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 Post subject: Will Smithmas return this year?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:49 am 
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I just realized that Christmas falls on a Tuesday this year, so December 23 is on a Sunday. This of course provides a great opportunity for the LDS church to prove its Christian roots by using that day to talk about Joseph Smith, it is his birthday after all.

So, will the average LDS ward celebrate Smithmas or Christmas on December 23 this year? I'm guessing my wife's ward will split the difference and dedicate part to Joseph Smith and part to Jesus. I may even have to show up and pay attention to see what happens, it could be entertaining.


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 Post subject: Re: Will Smithmas return this year?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:10 am 
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They are running Christmas advertising in New York this year. Mormom Newsroom

I'd bet the church acts as if the Mormon Moment was still happening and will try to make themselves look mainstream.


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 Post subject: Re: Will Smithmas return this year?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:14 am 
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Yes please! Bring back the Joseph Smith in a manger scene at BYU!

As for Sunday the 23rd, Jesus Smith's birthday - they will stick to the lesson manual. I don't have one so I have no idea what that will be - but my best guess is it will be devoted to Jesus Smith.

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 Post subject: Re: Will Smithmas return this year?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:02 am 
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Outside of these boards I don't think I have ever encountered the term Smithmas.

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 Post subject: Re: Will Smithmas return this year?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 12:34 pm 
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The only Will Smithmas I am interested in:

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Will Smithmas return this year?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 2:39 pm 
Hey AS,
I don't know if you follow Daniel Petersons blog, but I think this entry might have been inspired by your OP.
Merry Smithmas

Quote:
One of the crazier and more transparently false allegations made against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by a relatively small handful of its harshest critics — curiously, I encounter this claim much more among disaffected secularizing ex-Mormons than among, say, Evangelical Protestant anti-Mormons — asserts that Latter-day Saint celebrations of the birth of Joseph Smith (on 23 December 1805) rival or even overshadow our observance of the birthday of Jesus Christ.


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 Post subject: Re: Will Smithmas return this year?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 10:53 pm 
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Image


This one is too large to post here:

http://www.salamandersociety.com/slamto ... mpaign.jpg

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 Post subject: Re: Will Smithmas return this year?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 12:02 am 
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Aristotle Smith wrote:
I may even have to show up and pay attention to see what happens, it could be entertaining.

Here are a few suggestions that might be more entertaining (and productive).

* Darning socks
* Lint removal from the clothes dryer
* Catching up on missed episodes of "Jon & Kate Plus 8". and/or Full House (with the zany humor of Bob Saget).
* Watching grass grow or paint dry
* Converting old Rex Smith Records to Digital format
Image

The list goes on to near infinity, but you get the idea.


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 Post subject: Re: Will Smithmas return this year?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 2:13 pm 
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Stormy Waters wrote:
Hey AS,
I don't know if you follow Daniel Petersons blog, but I think this entry might have been inspired by your OP.
Merry Smithmas

Quote:
One of the crazier and more transparently false allegations made against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by a relatively small handful of its harshest critics — curiously, I encounter this claim much more among disaffected secularizing ex-Mormons than among, say, Evangelical Protestant anti-Mormons — asserts that Latter-day Saint celebrations of the birth of Joseph Smith (on 23 December 1805) rival or even overshadow our observance of the birthday of Jesus Christ.


You just can't make this stuff up. First, and this is a minor point, I am not a secularizing ex-Mormon. Ex-Mormon yes, secularizing no.

But, after denying vehemently that Mormons worship Joseph Smith and celebrate Smithmas, DCP then talks about what he and his family do every December 23rd:

Quote:
So far from the truth is it that my wife and I, ten or so years back, decided to host a small birthday party for Joseph Smith at our home every 23 December. We thought it sad that, amidst all the busyness and commercialism of Christmas, his signal contribution to our lives and faith usually went altogether unmentioned. We may have missed a year or two since then — though I’m not sure of that — and we’ll be out of state this year, but, for the most part, we’ve continued this newly-invented custom annually. Our birthday party typically involves a potluck dinner, something about Joseph Smith, and then . . . Christmas carols and Christmas hymns. (We include among those we’ve usually invited some good and exceptionally musical friends — e.g., a composer with a doctorate in musicology, a former professional opera singer, a music teacher and member of the Tabernacle Choir with a master’s degree in choral conducting, and several members of recorded choral groups — so it’s a real treat for us.)


So the proof that Mormons don't celebrate Smithmas is...the fact that DCP is the biggest purveyor of Smithmas. My irony meter exploded when in the very next paragraph after the quoted paragraph above was this:

Quote:
If anybody out there can point to specific examples of “Smithmas” in his or her experience, I would appreciate hearing about them.


Um, yeah, try your own blog post.


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 Post subject: Re: Will Smithmas return this year?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 2:26 pm 
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Daniel Peterson wrote:
(We include among those we’ve usually invited some good and exceptionally musical friends — e.g., a composer with a doctorate in musicology, a former professional opera singer, a music teacher and member of the Tabernacle Choir with a master’s degree in choral conducting, and several members of recorded choral groups — so it’s a real treat for us.)


