Chris Herring, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Mexico Ward
In the past several months our community family and friends have witnessed many tragedies. But we have also witnessed miracles and acts of Christ-like service too.
It is wonderful to see people rally around those who’ve lost homes, loved ones and been victims of other traumatic events. Often those who have come to help are family, friends and fellow churchgoers.
In the Bible Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) A man whom was attacked by robbers and left badly beaten and left to die. He was passed by on the road by a priest and then a Levite, but the one that stopped, loved him and took care of him was the Good Samaritan.
While it is good and important to give service to those who go to church with us or our family or friends, it is more important for us to reach out to those that are perhaps less easy to love. The obnoxious neighbor, the tattooed, unkempt kid walking down the street, the family member we are crossways with, or any number of people in need. All of them and sometimes even ourselves have seen or unseen struggles. It is our duty as disciples of Jesus Christ to reach out to them. In the Parable, I am sure that if the person injured was recognized by the Priest and Levite as one of their buddies or one of their own I’m sure they would have stopped and helped, but the true mark of discipleship is putting yourself aside and serve. Just as Jesus is no respecter of persons neither should we (Romans 2:11).left.
Jesus made it very clear that willing service is a commandment and a requirement of heaven. “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
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.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”(Matthew 25-46).
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints this year for the second year, we have had the Light the World – “25 Days-25 Ways” Christmas initiative where the Church encourages members and others to do daily acts of service to those in need. Often those acts of service such as this will be inconvenient and get us out of our comfort zone, but again the Lord commanded: “Feed my sheep”(John 21:17).
God will place people in need in our path but we have to open our eyes with our heart to see them with the spirit of discernment, putting selfish desires and prejudices aside.
As we do so we will be tools in the hands of the Lord and angels of help and mercy.
You may be saying: What does this have to do with Christmas?
Christmas is about giving. Christmas is about service. And finally Christmas is about love.
We have been given the greatest gift ever given with the birth, life and mission of the Savior Jesus Christ.
As important and significant the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were given to Jesus, how about giving gifts of your time, talents and selfless service to those in need?
Although traditional Christmas gifts are well intended and given out of love they are eventually -and sometimes very quickly- get set aside, worn out or discarded; the impact, memories and softened hearts of the gifts of time, selfless service, reaching out, lending a hand and other Christ-like acts will last for many years even a lifetime.
It is my hope and my prayer that this Christmas is the best ever for you and your family! Not the best of stuff but the best of service to God and your fellow man. Those are the gifts that really matter.