1. This is no ordinary advent calendar with little windows to open or snowmen to paste on. You are the only moving part.
This calendar reviews the Savior’s entire mission from premortal councils on through his future return as Lord of Lord and King of Kings.
Each day between now and Christmas you’ll read one or more passages of scripture, moving from epoch to epoch across the vast span of the Redeemer’s work.
Each day there will be a suggestion* of something you can do to grow closer to the Savior. There will also be a hymn or carol* to sing. Here are today’s suggestions:
* Invite your family (or seminary class) to join you in each day’s reading and singing.
Remember the Savior’s promise: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt 18:20).
* “Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful,” Hymns, 1985, no. 202.
2. At Christmas we celebrate much more than the birth of a baby—we celebrate who that child already was, and what he would yet become. Christmas is a time of looking—to the past, with its glimpses of premortal glory, and to the future, with its promise of eternity.
“For behold, the time … is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles …
“And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.
“And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men even through faith on his name; and even after all this they shall consider him a man, and say that he hath a devil, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him.
“And he shall rise the third day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge the world” (Mosiah 3:5, 8–10).
* As you decorate for Christmas, choose or make a decoration that will remind you of the Savior and his mission.
* “I Believe in Christ,” Hymns, no. 134.
3. All that we have—the air we breathe, the light by which we see—are gifts from a loving Father and his Son. In this season of giving, let us give one of the greatest gifts we can offer—a grateful, humble heart.
“As [Jesus] entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers …
“And … he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
“And one of them … turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
“And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” (Luke 17:12, 14, 15, 17).
* In one of your prayers today, give thanks for every blessing you can name, without asking anything.
* “Count Your Blessings,” Hymns, no. 241.
4. Many people are hungry—not just for food but for love, for acceptance, for support. Some are starving spiritually. Jesus knew how to feed every kind of hunger. In our small way we can do the same.
“[Jesus’] disciples came to him, saying … send the multitude away, that they may … buy themselves victuals.
“But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.
“And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.
“He said, Bring them hither to me.
“… and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples, to the multitude” (Matt. 14:15–19).
* Feed someone spiritually. Write your testimony in a Book of Mormon and give it away.
* “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus,” Children’s Songbook, 1989, p. 57.
The Just One
5. Christmas shines with lights—on trees and houses and city streets. As we recall the bright star over Bethlehem, do we remember the Source of all light?
“He … ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;
“Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made.
“As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made;
“As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made;
“And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand.
“And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings;
“Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—
“The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed” (D&C 88:6–13).
* Look up at the heavens and think about who made the sun, moon, and stars. Record your feelings in your journal.
* “The Lord Is My Light,” Hymns, no. 89.
6. Jesus was a healer. He touched away blindness and filled withered limbs with new life. He restored the mind and soul. Surrounded by much hurt and sorrow, we can, in our own way, be healers also. Sometimes a kind word and a helping hand are all that is needed.
“And … Jesus … cast his eyes … on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them.
“And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you. …
“And … all the multitude … did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them every one” (3 Ne. 17:5, 6, 9).
* Try to be as kind as possible to others today.
* “I Need Thee Every Hour,” Hymns, no. 98.
7. The Savior knows the weight of our suffering and the depth of our pain. He has suffered for us, and he loves us without reservation. There is no problem so hard or despair so dark that he can’t help us if we let him.
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:3–5).
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
* Go out of your way to befriend someone who needs a friend. Follow through in the days and weeks to come.
* “Come unto Jesus,” Hymns, no. 117.
8. The greatest blessings aren’t those of getting but those of becoming. Jesus taught:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“And again, blessed are all they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“And blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“And blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.
“And blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
“And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of god” (3 Ne. 12:3–9).
* Foster peace on earth by not quarreling with your brothers or sisters.
* “More Holiness Give Me,” Hymns, no. 131.
9. In a world divided by national, religious, political, and racial hatreds, it’s time everyone reviewed Jesus’ answer to the question, “Who is my neighbour?”