"See!!! I have all these clever and highly qualified friends!!!"

I marvel at the fact that someone as intelligent as DCP could possibly think that this frantically self-advertising stuff will make anybody like him or admire him, or take any pleasure in contemplating the spectacle of his unlimited self-satisfaction. Seriously - normal people don't talk about themselves like that, especially normal people who have clever and highly qualified friends.

Trust me on this one.

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 Post subject: Re: Will Smithmas return this year?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 4:22 pm 
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Aristotle wrote:
I just realized that Christmas falls on a Tuesday this year, so December 23 is on a Sunday. This of course provides a great opportunity for the LDS church to prove its Christian roots by using that day to talk about Joseph Smith, it is his birthday after all.


Aristotle, no TBM will be able to overlook the close proximity of birthdays as random. Any Christmas I've had with TBMs always mentions Joseph Smith and the restored gospel. It's impossible to disentangle the two, and given the Joseph Smith part of the celebration members have that the rest of the world lacks, he becomes the most important ingredient by default. Anyway, check this lament out from the Church News in 1993

http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/2 ... eason.html

Ensign wrote:
Falling as it does just two days before Christmas, the birthday of the Prophet Joseph Smith is often overshadowed for Church members by the festivities of Christendom's most widely celebrated holiday.


The tragedy! The "unnamed holiday" takes priority over Joseph Smith.

But there's an explanation:

Ensign wrote:
..birthdays were evidently not celebrated in rural America in the early 19th century as they are today...


It's an accident of custom that Joseph Smith's birthday has not been a recognizable feature of the Christmas season for LDS, but this is slowly changing as the article implies.

Ensign wrote:
Certainly, however, the birth of Joseph must have been a joy to his parents and older family members. Perhaps they were even reminded of the sacred birth of the Savior observed two days later.


ROFL! Well, if the parents weren't reminded of Jesus, the author sure is, as every TBM out there should be.

Here's another one:

https://www.LDS.org/ensign/1978/12/chri ... h?lang=eng

Ensign wrote:
The Prophet Joseph was born here just two days before Christmas. What a joy this beautiful infant son must have been to the Smiths, and to the Mack grandparents, who lived nearby, as they commemorated that holy day. Perhaps the event reminded them of another sacred birth under humble circumstances, in the meridian of time.


Ensign wrote:
As we commemorate the birth of the babe in Bethlehem, the Savior of the world, may we also remember his emissary, Joseph Smith, and consciously rejoice in his life and sacrifice, as well.


Smithmas is alive and well. In the first article I linked to, after describing several accounts of activities that happened during the Christmas season, and building up the case that we "owe" Smith better than we've given in celebration, the author says,

Ensign wrote:
Perhaps the greatest commemoration of the Prophet's birth was made on the 100th anniversary of his birthday. On Dec. 23, 1905, a massive granite shaft erected at his birthplace near Sharon, Vt., was unveiled and dedicated.


WTF? There's another quote about this:

Ensign wrote:
A special, virtually tangible spirit envelops the Christian world at Christmas with an intensity unknown the rest of the year. To Latter-day Saints the Christmas story, from Bethlehem to Calvary, takes precedence over the tinsel and the toys, for the Savior is the center of Christmas.

Within the Church there is also a second story associated with Christmas—from Sharon, Vermont, to Carthage, Illinois—which draws our attention during this season.


So what happened at Sharon Vermont that finally gave Joseph Smith his proper observance during Christmas time?

This:

Image

I'll let the reader be the judge as to what aspect of Smith's life this massive, erect granite shaft best celebrates. Let us all keep it close to our hearts this December 23.


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 Post subject: Re: Will Smithmas return this year?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 4:33 pm 
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Evidence that Mormons celebrate "Smithmas"?

Image

To be clear, I don't think I've ever heard a believing and active Mormon call it "Smithmas." I generally haven't seen these observances rival Christmas celebrations.

But a tradition of observing and remembering the birth of Joseph Smith definitely exists. I'm not sure how widely practiced it is, but it's there.

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 Post subject: Re: Will Smithmas return this year?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 4:48 pm 
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Gadianton wrote:
Aristotle wrote:
I just realized that Christmas falls on a Tuesday this year, so December 23 is on a Sunday. This of course provides a great opportunity for the LDS church to prove its Christian roots by using that day to talk about Joseph Smith, it is his birthday after all.


Aristotle, no TBM will be able to overlook the close proximity of birthdays as random. Any Christmas I've had with TBMs always mentions Joseph Smith and the restored gospel. It's impossible to disentangle the two, and given the Joseph Smith part of the celebration members have that the rest of the world lacks, he becomes the most important ingredient by default. Anyway, check this lament out from the Church News in 1993

http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/2 ... eason.html

Ensign wrote:
Falling as it does just two days before Christmas, the birthday of the Prophet Joseph Smith is often overshadowed for Church members by the festivities of Christendom's most widely celebrated holiday.


