Mike wrote this for his home teaching lesson. I think it is very thoughtful and inspiring.
I have been thinking recently of the word, “Tidings”. The angels said they brought “glad tidings of great joy.” This isn’t a word that we use much today, but was probably common in the time of the King James translation of the Bible. What does it mean? The dictionary says it means “news” or an announcement. It is used a number of times in the scriptures, including in the Book of Mormon and in the Doctrine and Covenants. One I like in the D&C gives us a little more insight into the meaning of the “ glad tidings”.
“And this is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us- That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness; That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him.” D&C76:40-42
One of the things I like to do occasionally, not as often as I would like, is to commit a scripture to memory. It seems to me that when we do that, it becomes more meaningful than just words on the page. I particularly like ones that seem like a story. I did that this year at this Christmas time with one that I have thought about a number of times in the last year. I would like to try to convince you that it is a Christmas story. It certainly doesn’t seem like one- there are no sleigh bells, no chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and no snowy white Christmas. In fact, it takes place in a very arid, desert place. Water there is very scarce and precious, and we can imagine it is very dusty and hot, maybe in the 90 degree range. It goes like this:
“Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well. And it was about the 6th hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus saith unto her, ‘Give me to drink’. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)
Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, ‘How is it that thou, being a Jew, asketh drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans’.
Jesus answered and said unto her: ‘If thou knewest the gift of God and who it is that saith to thee, give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of him and he would have given thee Living Water’.
The woman saith unto him, ‘Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with and the well is deep. From whence then, has thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children and his cattle’?
Jesus answered and said unto her, ‘Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again, but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life’.
The woman saith unto him, ‘Sir, give me this water that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw’. “
After some discussion, the woman said to him, ‘I know Messias cometh, which is called Christ. When he is come, he will tell us all things’.
Jesus saith unto her, ‘I that speak unto thee am He’.” (John 4:5-14,25-26)
I think this is a Christmas story, because every person born in this world must make a decision. Was the babe born in Bethlehem going to be just a great teacher or even a prophet? Or would he actually have the power to give us the gift of everlasting life? If so, that would be cause for angels to announce “glad tidings of great joy, tidings of comfort and of joy”. It would be a reason for us to put evergreen trees in our homes symbolic of everlasting life and to decorate them. It would be a reason to put lights on our houses for the light of the world, to give presents as the wise men did and as he gave us the gift of everlasting life, to be generous with the less fortunate, and to gather friends and family close.
May you and your family have all the glad tidings this Christmas that “unto us a child is born… and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the EVERLASTING Father, the Prince of Peace in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.