The Miraculous Birth and Priceless Gift of His Son
Second Counsellor, Africa Southeast Area Presidency
Many years ago my wife, Jacqui, and I eagerly awaited the birth of our first child. The delivery became complicated and so an unexpected emergency C-section was required. I was concerned and anxious. Clothed in a green hospital gown, I nervously sat at my wife’s side while the operation was performed. Soon we heard the cry of a newborn, and a bluish-gray baby boy was quickly whisked away by the nurse. After a short time the baby was brought in for Jacqui to hold. As we gazed at this beautiful baby boy, we were filled with wonder and tender love at such a priceless gift from our Heavenly Father. He seemed so perfect in every way. We felt this overwhelming feeling of love that parents instinctively feel for an innocent and helpless newborn. We knew not only that he was a gift from our Eternal Father, but also that he had just come from being with our Heavenly Father. We offered a prayer of thanks and wondered what he would tell us if he could talk of the heavenly home he had just left.
The poet William Wordsworth penned these beautiful lines:
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.
(“Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood,” in The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900, ed. Arthur Quiller-Couch , 628.)
Two thousand years ago, another firstborn son came into the world. He too was a priceless gift from the Eternal Father for us all. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” ( John 3:16). Not only did He seem perfect, He was perfect and remained perfect as He grew and matured. His was a life without sin. He was born in the humblest circumstances and, as far as we know, never traveled more than 150 miles (241 km) from home and then only by foot. Yet no event in the history of the world has had a greater impact than the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Throughout our modern world, time itself is measured from this miraculous event.
With all of Christianity at this special time of year, we celebrate the joy that has come to the world through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We proclaim without reservation that He is literally the Son of God. While in the premortal existence, He volunteered to atone for our sins and be resurrected so that “for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Thus He became the Savior and Redeemer of all men and women.
However, His selfless and supreme act of atonement for our sins will have power in our lives only if we have faith in Him, repent, are baptized and confirmed, and endure to the end. What a marvelous and awe-inspiring gift He has offered each of us. In modern scripture we read: “And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7).
Today, so much we hear of Christmas has to do with gifts. What kind of gifts will you give this year? The scriptural record makes no mention of Christ giving worldly gifts, but is full of examples of Christ giving the gift of self, service, love, healing, and testimony. His life was a life of lifting up the downtrodden, ministering to the sick and afflicted, and teaching truth. In our families and communities, let us make this Christmas a time of Christlike giving. Resolve to give your families the gift of time, love, testimony, gospel truth, and, if needed, forgiveness. Teach your children the true significance of Christmas by sharing your love for the Savior and His teachings.
On a recent visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that as we seek to follow the example of our Savior, we will turn outwards rather than inwards. Jesus Christ’s example was one of complete unselfishness and concern for others, even in the midst of His suffering. May we seek to follow His example as we celebrate His miraculous birth and give thanks to a loving Father in Heaven for the priceless gift of His Son.