Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mein Ansprachen - What Do YOU Want to Do This Christmas?

Today was my last Sunday in Germany... It was the last time that I will speak in the Bonn, Germany ward and the last time I will see a lot of the people there in person. It was one of those days that kind of passed me in a blur, but it was a good one. The colors were vivid and bright, and the moments were special and authentic. I feel good about the connections I have made while here in Germany, and know that some will continue... while some will fade. I feel fulfilled in sharing my testimony with those around me through my example and quite literally, as well. I have chosen to leave a mark, and I hope that those people here in Bonn accept it as a positive one.

As it was my last Sunday, I was asked to give a "farewell talk," in Sacrament Meeting. I could have tried out my Deutsch, but I stuck to English and Dana translated for me. I gave her a copy yesterday to copy over in to German. It was SUCH a weird experience, because I had to really stick to my talk that I wrote and not fly into a tangent. The weirdest part, however, was the waiting in between what I said.... Just bizarre. Haha!

I was asked to speak about "What I would like to do for Christmas this year?" This struck me as a somewhat awkward topic, with no specific religious focus. Perhaps that was the point - to leave it open-ended and free to interpretation. However, I spent more than a week just pondering which direction to take. Finally, I just asked myself the presented question, "What DID I want to do this Christmas?" The answers were clear and created the perfect talk. Here's what I came up with... (I went a little quote crazy! :P)

This Christmas, I wish to do two things. I wish to grow closer to my family here on earth, and I wish to grow closer to my Savior. Let me begin with the latter.

Christmas is a celebration and commemoration to Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and brother. As we focus on him, we are geared to become more Christ-like. Think about it – When you are constantly thinking about something, your actions reflect that mind-set. As we take the time to remember that Christmas is about CHRIST, our outward expressions will mirror His actions.

When I think about how to become more Christ-like, I think about his character. I think about his life and ministry. He not only taught us in parables and allegories what was right and wrong, but he taught us by his example. So, how can we become more like Christ? By following his example, and living in the same way. Christ lives with an attitude of gratefulness, hands filled with service, and love toward his family.

Gratitude

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say ‘thank you?’" ~ William A. Ward (American Religious Writer)

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” ~ Meister Eckhart (German Philosopher and Theologian)

“… Gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues.” – President Thomas S. Monson

"If we only look around us, there are a thousand reasons for us not to be happy, and it is simplicity itself to blame our unhappiness on the things we lack in life. It doesn't take any talent at all to find them. The problem is, the more we focus on the things we don’t have, the more unhappy and more resentful we become" - Joseph B. Wirthlin

In the US we have a holiday called Thanksgiving toward the end of November. I’m sure many of you know about this holiday. What I love most about this holiday is not the actual history behind it, but the way it focuses me before the holiday madness begins. I am able to take a moment and just recognize the things that I have to be thankful for. Yes, I could do this on any day, but I’m appreciative of the reminder.

This year, I wanted to really focus on that attitude of gratitude leading up to Thanksgiving and on through Christmas. One day, as I was riding my bike back from picking-up Nico at school, I started to think about what I could do to focus more on my thankfulness for other people. It seems simple and perhaps superfluous, but I started a daily dedication of thankfulness that I post on my blog each evening. I wrote a list of many people who have really blessed and influenced my life in great or small ways, and the list was pretty long. So, it will not only go on through Christmas, but till the New Year. For me, this was the perfect way to focus on the importance of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and just life in general… It helps me remember that I always can find something, or someone to be grateful for.

Amulek speaks to the Zoramites in Mosiah 34:38, and reminds them to “…live in Thanksgiving daily.” As we live with our hearts geared toward thankfulness we will grow to become more Christ-like, which leads to knowing him better…

"Through expression of prayerful gratitude and thanksgiving, we show our dependence upon a higher source of wisdom and knowledge—God the Father and his Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" - Robert D. Hales

Gratitude brings us closer to our Savior.

