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The Christmas season is the season of wonder. It started 2,000 years ago and continues in the lives of those that believe. The most profound gifts are given from God, and when we experience those gifts, time often stops and we feel the awesome sweetness of His presence. I want to share three stirring stories where the Lord opened eyes and hearts to receive His special gifts at Christmas time.
Several years ago, I experienced a miracle. I knew it, and I knew that the Savior knew it, because I felt Him there.
I lived in Monterrey, Mexico at the time and was the Stake Choir Director. I was in charge of the Stake Christmas Program that our choir had been working hard on for several weeks.
Several days before the program, my back went out, and I could hardly walk because of the pain. The night of the performance came with little change. I had taken pain medication, but it made me feel scattered and loopy. How was I going to do this? Could I be on cue for all the cut-offs and musical interpretations for the 45-minute program? No way! And it was too late for anyone else to fill in! I prayed my heart out!
To make matters worse, the musicians I had arranged to perform 10 minutes of special prelude music didn’t show up, so it was abruptly left to me to provide it. I felt a wave of panic because I hadn’t practiced any prelude music.
At that very uncertain and fearful time, a marvelous thing happened: I had a perfect peace settle into me, as I sat down in front of hundreds of people, and opened the hymnbook to play simple Christmas hymns. My mind suddenly became crystal clear, and I remember the extraordinary observation I had of watching my fingers move. The thing that was remarkable was that I wasn’t moving them. I felt a divine presence playing stunning arrangements of the hymns through me. I felt the Savior there, and was enveloped in His love.
For those sacred and tender moments, I marveled. After my prelude, and opening prayer, I moved pain-free, almost as if in a dream, to the place where I felt heavenly help conducting the choir for the next 45 minutes. I was aided to make every cue, and could “hear” angels singing with us. Everything went perfect. I was beyond blessed!
The Giver of Gifts is the Father of Lights
I just love the scripture in James where he tells about God giving special gifts. I feel that this was what happened to me on that night.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of Lights…” (James 1:17)
It was a gift, because there was no way naturally I could have done what I did. God listened to my heartfelt plea and helped me to be a conduit to bless others.
The “giver of gifts” gives to all of us in an infinite variety of ways.
I have a long time friend, Rose, who told me a sweet experience she had with her little son when he was 6 or 7. She was blessed to be feeling the beautiful ambiance of Christmas and was with him as he described seeing angels while she was sewing and decorating for Christmas. She writes:
“I was sewing and he was cutting up fabric beside me as I was singing a random medley of Handle’s Messiah. The Spirit was very sweet, the room had large widows on three walls and snow was falling through the bare trees. My son came to me and asked where the men had gone. I was very surprised and asked him to tell me what men he was asking me about. He told me, ‘The men with the white clothes that walked up here.’ I asked what they were doing and he told me that they were watching him and listening to me sing and that he liked them being there and wanted them to come back. I didn’t see them but I definitely felt their presence.” (Conversation and Email with Rose used with permission)
Rose received a precious gift that night, as did her son.
Seeing Christ at His Birth
One of the most powerful gifts that we can receive is knowledge and understanding. My friend, Matthew, shared a profound Christmastime experience he had shortly after he returned home from his mission. He writes:
“One Sunday, shortly after returning home from my mission, I had an unusual experience while singing a hymn at church. I was singing the opening hymn that day which was Silent Night. As we began to sing that hymn, I experienced what I can only liken unto a flashback of sorts. In an instant, there I was in heaven, gathered together with countless spirits for the purpose of watching our Savior-to-be enter mortality. I could see those in heaven gathered as far as the eye could see as we were anxiously awaiting the moment. The mood/feeling/climate in heaven was one of anxious awe, humble excitement and indescribable gratitude.
“When the moment of His birth came, an unbelievable hush rolled over the heavenly hosts as we watched this sacred moment in reverent silence. The quiet moment felt as though a pin drop could be heard. We were witnessing what we knew to be the greatest selfless act that there could ever be. We were witnessing Jesus begin his earthly sojourn.
“Once he was born, the silence was interrupted with the sound of weeping, joy and excitement. Everyone was crying, hugging and smiling as we watched this great event. We were filled with pure joy and absolute gratitude. Shortly after the Savior’s birth we joined together in song.
“I found it notable that those with whom I was hugging and witnessing this event were my family members. I also could not believe the sound that overtook Heaven that day as we began to sing in unison. It was beautiful. I am not one who likes to sing out loud, as it is not a talent I normally have, so I found it surprising that there I was singing aloud.
“It was done. He was born. The ball was set in motion. We all knew what this day meant. Although happy and grateful beyond belief, we all knew that He would one day experience complete betrayal and would eventually be crucified, however on this day, we were filled with Joy!”
Matthew continues with his reflection on what he experienced:
“Since that time I have often reflected on what I saw and felt that day. I had never before that experience given thought to the idea that I had been a witness to the Savior’s birth. In like manner, I had never considered that those with whom I had watched this magnificent event would be my loving, eternal family to be.” (Special conversations and email with Matthew used with permission)
Mathew’s experience can give us all food for thought.
The Christmas season is the season for the truly miraculous; a time of giving and receiving gifts. From time to time, the “Father of Lights” gives us precious gifts that last for a lifetime in our hearts and minds because His delicious Presence can never be forgotten.
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