The Millers’ most unusual family home evening started out very much as usual. Mom and Dad sat together holding hands. Twelve-year-old Jeramie looked bored. Nine-year-old Charlie tapped his toes impatiently. Eight-year-old Jimmy made faces at six-year-old Jenny, who glared back at him. It was four-year-old Billie Jo’s turn to lead the opening song, and she waved her hands wildly to “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam”—as usual.
After the opening prayer, Dad began the lesson by hanging a picture of Jesus on the wall and telling the children that they should always remember Him.
Just then there was a knock at the door, and the man Dad invited in was anything but usual. He had a brown beard and long brown hair that hung to his shoulders. He wore a tan robe that came down to the brown sandals on his feet. A dark blue cloak hung across one shoulder. He looked just like the people in most of the paintings they had seen of the Savior’s time.
The children were very quiet when the stranger spoke. He said his name was James and that he was going to tell them some stories about his special Friend, Jesus Christ.
The first story was about a young man who died. The man’s mother had been very sad. She needed her son. She had asked Jesus to help her. He spoke to her son, and the young man awakened. (See Luke 7:12–14.)
James’s next story was about when Jesus had been teaching a large crowd of people on a mountain by the sea. No one had brought anything to eat, except a boy who had five loaves of bread and two small fish. The boy had been willing to share his food, so Jesus blessed it. After it had been blessed, it fed all five thousand people, with some left over. (See John 6:1–14.)
The stranger, who called himself James, talked to the Millers a long time. They had heard his stories before, but when he told them, they seemed to have just happened. There was an even more wonderful feeling in the room as James told them how much the Savior loved the people He had taught and how much He loved them. He told them that they would be happier if they remembered to love one another as much as Jesus Christ loved them.
Mom had begun to lead the closing song, “Love One Another,” before the children recognized the stranger. When he began to sing, they all knew that it was Brother Park, the man who led the singing in sacrament meeting each week. Long hair and a beard couldn’t disguise his singing voice. His first name really was James, he said, and the Savior really was his special Friend.
Brother Park stayed to eat ice cream and cookies with them. Before he left, he looked at the picture of Jesus that Dad had hung up and said, “You know, this is just how an artist thinks Jesus looks, but when you look at it, I hope that you will remember Him. Remember that He cares about what you do, and He loves you.”
The next Tuesday after school, when Jimmy took Jenny’s doll to drive his dump truck, Jenny became angry and grabbed it back. When she looked up to call her mom and tell on Jimmy, she saw the picture of Jesus. She remembered that Brother Park had said they would be happier by remembering to love one another. She knew how to show love for Jimmy. She said, “I guess I’m not going to use this now. You can play with it, but please ask next time.” Jimmy was so surprised that he almost forgot to say thanks.
On Wednesday, Charlie was hurrying past the picture on the wall when he ran smack into Billie Jo and knocked her down. She began to cry. Charlie was about to say something like, “You big baby, watch where you’re going next time.” But his eyes looked right into the eyes in the picture, and he remembered Brother Park telling them about the people who had hurt Jesus. He didn’t want to hurt anyone, especially Billie Jo. He knelt down and put his arm around his little sister. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
Billie Jo quit crying and smiled. “I’m OK,” she said and went off to play. Charlie was glad that he had taken the time to show love for Billie Jo.
Thursday was a terrible day for Jeramie. She was in junior high school, and her homework was hard. When she got home from school, the calculator she used in math was missing, and she was sure that one of the little kids had gone into her room and grabbed it. She was about to yell at her mother to punish “the little brats,” when she looked up and saw the picture of Jesus. She was still plenty mad, but she just didn’t feel like yelling anymore. She went quietly to find Mom, who reminded her that she had done her homework in the den last night. Sure enough, her calculator was in her father’s desk, where she had left it.
A little later, Billie Jo came home from a friend’s birthday party with a sack of candy. Jimmy and Jenny were sitting underneath the picture of Jesus. “What’s in the bag?” Jimmy asked. Billie Jo didn’t know if she had enough candy to share with all her brothers and sisters. But she saw the picture on the wall and remembered Brother Parks telling about the little boy who had shared his bread and fish with five thousand people.
“Come into the kitchen,” Billie Jo said. “I have something to share.” She called Jeramie and Charlie in too. The rest of the day Billie Jo imagined that she could see the picture smiling at her. In her heart she knew that Jesus was proud of her.
On Friday, Jimmy came home from school tired. He dumped his books on the floor and tossed his jacket onto the couch. But it seemed to him that the picture of Jesus was looking directly at his books on the floor. Jimmy knew that the picture couldn’t really see anything, but he remembered how he had felt before they recognized Brother Park. If Jesus were to come into his home, he wouldn’t want his books to be on the floor. So Jimmy put them away and hung his jacket in the closet. As he munched on an apple and relaxed, he was glad that his house looked neat and clean. He knew that his mom would be glad too.
When the Millers gathered for dinner Saturday night, they were surprised to see flowers on the table and the best dishes set at each place. Dinner was especially nice, and when Mom brought out a fancy cake for dessert, Billie Jo wondered who was having a birthday.
Dad took a piece of cake. “What’s the occasion?” he asked.
“I don’t really know,” Mom said. “I just felt like celebrating. Maybe it’s the happy feeling we’ve had in this house all week without any fights. Or maybe I was remembering our family home evening and wanted to be prepared in case Jesus decided to come for dinner tonight.”
Everyone laughed, but when they bowed their heads for family prayer that night, they all felt in their hearts as if Jesus really had come to visit their home that week.