The tragedy! The "unnamed holiday" takes priority over Joseph Smith.

But there's an explanation:

Ensign wrote:
..birthdays were evidently not celebrated in rural America in the early 19th century as they are today...


It's an accident of custom that Joseph Smith's birthday has not been a recognizable feature of the Christmas season for LDS, but this is slowly changing as the article implies.

Ensign wrote:
Certainly, however, the birth of Joseph must have been a joy to his parents and older family members. Perhaps they were even reminded of the sacred birth of the Savior observed two days later.


ROFL! Well, if the parents weren't reminded of Jesus, the author sure is, as every TBM out there should be.

Here's another one:

https://www.LDS.org/ensign/1978/12/chri ... h?lang=eng

Ensign wrote:
The Prophet Joseph was born here just two days before Christmas. What a joy this beautiful infant son must have been to the Smiths, and to the Mack grandparents, who lived nearby, as they commemorated that holy day. Perhaps the event reminded them of another sacred birth under humble circumstances, in the meridian of time.


Ensign wrote:
As we commemorate the birth of the babe in Bethlehem, the Savior of the world, may we also remember his emissary, Joseph Smith, and consciously rejoice in his life and sacrifice, as well.


Smithmas is alive and well. In the first article I linked to, after describing several accounts of activities that happened during the Christmas season, and building up the case that we "owe" Smith better than we've given in celebration, the author says,

Ensign wrote:
Perhaps the greatest commemoration of the Prophet's birth was made on the 100th anniversary of his birthday. On Dec. 23, 1905, a massive granite shaft erected at his birthplace near Sharon, Vt., was unveiled and dedicated.


WTF? There's another quote about this:

Ensign wrote:
A special, virtually tangible spirit envelops the Christian world at Christmas with an intensity unknown the rest of the year. To Latter-day Saints the Christmas story, from Bethlehem to Calvary, takes precedence over the tinsel and the toys, for the Savior is the center of Christmas.

Within the Church there is also a second story associated with Christmas—from Sharon, Vermont, to Carthage, Illinois—which draws our attention during this season.


So what happened at Sharon Vermont that finally gave Joseph Smith his proper observance during Christmas time?

This:

Image

I'll let the reader be the judge as to what aspect of Smith's life this massive, erect granite shaft best celebrates. Let us all keep it close to our hearts this December 23.


Ah, yes, "one of the largest polished shafts in the world", "said to be the world's largest polished granite shaft", "This monument is one of the largest polished shafts of granite in the world," "The Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial located in Sharon, Vermont is the largest polished single shaft of granite in the world." Indeed, even The New Era lauded Smith himself as "A Smooth and Polished Shaft."

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 Post subject: Re: Will Smithmas return this year?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:59 pm 
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The odds that the senior Smiths had a Christmas tree, let alone one with wrapped presents, is very, very small.

But then BYU historians of Mormonism have seldom had a keen sense of accuracy.




MsJack wrote:
Evidence that Mormons celebrate "Smithmas"?

Image

To be clear, I don't think I've ever heard a believing and active Mormon call it "Smithmas." I generally haven't seen these observances rival Christmas celebrations.

But a tradition of observing and remembering the birth of Joseph Smith definitely exists. I'm not sure how widely practiced it is, but it's there.

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 Post subject: Re: Will Smithmas return this year?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 8:25 pm 
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Blixa wrote:

I wonder why they didn't just call it an obelisk. But then, this is Joseph Smith we're talking about, so by calling it a polished shaft, they're not only naming it accurately, but turning it into an apt metaphor for the man it represents too!

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 Post subject: Re: Will Smithmas return this year?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 8:41 pm 
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Chap wrote:
Daniel Peterson wrote:
(We include among those we’ve usually invited some good and exceptionally musical friends — e.g., a composer with a doctorate in musicology, a former professional opera singer, a music teacher and member of the Tabernacle Choir with a master’s degree in choral conducting, and several members of recorded choral groups — so it’s a real treat for us.)


"See!!! I have all these clever and highly qualified friends!!!"

I marvel at the fact that someone as intelligent as DCP could possibly think that this frantically self-advertising stuff will make anybody like him or admire him, or take any pleasure in contemplating the spectacle of his unlimited self-satisfaction. Seriously - normal people don't talk about themselves like that, especially normal people who have clever and highly qualified friends.

Trust me on this one.


I can't't stand name droppers either Chap. He could've left it at "we invite over some musically gifted friends...." Why the need to list credentials of his guests? Peterson loves to do this. I don't know him personally, but to me, his name dropping doesn't come off as arrogant, but insecure instead. It's almost as if Peterson feels he needs to prove his legitimacy to others despite his degrees, and credentials. He must feel inadequate somehow, so this is why he needs to use the name dropping in the hopes that his peers or readers will think of him as a big deal.