“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
“And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
“And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him.
“And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. …
“Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?” (Luke 10:30–34, 36).
* Do a good deed anonymously.
* “Because I Have Been Given Much,” Hymns, no. 219.
10. We take our free agency for granted, but it was seriously challenged before our mortal lives even began. This Christmas let’s give thanks for the one who defended our freedom.
“Satan … came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.
“But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.
“Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him … ; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down” (Moses 4:1–3).
* Use your free agency to set some goals for yourself. Seal a copy in an envelope to be opened in a year.
* “How Great the Wisdom and the Love,” Hymns, no. 195.
11. We could labor every day of our lives and still not repay the kindness of our Lord. But he has shown us that there is a way to serve him.
“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
“When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
“Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
“And the King shall answer … , Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:37–40).
* Visit someone who is sick or lonely.
* “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief,” Hymns, no. 29.
12. The Master taught that it isn’t what you have that counts; it’s what you give. Giving of yourself can fill your world with joy, not only at Christmas, but all year long.
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal;
“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (3 Ne. 13:19–20).
* You’ll treasure the time you spend helping others. Do volunteer work for some worthy cause.
* “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” Hymns, no. 214.
Prince of Peace
13. We don’t like to think of illness or death at Christmastime, but these shadows can fall on any season. Jesus taught us an unforgettable lesson in empathy when he shared the grief of his friends after the death of Lazarus.
“Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! …
“Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus … cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
“And he that was dead came forth” (John 11:35, 36, 41, 43, 44).
* Do something to bring cheer to someone who has a reason to feel sad.
* “Abide with Me!” Hymns, no. 166.
14. Christmas would hardly be Christmas without children. They are so much of the magic in the season. The Savior also loved children. In both the New World and the old, he called the little ones to him.
“They brought their little children and set them down upon the ground round about him, …
“… and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them. …
“And … they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, … and the angels did minister unto them (3 Ne. 17:12, 21, 24).
* Do something fun with a little brother or sister or some other child.
* “I Think When I Read That Sweet Story,” Children’s Songbook, p. 56.
15. Turmoil and strife, combat and competition—our world is full of the consequences of man dealing with man. But the Savior told us how to truly succeed, through peace on earth and good will toward men.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
“all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matt. 7:12).
“Whosoever will be great among you … shall be servant of all” (Mark 10:43–44).
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34–35).
* Today tell someone that you love them. Express love for the Lord in your prayers.
* “Love One Another,” Hymns, no. 308.
16. Jesus came to lift our burdens. One of the heaviest burdens we carry is that of hate. In teaching us to forgive, the Lord set us free.
“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
“Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21–22).
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
“But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14–15).
“Behold I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you” (3 Ne. 12:44).
* Try to forgive someone who has wronged you. If appropriate, go to him today and be reconciled.
* “Did You Think to Pray?” Hymns, no. 140.
17. Have you ever wished you could be baptized again and start over fresh?
When we repent of our sins and partake of the sacrament worthily, we renew our covenants and are clean.
“Jesus commanded his disciples that they should bring forth some bread and wine. …
“And … he took of the bread and brake and blessed it. …
“And when the multitude had eaten and were filled, he said …
“This shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you. … (3 Ne. 18:1, 3, 5, 7, 9–11).
* As you partake of the sacrament, make a special effort to think about the Savior.
* “While of These Emblems We Partake,” Hymns, no. 173.
18. We all have storms in our lives—storms of fear and anger and regret—storms at home and at school. The Master’s hand can calm all our tempests.
“And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.
“And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.
“And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.
“And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm” (Matt. 8:23–26).
* Be a calming influence today. Try extra hard to control your temper.
* “Master, the Tempest Is Raging,” Hymns, no. 105.
19. The greatest victory of all time was not won on a battlefield but in a quiet hillside garden.
We cannot fully understand the cost of that triumph, but as Christmas draws near we should at least try.
