Kristine’s post got me thinking about something I’ve had laying around for a while. With Christmas coming up, I wanted to do a couple of posts with Christmas related themes. Here is the first.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell, late apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints delivered an interesting vignette using an observatory as a backdrop (I thought it was Palomar but it doesn’t look like it now that I observe it) as part of a sequence of testimonies by the FP and Q12. His text follows, with a video link. It’s a favorite of mine for several reasons. One of which is his return to some of his frequent discursive themes, and another is the way he manages to get in a few painful digs at some profound questions. He always had a way with words but this time his remarks leave room for lots of comments. Anyway, here is the text:
This magnificent, far-reaching telescope is deliberately situated above the smog so this powerful instrument can better probe the galaxies. So it is with life and seeing by the lens of faith. If we are to see things more clearly, we too must lift ourselves above the secular smog. Then, in the words of the hymn, we can “in awesome wonder consider all the worlds [God’s] hands have made,” and “see God’s pow’r throughout the universe displayed.” Otherwise, we will be kept from probing Jesus’ Universal Gospel and from seeing things as they really are.”
Nevertheless, by viewing the stretching cosmos, we can humbly contemplate the vastness of divine handiwork. Long before he was born in Bethlehem, and became known as Jesus of Nazareth, our Savior was Jehovah. Way back then, under the direction of the Father, Christ was the Lord of the Universe who created worlds without number, of which ours is only one. How many planets are there in the universe with people on them? We don’t know, but we are not alone in the universe! God is not the God of only one planet!
I testify that Jesus is truly the Lord of the Universe, “that by [Christ], and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.” Having purchased us with His atoning blood in the great and marvelous Atonement, Jesus thereby became our lawgiver. It is by obedience to His laws and His commandments that we may return one day to His presence and that of our Heavenly Father.
The foregoing cosmic facts should bring us to our knees even now, long before that later judgment day, when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ. I testify that Jesus fulfilled these great roles as creator and lawgiver out of His desire to immortalize all of Heavenly Father’s children, with the most valiant to live in His Father’s house which has many mansions.
When Christ comes again, it will not be to the meekness of the manger. It will be as the recognized Redeemer and the Lord of the Universe! Then, in a great solar display, stars will fall from their places in a witnessing way with much more drama than at His birth when “the stars in the heavens looked down where he lay.” Yet in the vastness of His creations, the Lord of the Universe, who notices the fall of every sparrow, is our personal Savior, of which I give apostolic testimony in the holy name of Jesus Christ, amen!
 Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “How Great Thou Art.”
 The Book of Mormon, Jacob 4:13.
 Pearl of Great Price Moses 1
 Doctrine and Covenants, section 76:24
 PoGP “Articles of Faith” no. 3.
 Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:8-11; Mosiah 27:31; D&C 76:110; D&C 88:104.
 Matt. 24:29; Reb. 9:1; D&C 29:14; D&C 45:42; Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:33.
 Hymns, “Away in a Manger.”
 Matt. 10.
Being the cosmology geek that I am, I find Maxwell’s approach here very interesting. His apt metaphor regarding the “lens of faith” strikes a chord with me. His “planets with people on them” reminded me of Sagan’s poke at the Mormons in his The Demon-Haunted World. Maxwell however, leaves open in this passage at least, what “people” might mean. I love Maxwell’s ability to hint at the grandiose dimensions of Mormon ontology/cosmology without getting into the nitty-gritty questions that would reveal a stance on speculative theology. Finally, here is the video clip:
And don’t you love “commandments?”