The Christmas story, as related in Matthew and Luke, is familiar and beloved. And for years I've been touched by the third birth narrative that the Book of Mormon offers, as Nephi sees the birth of Christ in vision. The startling moment where Nephi grasps the whole meaning of his father's vision by seeing Mary with Jesus in her arms is one of my favorite moments in scripture. Mary bearing Jesus is the love of God. Jesus is the love of God incarnate. And his birth in a stable to a mortal woman shows how far God will "go down" to meet his children and bring them up to their full potential.
This year, rereading this passage, I saw something new. Mary holding Jesus in her arms is a symbol, not just of the condescension of God, but of the fragility of testimony. Much like a newborn baby, our faith in Christ, our witness of him, is a fragile thing that can be easily damaged. (Harold B. Lee described a testimony as "fragile as a moonbeam") I thought of the fear that every parent feels holding that newborn child for the first time, the fear that we might drop the baby, or roll over on it, or harm it in some way.
When you want someone to drop something, any amount of argument will likely make the person hold on tighter. However, toss something to them and instinctively they will open their arms, letting go of whatever they are holding. This is what the adversary is doing so cleverly today. So much information is hurled at us through the internet that it is hard to hold on to the fundamental tenets on which we were raised. In a flurry of concern about the historical accuracy of the narrative, or some discrepancies in doctrine, we may find we have inadvertantly "thrown the baby out with the bath water."
Perhaps it is unfortunate that as we frame our testimonies, we tend to emphasize a few historical assertions rather than our personal experience with Jesus. Can a tiny child know if the church is true? Maybe, maybe not. But a little child can feel the love of Christ and recognize it. (In fact, they often point out the presence of the spirit before we grownups realize it is there.) And for those of us who are older and should know better, we might remember how fragile our witness of Christ can be. In a stormy world, we should protect it with prayer and swaddle it in scriptural study. Spending a few minutes with Jesus every day will ensure that we never drop that precious testimony of Christ, which is the foundation of happiness.