Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Christmas Message

As the 2012 Christmas Season approaches, I thought I'd share a message that is more spiritual in nature than my usual fare. Happy Holidays everyone!

In 2010, Angela Eschler, a former editor of mine approached me with the non-fiction book idea for Christ’s Gifts to Women. At first I was hesitant because co-authoring might sound like it would take half the time as doing a book on one’s own, but in reality, the time spent combining ideas and working out details with another person, can actually be more of a time investment.

From that perspective I knew I needed to be really passionate about the book idea. When I read the introduction that Angela had put together, I loved the idea and knew that I could help. This article is not about my co-authoring experience, but about something I learned along the way about the Savior.

Frequently we hear messages about the Savior—some of them have become buzz words or even car stickers—so much so that we may have stopped hearing the message that’s intended for us. I’ve certainly heard hundreds of tidbits about the Savior in my life. I’ve even lived in the Holy Land and read the New Testament while sitting in the Garden of Gethsemane. I don’t consider myself an expert by any means about the Savior’s life, but it seems that nothing I heard was “new.” 

So it was quite astounding to me when I read something Angela wrote for one of the chapters. In fact, I read it more than once before and after publication. And it’s frequently on my mind. It’s nothing earth-shattering, and I knew it on at least one level, but I had never internalized it. 

Recently an LDS author friend of mine was contacted by a reader who expressed her displeasure that one of the characters in the novel had dressed immodestly. My friend was dismayed to receive such critical feedback about her book—first because the character wasn’t LDS and the story wasn’t LDS fiction so she didn’t feel like she was condoning immodesty, and second, on a deeper level, she felt that she was being chastised for her own worthiness. This was probably not the intention of the reader, but it reminded me of how quick we can be to feel judged by another person, no matter how well-intentioned a comment might be. 

My thoughts went again to what I had learned about the Savior. 

We are familiar with the story of the woman taken into adultery. It is a heartbreaking story of cruelty (by the Pharisees) and humiliation (of the woman). In the day of Christ, it was common for an adulteress to be accused in a public setting, her sins announced to the world, then executed before any repentance or forgiveness could take place.

Apparently the Pharisees esteem Jesus enough that they ask Him if they should stone her, and His reply is: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7). We know what happens next. Without even meeting anyone’s gaze, Jesus “stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not” (v. 9). One by one the Pharisees leave, unable to justify casting the first stone. The Pharisees have realized they have no authority from God to judge this woman. 

And Jesus is then left alone with her.

This fact is what struck me so powerfully. She is left alone with the Savior. She’s not standing in front of the Pharisees, in front of her church congregation, in front of her husband, in front of her children. She only faces the Savior. And only the Savior has the power to judge her.

Angela explains this idea in more detail: “Like our sister, who was left alone, no one stands with us in our daily courtrooms but Christ. In spite of the many self-appointed juries in our mortal sphere, who may heap harsh judgments upon us, we too are “left alone” with the only judge who matters. And He is a merciful judge. He, our only legitimate accuser, does not condemn.”

I take comfort in the thought that the Savior is a merciful judge. That He is our only legitimate accuser. And that He does not condemn

What a balm to the soul. 

Yet, we seem to listen to the accusers of the world, the ones who would condemn us publically and withhold forgiveness and mercy. 

We’ve been counseled by our church leaders that not only are we to forgive others, but we need to forgive ourselves. It’s one thing to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11), and another to allow ourselves to heal from the pain of sin. 

If we can remember in our moments of despair that the only One authorized to judge us is the Savior. His mercy does not have a limit; it is endless. And the One who judges us came “not . . . to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17). 

It can still a hard thing to put our faith in the concept of mercy and becoming clean again, free from regrets, which is probably why I continue to study and read about the Savior and the Atonement. At times I feel as if I only grasp a small part of it. Other times, I am enveloped in a fuller understanding—but that soon becomes crowded out with the perpetual noises of the world. 

So it is my job, and your job, to create those alone moments with the Savior, where it is just us alone with the Savior—feeling of His mercy, His understanding, His love, and seeing ourselves through His lens.

(This article was originally published in Meridian Magazine)


Nashelle said...

Love this. :)

Heather B. Moore said...

Thanks, Nashelle :-)

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

This is beautiful, Heather. Thank you so much. I needed it.

Heather B. Moore said...

Thanks, Kimberley :-)

Charissa said...

Powerful message. I think about this often and am so grateful that Christ is our only judge. There are some who like to take it upon themselves to be our judges here, but that is a heavy, impossible burden for them to carry. Thanks for putting it so well...I will try to work harder to have those alone moments with my Savior.

Heather B. Moore said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Charissa!

Donna McNeil Gonzales said...

What a beautiful posting. It'll be in my thoughts for a long time. Thank you.

Heather B. Moore said...

Thanks, Donna!