We have entered the holiday season, a time for thanksgiving and focus on things that really matter. We give thanks and celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I was in Japan three weeks ago, surrounded with Christmas decorations throughout Tokyo. Christmas has become a celebration for much of the world.
The holidays are a time for families. During this season where we seek to give meaningful gifts, may I suggest one that could benefit each of us? The gift is the theme of a favorite hymn, "Love at Home". (LDS Hymn Book, No. 294)
"There is beauty all around, when there's love at home."
Christ taught, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another ..." (John 13:34) Nothing is more important in our homes than love one for another. A home with love is truly beautiful and shows in the lives of the family.
"There is joy in every sound, when there's love at home."
Our greatest joys and our greatest pains come from the relationships and experiences in our families. Love drives out the baser emotions and creates an atmosphere of support, encouragement and strength. Love helps us gently nurture family members in faith as we prepare them to contribute in the world.
"Peace and plenty here abide, smiling sweet on every side."
As love permeates our homes, they become a sanctuary of peace and fulfillment. The pain caused by sparse material blessings is overcome by the warmth found in the refuge of a loving home. Conversely, plentiful material blessings are not allowed to overshadow the importance and contribution of love in the lives of those who dwell there.
"Time doth softly, sweetly glide, when there is love at home."
Where love abounds, time truly does move sweetly. Warm memories are formed that develop close relationships lasting into adulthood and beyond. The family's love expands to include in-laws, grandchildren and more.
I suggest the following three ways to increase love in our homes:
1. Family prayer - Taking time each day to pray together as a family, thanking God for the blessings we enjoy, softens hearts and strengthens faith.
2. A soft answer - Proverbs teaches that a soft answer turneth away wrath. (Proverbs 15:1) Being quick to listen and slow to anger facilitates greater communication and understanding.
3. Forgiveness - All relationships suffer occasional offenses and families are no different. Forgiveness creates stronger bonds and mutual respect.
As we work to develop increased love in our homes, we do not guarantee domestic serenity that lasts 24/7. We all have our moments. On occasion, we must reprove, discipline, correct and reprimand. These corrections often involve children, but adults also need reminders to improve their behavior. Mutual love and respect, however, help us deal with issues promptly and peacefully. We should always remember to show an increase in love quickly after reproof, to confirm that our love overshadows corrective behavior.
May we give the gift of increased love to our families this Christmas season, a gift that is never out of style, continues giving, and is handed down through generations.
President Kelly W. Brown is stake president of the Walla Walla Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should call Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312 or email her at email@example.com.