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12-15-2023 Dear Family and Friends: A Ministering Message. Merry Christmas

Dear Family and Friends. Debbie and I would like to wish you a Very Merry Christmas. I hope you might have had an opportunity to read the things of “JOY” discussed in the last blog entry. Please take your time to go through this blog. There is much here, most of it is music videos, a couple of short talks, and some reading. I pray that the Holy Ghost be with you as you indulge in this endeavor and come to know Jesus Christ in a much more personable way!


I feel so strongly to share with you what I can of words, music and feelings, testifying of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


26. And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. 2 NE 25:26


33. Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you.


34. Yea, he saith: Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely.


35. Yea, come unto me and bring forth works of righteousness, and ye shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire— Alma 5: 33-35



I encourage you to spend time listening to music that testifies of Jesus Christ, of his birth, life, death, and resurrection.


My Christmas Prayer for You. President Russell M. Nelson


The fullness of the nativity Story HD. About 12 minutes


Away In a Manger. Claire Crosby


Carol of the Bells / the Tabernacle Choir


Joy to the World/ the Tabernacle Choir


What Child is this?


He Lives: Testimonies of Jesus Christ. About 2 minutes


Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful / Laura Osnes and the Tabernacle Choir


Last Witness: Final Testimonies of Latter-Day Prophets and Apostles. About 13 minutes


Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head / The Tabernacle Choir



Mormon Prophet Testifies – Testimony of Gordon B. Hinkley. About 2.5 minutes


Hark! The Herald Angels sing / The Tabernacle Choir


Special Witnesses of Christ – President Russell M. Nelson


O Holy Night Lucy and Martha Thomas About 3minutes


What shall We Give? Pres Monson and Tabernacle choir. About 4 minutes


We now invite you to listen to the Last Testimony of Elder Bruce R. McConkie, I believe just 11 days before he was called home. It is so touching and filled with aa pure witness of Jesus Christ. Following this is a short paper written by his dear wife just before he passed. So many eternal truths taught in this message.



Testimony Bruce R. McConkie. About 15 minutes






“Following is a short piece about his last days given by sister McConkie.


Sister McConkie’s story: with I Believe in Christ.


“In Relief Society today our closing song was “I Believe in Christ. “Then, as we began our Fast and testimony meeting, our opening song was “I Believe in Christ. “This coincidence made me think that perhaps it’s time I share with you how we got this hymn.


“Some 15 years ago, my husband Bruce R. McConkie was very ill. The doctor told us he had two months to live, at the most. However, Bruce felt he still had some things he wanted to do. The Brethren gave him a blessing and his family gathered to share their faith and prayers. He lived and additional 14 months, although he was very ill much of that time. He never thought he wasn’t going to get better. He told me time and time again that this was the Lord’s test for him, and that he had enough faith in and of himself to be healed.


“Early in February, on an overcast day much like today, I decided to make a pie to cheer him up, as he loved pie. While I was doing this he lay on the floor in our bedroom, which he often did. He had a pencil and paper in hand and was writing. Then he came into the kitchen where I was working and said, “Do you want to hear what I’m going to talk about in conference?”


“The pie was almost finished, and I wanted to get it in the oven, but I soon realized that you don’t make pies while he’s talking like this. So, I stopped and sat down to listen. He read to me his talk, and I said, “It’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever written, but how will you ever do it?” He was so ill and so weak, “I don’t know,” he answered, “but I will.”


“His doctor was so worried, ‘You’ve got a dying man on your hands; you must not let him speak at conference. If he tries, he will collapse on nationwide television. ‘But I couldn’t try to stop him. He was determined to do it and nothing could have stopped him. Our son said, “I don’t think there’s anything Dad wanted to do more than preach that last sermon at Conference.’ So, our children fasted together, asking that their father would have the physical and emotional strength to fulfill his wish.


“During the Saturday morning session of April 1985 General Conference, a thin Bruce R. McConkie took his place at the pulpit and despite his weakened condition, he bore majestic testimony to the truths so integral to his life and mission. He testified, ‘I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears. But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.” (Excerpted from his conference address).


