BETA

A Christmas guest

Who is on your guest list this Christmas season? Have you considered including Him whose birth we celebrate?

In the revelation given through John, Christ promised, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" (Revelation 3:20).

This passage suggests that, in a figurative sense, the Savior offers to come into our homes if we but open the door, and that we will be blessed thereby, just as surely as if He had graced us with His physical presence.

What better time than the Christmas season to accept this offer?

The question follows, then: In what sense or manner can we invite the Lord to come in and sup with us?

In a prophecy of the last days and the final judgment, Jesus taught the importance of caring for the hungry, lonely, destitute and sick, declaring, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40).

Thus, in a real sense, when we accommodate those in need, we do, indeed, serve the Master, who ultimately blesses us for our kindness.

In Charles Dickens' classic tale A Christmas Carol, the miser Ebenezer Scrooge is visited in his London counting house on Christmas Eve by two men seeking donations for the poor. The archetypal utilitarian of 1840s society, Scrooge responds by asking sarcastically if there are no prisons or workhouses to which the poor can be sent.

One of the men responds: "Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude, a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices."

Scrooge's rejoinder is that he is taxed to support the prisons and workhouses, "they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there."

In our day, are we occasionally in danger of adopting the uncharitable attitude of Scrooge: that state-sponsored assistance is available to the needy and that our obligation to them is thus obviated by our payment of taxes? Sometimes, even when a person is well enough off in terms of physical necessities, he or she stands in great need of our time, friendship and Christlike influence, especially at Christmas time.

Another way in which we can invite the Lord into our homes during the Christmas season is to accept His invitation: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls" (Matthew 11:29).

Presumably, if the Lord were our house guest, we would take opportunity to sit at His feet and "learn" of Him. Alternatively, we have the scriptures and the words of the prophets that abundantly tell and testify of Him. In addition to re-reading the familiar accounts in Luke and Matthew of the birth of the Christ child, the angelic proclamation to the Judean shepherds and the quest of the wise men, we can explore elsewhere in scripture His life and mission in mortality, His atoning sacrifice and the prophesied events of His coming in glory. The "Topical Guide" included with the LDS edition of the King James Bible can be an invaluable aid in this endeavor.

Thus instructed, we are more fully motivated to take His yoke upon us by our service in the kingdom and by our obeying His commandments.

Finally, if Christ were a guest in our homes, would we take time and opportunity to benefit from His visit? We have the account in Luke 10:38-42, of Jesus being a house guest of Mary and Martha. Is there a message for us in the Master's gentle chiding of Martha as it applies to our propensity sometimes to get too caught up in the bustle of holiday preparation to truly enjoy and be edified by the Christmas celebration?

As we enter another Christmas season, let us open our homes and hearts to the Babe of Bethlehem, Jesus of Nazareth, the Savior of the world.