It's the second day of Christmas. And I just plain don't hold with this "Christmas starts after Halloween but ends on December 26." Christmas should start after Thanksgiving and continue until Twelfth Night (January 6.) That's all. So, expect lots more Christmas-y posts!
My mom wrote this beautiful lesson for Christmas Day.
We often chide ourselves and our children that Christmas should be about giving, not receiving. Yet all we do is in remembrance and celebration of that perfect gift, delivered to us in a stable in Bethlehem in the meridian of time. All other gifts are dependent on that one, the gift of a Savior; without it agency, mortality, repentance, ordinances, covenants are ineffectual and the Plan of Salvation void.
And so let us open five final gifts. Gifts that fill the smallest newborn heart and the universe. Gifts that light every dark place. Gifts that make this life and eternity possible. Gifts from our Savior. For this is His day.
In the premortal world, God's firstborn son, Jehovah, gave His will entirely to righteousness. This absolute faith and devotion allowed Him to fully comprehend the Father's plan and made Him both worthy and able to serve as Savior. He sought no honor, no glory, but only to do His Father's will: He consecrated Himself to the Plan and to our salvation. He had allowed His spirit to be shaped by the hand of Elohim and Elohim made Jehovah like unto Himself.
"And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I,s end me. And the Lord said: I will send the first."Abraham 3: 27
Having consecrated Himself on our behalf to the Father's Plan, Jesus gave His mortal life to us as well. He walked among the poor, the lame, the outcast, and the sinner teaching the way of righteousness and ministering to their needs. The scriptures record His journey from newborn babe to a youth of twelve when His worried mother found Him in the temple teaching learned men the doctrines of God. Then, increasing in wisdom and in stature, He traveled throughout Galilee calling His twelve disciples and establishing His Church. He walked on the hillside and gathered those that would listen to hear His sermon of beatitudes. He walked on the waters and taught Peter about faith. He washed the dust of miles from His friends' feet. Mary sat with Him and received the better part. He stood at the well and offered a Samaritan woman the water of life. He drove the sellers from the temple. He battled Satan. He knelt before God. He trod the road to Golgotha. All for us.
"And his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" Luke 2: 48-49
Though He would still bleed on the cross, the blood Christ shed for us in the Garden binds us to Him, secures our hopes of repentance and justification. There, His certainly calloused, work-worn yet clean hands clasped in prayer and reached out to clasp our stained hands in His. Then, not shrinking from His covenants, He took our sins into His hands--and bore what is intolerable to Righteousness.
Yes. He offered His spotless hands and, clasping ours, bled in anguish as unknown sin seared His righteous flesh and bound Him to us, us to Him, through the clasp that made brother father of our souls. And surely we are His.
"He that ascended up on high as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth." Doctrine and Covenants 88: 6
"For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit--and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink--Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men." Doctrine and Covenants 19: 16-19
Having made an offering of blood and prayer in the Garden, Christ then offered up His body and spirit as He bled on the cross. In this ordeal prophecy was fulfilled and the Plan of Salvation secured, and us with it should we choose His way.
"For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him. And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance." Doctrine and Covenants 18: 11-12
"For behold, he surely must die that salvation may come; yeah, it behooveth him and becometh expedient that he dieth, to bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, that thereby men may be brought into the presence of the Lord. Yeah, behold, this death bringeth to pass the resurrection, and redeemeth all mankind from the first death--that spiritual death; for all mankind, but the fall of Adam being cut off from the presence of the Lord, are considered as dead, both to things temporal and to things spiritual. But behold, the resurrection of Christ redeemeth mankind, yea, even all mankind, and bringeth them back into the presence of the Lord." Helaman 14: 15-17
And this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that all men shall live who come unto Him. What is the Gospel? It is the good news that Jesus can save us from our fallen selves and make us right. Though all was necessary--His will, His life, His blood, His body--it is because of His love, His righteousness, that He is God and has the power to save.
I read His words, the words He prayed
while bearing sorrow in Gethsemane;
I feel His love, the price He paid:
How many drops of blood were shed for me?
With saints of old in joyful cry
I too can testify: This is the Christ.
This is the Christ, the Holy Son of God,
Our Savior, Lord, Redeemer of mankind.
This is the Christ, the healer of our souls
who ransomed us with love divine.
~From "This is the Christ" by James E. Faust and Jan Pinborough
Guys. It doesn't get better than this. Now stop reading and WATCH!
It's here! It's here it's here it's here!! And I have a few things to say. First, watch it again. Ok.
1. So. Darn. Fantastic. It lives up to expectations and more, which is saying a lot. Really. I've only been waiting for this since I was seven.
2. It's so cool to see new shots of the familiar characters and sets! Because, let's face it, by now we know every picture from the trilogy. This is new!
3. Using the LotR music as bookends...was brilliant.
4. Having memorized the Dwarfs' Song years ago, it was especially exciting to hear it sung right here in the trailer.
5. Richard Armitage.
7. Kili. I told you he'd be awesome!
8. Martin Freeman is Bilbo. He's going to be absolutely perfect. I've known it since I saw Sherlock, and the trailer certainly backs me up.
Well, not always. But today it was!
I got all my chores done (Huzzah and huzzah again for a clean livingspace.) and then headed off to my friends' house. It had been far too long since I'd seen these guys, due to the fact that they went and graduated on me.
These guys? They're awesome.
We watched the first two episodes of Season 6 of Doctor Who...Holy. Hippogriffs. It blew my mind. It's STILL blowing my mind! And there's still the rest of the season!
Then I went home and did some ACT practice tests. (Please oh please oh PLEASE let this be my last time. Actually, it's my last time no matter what, so just let it be good!)
