So I’m a Sunday School teacher in my ward (Mormon congregation) and I teach a class called Gospel Principles. We go over the very basics of the Gospel, and make sure everyone understands the simple stuff like the ten commandments, how the Restoration happened, Christ’s ministry, tithing, etc. It’s a lot easier to keep moving forward if you have a good solid base.

I had a lesson planned already. The book has enough chapters for each week, but I just didn’t feel like I should teach this week’s non-Christmasy lesson. After all, it’s Christmas.

As I read through the scriptures about the nativity (If you’re wondering, that’s Luke chapter 1 and 2), I had the question: What is Christmas about? Why is this important? Why should we celebrate? Here are some thoughts I had.

Luke 2:10-11 reads:

 …I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

This is the message that the angel gives to the shepherds. “I’ve got good news! There’s a Savior!” That’s the long and short of it. The message was that the long-awaited Savior had finally come. Nothing about gifts or babies or trees. A Savior.

Then there’s the part in Matthew where an angel tells Joseph not to divorce Mary:

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Where’s the focus of the message? Yes the angel came specifically to tell Joseph not to leave his wife and that she hadn’t been unfaithful to him, but he tells Joseph that Mary’s going to have a baby named Jesus and that He will save people from their sins.

The angel’s message has been and will continue to be that Jesus is the Savior. In the Book of Mormon (a book of scripture contemporary to the Bible), one prophet prophesies of Christ, saying:

And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God. And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

The message of Christ is the that He is the Savior. His purpose in coming to the earth was to save us from our sins. His plan was to be born, carry our pains and afflictions and temptations (notice how that’s a lot more than just sins?) so that He would know each of us personally, one by one. If that was the purpose of Christ’s life, ministry, and death and resurrection, I imagine that His birth would have the same meaning and message.

So what is Christmas really about? For unto you is born a Saviour. He will loose the bands of death. He shall save His people from their sins.