My childhood is full joyful memories from Christmas activities in the community, at church, and with my family at home. The colors, music, and decorated trees—with presents beneath—fascinated me and made me desire that Christmas would last all year long!
But what really caught my undivided attention above all (and still does) were the nativities—the little sets of Christmas figurines displayed in various homes and public places. The humble miniature stables with calm animals, adoring shepherds—along with wisemen offering precious gifts. And at the center, Joseph and Mary contemplating the little infant lying on a manger.
That representation of baby Jesus somehow always brought me a sensation of the possibility of rebirth from sadness to joy through Him and the love that His image irradiates.
Through the years I have realized that it is possible, by developing some habits related to our Area Plan, to maintain those feelings throughout the year and to experience a rebirth of that joy constantly. Let me share them with you:
Read and ponder the Book of Mormon daily: This volume of scripture exists to bear witness of Christ and of His divinity and power through His Atonement. “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ . . . that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26). As we daily search the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, we will always feel a rebirth of hope, of testimony and of the Saviour’s love for us. That will be the source of extreme happiness.
Improve sabbath day observance: Every time we are in church and worthily partake of the sacrament, we are promised that we may always have His Spirit to be with us. (See D&C 20:77). Repenting daily and weekly renewing our baptismal covenants is like being “born again” (John 3:3)—feeling clean and accepted by God.
Participate in temple work: Inside these holy houses our understanding of Christ, His mission, doctrine, covenants and sacrifice will expand, and we will feel his love and presence. Therein we gradually receive His image in our countenances, experience a powerful change of heart and we are spiritually born of God again. (See Alma 5:14.)
Share the gospel with those not of our faith: If we constantly mention Christ and His gospel in our normal and natural conversations, and invite people we meet to “come and see, come and help, and come and stay” we will become instruments to bring many to be born again through baptism in His restored Church. “How great will be your joy” (D&C 18:16), says the Lord.
I testify that it is indeed possible to feel like Christmas season all year long when we consistently read and ponder the Book of Mormon, worthily participate in the sacrament, participate in temple work and share the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we do these things, we will experience, through Christ and His Atonement, a rebirth of faith, hope, peace and joy—in every moment of our lives.
Joni L. Koch was sustained as a General Authority Seventy in April 2017. He is married to Liliane Michele Ludwig; they are the parents of two children.