“O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39).
“For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
“But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
“Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
“Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men” (D&C 19:16–19).
* Accept the gift of forgiveness. Pray to Heavenly Father about some weakness and ask for help in repenting of it.
* “How Great Thou Art,” Hymns, no. 86.
20. Some things are almost too painful to think about. To see our Savior mocked and murdered is one such thing. And yet, through the scriptures, we should visit Calvary from time to time. We must never forget Jesus died so that we might live and live more abundantly.
“They stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.
“And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
“And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head” (Matt. 27:28–30).
“And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him. …
“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots” (Luke 23:33–34).
“And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days,
“Save thyself, and come down from the cross.
“Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.
“Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe” (Mark 15:29–32).
* Read the accounts of the crucifixion in the four Gospels, and then write your feelings in your journal.
* “There Is a Green Hill Far Away,” Hymns, no. 194.
21. The morning of Christ’s resurrection was the brightest morning in all history—a time of transcendent joy following the gloom of the crucifixion. The words of the angel still echo down the centuries undiminished. He is risen!
Those words signaled more than the triumph of a god. They proclaimed the supremacy of life over death.
As we celebrate Christmas, we also celebrate the free gift of immortality for all mankind.
“In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
“And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
“His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
“And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
“And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
“He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (Matt. 28:1–6).
“He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces” (Isa. 25:8).
* “He is Risen!” Hymns, no. 199.
22. As the holidays get busier and busier, we become involved in so many things—running errands, attending parties, buying presents, choosing wrapping paper and ribbons. It’s easy to become focused on material things. Instead, let’s remember where our lives ought to be centered.
“I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine” (John 10–14).
“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).
“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness” (John 8:12).
* Go look at Christmas lights and think about where all light really comes from.
* “The Lord Is My Shepherd,” Hymns, no. 108.
23. Jesus is no mere figure from the past, captive in the pages of scripture. He lives today! He holds the universe to its course, and guides the work of his servants on the earth.
“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—
“That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:19–20, 22–24).
* Go out with friends singing Christmas carols, but add some hymns about other aspects of Christ’s ministry.
* “I Know That My Redeemer Lives,” Hymns, no. 136.
24. Jesus came to Bethlehem a humble babe, born in poverty. But he has promised to return to earth in majesty.
Then heaven and earth will be reconciled, and the King of Kings will reign.
“For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. …
“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. …
“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. …
“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matt. 24:27, 29–30, 36, 42).
* Try to live this day as if it were the day of Christ’s second coming.
* “When He Comes Again,” Children’s Songbook, p. 82.
25. Jesus was born in the meridian of time, thus giving an ideal vantage point from which to look both backward and forward.
For the last 24 days you have stood, as it were, in Bethlehem, gazing in both directions.
You have heard the Master’s voice in premortal councils. You have seen him suffer, die, and rise again. You have watched him return triumphant in the clouds of heaven.
Now you are ready to focus with greater joy on that moment when heaven came down to earth.
“And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me: Nephi, what beholdest thou?
“And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins. …
“And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.
“And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look!
“And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms.
“And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!” (1 Ne. 11:14–15, 18–21).
“And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
“And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
“He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: …
“Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. …
“And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:30–32, 34–35, 38).
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. …
“And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
“To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
“And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
“And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger” (Luke 2:1, 3–16).
* Consider what gift you could give the Savior and determine to give it all year long.
* “Joy to the World,” Hymns, no. 201.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this Christmas pilgrimage through the life of the Savior. If you have, there is still one last gift to open.
Open your LDS edition of the Bible to the Topical Guide and look under “Jesus Christ.” You will find 18 1/2 pages of references!
Christmas may be past, but you can go right on reading about the Savior’s mission.
In fact, what you received here was only a small taste of the scriptural feast available.
The suggested activity for this day and the rest of your life is to read and enjoy the word of God as found in the holy scriptures. Give yourself a gift that fills every day of your life with the real spirit of Christmas.