D&C 35:17 ". . . and in weakness have I blessed him."

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas and the Temple

                 It didn’t seem like there was time for Christmas that year. I was in the middle of moving, with one house to organize and unpack and another to clean and fix up. Weighed down by many responsibilities I felt a little resentful of the holiday season. I wasn’t ready to feel any Christmas cheer.
            A week earlier I’d tried to keep my monthly commitment to attend the temple. After getting up at 5 a.m. on a frozen Saturday morning, I made my way to the Jordan River Temple, only to discover it was closed! I turned my car around and headed for the Salt Lake Temple. But icy roads and a freeway detour brought me home again. 
            Weighed down with frustration and a sense of failure, I promised myself, “Next week.”
            But as Saturday approached, the last one before Christmas, I wondered if I’d make it. There was still so much to do—clean, decorate, bake and wrap. Maybe the temple would just have to wait.
            Fortunately commitment triumphed as I took my seat in the chapel of the Salt Lake Temple. Quietly I waited for an endowment session to begin. In the background I heard the tune of a familiar Christmas carol. 
            Christmas carols in the temple?
            At first this music seemed a little out of place. But as I allowed the words to fill my mind, the Spirit spoke to my heart and opened my mind.
            Sitting in a room filled with waiting people, I imagined what it must have been like to wait for the Savior’s birth. A thrill of joy surged through me. How exciting it must have been for the shepherds in the fields and the choirs of angels to know of His birth. 
            I felt a little of the joy they undoubtedly felt. Then I realized how exciting it is for me today, right now, to know of His birth—a cause for celebration! And that’s what Christmas really is—the excitement, the joy and the thrill of having Christ come to earth.
            At the end of the endowment session I headed out of the celestial room, and then halted. Towering above me in the air on the right was a magnificent painting of the Risen Lord. 
           As I stood there in awe of this beautiful artwork, it felt as if I’d been greeted by my Savior. The Spirit reached down into the depths of my soul and filled me with peace and joy—this was His house and He was there. 
           I thought back on the joy I’d felt earlier while sitting in the chapel, the excited anticipation of those who waited for Christ’s birth. Then I realized the anticipation of waiting for Christ to come had been fulfilled for me that day. Through temple worship, He had come into my heart. 
            As I headed home into the congested traffic, I felt untouched by the frenzy of last-minute shoppers around me. Overcome with love for the Savior, I’d been filled with the true spirit of Christmas. Not to be found in the busy shopping malls or under a perfectly decorated tree, but within the quiet walls of the temple. 
            There I discovered: we celebrate the joy of Christ coming to earth by allowing Him to come into our hearts.