“The following Sunday Elder Packer visited him at home and gave him a blessing in which he told Bruce he should ‘quit resisting the will of the Lord.’ We both knew what he meant. AT the conclusion, with tears running down his face, Bruce looked at me as I stood at the foot of the bed, and said, ‘Amelia, do you know what he just did?’ “Yes, I answered, ‘he has sealed you unto death.”


“That was so hard on Bruce. He wanted so much to live. But as I showed Elder Packer out, Bruce got up, folded the bedspread as he always did at night, got ready for bed, and got under the covers. Always before he would insist that I make the bed and he would lay on top of it, fully dressed.


But this was his way of saying to the Lord, “I am bowing to your will.” He passed away a short time later.” What a great blessing to have the beautiful hymn. “I Believe in Christ”, taken from his testimony.


I Believe in Christ – The Tabernacle Choir


Again, we wish you each a very Merry Christmas. Our prayers are with you and your families. May this season bring peace, love and joy into your hearts and homes.


We testify that HE LIVES! And in the not-too-distant future. HE will return in HIS glorious Second Coming. We pray that each of you will draw closer to him and come to know Him this Christmas Season. Yes, even become converted to Jesus the Christ!!!


20. And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.


21. Behold, I have come unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin.


22. Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved. 3 NE 9: 20-22



Silent Night Claire Crosby and President Russell M. Nelson


Please enjoy this special article next. This good sister has a wonderful insight into ancient Israel and the things that transpired during the Savior live. I know you will feel of the spirit as you read this.



I apologize the pictures that were with history did not transfer over. someday I figure these things out

No Wonder She Wept

By

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December 19, 2012

6572




“Over twenty years of research into the Jewish practices and customs inherent in living the Law of Moses has given a new and incredibly rich understanding of the significance and symbolism of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Symbology expert Amberli Nelson has put her years of intensive study and natural writing talent in concert to create what I believe to be a Christmas classic… a masterpiece that will reverberate the world over.” – Rod L. Meldrum


NO WONDER SHE WEPT….

By Amberli Nelson Updated Dec 2020

It would be said of His glorious advent that it is “The greatest story ever told”… and they are right. It is. But there are a few details that need to be amended and perhaps a few more added. And that is where I come in. The wise ones say, “God is in the details”. And when it comes to the events of that glorious night, that little truism could not be more apropos.


First of all, it was not an inn to which my dear cousin Mary and her strong, protective Joseph arrived, seeking accommodations. I know this because it was to my house they came, and though our home is spacious with several guest rooms, it was not considered an inn. And it was I who watched the caravan of a dozen or so trudge up the long graded path to our front courtyard, led by a sturdy, powerfully built man of about 18 gripping the reins of a lumbering donkey who trailed behind bearing a young woman on its’ back.


Something about the man’s swift sure strides hinted at urgency but when I stood to greet him with my usual “Shalom”, his voice was subdued and his demeanor gentle though his brow was clearly creased with strain. He requested to speak with my father straightway, and luckily I knew right where to find him.

That fateful day just so happened to be the 14 of Nissan… Passover. And that meant our home was a flurry of activity as we were setting about some very specific and important duties that Passover mandated. First, it meant that we had spent the previous 2 days scouring our home for any trace of leaven, removing all furniture and rugs, even dishes and then scrubbing the place from floor to ceiling. A mitzvah kept by all Jews this time of year, as we prepare for the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Second it meant our home would be teeming with out of town relatives who had come to observe and share in the spring feasts, filling up every spare room in the house and making all the expected and excited noise of large family gatherings. And third, it meant that Father, in accordance with the Law of Moses to which we strictly adhered, would go out to our small flock that we kept and with his experienced eye for detail examine our one-year-old male lambs, selecting the two or three perfect ones, without spot or blemish. (It is decreed in the law that no part of the lamb is to go wasted, but all of it consumed, therefore it is appointed that for every 10 partakers of the Passover meal, one lamb was to be slaughtered and roasted. That year, our numbers counted almost 30…hence the need for 3 lambs).


Then precisely at 3 o’clock father took them one at a time in his arms, laid them flat and in one swift and sure slice of his blade, slit their throats. I’ve heard that lambs are the only animals that do not resist their own death and I can tell you that is true.


