Christ cares for us individually. The inverted five-point stars found on the Nauvoo Temple are symbols of Christ, the “bright and morning star” (Revelation 22:16), reaching down to earth and inviting us to reach up to Him. . . .
Years ago I was teaching at a session of Especially for Youth at BYU. I finished my final class and was packing up my scriptures and papers when I discovered an anonymous note that had been placed with them: “Dear Brother Wilcox, I am a young woman dealing with a difficult situation in my home. Some things are happening that shouldn’t be, and I don’t know what to do. I have never had the courage to tell anyone before. I came to EFY fasting and praying for direction. I am going to come to your final class today. Please give me some advice.” My heart dropped. This girl had been in the class I had just finished teaching, and I had said nothing. She would not know I hadn’t seen the note. Did she feel like I did not think her plea was important enough to address or that I simply didn’t care? I felt terrible. Since I would not have another opportunity to address the group, the only thing I could think to do was pass the note along to Brother Jack Marshall, who was the session director that week.
The next day, one of the teachers called in sick, so at the end of the morning devotional Brother Marshall announced that he would be taking the place of the teacher listed on the program. He then added, “Yesterday, someone left a note for Brother Wilcox that he did not see until his classes were over. He gave the note to me, and I will try to share some advice in this next class, so I hope the author of that note can come.”
Not knowing whether or not the girl was even there, Brother Marshall spoke about the cycle of abuse that is sometimes perpetuated in families and how the best way to break it is to say something to Church leaders and legal authorities. “Sometimes we think we will ruin everything, but actually it is the only way that both the abuser and those being abused can get the help they need,” Brother Marshall said. As the class ended, he expected the girl to come talk to him, but no one came. Brother Marshall knew that without knowing her name, there was no way he could find her among all the participants. He prayed that if she had been there, she would now find the courage to say something.
On the final night of the session, the youth were to have a dance, which Brother Marshall was going to help chaperone. Before the dance started, a large group of young people gathered around him to say thank you for a great week. One girl said, “Thanks for everything you did for us.” As Brother Marshall looked at her, the Spirit indicated to him that she was the one who had written the note. He asked quietly, “You wrote Brother Wilcox the note, didn’t you?” The girl was stunned. She had no idea how he knew. Brother Marshall asked, “Would you like to talk?” She nodded, and they pulled away from the group.
She bravely told him about the abuse going on in her home. Brother Marshall listened and testified that God was aware of her situation and loved her. During the course of their conversation she mentioned where she was from. Brother Marshall had recently spoken at a fireside in her home stake and remembered the name of her stake president since he had stayed in his home. When the girl returned to the dance, Brother Marshall found the stake president’s phone number, called him, and explained the situation. The stake president said he knew the girl and her family and promised he would meet with her when she came home, get her the help she needed, and notify the proper authorities.
As Brother Marshall and I have reflected on that experience through the years, we have felt humbled to have witnessed such a miracle. We know that the way Brother Marshall identified this young woman was no lucky guess. Similarly, we know that the fact that Brother Marshall had spoken in her stake and knew her stake president was no coincidence. It was one of those amazing times when, as Emily Freeman once said at a Time Out for Women event, “We may not see the finger of the Lord as did the Brother of Jared, but we can certainly see His fingerprints.”
The Apostle Paul commanded the elders of the Church, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). That week at EFY, the Holy Ghost prompted some overseers in remarkable ways, and one little lamb was nourished, tended, and protected. The Lord told Peter to feed His sheep, and Peter has told us the same: “Feed the flock of God which is among you. . . . And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Peter 5:2, 4).
Because of the Messiah in a manger, we are never just part of a crowd or congregation. We are individuals. Elder David A. Bednar has written, “The story of Jesus teaching Peter to feed His lambs is not a story about a flock. Rather, it is a story about millions and tens of millions and hundreds of millions of ones—because the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” Christ, “the Shepherd and Bishop of [our] souls” (1 Peter 2:25), feeds His sheep. We “hold a place within his heart” (Hymns, no. 187). Impossible? How many times does the Lord have to prove that He can do miracles we cannot comprehend before we remember the Savior’s words to Jairus: “Be not afraid, only believe” (Mark 5:36).
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Read more Christ-centered messages in Because of the Messiah in a Manger.
Born on Christmas Day, Brad Wilcox has always had a special love for Christmas. Everyone knows that the season has become commercialized and saturated by the demands of political correctness. But, as Brad writes, "No matter how many try to take Christ out of Christmas . . . it will always and forever be about the Messiah in a manger."
Because of the Messiah in a manger, we can feel and share His pure love. Because of Him, we have access to grace, immortality, and eternal life. Because of the Messiah in a manger, we follow the star, hear the angels sing, and celebrate the Light of the World at Christmas and always.
This warm, conversational book will enhance your celebration of the Christmas season as you discover ways Christ began to fulfill His divine mission right from the moment of His humble birth. Whether a gift to a loved one or to yourself, this is the perfect read to curl up by the fire and embrace the Christmas spirit. Join with shepherds, wise men, angels, and other witnesses throughout the ages who have testified of the Christ in cradle, the Messiah in a manger.