Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Star

Song: "Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus" (Children's Songbook p.36)

One of the most exciting signs of Christ's birth was a new star in the heavens. "At the birth of Him who once identified Himself as the 'bright and morning star,' a new star appeared in the heavens. Shining brightly over Bethlehem, that star had been placed in orbit far in advance of the foretold event in order that its light could coincide in time and place with His blessed birth" (Russell M. Nelson, "Why This Holy Land?," Ensign, Dec 1989).

Most of us hear or tell the familiar story of the wise men that followed the new star in the east to find the Christ Child at Christmastime. But there was another story, happening on another continent at that time.
(Act out the story with your family as you tell it. Throw paper balls at Samuel?)

Around 6 years before the birth of Christ, Samuel the prophet was preaching to the Nephite people, "...and this shall be unto you for a sign; for ye shall know of the rising of the sun and also of its setting; therefore they shall know of a surety that there shall be two days and a night; nevertheless the night shall not be darkened; and it shall be the night before he is born. And behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you" (Helaman 14:2-5). You are 4 years old - try to imagine you heard that prophecy. Would you believe him?

("Samuel the Lamanite on the Wall" by Arnold Friberg)

Those who didn't believe Samuel threw stones and shot arrows at him as he stood on the wall, but they could not hit him because the Lord was protecting him. Some of the people believed him, but most did not. They tried to capture him, but he jumped down from the wall and was never heard from again. Samuel bore a strong testimony of Jesus Christ even though many people were trying to hurt him.

Five years passed, and the wicked Nephites said that the time for Jesus' birth had already passed.

Read 1 Nephi 1:6-8: "And they began to rejoice over their brethren, saying: Behold the time is past, and the words of Samuel are not fulfilled; therefore, your joy and your faith concerning this thing hath been vain. And it came to pass that they did make a great uproar throughout the land; and the people who believed began to be very sorrowful, lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass. But behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night, that they might know that their faith had not been in vain."

Then the wicked people did a really terrible thing. They set apart a day to kill all the people who believed Samuel if the sign didn't come. (3 Nephi 1:9) The righteous people were probably very scared. Try to imagine you are 9 or 10 years old - what would you do? Would you deny your testimony and go with the wicked? Or would you stand up for what you believed and possibly die? Then the day came for the believers to be tested. And that night the sign came. (3 Nephi 1:15). There was a day, and a night, and a day with no darkness - letting everyone know that Jesus Christ was born.

(Painting by Damir Krivenko)

Then about 34 years later (imagine you are about 44 years old), another sign happened in the land. When Jesus died, there was a night, and a day, and a night with no light. The Nephites were probably very scared, but at the end of the darkness, Jesus appeared to them and said, "Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. And behold, I am the light and the life of the world..." (3 Nephi 11:10-11). The very first thing he says is "I am the Light" - the light that saved your life when you were 10. Everyone fell to the earth.

Christ is the light. The light (or star) in the sky testified that he came into the world, and the light went away for three days when he died. 

Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught us: "The same God that placed that star in a precise orbit millennia before it appeared over Bethlehem in celebration of the birth of the Baby, has given at least equal attention to placement of each of us in precise orbits so that we may, if we will, illuminate the landscape of our individual lives, so that our light may not only lead others but warm them as well." Heavenly Father knows each one of us and loves us. He wants us to share the light we have with others. 

(A scene from "Star of Wonder: Mystery of the Christmas Star." )

How can we be like the star?
The wise men followed a new star in the sky because they knew it would lead them to the Christ child. Did you know that you can be like that star and lead others to Jesus Christ?

"I am like a star shining brightly, Smiling for the whole world to see. I can do and say Happy things each day, For I know Heav'nly Father loves me (Children's Songbook, page 163)." 

Activity: Make star cookies and give some away.

Butterscotch Eggnog Stars (from Taste of Home)
Yield: about 3 dozen.
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup eggnog
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup crushed hard butterscotch candies
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon rum extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons eggnog
  • Yellow colored sugar
1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and eggnog. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Divide dough in half.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one portion at a time to 1/4-in. thickness. Cut with a floured 3-1/2-in. star cutter. Cut out centers with a 1-1/2-in. star cutter. Line baking sheets with foil; grease foil.

3. Place large star cutouts on prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon candy in center of each. Repeat with remaining dough; reroll small cutouts if desired

4. Bake at 375° for 6-8 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes. Carefully slide foil and cookies form baking sheets onto wire racks to cool.

5. For icing if desired, beat confectioners' sugar, rum extract and enough eggnog to achieve drizzling consistency. Drizzle over cooled cookies if desired. Sprinkle with colored sugar if desired. Let stand until hardened. 

I adapted information from a Stake Conference talk by Elder Bednar in 2010, as well as the Christmas devotional plan compiled by Jen Lund (scroll down to Christmas). 


For a list of the rest of my Christmas Devotionals, see this post.

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