What is a promise worth?
Several years ago, I was a young teenager in New York City. I was standing in the streets beside Ground Zero. The clean-up had ended years before, but the blocks and buildings within my sight all bore the scars of 9/11.
I gripped the fence and closed my eyes to the tears on my face, the reality that I would inherit a wounded world from the generations that came before me. Gazing at the hole left behind, I asked myself, "What will I do now that I've seen this absence? How will I make things better?" And I made a promise that I would always remember what I saw that day, and do everything in my power to honor it. Whether by becoming a soldier or supporting those around me, I gave my word to fight the battle.
I took this picture that day. It reminds me of the promise my Savior made to me. He promised he would always watch out for me, my citizen soldier. And even though he is misunderstood in our time, much like our soldiers all over the globe, the Savior is keeping his promise to all of his brothers and sisters. His promise means everything to him.
I love Christmas because of all it has to teach about promises. Heavenly Father promised the world a Messiah, and we celebrate the birth that fulfilled that promise. We read of Christ's life and ministry, and we learn of the ways we must keep our promises to our Father in Heaven and the rest of mankind; a tradition preserved to this day. All around us, even in the hearts of non-believers, is a peace that doesn't come at other times in the year. I've seen the miracle of that Christmas peace many times throughout my life. Even my father and mother tried harder at Christmas to protect the spirit of this special time despite their misgivings with each other. And my friends, although they are not Christians, have also put forth that same effort this year. One of my friends actually thanked me in her Christmas card for bringing that tranquility and sharing it with our circle of friends. She sees the power a simple promise of love can have--the ability to be carried over distance and time in the hearts of those who will keep it.
My heart goes out to all of the US military men and women who sacrifice so much for this country, especially today of all days. I promised I would honor the memory 9/11, and keeping that promise starts with remembering them today. May the peace of the Savior's promise be with them in all that they do, whether at home or abroad. May they be blessed with safety, comfort, and the knowledge of all the support they still have from everyone at home.
To any others, I leave my love and prayers with you. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.