They simply lay there full of love and trust, meekly accepting whatever becomes their lot, never asserting their own will, always deferring to the will of their Master.

After all the blood is drained, the intestines are removed and wrapped around its head, giving the unmistakable appearance of a ‘crowned sacrifice’ of sorts. And then finally the legs are lashed together on an upright stick, usually a pomegranate branch, the arms being spread apart and fastened to each end of a horizontal stick, which when lashed together acquires an uncanny likeness to a cross.


Very careful precautions are taken to make sure that in the preparations, not a single bone of the lamb is broken. That was very important. It was then roasted in this upright position for approximately 3 hours, during which time the unleavened matzah bread was prepared by Mother. Since the roasted lamb is to be eaten at sundown (around 6 pm) and the law states that it is to be eaten with unleavened bread, Mother spent all afternoon of the 14th day getting this bread done just right.

According to the law, it can have no leaven in it– which is more difficult than it sounds. To accomplish this mother took great pains to prevent the rising of the bread and it was a multistep process that began with “striping” the dough. That was done by cutting furrows into it, leaving the appearance of stripes, which slowed the leavening process. But that was not enough to prevent the leavening. So, next came the piercing. Mother would pierce the dough dozens of times with a sharp tool, leaving distinct and permanent holes in the baked bread. But even that was not enough. Therefore, the final step required her to have it baking in the searing heat of the oven’s fire within minutes of striping and piercing, and only then is the act of rising finally thwarted.


When I was sent to fetch Mother that day, I knew I’d find her in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on the unleavened bread we would be breaking that night. Just as she always was on Passover. For, not only was it required to be eaten with our roasted lamb, but it was what we ate for the next seven days in the week long Feast of Unleavened Bread which immediately follows Passover and would require copious amounts of this special bread.

And on that night of nights it would also serve as much needed nourishment to a famished new mother.

Sure enough it was out by the woodshed, overseeing the final stages of lamb roasting, that I found Father and briefed him on the advent of yet another caravan of relatives coming to spend the Passover week with us. Upon hearing that his immediate presence was requested by a young man accompanied by a young woman who seemed to be great with child, he darted out of the field forthwith, propelled by a sense of urgency and headed straight for our guests waiting in the courtyard.

As soon as Father rounded the corner and saw the man I described, he exclaimed “Joseph!” in his deep booming tenor and swallowed him up in a hearty embrace! Ahhh, that is why the stranger looked so familiar to me….he was the beloved Joseph of our dear (and favorite) cousin Mary. It had been several months since she had introduced us to her betrothed and something about him now seemed so much older than he had been just six months earlier. As I looked up at his imposing figure, I noted that he had the bearing of a man, mature and masculine, the stature of one who knew his way, his calling, his mission. And now standing at our door, talking in hushed but eager tones, he looked majestic….someone I would want to be someday.

After conversing briefly with Joseph, Father formally welcomed the rest of the group (which was an assortment of Joseph’s relatives who had caravanned with the young couple to ensure their safe arrival. And also, of course, to keep the mitzvah that required every Jewish male over the age of 18 to journey to Jerusalem 3 times a year, Passover being the first, then Shavuot some 50 days later and then finally in the fall for the Feast of Tabernacles). After the usual greetings were exchanged, I was summoned from the nearby shadows and tasked with the mission to usher our guests inside, and show them to their rooms so they may begin preparations for the traditional Passover meal that we would all be sharing in the coming hour. Also I was instructed to summon Mother from the kitchen and deliver her to the courtyard immediately. Which I did. When Mother saw Joseph she squealed with delight, walked towards him as if to throw her arms about him as father had done, but instead swept right past him to the donkey that Mary was still perched atop. Mother talked with her in low soothing tones, but even I noticed that, like Joseph, Mary had concern creased across her delicate brow, which at the moment looked to be glowing with beads of perspiration.


Quickly, we were joined by Father and Joseph who, with a tenderness that defies words, gently lifted her down from the back of the beast. And then, all at once, I saw Mary grimace and stagger ever so slightly, gripping the broad shoulder of her mighty Joseph with one hand, and then gently caressing her swollen belly with the other, began to sway back and forth.

