Today I have the pleasure of speaking in our Ward Sacrament Meeting. Rather than write a blog post, I figure I’ll just share my talk with y’all.
Christmas is the season for giving. Ever since the wise men showed up with gifts for the Christ child, giving gifts has been a part of the celebration of Christmas.
So has regifting.
Are you a regifter? You know if you are. Have you ever been on the receiving end of a regift? Maybe you have, but might not even know it.
If you don’t know what a “regifter” is, I’ll take a stab at it: Imagine that some friend or coworker has an event coming up, and you need to get them a present. Then you remember that tucked back in the depths of your closet, you have a gift that you once received. It is something that maybe you already had, or you just don’t want or need – but didn’t get rid of it. It is still in the original package…waiting for the right moment. Now is your chance! Wrap it up, or drop it in a gift bag and give it to someone else. Problem solved – no shopping required!
That is re-gifting. Some people hate it, some swear by it.
We have a shelf in our closet where such gifts wind up. Kind of the Island of Misfit Presents. There are things like board games or card games that we already owned, bath bombs, peppermint foot scrub and even smelly candles with “holiday fragrances” – I’m not sure what that means, but probably something like “wet reindeer” or “Abominable Snowman Sparkle.” Who needs that?
However, there are a couple of regifting rules you need to follow– the first, and most obvious- is you need to remember who gave you the gift in the first place, so that you don’t regift it back to them. That would be awkward.
Also, don’t wait too long. That VHS collection of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth that you’ve been saving all these years might seem a little dated by now.
Some people are fine with some regifting, others detest it. Depending on what we are regifting,I know of someone who is appreciates it, and actually encourages it:
Every year, we are poignantly reminded that Christ, Himself, is the first and best Christmas gift of all. He has given so much to us, what could we possibly give to Him for Christmas? That’s where regifting comes in. I believe that Jesus welcomes regifting.
No, I’m not saying that he would like a smelly candle, or bath bombs – although you could make an argument for the peppermint foot scrub. I also don’t believe that he is too concerned about gold, frankincense and myrrh anymore.
The things that Jesus would like us to regift to him are those other things that are securely tucked away in the deep recesses of our closet shelf, many of them things that we like to pretend aren’t there, or at least ignore as much as possible.
Life gives us lots of stuff. Other people give us lots of stuff. We give ourselves lots of stuff. Our personal islands of misfit gifts overflow.
Here’s what I mean:
Has someone in your life ever given you something you don’t really want, yet it sits there on the shelf? For example:
• A box of doubts?
• A jar of emotional pain?
• A sack of sadness
• A package of fear?
Jesus wants us to regift those things to Him. He will gladly take them off our hands.
Have the ups-and-downs of living life given us things that we know we want to get rid of?
• Heavy burdens
Christ will gladly accept those as well.
What about things we might have gifted to ourselves that we would just don’t want in our lives anymore?
Jesus wants us to regift those to him, too.
Do we have things stashed away in the corners of our hearts that we have always wanted to get rid of, but somehow we still hang onto them?
• Unresolved sin
• Personal grudges
• Unkind or critical feelings towards others
The Savior would love for us to unload all of those things. He wants us to take all the sorrows, the pain, the misery, and burdens we have been given and regift them – to Him. He is eager and willing to take them off our hands – if we will just give Him the chance. He has repeatedly offered, and He stands there before us, patiently hopeful that we will eventually lay our burdens – and our sins- at His feet.
Elder Robert D. Hales taught, “The Lord is the ultimate caregiver. We must surrender ourselves to the Lord. In doing so, we give up whatever is causing our pain and turn everything over to Him. “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee. And then may God grant unto you that your burdens may be light, through the joy of his Son.”
Alma taught about the Savior: “And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.” (Alma 7:11)
And Christ himself said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Christ also said that he was sent, in part, “to heal the brokenhearted.” (Luke 4)
We need to let Him!
President Dallin Oaks taught, “Because of His atoning experience in mortality, our Savior is able to comfort, heal, and strengthen all men and women everywhere, but I believe He does so only for those who seek Him and pray for His help.”
It doesn’t just “happen.” It has to be intentional.
What does Jesus want for Christmas? All the crud we really already want to get rid of – the stuff that weighs down our lives, dampens our spirits, hardens our hearts, damages our relationships and slows our progression.
This year, let’s take those things that we really don’t want, the pain, the sin, the anger, the grudges, and regift them to the Savior – because that’s what He really wants for Christmas.
When the angels announced Christ’s birth to the shepherds on that first Christmas eve, they said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men.”
It is a wonderful sentiment, but the “peace on earth” part isn’t really going to happen until things get worse. Much worse.
In the most recent General Conference, Elder Quentin Cook said, “Universal peace does not exist today. However, personal peace can be achieved despite the anger, contention, and division that blight and corrupt our world today. It has never been more important to seek personal peace.”
Fortunately, peace is less about what is going on in the world, and more about what is going on in our hearts.
One of the best ways to find that inner peace that we seek is to give up the things in our lives that are holding us back from feeling that peace. They are the exact things that I listed earlier- the things Christ would have us turn over to him.
Christmas can be a season of peace – but it is a peace that starts within each of us, and is fostered by the Holy Spirit.
Elder Richard G Scott was rather blunt about it: “Many of you suffer needlessly from carrying heavy burdens because you do not open your hearts to the healing power of the Lord.”
The prophet David O McKay said, “The peace of Christ does not come by seeking the superficial things of life, neither does it come except as it springs from the individual’s heart.”
Let’s not worry about those superficial things, rather let’s make this a Christmas of peace, by giving up those burdens we have accumulated.
May this Christmas be a time of healing, forgiving, repenting, and unburdening. May the Prince of Peace share his peace with each of us as we regift our burdens to him.