Reflecting on 2020, my wife and I have had challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic, but as we have relied on the grace of Jesus Christ, we have found strength. Our challenges have stretched from surgeries to sicknesses and looking for ways to make ends meet throughout the year. We are very grateful for the support from loved ones and especially for the grace of Christ that we have relied on this year.
The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges that to many may seem insurmountable. I recognize that my wife and I are lucky to have most of our family physically close, but we have been socially distanced at times. Many people in the world will not get to “be home for Christmas” like the Christmas song “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” states, but I believe we can keep the true meaning of Christmas in our hearts at all times by remembering the birth of Christ and relying on his grace by trying to be like him. Relying on the grace of Christ is how hope has filled my heart during hard times.
“The Christ Child,” a short Christmas movie about the birth of Jesus Christ, created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gives me hope of good things to come. In a particular scene based on the scripture in the book of Luke chapter 2 verse 7 in the King James version of “The Holy Bible” states: “And (Mary) brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (King James Bible, Luke. 2.7). Although the inn did not have a physical room for Mary to give birth to the baby Jesus, she and Joseph found room in the adjacent stable in Bethlehem. Their hope in finding a physical place to birth Jesus was found in that stable.
Although we may be physically distanced from loved ones, we can still find room for our family and friends within our hearts. God has blessed us with technology that allows us to see and talk with those whom we wish we could be with to hug and love. Scientists and medical professionals have worked extremely hard to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. These things give me hope. Although I can’t always be with my loved ones, knowing that I can rely on the grace of Christ when I feel like hope for good things to come is diminishing makes every day worth living no matter what’s happening around me. One way to experience the grace of Christ is by serving others.
I believe this Christmas season can be a time when anyone can learn to focus on serving their neighbors instead of focusing on the depression caused by the pandemic or the strife and contention from political differences. My wife and I are participating in “Light the World” (#LightTheWorld), which is an annual service campaign created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This December, we are making a diligent effort to focus on serving those around us. I believe serving others is a special way to experience the grace of Christ. By serving others, we focus less on our needs by giving to others in support of their needs. In return, we can receive a karma-like experience by receiving service from others. God is aware of everyone’s needs, but we are tasked with reaching out to those in need. Just as Jesus taught the Pharisees and Sadducees, he likewise teaches us today with these words: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (King James Bible, Matthew.22.37-39).
In my pursuit of becoming like Christ, the COVID-19 pandemic as well as political strife has taught me how service allows one to find more agreements rather than disagreements. I have learned to be nonjudgmental and simply do my best to be the best I can be — to be like Christ. I truly believe we can all experience the grace of Christ this Christmas season and throughout the year 2021 as we serve others.
Case Stayner holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Idaho State University and loves writing in his free time and using this talent at his place of employment. The most important things Case values in life are his religious beliefs, including his faith in God the Father and his son Jesus Christ and his dedication to his family.