I was enraptured by what was transpiring, and though not yet fully aware of all this night would portend (as I was merely a lad of only 10 years) I felt a chill start at the crown of my head and cascade down my spine, echoing through every cell in my body alerting me that the divine presence of GOD was very nearby. The knowing in my heart began to swell and sing to my soul that all of heaven and earth were about to change forever because of that night, because of a beautiful girl standing there in our courtyard.

With that, my gaze was drawn to examine Mary’s comely, young face where I saw a light emanating from her countenance that in all the intervening years since, I have nary witnessed again. Her visage was almost translucent, glowing… in spite of the immense, intense energy that had temporarily engulfed her entire being. It was then that I noticed an almost imperceptible quivering of her chin and then, I saw it, something which was forever branded upon my heart ….I saw her lips slightly moving in what I would come to discern was an heartfelt plea to our G_d. A pleading that He would walk beside her through this, her travail….the sublime irony of which would abound in epic proportions, and reverberate through space and time for eternity, but would not be understood fully by me for exactly 33 years later— to that very day—give or take one or two.

After a minute, which felt like an hour, Mary regained her upright posture, released her hold on Joseph and nodded at Mother, as if to answer a question that could not be countenanced until the moment had passed. Mother, being the gifted midwife that she was, knew exactly what was going on and what was needed. She was known throughout all of Bethlehem and beyond for her vast knowledge of herbal remedies as well as her steady, strong hands and soothing presence in the art (and science) of beckoning anxious spirits through the gauzy veil of the great beyond to take up their new mortal residence in tiny bundles of soft pink flesh.

No, there was no one more adept at enabling and ensuring this transcendent transition called ‘birth’ than my mother and it was because of that that she so quickly and naturally stepped into her midwife persona and with authority not usually afforded women in our culture, began orchestrating the type of environment this situation demanded.

And so it was that mother enlisted my help when she called me over and quickly but forcefully whispered, “Asher, take her to your special spot, you know the one.” And then she added, as an afterthought, no doubt in response to the quizzical look I shot her, “Don’t worry, Father & I knew they were coming and he has already laid new straw…now go in haste, show them to the stable and make sure she is settled as comfortably as possible in that clearing towards the back,….I need to gather my bag of remedies and change my clothes and will be there shortly. Until then, stay nearby in case she needs anything . And Asher, this is very well one of the most important nights of your life and mine… and in truth, all of Israel’s. So, go now, do all that I asked.”

Hmmm, to any other, her words might have sounded cryptic…what did she mean by “most important night”? But having perfected the art of eavesdropping I had heard many conversations between mother and father about the Messianic baby Mary was carrying, and knew exactly what she meant. Mary’s mother was mother’s only sister and over the last several months they too had several conversations to which I was privy, unbeknownst to all. Each time I heard them discreetly whispering words such as, “Promised One” or “King of Kings”, my heart leapt inside my chest! Could it really be? Father had read the prophecies of Isaiah to me more than once and I had memorized some of them. As the realization of what was unfolding continued to hit me in waves, I could scarcely believe that I would forever be a witness to where & when & how it all began….

With her instructions still ringing in my eager ears, Mother turned on her heel and vanished in a flurry. I glanced at Joseph, and then at his beloved and uttered “Follow me.” In spite of the popular narrative that would be written centuries hence, mother and father had no intention whatsoever of putting this royal couple up in a houseful of noisy guests, which afforded no privacy.

And furthermore, relegating this event to a dingy old stable as though it was some kind of de facto solution couldn’t have been more wrong. The fact is, all of this had been arranged ahead of time. You see, several hours before Joseph had darkened our doorway, a pair of riders on swift camels had arrived in haste. I later learned they were members of Joseph and Mary’s caravan, sent ahead by Joseph to alert my parents of Mary’s precarious condition and their impending arrival, which in turn, allowed my parents time to get a perfect and special place prepared for a perfect and special birth that was becoming increasingly imminent.

And birth was something I was used to hearing about. You see, for as long as I could remember I had been opening our door to worried and anxious husbands and fathers, pleading for the services of my mother, summoning her at all hours of the night to attend their laboring women. But never in my young life had I been sent to take one of the travailing mothers to the cool, dark limestone cave that we used to stable our animals.

