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Exceeding Great Joy (A Christmas FHE)

Guest Author - Terrie Lynn Bittner

Note: Each year, I write an addition to the Nativity Family Home Evening Series. Previous lessons have covered Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, and the wise men.

Matthew 2:
1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

Lesson: With Exceeding Great Joy

The appearance of the star was a moment of great joy for the shepherds and for all those who knew its meaning. In our nativity series, it represents joy.

While everyone gathers: Ask each family member to make a list of ten things hey would wish for if they were granted ten wishes. Small children can dictate their lists or draw pictures.

Attention: Show pictures of the shepherds and the wise men. Select pictures that include the star if possible. Ask someone to read the verses above. Display a word strip that says, “They rejoiced with exceeding great joy.”

Scripture: Ask someone to read 2 Ne. 2:25

Questions and Discussion: Why did God say that we are that we might have joy? What does it mean to have joy? Is it the same as happiness? Pleasure? Does it mean we should never have times of trial or sadness?

For teens and adults: Hand out copies of James E. Faust, “Our Search for Happiness,” Ensign, Oct. 2000, 2
For children: Hand out copies of : James E. Faust, “Come Listen to a Prophet’s Voice: Happiness,” Friend, Feb. 2004, 2
(Note: The children’s version is an excerpt from the adult talk.)

Give adults time to read their talk. Read the children’s version aloud with your family if you’re using it. (If you are focusing the lesson on both teens and children, ask older family members to read their talk prior to Family Home Evening.)

Personal Evaluation: Read again the following sentence from the talks:
Since we don’t always desire that which is good, having all our desires granted to us would not bring us happiness.

Ask family members to read over the lists they made during the gathering time. Have them put a star beside those things they think Heavenly Father would want them to have if they prayed for it. There is a good chance those are the righteous desires that can bring true joy, and not just temporary happiness. Read Joseph Smith’s quote used in the adult talk: Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 255–56).

Read aloud, if you haven’t already, the story of Ali Hafed, and discuss what Elder Faust means when he says the man could have found what he sought working in his own home.

Ask each family member to make a new list, this time including only those things that can bring true joy, and that meet the requirements Joseph Smith outlined. Ask them to think especially of things that will bring happiness to their family.

Ask family members to look over their list and to select one of these items to work on as a goal for the year. They can create their own happiness despite the trials they face if they turn to the Savior and stay focused on eternity. They might also want to select a goal to help another find joy. Share with them this closing thought from Elder Faust:

“May I suggest a further requisite in the continuing quest to live happily every hour, every day, every month, and every year of our lives. The golden pathway to happiness is the selfless giving of love—the kind of love that has concern and interest and some measure of charity for every living soul. Love is the direct route to the happiness that would enrich and bless our lives and the lives of others. It means that you show love even to your enemies, “bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you” (Matt. 5:44). In so doing you will be fulfilling the greater commandment to love God Himself and to enjoy His love. You will soar above the ill winds that blow, above the sordid, the self-defeating, and the bitter. You have the promise that “your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things” (D&C 88:67).”

Have family members write this goal on a paper star and place it where they will see it every day. You may want to place a Christmas star decoration in a prominent place in your home this season to help family members remember to seek joy through the gospel.

Homeschool Extensions and Scientific Ideas on this star:

Note: Most of these are not LDS, so take them for whatever they’re worth, not as doctrine. They’re just interesting explorations.

Sherwood B. Idso, “A Star Is Born,” Friend, Dec. 1979, 32 The science behind star creation
“Wondering About the Star”

Star of Wonder Still Keeps a Scientific Secret
The Christmas Star

Copyright © 2006 Deseret Book
3-D Star Nativity Ornament

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Content copyright © 2015 by Terrie Lynn Bittner. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Terrie Lynn Bittner. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Jamie Rose for details.


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