Almost 150 years ago, a young man named James R. Murry went to music school in Massachusetts. After graduating, the civil war came on and James enlisted in the Union Army as a musician. He spent some of the war here in Virginia, where he began composing songs. After the war he moved to back home to teach piano. In time, he worked for music publishers in Chicago, Illinois and Cincinnati, Ohio. During this time, he wrote and published many songs. There is one song he wrote which we do not normally think of a Christmas Song. The song, however, has a Christmas message, and I would like to read the words to the song.
I think some of the primary children will recognize this song as I read it. Let's see if you know the words. If you do, just nod at me so I can see. Ready?
II. JESUS ONCE WAS A LITTLE CHILD
Jesus once was a little child,
A little child like me;
And he was pure and meek and mild,
As a little child should be.
He played as little children play
The pleasant games of youth;
Be he never got vexed if the game went wrong
And he always spoke the truth.
So little children,
Let's you and I
Try to be like him,
Try, try, try.
(By James R. Murray (1841-1905) as found in the Children's Songbook. (1989) SLC, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, page 55.)
III. CHRISTMAS MESSAGE
What a great Christmas message! Let's you and I try to be pure and meek and mild--as a little child and a big adult should be. When we feel the Christmas spirit at this time of year, I think we are feeling people all over making an effort to try to be pure and meek and mild.
What did the angels tell the shepherds in the field that night? "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." (Luke 2:13-14)
What does it mean, "and on earth, peace, good will toward men?" Does it mean that some heavenly force will somehow dump a whole bunch of peace and good will all over the earth? I think not. I believe what the angels were saying, was that One was just born who would teach the people of earth--both by example and by preaching--how to create peace and good will. And what did Jesus teach us about how to create peace and good will? He taught us to be pure and meek and mild.
I have noticed when drivers are pure and meek and mild there is peace and good will on the roadways. I have noticed when shoppers are pure and meek and mild, there is peace and good will in the stores. I have noticed that when my neighbors are pure and meek and mild, there is peace and good will in the community. I have noticed that when parents and children are pure and meek and mild, there is peace and good will in the families.
This is the message of Christmas. That Jesus once was a child and an adult like us. Because we are like him, we can behave like he did. Like Jesus, we can be pure and meek and mild. In doing so we bring peace and good will into the world. "So little children, let's you and I, try to be like Him, try try try."
In the sacred name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.