“A Time of Enrichment,” Ensign, Dec. 1986, 46
Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus and friends of the Savior, have served Christian women as symbols of the contemplative and the active life. Mary provides a comforting example of the need for contemplation. There may be no more important season of the year to follow her example than at Christmastime.
I have found two ways of structuring quiet moments into the Christmas season. One of these involves our ward, as we come together as the Lord’s family to pay homage to him. Traditionally, on the second Sunday in December, we have a special spoken message as well as a musical presentation which usually involves soloists, choir, and instrumentalists. It is a serious yet joyful occasion during which we contemplate Christ’s first coming as the babe of Bethlehem and, as with the primitive church, reflect on his second coming. The music is selected to represent the most mature and refined aspects of our spiritual growth and is in a very real way a gift to the Lord.
Privately, as a family, we also plan for contemplative times. On one evening we gather our children together to read Luke’s timeless account of Christ’s birth, sing carols around the piano, and read stories (Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory” and Dylan Thomas’s “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” are two of our favorites). In addition, my husband and I always plan one or two evenings during which we use music to help us sustain our spiritual contemplation of Christmas. We choose one of several large musical works (such as Bach’s Christmas Oratorio or Handel’s Messiah) and listen as we read the text. When we add a warm fire to these quiet moments, we create an atmosphere that encourages the Spirit to enter our home at this special time of year.
Ruth Stanfield Rees
Los Angeles, California