It's Christmas Day, I'm up a little earlier than the family, in my recliner next to the fireplace and the Tree lights displaying the beauty of the season. Perfect setting for my final blog on the #LIGHTtheWORLD series. While it's taken some extra effort to pen 25 different entries, a few of you have been gracious to read it. As I've mentioned in a few blogs, I serve as Stake President in the Salt Lake Rose Park Stake. It's a wonderful place to live, and while we have our challenges, we have some very faithful members who follow with great faith. As I drove around last night to view some of the homes participating in the #LightRosePark effort with luminaries and the challenges with more than .3 inches of rain on Christmas Eve in Utah! It reminded me of a story from my father, Robert Magleby Christensen's autobiography that I would like to share:
At the time of the beginning of the welfare program in the Church, the general authorities asked each stake to develop an agricultural production project to produce a food commodity. The stakes were asked to use some imagination, so that they wouldn’t all produce the same commodity. One of the leaders in Sevier Stake was an agriculture teacher, and he came up with the idea of planting Jewish Artichokes. The seed was secured, and the farmers were asked to plant an acre each. The faithful people, of course, responded to the request. At the end of the summer, they discovered that no one liked artichokes and there was no market for them. And so the artichokes remained in the ground. They continued to grow like weeds each year along with other crops planted in the same soil.
It was about two years later that I went to work to thin sugar beets for my bishop, Wallace Sorenson, and he started me out in the artichoke patch. All day I chopped out artichokes with my hoe. In the evening, when the bishop came to take me home, I said, “Bishop, why did you ever plant those worthless artichokes?” His reply was, “Robert, that’s the best crop I ever planted. Whenever I look at the artichokes, it reminds me that I did the thing the presiding brethren asked me to do. As you ride up and down the lanes of the valley, wherever you see an artichoke patch, you know there’s a faithful member of the church.” This taught me a lesson I have tried to benefit from throughout my life..
While participation was definitely not a test of faith, many recognized the value, reached out to neighbors to invite their participation and despite the rain, set them out and while some got washed out, the light was apparent. Many posted pictures of their homes in a Facebook Group for our youth, with their stories or comments and I was particularly touched by a comment from Joe Davis, who serves as 2nd Counselor in the Rose Park 2nd Ward and is just one of the finest people I know. With Joe's permission, he writes:
Even a little rain does not dampen our spirits. Long ago the Lord asked his people to place lamb's blood on their door posts to show their faith in him and have the destroying Angel pass by. Tonight i show a symbol of my faith in him and celebrate the coming of the Savior Jesus Christ into the world. I have a testimony of his divinity, his sacrifice for us, and most importantly his love for us. May the season bless your lives and bring charity to your hearts. God bless all on this holiest of nights.
Merry Christmas - Joe Davis
While I hadn't thought of it in that context, it reminded me of the all the devoted followers of Christ that I live among and how they Light the World right here in Rose Park. I am grateful to be among them. Merry Christmas!