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If Christmas be the love of Jesus, shine on, Lord, shine on.

If the love of Christ can be magnified by the congregation who serve in His name, the Ilford ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is quite definitely such a place and people.   And, I suppose, greatness suggests that Jesus had to be born in a manger, as the inns around the area were all without a place for them, them being the Blessed Virgin Mary and her husband, Joseph the Carpenter.


The Star of Bethlehem carried its blessings through a crack in the stable where Jesus was born, guiding the three noblemen from the east to visit Him bearing frankincense, myrhh, and gold. 


The talks today were given by, firstly, Sister Fenu, who is serving here from Italy.  "This is a special Sunday, the Sunday before Christmas.  It is on special occasions that we come to church, where we can feel the love of God.  Alma is talking to members and friends of the church, 'If you have experienced a change of heart and felt the love of God, it is here in the church.  When we dance, we have to follow the music and the steps.  When we dance, we have to follow the steps; but we have to hear the music too. '  Alma has suggested that we should review each day's work, noting how we have seen the hands of the Lord in the work that day.  Take some time each day and write down how you have felt the hands of the Lord in your work that day.  As you review your work, it can improve.  Your friendship with the Lord will grow too."  These are inspired words of good practice from Sister Fenu.


Next, Elder Williams related the significance of Christmas, as he has experienced it.  "There is always something special about Christmas, something incredible.  It is the celebration of the birth of Christ, our Lord and Saviour, the Redeemer of the World, the Light, who was born in a manger, a stable, but brought goodness to us all, the whole of humanity.  I urge you to go out this Christmas and help someone who is in need, do some work of charity. "  Then Brother Williams quoted at length the definition from the Scriptures, which readers may wish to look up at lds.org /charity.  "Charity is the pure love of Christ, going out of our way to do something for another.  We should always bear in mind the Saviour's words : "Whatsoever you do for the least one of us, believe you have rendered it onto me." 

     Elder Williams related an anecdote.  "My friend Ron bought this suit for me.  Perhaps it was the Holy Ghost prompting him.  My friends have taught me the meaning and value of charity.  Great or small acts of charity will be memorable for someone for many years to come."  That suit now has a personality, a story behind it.  (Some people may be wondering who the kind and generous friend Ron is.)


     Our Bishop, who serves this congregation so well, authorizing the baptisms, ministering to the people, counselling them, always showing immense understanding and tolerance towards all, gave the closing talk.  "Jesus Christ was born a humble man, just like you and I.  When he was discussing points of law at the temple, people were amazed  to see the young boy.  "This is the son of Joseph, the carpenter, and look how well he knows the Scriptures, how well he holds his own on matters of law.

   Later on, when they brought to him the woman who was accused to having committed adultery, He told the crowd "Let him who is without sin be the one to cast the first stone".  And one by one, the crowd, realising their foolishness, turned away.  The humble man, explaining natural justice to the crowds, was our Master and Saviour. 
 
    Jesus Christ was alive when He was nailed to the cross.  "Father, forgive them," he prayed, "because they know not what they do."

     Satan (and those influenced by him) will try to tell you that wrong is right, and what you do right is wrong.  But the inner voice of Christ, through the Holy Ghost, will guide you correctly.  His example and teachings were right, whose birth we celebrate at this time.  I wish you all a joyful and merry Christmas, and may our Heavenly Father blesses us all, each and everyone of us, for a bright and beautiful New Year."

                  ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Later on Sunday evening, on this warm evening in December, the Hyde Park Choir visited the church in Ilford, to treat us all to a sing song in fine voices and good cheer, to celebrate the birth of our Saviour.  Gloria, in excellsis, Deo.  President Stevens, who trained with the London Tabernacle, gave a beautiful rendition in his baritone.
I particularly noted Sister Cummings singing in the choir; she had served in Ilford earlier this year, and of course this Sister is a great friend of us all.  Also the audience was thrilled and delighted to hear Sister Hannig, who I could imagine singing the sound of music in the Alpine air, as well as Sister Grant. 
Their training to amplify those crisp, delicate, beautiful voices and yet project them so well must be something. It was most entertaining, followed by mince pies and drinks for all. 

Merry Christmas, everyone! 

Amen.

(c) Copyright.  May be freely distributed with acknowledgement.
 



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