Christmas: Day 1 (Dec. 25)

This is part of a series of daily reflections for Advent. I wrote enough reflections to last an entire week after the Fourth Sunday of Advent; since Christmas Eve fell on a Monday this year, I’m publishing the remaining reflections through the rest of this week. The theme for this week’s reflections is: “The Temple reminds Community of Christ that God is with us, working through us to transform the world.”

Doctrine and Covenants 94:3a, 4a-b
(excerpted; fresh rendering)

It is my will
that my people should use their tithing
to build a house for me.

If my people build a house for me,
my glory will descend on it,
and my presence will be there.

I will come into it—
and so all who come into it
with hearts made clean
will see God.*

* Original: all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God. (A clear allusion to Matthew 5:8. Perhaps as well, a subtle allusion to Psalm 24:3-4.)

Reflection:

I envision in my mind a stable in Bethlehem. It is night. Inside the stable, a woman can be heard crying out in labor. A shining cloud descends silently onto the stable, like the pillar of cloud that descended on the Tabernacle when God took residence there. The woman gives a final cry; there is a moment of silence, followed by the wail of a newborn infant. The cloud dissipates, but a star remains suspended above the stable roof, sending down a beam of light to mark the sacred spot. Shepherds approach, reverently, as if entering a temple. For those who have eyes to see it, God has come into this place.

I envision in my mind the Temple in Independence. A shining cloud descends onto it, like the pillar of cloud that descended on the Tabernacle when God took residence there. The cloud sinks through the roof, filling the space within—and then rays of light shoot out from the Temple in every direction, lighting up Community of Christ meetinghouses and congregations across the globe. For those who have eyes to see it, God has come among us, empowering us, energizing us to carry out Christ’s mission throughout the world.

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