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 Post subject: Re: Will Smithmas return this year?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 8:56 pm 
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Sethbag wrote:
Blixa wrote:

I wonder why they didn't just call it an obelisk. But then, this is Joseph Smith we're talking about, so by calling it a polished shaft, they're not only naming it accurately, but turning it into an apt metaphor for the man it represents too!


I once made that joke and Nehor had a cow: http://mormondiscussions.com/phpBB3/vie ... 808#p83808

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 Post subject: Re: Will Smithmas return this year?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 9:22 pm 
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Quote:
I once made that joke and Nehor had a cow: http://mormondiscussions.com/phpBB3/vie ... 808#p83808


hilarious! Well I don't know, they don't want the defeatist attitude that goes along with the cross, why not embrace a take-charge symbol with ties back to the Book of Abraham facsimile? Decorating the Smithmas tree could take on whole new levels of meaning.


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 Post subject: Re: Will Smithmas return this year?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:13 pm 
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Blixa wrote:
Sethbag wrote:
I wonder why they didn't just call it an obelisk. But then, this is Joseph Smith we're talking about, so by calling it a polished shaft, they're not only naming it accurately, but turning it into an apt metaphor for the man it represents too!


I once made that joke and Nehor had a cow: viewtopic.php?p=83808#p83808

Good one! I especially like how you got in the multiple meanings for "shaft" that, totally different from each other, still both apply to Mormonism. Bravo!

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 Post subject: Re: Will Smithmas return this year?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:29 am 
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Blixa wrote:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lf10j3s5Tfc


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 Post subject: Re: Will Smithmas return this year?
PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:43 am 
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Ensign wrote:
Perhaps the greatest commemoration of the Prophet's birth was made on the 100th anniversary of his birthday. On Dec. 23, 1905, a massive granite shaft erected at his birthplace near Sharon, Vt., was unveiled and dedicated.

Perhaps it was rivaled by the commemoration of the Prophet's birth on the 200th anniversary of his birthday.

Thousands across world offer 'praise to the man'
Quote:
The opportunity to listen to a prophet's voice testifying of the Prophet of the Restoration drew a congregation of more than 20,000 to the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Dec. 23. Hundreds of thousands more joined in the "Joseph Smith Commemorative Program on the 200th anniversary of his birth" via satellite broadcast to 161 countries and by Internet worldwide with the proceedings translated into 81 languages. President Gordon B. Hinckley presided over the celebration on Joseph Smith's birthday from the Prophet's birthplace in southern Vermont. At the Conference Center were his counselors, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, sitting with President Hinckley's chair empty between them. Joining them were 11 members of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder M. Russell Ballard being with President Hinckley in Vermont....

While the Conference Center stage was still dominated by the Christmas setting of The First Presidency Christmas Devotional and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert, the village church, cottage and flocked evergreens hinted of Joseph Smith's Vermont. A prominent statue of the Prophet on the stage was a constant reminder of the purpose of the evening.

Joseph Smith's birthday commemorated
Quote:
Late December, the time of the celebration of the Savior's birth, is also when Joseph Smith was born.

The Historic Sites missionary couples in the New York Rochester Mission had a memorable experience when they gathered to commemorate the Prophet's birthday on Dec. 23 at the Joseph Smith home on Stafford Road in Palmyra."It was an unforgetable evening," said Elder Leland A. Poole, a public affairs missionary in Palmyra. "Where else could you have such an experience but in the very place where it all began, in the `Cradle of the Restoration.' "

The home was decorated for Christmas with lights in every window and an antique red sleigh on the front lawn. There was a historically correct wreath on the front door made of white pine, rue (the herb of grace), celosea (a reddish velvety flower) and lime. Inside the house was a Christmas tree decorated with wooden and metal ornaments, strings of popcorn, and gingerbread men. Evergreen bows and poinsettias added to the Christmas feeling. The packages under the tree were wrapped in brown paper and cord, as they might have been in the 1820s when the Smith family lived here.

The missionary couples assembled in the parlor for a short program that consisted of a brief talk by Sister Dorothy Nielson, who is a Historic Site missionary at the Joseph Smith Home, and a playlet entitled "Mother and Son." A solo, "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief," was sung by Palmyra member Bruce Nichols at the conclusion of the program.

Sister Nielson told of the early Christmas traditions in America and said: "Because of their Puritan background, celebrations were remarkably simple and austere on the frontier, compared to England or Western Europe. Here in this plainly decorated home we are reminded of a more simple time. Away from the noise and commercialism of Christmas, across the street from the Sacred Grove, and in the very parlor where Joseph lived, we celebrate not only the birth of the Savior but also the birthday of our Prophet Joseph Smith."

The playlet portrayed young Joseph's experience in the Sacred Grove. He tells his mother of the visitation of the Father and the Son. Lucy responds with motherly concern, realizing that her young son was to be a prophet of God. Joseph recounts his vision to his mother with conviction and power. His mother responds with great tenderness. When he returns from his visit to the Reverend Lane, shocked at the rejection he received, his mother nods her head, holding him close and saying, "I know, my son, I know."

