Latter-day Saint Life

Elder Holland Tells of His Father's Death, Christ's Birth at Anglican Christmas Service


While attending the Church of England’s signature Christmas service, Elder Holland shared a message about the hope and comfort Christ's birth brought him after his father passed away on Christmas. 

Elder Holland spoke from Luke 2 about Simeon, saying there is a profound Christmas message in the sign "this dear old man" gave Mary when he held a weeks-old Christ child in his arms at the temple. Simeon rejoiced at the fulfillment of a promise that he would see the Messiah, but he also issued a dire "warning that this child’s life — or more specifically his death — would be like a sword piercing through his beloved mother’s soul."

"We might well ask," Elder Holland said, "Was such an ominous warning, such a fateful prophecy, appropriate in this season of joy? Surely such was untimely, maybe even unseemly, at that moment — that moment when the Son of God was so young and tender and safe, and his mother so thrilled with his birth and his beauty?"

Elder Holland recalled his father's two heart attacks during and after back surgery on Dec. 23, 1976.

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"By the time we finally got to see him, wired and tubed and gray and unconscious, it was mid-afternoon on December 24, Christmas Eve. 'Magnificent timing,' I muttered to no one in particular."

He said he paced and prayed alone in an unfamiliar hospital as Christmas Eve turned into Christmas, feeling sorry for himself and muttering questions about why he had to lose his dad at Christmas.

Then he received what he termed a "theological wake-up call."

Lead image Simon D. Jones, IRI; retrieved from Church News

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