We called it our stable but it was actually a large limestone cave. A grotto really. Now, looking back, I shouldn’t have been so surprised at the unusual request of my mother….for I had been so fond of that place that I dubbed it “my special spot” and was frequently found there, basking in the peaceful silence. Yes, I have spent many an hour there alone, both before and since, pondering, among other things, the words of the prophet Isaiah and his prophecies concerning our promised Messiah.

Almost palpable is the feeling of reverence that pervades the whole space and the silence is otherworldly. That is, of course, when the animals have finally bedded down for the night. Oddly though, when it finally did get perfectly quiet, I could almost hear the sound of frothy burbling water akin to that which I had seen spouting from fresh mountain springs. Father tells of a legend recounted by local elders that “our cave” sits atop a pristine spring of living water cascading forth from the womb of mother earth, eager and alive. But so far no one has been able to find the outlet, only speculate on its alleged and dubious existence. Others claim it doesn’t exist at all, ‘twas rather a phantom sound haunting and taunting us. But on clear, quiet nights, one could truly hear the faint whisper of it’s presence, … a living witness of it’s higher purpose…foreshadowing some future connection between the limestone rock of this magnificent cave and pure, living water that would one day burst forth.

Additionally, it was another piece of history, or lore as some would claim, which inextricably bound me to the cave and had been passed down through the oral histories of my family generating even more allure to that magical place. I was born into the lineage of David (as was my cousin Mary) the most beloved King of all of Israel and I grew up on the stories of his youth, his unbounded bravery and courageous military coups. He was my boyhood hero, and to think he grew up right here in our little Bethlehem was the pride of my existence. Indeed, I can claim that hearing of our relation to Beloved King David was one of my first and fondest memories, and it happened while standing in that very cave which I have described. Unforgettable was that day a few years earlier when, as Father was teaching me the ways of stabling and feeding the animals, he proceeded to relate the story of how it was that the prophet Samuel had come to Bethlehem looking to anoint the next King of Israel. Jesse had trotted out all seven of his older sons, but Samuel, not being satisfied, asked if there was not one more. When David the young shepherd boy was called to the scene, Samuel recognized him as the divinely appointed successor to King Saul who had lost the goodwill and faith of God. “Thus, legend has it,” Father whispered, “that David was brought to this very spot (pointing to the ground on which we stood inside our cave) and at age 13 was anointed King of Israel by none other than the prophet Samuel himself.”

History tells us that he would go on to rule and reign over a united Kingdom of Israel for 33 glorious years, becoming one of the most prescient and preeminent types of the great King Messiah himself! Oh, how I loved my King David and to think that all those centuries later I could share that sacred space with him every time I entered into my “special spot” thrilled me to no end, still does.….but on that holy night, as I escorted Mary into the cool dark recesses of our stable cave, situated in our quaint little Bethlehem, which means “house of bread”… the thought struck me like a thunderbolt that, once again, I was about to share that sacred space with the next and future King of Israel. The one they would call “The BREAD of LIFE”.

With that, my young heart nearly exploded with anticipation, and joy. Surprising though, was the fact that in spite of the deafening roar of my thundering heart, I could still hear the faint sound of running, breathing, living water. But for some reason, on that night it seemed louder than it ever had before… loud as the sound of the rushing of great waters that were on the verge of pushing through the encumbering layers of bedrock and shooting heavenward in a great fountain… a pillar of white living water to be seen for miles in all directions.

With each step farther into the quiet seclusion of the cave, Mary must have felt relief. No woman in labor would have found the noisy, crowded condition in our home suitable for the perilous journey that lay ahead, fraught as it was with trepidation. Mother always said that a woman in travail always preferred silence and seclusion to the chaos of company, and that is precisely what that sacred space afforded the young couple. After watching Joseph gently lower her onto the mounded, fresh straw, I turned to go stand watch at the entrance…. a self appointed sentry, ready to heed any beckon call, knowing mother would arrive shortly.