The part of young Joseph was played by Ryan Brown with his mother, Kathy, portraying Lucy, and his father Vance portraying Reverend Lane.

"We are so blessed to be here in the midst of these historic places," said Elder Robert L. Stephenson, Historic Sites director. "There is no place in this world where we could experience what we did tonight."

A gift that is greater than all gifts
Quote:
President Hinckley said December also marks the 192nd anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith. "His birthday will grow in recognition and in importance as the years pass and the Church continues to grow."

Statue memorializes Prophet Joseph
Quote:
Joseph Smith's life was short, but his works are eternal, said President Gordon B. Hinckley during the unveiling ceremony Dec. 23 of a statue honoring the Church's first prophet.

The bronze statue, which is 1 1/2 times life size, is located in the Legacy Theater lobby of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Titled, "Leaning into the Light," it depicts the young Joseph Smith seated on a wooden chair reading from the Bible. The book is open to James 1:5 - the passage that led the then-14-year-old to pray for guidance about which church to join. Accompanying President Hinckley to the unveiling were his counselors, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust; Elder M. Russell Ballard and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, both of the Quorum of the Twelve; Elder Joe J. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy; and Bishop Richard C. Edgley and Bishop Keith B. McMullin of the Presiding Bishopric.

President Hinckley, who was assisted by several children, unveiled the statue 192 years to the day after the Prophet Joseph was born in upstate New York.

"This is his birthday," said President Hinckley. ". . . He became the great prophet of this dispensation. I marvel at Joseph Smith. I absolutely marvel at him, at what he accomplished during his short lifetime."

Celebrating Joseph Smith's birthday
Quote:
About 75 members of the South Royalton Ward, Montpelier Vermont Stake of the Church, celebrated the Prophet Joseph Smith's 196th birthday Dec. 23 with a party, including sandwiches, birthday cake and the singing of hymns at his birthplace. Sister Starley Smith, a service missionary at the memorial, led the group in singing "We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet" and "God Bless America." The custom of having a Joseph Smith Birthday party at his birthplace began December 23, 1986, which would have been the Prophet's 181st birthday. Since that time the commemoration has continued annually.

Happy birthday! 46-year family tradition celebrates Prophet's birth
Quote:
Inspired by an article on the Prophet Joseph Smith she read in a 1960 edition of the Church News, Norma Moyes began a wintertime family tradition that has endured 46 years.

"I was so anxious to learn more about the Prophet, that I decided to have a family birthday party in honor of and to further the study of the Prophet," said Sister Moyes, now a member of the Holladay 25th Ward, Salt Lake Holladay South Stake.

Since the anniversary of Joseph's birth on Dec. 23, 1805, falls so close to Christmas, she decided to combine the celebration with an observance of the Savior's birth.

"So we had a small, 18-inch, white cake with a tiny manger scene on top and 'Happy birthday to Jesus and Joseph,"' she said.

"On the 21st of December, I wrote a small invitation to each member of my family, inviting them to a special birthday party. I told them someone would pick them up and to be ready at 7 p.m."....

Over the years, specially invited guests to the family gathering have included artists such as David Lindsley, Steve Olsen and Dee Jay Bawden, who have had Joseph Smith as a subject in their paintings, and relatives of the Prophet such as Elder Eldred G. Smith, a General Authority emeritus who served as patriarch to the Church, and Smith family friend Buddy Youngren. Lorena Normandeau, great-granddaughter of Joseph Smith, has attended with her daughter Gracia Jones. (They were the first direct-line descendants of the Prophet to join the Church.) All have shared their talents and testimony of Joseph's divine calling.

Celebrating the Prophet; Every December for 38 years, the Jones family has held a birthday party to honor a man who would be 195 this year.
Quote:
In December 23, a birthday party was going on inside the warm, cozy home of Norma and Stan Jones. But instead of “Happy Birthday to You,” the family was singing “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” (Hymns, no. 29), a favorite hymn of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

As the strains of music filled the pine-scented air, Benjamin Jones, their 21-year-old grandson, was filled with love, appreciation, and excitement. He was preparing for a mission and couldn’t wait to share his testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

You see, Ben’s grandma, Norma, has gathered her family and special friends together each December for 38 years to celebrate the Prophet’s birthday by studying his life and teachings. But for Ben, this December 23rd was special because the seeds of love and respect for the Prophet these firesides planted in his heart finally took root.

“I’ve always had a testimony, but I haven’t always made the best choices,” says Elder Jones, of the Salt Lake River Oaks Second Ward, now serving as a full-time missionary in West Virginia. “However, when I saw the death mask that artist David Lindsley brought to our party that year, all of a sudden the Prophet became more than just a story I had heard many times or a painting on the wall. He came alive for me. I had been studying, praying, and searching for the direction my life should take, and I knew at that moment that Joseph Smith was truly a prophet of God.”

