Luke 2:30-32; “For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”
Every year Vancouver, BC hosts a Kristkindl Mart that my family and I try to attend. We start talking about it in August, synchronize our calendars, and by the time December rolls around we’re like little kids on Christmas Eve awaiting Santa’s arrival.
The yearly event never disappoints with booths offering bratwurst, German candies, stöllen and the smell of hot pretzels filling the air. The Christmas fest gives us the German fix we crave without having to fly to Bavaria.
And each year during this time I can’t help but think of Simeon. I’ve tried to imagine waiting all my life for one single moment to arrive, and try as I might, my mind wanders off to other topics. In my little world I find it hard to wait on the yearly Christmas fest in British Columbia…
What about you? What do you look forward to? Can you imagine waiting your entire life for something like Simeon did that’s mentioned in Luke’s gospel?
Do we wait in eager anticipation for the time in our day when we can fall on our knees to worship the King of Kings? Do we see it as a gift from God or another chore? The way we approach our alone time with Him is indicative of our devotion to the God we worship.
Simeon waited with patience to lay eyes on the salvation God promised to deliver. He hadn’t done this for a year or two; no, Simeon waited all day, every single day for his entire life. The old man finally received what the Father guaranteed and must have gone through a myriad of emotions seeing God in action. Imagine the look on his face and the reaction of Joseph and Mary when he prophesied of Jesus’ future!
As short as my attention span is with some topics, one of the things I can remember is what it was like being a Mormon at Christmas. The contrast couldn’t be any sharper as I recall Sacrament meetings filled with stories of what the latest prophet said, and some years if Christmas just so happened to fall on a Sunday, we’d hear about Jesus and Joseph Smith.
I suppose if you’ve never been Mormon you wouldn’t know what they do, but for some reason I’m always surprised to see our websites inundated with visitors looking for info about Mormons at Christmas.
In light of that we’re listing a few of the most read articles so you can get an idea of how Mormons view Christmas, what they focus on during the season and what if any celebrations they hold at this time of year. To be sure, their activities reflect a much different scenario than those in the Christian community.
Advent, for example, was a new concept for me after I became a Christian. I’d never heard of families lighting a candle every week to give thanks for the birth of the Savior. In Mormonism there isn’t anything in the ward building resembling what a Christian would recognize as a sign of Christian worship. A baby Jesus might adorn a nativity set on occasion, however, nothing past what you’d see at a Wal-Mart setting is there. It’s virtually non-existent.
One of the worst things I’ve seen from the Church about this subject is when the leaders blather on about Joseph Smith during the Christmas season. At times it takes effort to remember who it is they’re talking about. A good example of this is found in an article written by the late prophet Gordon B Hinckley –
Ensign, ‘A Season for Gratitude,’ December 1997; “This is a season for giving and a time for gratitude. We remember with appreciation the birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith, which is celebrated this same month of December, two days before Christmas…
Great is his glory and endless his priesthood.
Ever and ever the keys he will hold.
Faithful and true, he will enter his kingdom,
Crowned in the midst of the prophets of old.
(“Praise to the Man,” Hymns, no. 27)
…We stand in reverence before him. He is the great prophet of this dispensation. He stands at the head of this great and mighty work which is spreading across the earth. He is our prophet, our revelator, our seer, our friend. Let us not forget him. Let not his memory be forgotten in the celebration of Christmas. God be thanked for the Prophet Joseph.” – Gordon B. Hinckley
Quite frankly, I was nothing less than shocked by reading what he had to say and have often wondered since then how much damage he caused in the hearts and minds of Mormons like my mother.
Like Mr. Hinckley, for many Mormons the lines of separation are blurred. Because Smith’s birthday happened to be two days before Christmas, you’ll often find dual celebrations taking place at their weekly gatherings. Unfortunately, with the way they venerate this guy and celebrate his life around the same time Christmas is celebrated, it has the makings of a spiritual nightmare.
As you gather info to learn more about the Mormons, please, don’t forget to pray for them!
With Love in Christ;
1 Cor 1:18