To get in the Christmasy spirit, I thought I’d share the talk that Zach gave in church this past Sunday.
In our church, the meetings are run by the congregation (everything in the church is run through volunteers/members of the congregation – there are no hired clergy of any kind). The meetings usually consist of the sacrament (out communion) and then 3 speakers; usually 1 youth, and 2 adults (usually 1 female and 1 male). They assign you a topic, you prepare and then present!
This was the first time Zach was asked to be the youth speaker. He was happy his topic was something Christmasy, since he’s a Christmasy kind of guy:) I did help him out by telling him to find a key story, poem, list, or points and then go from there, by discussing it and making it more personal. We found this gem of a piece and then he added his own thoughts. I think he did a super job on it and members of our congregation praised him for an outstanding, uplifting, best Christmas talk!
Here it is:
I was asked to talk about putting Christ back into Christmas. I thought I would share a story by William B Smart that talks about the three levels of Christmas and shows how Christ should not only be put back into Christmas, but back into our every day lives.
Christmas is a beautiful time of the year. We love the excitement, the giving spirit, the special awareness of and appreciation for family and friends, the feelings of love and brotherhood that bless our gatherings at Christmastime. 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’s the level of Christmas trees and holly, of whispered secrets and colorful packages, of candlelight and rich food and warm open houses. It’s carolers in the shopping malls, excited children, and weary but loving parents. It’s a lovely time of special warmth and caring and giving. It’s the level at which we eat too much and spend too much and do too much – and enjoy every minute of it. We love the Santa Claus level of Christmas.
Most people love the Santa clause level, how could you not! In our family we celebrate the Santa Claus level by baking more cookies than any one could ever need, us kids do secret Santa, we always decorate our house with lights, get a tree and decorate it with lots of colourful ornaments, we even have a Christmas buffet on Christmas Eve. The Santa level Christmas is a fun, festive level filled with traditions. And then the article continues,
But there’s a higher, more beautiful level. Let’s call it the Silent Night level. It’s the level of all our glorious Christmas carols, of that beloved, familiar story that starts with: “Now in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus….” It’s the level of the crowded inn and the silent, holy moment in a dark stable when the Son of Man came to earth. It’s the shepherds on steep, bare hills near Bethlehem, angels with their glad tidings, the new star in the East, 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.
In our my house we love this level too, we act out the nativity on Christmas Eve (costumes and all), we go carolling, and in the mornings, we read scriptures about Jesus life and the great qualities that he had. Unfortunately this is often a forgotten level of Christmas in our world today, most of my friends at school are only in it for the gifts and this is not a level that they think about, or teach about in school. The article finishes with the last level of Christmas.
The trouble is, these two levels don’t last. They can’t.
Twelve days of Christmas, at the first level, is about all most of us can stand. It’s too intense, too extravagant. The tree dies out and 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 the biggest day in the stores for the entire year is exchange day, December 26th. The feast is over and the dieting begins. But the lonely and the hungry are with us still, perhaps lonelier and hungrier than before.
Lovely and joyous as the first level of Christmas is, there will come a day, very soon, when Mother will put away the decorations and vacuum the living room and think, “Thank goodness that that’s over for another year.”
Even the second level, the level of the Baby Jesus, can’t last. How many times this season can you sing, “Silent Night?” (Although, when I was younger, I loved silent night so much, I wanted to sing it until Easter!) The angels and the star, and the shepherd, even the silent, sacred mystery of the holy night itself, can’t 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 and meaning and purpose, for it to have the 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 joy, lasting peace, lasting hope. It was the adult Christ who reached out and touched the untouchable, who loved the unlovable, who so loved us all that even in his agony on the cross, he prayed forgiveness for his enemies.
This is Christ, creator of worlds without number, who wept because so many of us lack affection and hate each other – and then who willingly gave his life for all of us, including those for whom he wept. 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 – that all mankind can celebrate Christmas all year and all life long.
I think the third level is the most important. That level is the one that changes the world, the level that has the most impact, and it’s what touches the most people! I am thankful that I have the opportunity to get to know the adult Christ, by going to church, saying my prayers and reading the scriptures. I am also thankful for all the blessings in my life, and for never feeling alone. I hope we could all find the true meaning of Christmas and the adult Christ not only this Christmas season, but all year round. And I say these things, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.