Then I had a practice with my youth choir for the song we're singing at our Christmas party.
And THEN I went to ANOTHER friend's house to watch Love's Labour's Lost, the Shakespeare play that our school is doing this year. Have you guys seen that movie? All I can say is Shakespeare + Kenneth Brannagh + tap dancing + over-the-top musical numbers = pure awesome. Just watch it, ok? Skip the masquerade scene.
Then we watched the newest Kid History. It's about Christmas. It's delightful.
And on the way home, we got to listen to Prime Time Real Estate's latest recorded song. (This is my friends' band, for those who aren't lucky enough to know.) It goes without saying that it's fantastic.
200 words about a setback I've overcome? May I suggest an alternative? How about the topic my tenth-grade English teacher assigned to test what we'd do with an impossible topic: "Do you think the world has become better or worse? Explain." Now that I had fun with...
Dickens said, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The thing is, he knew what time he was talking about. I don’t. When one asks if the world has changed for the better or for the worse, I just don’t know what to think. Several million years is really rather a long time to evaluate, you see. And that’s not even getting into the real problems! Better for whom? In what context!? The world. The whole world! Earth! That’s an entire planet! Where to begin…
Let’s start with “better.” What do we mean by better? Better for…me? Better for the yak herders of the Mongolian steppes? Better for the Hobbits, who are now all in hiding from the Big People? It’s obviously not better for the Nazis! Or better for humanity? Can we really rule out the Eskimos simply because the rest of us now have cell phones? And once we’ve figured that out, how much better is better?
What constitutes the betterment of this very large world? Is it a better place now because there are artificial sweeteners? Maybe. How about because of sliced bread, that much-referred-to blessing? Sure! Lack of 70s hairstyles? Yes. Definitely better. Mandatory public education? Mmm, debatable. Who was this supposed to be better for again? I’m sure we could argue that the hanger has made the world a better place. And the Oxford comma. And those handy little white-out tapes. “Control-Z”. And the letter ‘j’. But of course, ‘j’ has been around for quite a while. Which brings us to the next question.
Time. Wrinkles or not, there’s certainly been a lot of it since the Earth was a ball of lava, dust, and toxic fumes. Has the world become better since, say, King Tyrannosaurus Rex IV? Being human, I would have to say yes. What about since King Henry VIII? Let’s see. Flushing toilets. Power tools. Chalkboards. Once again, I’m going to have to say yes. Since the 70s? Yes. We’ve been over this. The world is undeniably a better place without the 70s. And really, McDonald’s made everything better, right? Since the 90s? Well, there was no musical called Wicked then, and that certainly was a change for the better. Since last November? And here we encounter a little snag.
How much “better” does there have to be to cancel out all the “worse?” I’m positive we could find a following for the argument that Play station 76 more than makes up for the general debauchery of the world. And the fact that we no longer wear big silver buckles on our shoes could probably counter not being able to open your locker because there are no lights on in the hall. Monty Python’s good. But is it good enough to cancel out 40,000,000 cows and their collective methane gas emissions? Can Chuck-a-Rama’s deep-roasted turkey breast outweigh rap music?
Finally, if we can say that the world is better now, what does it mean for the future? Will things continue to be “better?” Or are we on course for a whole bunch more “worse?” Yes, we’ve eradicated Polio, but we still sell Velveeta across the country. Will email succeed in eliminating the U.S. Postal Service? And, perhaps most worrisome of all: just how long can a few Shire-folk and their friends hold back the tide of sparkly vampires in silver Volvos?
Ah, those were the days. Now back to my application.
So basically, now I'm all cool and everything.
She gave me three questions to answer, which I am now dutifully doing to avoid losing my "big blog on campus" status.
1. Who is your favorite LotR character and why? For real? I'm supposed to have a quick answer? Ok, let's see...first one to spring to mind is Faramir, because...he's awesome. No! I have better reasons than that. In the books, he's really completely good, which is nice, but I love his character development in the movies. Plus I feel so bad for him for having to face a father like Susan (aka Denethor for those who don't know) and his romance with Eowyn is basically the best thing ever (deserved WAY more screen time). And there's the whole Faramir-is-the-Robin-Hood-of-Middle-Earth which, obviously, is fantastic. You know what, I'm gonna leave it at that. If you want a dissertation on why I love every single character in LotR, contact me. :)
2. If you lived in Middle Earth, what species would you be? Probably human, really. But a really, REALLY cool human. With fighting skills. And...fancy dresses. (Someday, I promise, I will finish that blog post or twenty on the costuming in the films.) Obviously I wouldn't be an elf, because no un-earthly beauty. (Can you imagine being on set with the elves? Intimidating!) I could be a hobbit, though, because of the curly hair and all.
3. If you lived in Middle Earth, where would you be from and where would you live? As a human, DEFINITELY from Rohan. Probably the Westfold but possibly Edoras. And then I would live in Edoras and visit my friend Kate over in Gondor regularly. Also, I would have a horse. Duh. It would look like this:
As a hobbit, I'd want to live somewhere we don't get to see much in the books or movies, like the Eastfarthing. Or in Hobbiton because Sam's mayor. :)
And now (drumroll please) I'm going to pass this on to nine (for the fellowship) wonderful followers who are also LotR fans, because I want to see their answers.
A story in pictures in which Carrots, aided by her Fairy Godmother, The Doctor, Madame de Pompadour, both versions of The Scarlet Pimpernel, and The Students of Liberty, rescues and marries Sydney Carton.
Today Carrots, due to picture availability, will be played partially by Miss Anne Shirley, Miss Amy Pond, and Miss Ginevra Weasley.
Don't expect this to be sirius. (Black or otherwise)