Elder Porter Jones, a grandson serving in the Brazil Curitiba Mission, is also experiencing the fruits of his grandmother’s labors. He writes, “Grandma, when I have the opportunity to relate the First Vision to people here in Brazil, I am able to testify about the Prophet with great conviction and power because I was surrounded by the Prophet’s teachings as a young man. Thank you so much for planting this seed in my heart.”

Little did Grandma Jones realize when she began the parties in 1962 what a missionary tool they would be. She recorded in her journal: “I had read an article on the Prophet in the Church News and was so impressed I decided to have a family birthday party to honor and study about him. Since his birthday was so close to Christmas, I combined learning about the Prophet with more serious thought on our Savior’s birth. I wrote a small invitation to each family member but did not tell them who it was for. I was afraid they would either laugh at me or think I had lost my mind. I even had a small eight-inch white cake with a tiny manger scene on top.”

But her children did not laugh. It was such a success they asked, “Mom, can we do it again next year?” And that is how the tradition began.

Making the grandchildren wait to attend the party until they turn 12 helps maintain reverence at the firesides. After their 12th birthday, they are given a special booklet on the Prophet and an invitation to the party. “I remember my parents and brothers going while I had to wait because I was too young,” says Jordan James, of the Littleton (Colorado) Second Ward.

Each year the program varies from guest speakers to lessons given by family members. One year Grandma Jones gave each family a small book on the Prophet to read prior to the party. They then took turns expressing their feelings about the Prophet and bearing testimonies of the Savior. That was the year one of their less-active sons expressed his love and gratitude to each family member and began coming back to church.

While three of the Joneses’ eight children, and so far 10 of their 38 grandchildren, have served or are now serving full-time missions, the mission field is not the only place missionary work is going on as a result of Grandma’s parties.

Grandson Morgan Jones, 17, Layton (Utah) Valley View Third Ward, has shared his favorite party with several of his nonmember friends. “The year I turned 12, Grandma invited former Church Patriarch Eldred G. Smith (Hyrum Smith’s great-grandson) and his wife, Hortense. They brought Hyrum’s watch, sunglasses, and the clothes he was wearing when the brothers were martyred in the Carthage Jail, as well as a box the Prophet had kept the Book of Mormon plates in while he was translating them in his home.

“Some of my friends were taking the missionary discussions, and I was able to express the feelings I experienced at my grandma’s birthday party that year. The Spirit was so strong. I can’t wait to go on my mission and bear witness of the First Vision and my Savior.”

“Every time I go to the party, I love it,” says Natalie James, a granddaughter living in Colorado, who just received a mission call to Spain. “Sharing the experiences and testimonies of the Prophet at these parties has given me such a respect and love for him. I tell my friends how real he is to me. I pray I will be able to take this testimony on my mission and plant the same seeds in the hearts of others.”

“Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief … it will begin to swell within your breasts; and … ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed … for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me” (Alma 32:28).

Yes, the seeds Grandma and Grandpa Jones have planted through their annual Joseph Smith birthday parties have blossomed into a love for the Prophet and for the Savior within each of their family members. The tradition has become so important that it was not broken in 1999, even though the close-knit family felt the loss of their grandpa.

The celebrations have indeed enlarged each participant’s understanding and become “delicious” to him or her. As Natalie testifies, “By studying and hearing about the Prophet, I have developed a testimony that he actually saw the Savior and our Heavenly Father face to face. I am so grateful for this knowledge and for my grandma who has instilled this in me. I am going to carry on this tradition with my own family some day.”

And so the seeds will continue to be planted and the birthday parties will continue for many years to come, all because Grandma Jones followed the prompting of the Spirit and started a family tradition.

A Joseph Smith birthday party
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When the first guests walked up the snowy path to the home of Dell and Laura Fox on December 23, 15 costumed teenagers were still running upstairs and down, checking fireplaces, whipping cream, arranging ringlets, and threading yarn through oversized needles. Our “Joseph Smith Birthday Party” was the culmination of four months of study in our Church history course. Early in the fall we began collecting ideas and materials. We wanted everything—food, costumes, games, program—to be as true to the period 1805–1844 as possible....

Even though our research convinced us that early Mormon parties would not have included a sugar-frosted birthday cake, we made one anyway, complete with a replica of the Nauvoo Temple constructed with sugar cubes and glue. . . .

The climax of the evening was a short program followed by testimonies around the fire. “Eliza R. Snow” read a poem of her own composition. “Mother Smith” sat in a rocking chair and reminisced about the life of her prophet-son as selected events came to life in short tableaus. In the darkened room, with flickering candlelight and the glow of the fire, we felt as though we had stepped back a century and a half and had gained a deeper appreciation for the life and work of Joseph Smith.

Ideas for Home Teachers:
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Discuss ways family members can better know the Prophet and his teachings. You may want to encourage family members to plan a special family activity on December 23rd to celebrate Joseph's 200th birthday.

