Before leaving his disciples, Jesus promised them an incredible gift–a gift that would surpass any gift ever given. I thought about that gift in the dark pre-dawn hours on this Christmas morning as I waited in bed, listening to the prayer calls of the mosque out our window.
I thought about the reminder to pray for a long time this morning and I also thought about how LOUD that muezzin is with his microphone. We hear prayer calls several times a day, always loud and repetitive. I like being reminded, most of the time. Not so much at 4:00 a.m., but during the day it can be a nice reminder to give thanks for my blessings.
This has been an interesting Christmas season, here in Bamako. There are no Christmas lights, no Christmas trees, no decorations, no presents, and no carols being sung. The trappings of Christmas are not found here in these Muslim neighborhoods. We’ve had to create our own simple Christmas celebration.
Last night we read the Christmas Story from Luke and from Matthew. I thought about Jesus’s birth and His life and all He has done for us. I thought about how, at the end of His life he said to his disciples:
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:16-18, 25-27, italics added).
He gave us this unspeakable gift, the Gift of the Holy Ghost–to teach us, to help us remember Him, to comfort us, to protect us, and to give us peace in a troubled world.
It’s the greatest Gift ever!
The scriptures describe the voice God uses. In the account of Elijah in the Old Testament, it says:
The Lord said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. (1 Kings 19:11-12, italics added.)
The prophet Nephi had brothers who would not hear. To them, he said:
Ye are swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord your God. Ye have seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words. (Nephi 1:45, italics added.)
When Jesus visited the people on the American continent after his resurrection, his coming was announced in this way:
And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn.
And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not.
And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came. And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them: Behold my Beloved Son, bin whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him. (3 Nephi 11:3-7, italics added.)
The Holy Ghost communicates to us in much the same way–quietly. He speaks to our hearts and to our minds. He causes us to feel things or remember things. He cautions or prompts us to do or not to do certain things. He is our constant companion.
I love the description of the Holy Ghost’s communication to us in a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1832:
Yea, thus saith the still small voice, which whispereth through and pierceth all things, and often times it maketh my bones to quake while it maketh manifest. (D&C 85:6, italics added.)
This morning as I was awakened by the blaring reminder to pray, I thought about the Holy Ghost and the quiet messages I receive almost daily–Jesus’s gift to me. It’s the best gift ever. I don’t really need anything else, especially on this Christmas Day.