True to her word, it was only minutes before mother whisked by in a rush, her bag of herbs and oils in tow along with a stack of fresh clean, linen cloths and wraps. She slowed long enough to inform me that father would be starting the Passover dinner in a few minutes and he expected me to take my usual place at the table. But I was too overcome with what was happening to move. I just sat there lost in my thoughts, contemplating the prophecies that had foretold of this night for centuries upon centuries.

So eager was I to witness their fulfillment, that I decided to persist in my self appointed duty as gatekeeper of the cave, thru the night if necessary, which meant foregoing the Passover meal that was commencing at that very moment. Father must’ve known I needed to be where I was, because no one came to collect me, for which I would be forever grateful.

And so it was that right around eventide I parked myself on a clump of moist grass, leaned back against the exterior stone wall of the cave and gazed up into the heavens. Oh what a night it was for stargazing….all the heavenly bodies seemed brighter and felt closer than I had ever perceived them before. Telling me that yes, even THEY knew.

Soon enough, and just as I expected, out of the cave emerged Joseph. Once mother arrived, becoming Mary’s attending angel, Joseph was expelled. Not because mother did not desire his presence, and certainly His Mary yearned for it, but our laws forbade a man to be near a woman with any issue of blood. No physical contact was permitted in this condition, even incidental contact…..and giving birth, with the attendant and customary blood meant a woman would be considered Nadir, or ritually impure for 40 days after giving birth to a boy, and 80 for a girl. Therefore, by Judaic law, all soon to be fathers were relegated to the periphery of this sacred stage notwithstanding their sincere desire that it be otherwise, to be by her side as she entered into the vale of sorrows where the most robust life could be snatched away– so tragic and untimely. No, for a woman in travail whose hour has come, except for the presence of a lone midwife and the mercy of the great God Himself, her perilous path was trodden alone…so utterly and totally alone.

Unlike me, who was transfixed and rendered immovable by the very essence of heaven that seemed to be swirling all about me, as if heaven’s angels were rejoicing, dancing around the sublime space which we found ourselves in, Joseph was anything but still. He paced and paced and then paced some more, pausing only briefly when he heard a cry of distress coming from within. With each one, he was pulled to the entrance, visibly torn and tempted to defy all laws and conventions and run to His girl, cloaking her in his love and protection. Watching him thus kept me awake, wanting to put him at ease with my quiet company. But in spite of my best laid plans to stay awake, I succumbed to the slumber that overtook me sometime after midnight.

Lost in a dream that I could never recall, I was jolted awake upon hearing three words, “He has arrived”…whispered in my ear by mother sometime after 2 am. Rubbing my sleepy eyes, I asked, “Is He okay? And what of Mary?….how does she fare?”

With palpable relief and joy in her voice, Mother replied, “All is well. But now I need you to go to the house, fill a basket with my special bread, add some figs, and dates and then grab a jar of grape wine and bring it all back to me. The new mother is famished and needs nourishment. Go quickly!”

Despite the late hour I sprung into action, having gathered all that was requested and packed carefully in the basket, I returned in no time at all and waited outside the cave. Moments later I was greeted by mother, excitedly beckoning me to enter in and behold the newborn babe. “Come see Him Asher, He is perfect.”


In trembling awe I slowly made my way through the darkened cave, careful not to disturb the sleeping cattle and sheep that were stabled there for the night. But even more careful was I not to break the spell of wondrous glory and light that emanated from the scene I came to behold. So still was the night, to speak would have been a jarring intrusion.

Therefore, without a sound, I fell to my knees and then gently pushed my basket of goods toward a glowing Mary whose arms were encircled about the most glorious being I had ever laid eyes on. His head, crowned in curly wisps of dark brown hair, eyes that belied an intelligence beyond mortal words, and tiny red lips slightly parted, with a hint of a curl at the corners, I was utterly absorbed by his beauty and could not coax my eyes away from his perfect form. Though I had never asked to hold a baby in my life, I felt an urge to hold that child as I had never felt before. Much to my astonishment, Mary must’ve perceived my unspoken, urgent desire for she lifted him slightly towards me as if to say, “Would you like to hold him?”


Caught off guard, I glanced at Mother…asking with my eyes if it was ok. She nodded approval. And then I glanced at Joseph who hovered protectively a few paces off, visibly overwhelmed with joy as tears flowed down his cheeks freely, unabashedly. Smiling at me, he too, nodded.