'It all began in Primary'
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The following is a true story about Paul Larson, who at the age of 9, first learned about the Church and Primary from a young neighbor.

This is where Paul Larson's conversion story began:

The Larson family lived in Pleasanton, Calif., when the Petersons, an LDS family, moved in next door. Paul's younger brother, Stanley, became friends with one of the Peterson children who invited him to Primary. The Larson and Peterson children played with each other and spent time in each other's homes after school. One day, Stanley noticed a calendar on the wall in the Peterson's home with Joseph Smith's birthday circled on it.

Paul Larson and his brothers learned about the Church in Pleasanton, Calif., while attending Primary with friends.

"Why don't we have Joseph Smith's birthday circled on our calendar?" asked Stanley as their family discussed the day's activities around the dinner table one night. Not being members of the Church, the Larson family had no idea who Joseph Smith was.

"Church History Museum celebrates Joseph Smith's birthday"
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The Church History Museum in Salt Lake City is celebrating the 203rd birthday of the Prophet Joseph Smith with special themed activities for children. The festivities began on Joseph's birthday, Dec. 23, and will run until Jan. 3.
....

One of the main highlights of the birthday celebration is storytelling by docent missionaries who play the roles of important people in Joseph's life.

Another popular exhibit uses hands-on imprint stamping to help children better understand the printing presses on which the Book of Mormon was initially produced.

....

Other activities include crafts, games, a theater show and a discovery tour that invites children to explore artifacts throughout the museum.

When children leave the museum, they are offered a Joseph Smith birthday treat in the form of a molasses cookie.

Utah's 13th temple: 'A great and wonderful day'; Groundbreaking ceremony for Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple
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The Church president was joined at the groundbreaking ceremony by his counselors in the First Presidency, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, along with several other General Authorities, including President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve conducted the service.

Hundreds of local priesthood leaders and their families attended the morning ceremony, held inside a large, heated tent. Thousands of others belonging to the new temple district gathered at nearby meetinghouses to watch the proceedings live on a closed-circuit broadcast.

President Hinckley said it seemed appropriate to break ground for a new temple during a sacred holiday season when members honor Christ's birth and the anniversary of Joseph Smith's birthday.

"We couldn't have a better Christmas present than the house of the Lord."

Blessings flowing; Members respond to invitation to read the Book of Mormon
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A letter from Lori Smith Wagner, seminary supervisor for the Peoria Arizona North Stake, wrote this to President Hinckley:

"In the beginning of August, I met with the seminary council as they planned a December celebration for Joseph Smith's birthday. It was their wish that the students come to the birthday party with a gift for the Prophet, but they could not decide what that should be. When you issued the challenge to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year, the council felt that accepting that challenge would be a great way to show their love for both our first prophet as well as you, our current one. After some thought, however, it was decided that in addition to reading the Book of Mormon, everyone would also be encouraged to give one away."

A birthday party was held in the stake center cultural hall early in the morning of Dec. 20, Sister Wagner wrote. Along with singing, games and a cake, those students who read the Book of Mormon, as well as giving one away, each added a piece to a puzzle picturing the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Celebrating anniversary of Prophet's birth
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The 200th anniversary of Joseph Smith's birthday was celebrated by members of the Fontana California Stake in a daylong event Dec. 3.

Youth portray an event from the life of Joseph Smith in skit during stake celebration. Skits were among several activities.

Activities began at 9 a.m. with a Book of Mormon project. Photos were taken of families that were encouraged to insert the photo and testimonies into copies of the Book of Mormon to be handed to friends.

Then members were organized into groups to rotate through presentations from Joseph Smith's era in the stake center. In one area, members participated in various games including a stick-pulling contest. There were hands-on skills areas including sewing, hand-washing clothes, making butter, and hammering nails into logs.

There were skits staged in the cultural hall portraying events in the Prophet's life.

Following an afternoon recess, members returned to the stake center in the evening for the musical production "My Servant, Joseph." The singing was performed by Breydon Heywood, who was accompanied by a live orchestra.

A unique first night of wholesome fun
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A parade of LDS musical stars in the Tabernacle on Temple Square performed in what may have been the world's most fun event on New Year's Eve that opened with prayer. ...

John Bytheway, a speaker popular among LDS youth, was the master of ceremonies. He often regaled his audience to laughter, but also joined the other performers in sharing testimony. At one point, he reminded listeners that December is not only the time of Christmas and New Year's celebrations, but is also the month of Joseph Smith's birthday. He rattled off a long list of things they would be without if it weren't for Joseph Smith. He said that, among other things, there would be no Book of Mormon, no pioneers, no priesthood, no children singing "I Am a Child of God," no Scouts, no Beehives, no Mia-Maids, no Laurels. Tickling their funny bone about the area's collegiate rivalry, he said, "In fact, there would be no BYU, which would make the Ute fans happy until they realized there would be no U. of U. either."

