Song: "Prayer of Thanksgiving" (Hymns 93)
We learn from Luke several times that Mary and Joseph did things "according to the law of Moses" (Luke 2: 22-24, 39), and that included the ordinances pertaining to childbirth.
40 days after the birth of a son, or 80 days in the case of a daughter, the mother was to offer a special sacrifice - a lamb or two turtledoves or pigeons, (Leviticus 12:8) which Joseph and Mary did. Because the brought the less expensive option - two pigeons (Luke 2:24), we know they lived in humble circumstances.
While Joseph and Mary were at the temple to offer the sacrifices required by the law, they were stopped by a man named Simeon. He was a “just and devout” man who received regular communication from the Holy Ghost (Luke 2:25). It had been revealed to him “that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (verse 26), and he was living in hope and anticipation of that blessed event. The Spirit prompted him to come to the temple on the day Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to Jerusalem “to present him to the Lord” (verse 22). Simeon immediately recognized the baby as the promised Messiah and “took he him up in his arms, and blessed God” (verse 28), prophesying of the destiny of the holy baby as the “light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (verse 32). Simeon’s righteous and faithful life enabled him to be present in the temple so he could testify of the Light when at last he found it. We, like Simeon, can strive for greater sensitivity and obedience to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost so that our lives can take the path our Heavenly Father has in mind for us. Because Simeon had cultivated his ability to hear and respond to the Spirit, he was in the right place at the right time, and the Lord’s promises to him were fulfilled in the most glorious way. The same opportunities can be afforded to each of us and can likewise allow the Lord’s plan to unfold in our lives. When we are faced with making decisions of eternal significance, when we are at a crossroads in our lives, we need clarity of thinking and correct perspective. Sometimes the very nature of making these important decisions causes us to feel unsure, unsteady, and even unable to act, down in the dark valley under the inversion. But as we take steps of faith and act according to righteous principles, we gradually see God’s plan taking shape in our lives, and we are brought back into the bright sunlight of God’s love. ("Come Let Us Adore Him" by Elder Patrick Kearon, Ensign, December 2010.)
(The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple by )
While the holy family was yet in the temple, Anna, a woman of “great age,” came "in that instant" to them (Luke 2:38). She was a widow described as a “prophetess” (Luke 2:36), whose long and faithful life was characterized by her constancy in fasting and prayer and that she “departed not from the temple” (verse 37). Upon beholding the baby Jesus in the temple, she “gave thanks” for the Christ child “and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (verse 38). We learn from Anna’s experience that we can live faithfully through all weathers if we are consistent in our fasting and prayer and if we do not depart from the temple in our hearts. If we haven’t yet had the opportunity to travel to a temple and receive its blessings, we can still enjoy the blessings that flow into our lives when we worthily hold a temple recommend. Prophets have repeatedly invited us to hold a temple recommend even if our circumstances do not allow us to attend the temple. We can lift ourselves from dark moments and into the light of gratitude through our temple worship and through testifying of Jesus to all who look for peace and hope. ("Come Let Us Adore Him" by Elder Patrick Kearon, Ensign, December 2010.)
Activity: Write thank you notes for the Christmas gifts you received yesterday. You could also write a note to someone who inspired, or served you.
For a list of the rest of my Christmas Devotionals, see this post.