Still on my knees, I inched forward covering the distance between Mary and me. As she deposited her precious bundle of new life into my eager, pudgy little arms, I shall never forget the thrill that coursed through every fiber of my being, a swelling crescendo of knowing engulfed my soul with the assurance that He was exactly who I thought He was. Messiah. King of Kings. And Lord of Lords.

As I gently brought his tiny form to my body I couldn’t help but think about the newborn lambs I held each year, so white and fleecy, whose fate was determined by their perfection.


Those lambs who were entirely pure and white, without a single spot or blemish with nary a broken bone were born to die a short time later, fulfilling the Passover Law of sacrifice, becoming a Paschal Lamb… one who gives his innocent life in order to provide salvation for others.


Maybe Mary perceived my thoughts, again, because when her intense searching gaze fell on me as I was peering down at the babe, marveling at his lamb-like innocence, she started to weep. At the time, I thought they were tears of joy…

Knowing Mary was famished, Mother reached down into the basket of food I had brought and handed her a piece of the unleavened bread …. with it’s unique and distinguished Passover markings. Curiously, as she accepted the bread from Mother, and in spite of her overwhelming hunger, Mary did not immediately lift the bread to eat it. Instead, she just stared at it, in earnest, as if seeing it for the first time. (though, being a Jewess she would have seen it throughout her young life) Nevertheless, she was mesmerized, turning it over and over in her trembling hands.


Running a finger over the rough, pierced texture, the stripes, the bruising. Tears coursing.

Finally, she ate it, washing it down with Mother’s freshly pressed grape juice. Soon after, the tears stopped. My young mind reasoned that it was because her belly was finally full. But, the truth is, that was just the beginning of this story. A story whose ending wouldn’t be written for 33 years almost to the day, give or take. But even that “ending” was really just the beginning of an even bigger story.

“Mary, it’s time to prepare Him…” Mother whispered, none of us wanting to break the spell with anything above a whisper, “for those humble seekers” she continued, “who’ve been watching, waiting , and will be coming to pay homage…”

With that Mother scooped him from my arms and laid him on his mother’s lap. Then she dipped a white linen cloth in warm water spiked with soothing oils and handed it to Mary who tenderly began washing his perfectly still and helpless little body. It must have been soothing for him to have the dried blood and fluid, remnants of his birth, carefully washed away with fresh warm water being dripped over his skin and scrubbed so gently by his mother’s loving hands. Finally, the washing complete, and with a vial of olive oil handed her by Mother, she anointed her baby son. Massaging the precious green oil into His pink, vibrant skin.

Next came the wrapping. In keeping with the traditions of our day, after being anointed with oil babies were rubbed with salt and placed diagonally on a square piece of cloth. Two corners were turned across the baby side’s and feet; then with its legs together and its arms at its side it was wound tightly around with linen cloth. During the day the “swaddling bands” were loosened and the child was again rubbed with olive oil and dusted with myrtle leaves.


Just as Mary completed this task of swaddling Him in soft white linen, his once alert eyes, that had been darting about, absorbing all around him, grew heavy with sleep and finally, almost reluctantly closed. A sweet slumber enveloped His tired little body.

After rocking his sleeping form for a few minutes longer, she handed him to Mother who tenderly placed him in the manger that sat just an arm lengths away from Mary. The traditions that were henceforth handed down would describe this manger as a wooden cradle of sorts, but that was not the case. This manger was a feeding trough that had been hewn from stone, and slightly hollowed out.


It struck me as kind of funny to see this little one placed in the very spot where I had been putting feed for our animals all those years….knowing that surely it had never been used for that purpose before or since. He was worthy of so much more, but alas and as always “God WAS in the details”.


It must have struck Mary too, but unlike me, she didn’t smile. Instead, when her eyes beheld that scene, a shadow fell across her countenance. Again, the tears fell.