Then he said, "Think how different your life would be if that 14-year-old boy hadn't said a prayer and brought about the Restoration. . . . I'm so grateful that we're all here tonight because a 14-year-old boy said a prayer. Teenagers, don't ever underestimate the power of your prayers."

Prophet's descendant serves at birthplace
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Elders Eric Larsen and Darren Olson of the New Hampshire Manchester Mission can be found tracting homes located miles apart in central Vermont. This is not uncommon in this area, but this companionship is unique because the pair is serving in the town where Elder Larsen's third great-grandfather was born. ...

Eric was eager to share his newly discovered testimony, and spent the year after his baptism studying and preparing to serve as a full-time missionary. He entered the Missionary Training Center a year ago.

His first assignment was upper Maine and he loved the area, but he was thrilled when he received his next transfer. It was a dream come true. He was assigned to the Sharon area, a place where he had dreamed of serving since first receiving his mission call.

"I'm excited to be here, especially for Joseph Smith's birthday and also during the Christmas season."

As we come to the end of this year's gospel
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As we come to the end of this year's Gospel Doctrine course of study in Sunday School on the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History, we are able to gain a greater appreciation of John Taylor's statement concerning the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Recorded in D&C 135, the man who would later become the third president of the Church wrote after the death of the Prophet that Joseph Smith "has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any man that ever lived in it." (D&C 135:3.)In commemorating Joseph Smith's birthday (on the day of publication of this week's Church News), we could well pause and reflect on the tremendous contributions of the Prophet that have made possible the eternal salvation of mankind.

When Joseph was born Dec. 23, 1805, two days after the winter solstice, in the township of Sharon in Vermont's rolling hills, there was no light of the gospel shining on a world groping for truth. That light had been extinguished centuries before through the long night of apostasy.

But in just a few years, the "morning would break, the shadows would flee" and a brighter day would dawn on the world." (See Hymns, No. 1.) ....

Only the Savior Himself did more for the salvation of mankind than the Prophet Joseph Smith, whose birthday 184 years ago ushered in "the dawning of a bright new day."

Christmas Advent Calendar
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23
Read “Joseph Smith’s First Vision,” pages 6–7. We remember Joseph Smith’s birthday this month, too.

Annual Family Fun Nights
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The family home evening program has led my family to establish some treasured traditions. The children have enjoyed them so much that many are now annual events.

Joseph Smith birthday party: Besides our usual Christmas preparations, we take time on December 23 to have a Joseph Smith birthday party. We discuss the Prophet’s life and his role in the Restoration. Then we play games the Prophet liked to play such as pulling sticks. And of course we serve ice cream and cake for our treat.

The Night Joseph Smith Came to Family Home Evening
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“Why role-play only the Christmas story every year? Why not the Joseph Smith story, too?” my husband asked as we planned a lesson to commemorate Joseph Smith’s birthday on December 23. We couldn’t forget our children’s engrossed reverence the week before, as all three “shepherds” (with towels on their heads and wooden dowels in their hands) had knelt before Baby Jesus (a favorite doll) and our two-year-old had reached out to pat him gently. We decided to try another role-playing session. What resulted was an eye-opening experience for us all.

During the week, we reviewed the story of Joseph Smith’s first vision with our children and assigned each child his part in the play.

In family home evening on Monday, we first met Joseph Smith (Matthew, our very proud two-year-old) and his family (the rest of us). Then we went from room to room as Joseph and his family listened to different “preachers.” My husband and I alternated the preacher role—he in one room, I in the next. Whoever wasn’t preaching walked along with the children, who listened wide-eyed and rather timidly to their preacher-parents’ ”sermons.”

Next, we all returned to the living room and Dad asked, “Now, how do you think Joseph Smith felt? Do you think he might have wondered why all the preachers said such different things, and who was right?” The children agreed that Joseph certainly must have wondered. Dad then lit a candle, and we felt as if we were right there with Joseph as he read James 1:5 by candlelight.

After “Joseph” finished contemplating the scripture, we all got up to follow him (“invisibly,” of course, since no one else was really there) to the grove of trees (the family room) where he knelt to pray. Suddenly Heavenly Father (Daniel, age four) appeared standing above him “in the air” (on the organ bench) beside Jesus (Dad). Daniel solemnly recited the lines that Dad had rehearsed with him earlier: “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith—H 1:17.)

Dad then told how Jesus taught Joseph that he should not join any of the existing churches. We explained how the Lord chose Joseph Smith to restore the gospel to the earth, and how Joseph faithfully carried out that mission.

Several days after the lesson, I realized what an impression this experience had made on our children when a neighbor child came over to play. Our son confidently told his friend, “I know a prophet that lived a long time ago—Joseph Smith. Do you know him?”

The First Vision has never been more alive to any of us or its truth more powerfully felt than at that family home evening. We now plan to role-play other stories from the scriptures.


Last edited by Tom on Fri Dec 15, 2017 9:38 am, edited 8 times in total.

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