Service

"Only a life lived for others, is a life worthwhile." – Albert Einstein

"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself." – Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." - Mahatma Gandhi

By serving those around us, we serve our Father in Heaven, and we serve our Savior, Jesus Christ. In Mosiah 2:17 it reads, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God.”

Along with this message, one of my favorite talks is President Uchtdorf’s “Ye Are My Hands” from the April 2010 General Conference. He states, “As we emulate His perfect example, our hands can become His hands; our eyes, His eyes; our heart, His heart.” As we emulate his perfect example, we become more like him… We grow closer to our Savior, and we grow to understand His love for us and for others.

One of the hardest and darkest times in my life was during my sophomore year in college. There were things going on in my family, I had some health issues to deal with, my school work-load was really heavy, and my job was taking a toll on my time. I was constantly stressed and focused on MY problems. Then, I was called to be the chair for the Service Committee in my ward. I was a bit overwhelmed at first, and though I said yes, I had no idea how I would have the time to help others and even THINK of activities when I was so busy. Again, I was thinking of myself.

As the semester carried on, I found myself dedicated to the cause of my calling. It’s funny, but that “extra thing piled on” to my already crazy life, was the biggest blessing. As I made an effort to look out for others, and for opportunities to serve those in my ward and area, my mind was relieved of the stress from my own problems. I found that looking outward, not only blessed the lives of others, but really blessed my own life. I forget that semester sometimes, but when I remember it, I recall that service is what saved me… and it definitely brought me closer to Christ.

My brothers and sisters, we are surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, our kindness—be they family members, friends, acquaintances, or strangers. We are the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us.” – Thomas S Monson

Family

Jesus Christ showed his great love for his Heavenly Father when he said, “Father if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42) He also showed his great love for us as he took on each of our sins moments later. I tend to forget that Christ is not only my Savior, but my brother. He is my family. I think when I remember that, the Atonement has a deeper meaning to me.

When I was writing this talk, thinking of how to gel my ideas together, I realized that the two things I want to do this Christmas go hand-in-hand with one another. As we grow closer to our Savior, and become Christ-like, we grow closer to our family, because He is family. He is our brother.

With the same mind-set toward out earthly family, the same thing happens. As you show them the gratitude that you have for them, showing them thanks for all they do for you and for who they are, and as we serve them, we grow closer to them. We grow to look at them differently and see how the positive outweighs the negative.

Your family is the most important thing you have here on earth. Christ gave His life to bring us back to our Heavenly Father. He is our Father. We are here on this earth to create families, and make them eternal through temple work. All we do in our existence is based upon the family. In that, I see that as I grow closer to my family, I am fulfilling what I have been sent here to do… and that brings me closer to my Savior. It’s an eternal round, and Christmas is a good reminder of how it all comes together as we merely strive to be more like the child that was once born in a stable.

I know that my Savior lives and that he loves me, and each one of you... I know that as we strive to live a life full of service, being truly grateful for those around us, we will grow closer to our family, and in return, our Savior. I know that gospel brings me joy and peace, and that it teaches truth. It is the full truth here on this earth. I am grateful for the holiday season, to remind me of where my focus should be and to show gratitude to my Heavenly Father and Brother, Jesus Christ. I love him. I know that all of you, can know and love him too.

If you have questions, feel free to let me know. Otherwise, simply enjoy this holiday season, and remember that CHRIST in Christmas.

*muah*

Song of the Day: This is more like "VIDEO OF THE DAY" today... I wanted to post this video I discovered a few weeks ago of some children speaking about the meaning of Christmas to them. Whether you are Mormon or not, it's quite funny and sweet - very entertaining. Here is the Mormon Messages with Kids and Christmas. Enjoy!


3 comments:

linda.jo.from.lindon said...

Thanks Linze for letting us in on the journey. Really have enjoyed following your comings and goings... best wishes in all you do in the future ♥ Linda

Kari said...

Wonderful talk Linze! I loved it. Headed home huh? I bet everyone there will miss you lots. I've enjoyed reading all about your adventures these past few months. Best of luck in the future:)

Danielle said...

i love you. glad you are coming back to the states. you have been missed. i love the kids and christmas video!