24/who-wrote-the-song-the-christmas-guest/.

[7] https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/oakridgeboys/thankgodforkids.html. You can listen to Kenny Chesney’s version here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yCI76DnSd8. I love the visuals.

[8] The Church News, https://www.thechurchnews.com/living-faith/2022/11/26/23476135/music-the-spoken-word-what-can-we-give-him.


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