i read this on my cousins blog. and had to post it, because everyone needs to read it.
happy christmas eve. :)
The Three Levels of Christmas
This is a beautiful time of year. We love the excitement, the giving spirit, the special appreciation for family and friends, the feeling of love, and the brotherhood that blesses our gatherings at Christmas time.
In all of the joyousness, it is well to reflect that Christmas comes at three levels.
Let’s call the first the Santa Claus level. It is the level of Christmas trees and holly, of whispered secrets and colorful packages, of candlelight and rich food and warm open houses. It is carolers in the shopping malls, excited children and weary but loving parents. It is a lovely time of special warmth, caring and giving. It is the level at which we eat too much, spend too much, and do too much – and enjoy every minute of it. We love the Santa Claus level of Christmas.
As fun and exciting as the first level is the Twelve days of Christmas is about all most of us can handle. It is too intense and too extravagant. The tree dries out and the needles fall. The candles burn down. The beautiful wrappings go out with the trash, the carolers are up on the ski slopes, the toys break, and one of the biggest days in stores all year is exchange day December 26th. The feast is over the dieting begins. But the hungry and the lonely are with us still, perhaps hungrier and lonelier than before. As lovely and joyous as the first level of Christmas is, there will come a day very soon, when parents will put away the decorations and vacuum the living room and think, “thank goodness that is over for another year.”
But there is a higher more beautiful level. We call this the Silent Night level. It is the level of all our glorious Christmas carols, of that beloved, familiar nativity story. It is the level of the crowded Inn and the silent holy moment in a dark stable when the Son of man came to earth. It is the shepherds on steep, bare hills near Bethlehem, angels with their glad tidings, a new star in the East, and Wise Men traveling far in search of the Holy One. How beautiful and meaningful it is, how infinitely poorer we would be without this sacred second level of Christmas.
But even the second level, the level of the Baby Jesus, can’t last. How many times a year can you sing Away In A Manger? The angel, the star, the shepherds, and even the silent sacred mystery of that holy night itself, cannot long satisfy humanity’s basic need. The man who keeps Christ in the manger will, in the end, be disappointed and empty.
No, for Christmas to last all year long, for it to grow in beauty, meaning, and purpose, for it to have power to change lives, we must celebrate it at the third level, that of the adult Christ. It is at this level – not as an infant - that our Savior brings His gifts of lasting peace and hope. It was the adult Christ who reached out and touched the untouchable, who loved the unlovable and who so loves us all that even in His agony on the cross, He prayed for the forgiveness of His enemies.
This is the Christ, creator of worlds without number, who as Enoch tells us, wept because so many of us lack affection and hate each other. This is the Christ who willingly gave His life for all of us. This is the Christ, the adult Christ, who gave us the perfect example and asked us to follow Him.
Accepting that invitation is the way, the only way, to celebrate Christmas all year and all life long.
As Nephi wrote: “And wetalkofChrist, we rejoice inChrist, we preach ofChrist, we prophesy ofChrist, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins”