Elder Renlund: “Christmas Gift I Remember Most Was My Father’s Testimony”

Contributed By Elder Dale G. Renlund, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

  • 14 December 2016

Every Christmas Eve, Elder Dale G. Renlund's father would read Luke 2 to his family. Reading the story was his father’s way of bearing his testimony to his children, Elder Renlund recalls.

Article Highlights

  • Every Christmas Eve, Elder Renlund’s father would read Luke 2 to his family.
  • Reading the story was his father’s way of bearing his testimony to his children.

“Two millennia ago, wise men sought for the Christ, the Anointed One. Wise men still do. He can still be found.” Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles   Busath.com

My parents immigrated to the United States from Sweden. Because we lived in humble circumstances, the gifts we received at Christmas were simple, frequently handmade and personal. In keeping with Swedish tradition, Santa Claus (Jultomten) came on Christmas Eve bringing gifts for the children.

Every Christmas Eve I remember, from my earliest memory to my father’s last Christmas on earth in 2008 (at age 91), before Jultomten came, my dad would read to his family the Christmas story, as recorded in Luke 2. In the early years, he read the account in Swedish; in later years, he read in heavily accented English. Dad invariably read without comment, past Mary pondering the events in her heart (see Luke 2:19) and on to the account of Simeon. Recall that Simeon had been promised that he would not die before he would see the Savior. On a particular day, Simeon was prompted to go to the temple in Jerusalem. There he saw the baby Jesus (see Luke 2:22–27).

Continuing without comment, Dad would read, “Then took he [Simeon] him [Jesus] up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (Luke 2:28–32).

Then, in the accented English my siblings and I and our children cherished, Dad would say, “I can’t hold that baby Jesus up in my arms, but I know just as well as Simeon who that babe from Bethlehem was. He is my Savior and He is yours.” That would be it, and it would be on to the Swedish meatballs and pickled herring.

Of all the Christmas gifts I ever received, the gift I remember most was the gift of my father’s testimony to me. I knew that he knew the reality of Christ’s birth. He knew who that babe in Bethlehem was and what He would accomplish. This gift was better than any gift that Jultomten ever brought or could ever bring. Though a simple man, my father knew what many academics don’t, but that should come as no surprise. After all, “to some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world” (D&C 46:13). That knowledge was given to my dad by the Holy Ghost, the same personage in the Godhead who gave it to Simeon.

I know it as well. I know who that babe from Bethlehem was—and is. I know Him, not a fabled baby, but the “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16), my Redeemer and your Redeemer. Two millennia ago, wise men sought for the Christ, the Anointed One. Wise men still do. He can still be found.

Simeon Reverencing the Christ Child, by Greg K. Olsen.


Mats åke Renlund. Photo courtesy of Elder Dale G. Renlund.

Mats åke Renlund. Photo courtesy of Elder Dale G. Renlund.