And so it was there, in that manger where they first laid eyes on Him. I’m talking about the shepherds that showed up not long after….


at least two dozen of them or more. Oddly they never uttered a word. Not a single one. They all just quietly entered the cave with a singular look of awe etched into their worn and weathered faces and proceeded to fall to their knees the instant their eyes beheld Him. After a while, they would get back up on their feet, and wiping their tear stained faces would file out as quietly as they filed in. I am not sure how long this went on, for I fell asleep shortly before dawn…lulled to sleep by the sound of heavenly choirs singing nearby….or so it seemed.

It would be exactly 33 years later, during Passover, that I would relive and revisit this transcendent experience, as I did every year on the 14th of Nissan. Only this year, the story was added to in a way that forever impacted it in sublime, and wrenching ways, reframing it all in my mind. Thus effectively drenching the events of that beautiful night of His birth in paradox and irony. For surely if I have learned anything in my 43 years, it is that ‘The Gods rule in paradox and irony…’

Never was that more poignantly clear than when Mary, standing on a darkened and Godless Golgotha, wearied and fatigued with sorrow, watched as the blood stained torn body of her Son was taken down from the cruel cross…given over to her by the hardened Roman soldiers.


Once again it fell upon her as His mother to tend to His perfect body, which though HIS back had been striped, HIS flesh pierced and HIS body bruised, not one bone had been broken…


…becoming the ultimate Paschal Lamb.

The timing of it all was breathtaking…He was born at Passover, He died at Passover….He IS THE Passover. The only UNBROKEN being to ever walk the earth, and thus qualify HIM to absorb and then ATONE for all our BROKEN-NESS. All of Mine individually and ALL of OURS collectively.


And so I would always wonder. When, for the second time in HIS life, she washed, anointed and prepared HIS body,


…did her mind go back to that night in the cave? That cool Spring Night when she stared down through tear filled eyes at that piece of unleavened bread offered as nourishment, running her fingers over the rough holes and stripes that had been cut into it?

And then, as she washed his still, unbroken body with warm water, cleaning away the blood and fluid, remnants of His death….anointing him with spices and oils just as she had all those years ago, did she remember?

And finally as she wound his body with fresh white linen and laid him in a sepulcher hewn from stone situated in a nondescript cave of limestone, did the events of that night come back to her in a cacophony of irony?


No one can say for sure what she knew and when. But I believe she knew enough back in that limestone cave 33 years earlier. And that is why, looking back on that night of nights, all I can say, is …

“No wonder she wept…and wept.”

(click the image above to view special video)

~The End


& the beginning!


THE MOST INSPIRATIONAL CHRISTMAS VIDEO COLLECTION EVER!

Oh Holy Night – Josh Groben


The following quote by Elder Holland was one of the inspirations for this story:

“The true meaning, the unique and lasting and joyous meaning of the birth of this baby, would be in the life he would lead and especially in his death, in his triumphant atoning sacrifice, in his prison bursting resurrection. It is the life at the other end of the manger scene that gives this moment of nativity in Bethlehem its ultimate meaning. Special as this child was and divine as was his conception, without that day of salvation wherein he would gain an everlasting victory over death and hell on behalf of every man, woman, and child who would ever be born -­‐ until that day should come, this baby’s life and mission would not be complete. Worse yet, without that triumphant atonement and resurrection he might have been remembered only as one born in humble circumstances, scorned in his own native village, and tortured to death by a ruthless Roman regime that knew everything about torture and death. In summation, the birth was ultimately for the death.”

Additionally, the following scriptures and references were used: In 1 Samuel 16 we learn that David was from Bethlehem and anointed there by the Prophet Nathan. In Isaiah 53:5,7 we get a poignant description of the wounds our Messiah would bear for us:

5 “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed……

7: He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter,”

The fact that Christ was both born on Passover and died on Passover (or very near) comes from JOHN PRATT in his article titled: “Passover- Was it Symbolic of His Coming” ENSIGN Jan. 1994

As for the idea that it was not an inn to which Mary and Joseph went, please see article written by Elder Nelson in the ENSIGN Dec. 2011. The more correct translation of “Inn” is “guest chamber”. The description of how the leavening of bread was prevented and the wrapping of babies is historically accurate, along with the Passover traditions described.

– Amberli Nelson

We pray for each of you and extend our love to each of you.

Debbie and Steve


Even in the name of Jesus Christ Amen


Below is Christmas music to enjoy











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