A Million People Just Learned How Much Mormons Love Jesus

Mormons get a bad rap because of… well… the fact that they’re known as “Mormons.” It’s crazy how much of a stereotype can be associated with a name. But when it boils down to it, Mormons all around the world are stepping up in their own way during the Christmas season to ensure that Christ is not forgotten or left out of Christmas.

I witnessed this a few nights ago in Newport Beach California. A guy named Ryan and his wife Jessica fill up the gas tank on their boat for 5 nights straight and set out to do something that no one else was doing during a Christmas parade… namely, honor Christ. I left their last name out because they didn’t want the attention. All of the lights on the interior of their boat were off… and all of the lights pointed to the Savior of the world and the depiction of His birth.

According to the Orange County Register, “the parade typically brings out a million viewers.” I was there on a night when hundreds of thousands of people learned… if they didn’t know already, that Mormons are Christians. Without a doubt, Mormons believe in and worship Christ and are leading the charge in keeping him at the forefront of a holiday that seems to be slipping into secularism.

As I stood on the back of that boat for about 3 hours, I had a flood of thoughts and feelings. One of those thoughts revolved around the boat that immediately followed our little ship in this parade. It was a big’ol sailboat that carried the theme of Star Wars. Intriguing, I thought, that the “Star Wars” boat was being trailed by the boat that honored the “Star of Bethlehem.” Yes… I do believe that this world knows more about Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren than they do about Mary and Joseph. They worry more about whether Hans Solo will return than if Jesus Christ will return.

But as we progressed past hordes of people, I witnessed something that I’ll never forget. It was as if the boat I was on was a breath of fresh air to the hundreds of thousands of people who stood by and watched in awe. As we passed on by, it was as if a lightbulb went off inside their hearts that reminded them of why they celebrate Christmas in the first place. People in nearby yachts, speedboats, dinghies, gondolas, kayaks, and canoes seemed to stare… and then erupt in applause for the Savior of the world.

It didn’t matter who it was. They looked, processed what was being depicted, and then cheered. They cheered for Christ. People standing on the banks of the shoreline with their families. They cheered for Christ. People waiting for the Balboa ferry. People holding beers in their hands on multi-million dollar yachts. People on adjacent boats. They all cheered for Christ. Old guys sitting on the back of their retirement sailboats watching the football game as they puffed their stogies. They stopped, looked, and then they cheered for Christ. It didn’t matter who they were or what they were doing. It didn’t matter that we were Mormons. They cheered again and again and again… for Christ. As if He was what they had been longing for without them even realizing it.

I believe that people cheered for Christ with extra enthusiasm because every boat they saw before, and every boat they’d see after had nothing to do with the true meaning of Christmas. There were full-on bands playing live music on the front of these boats. Massive fire torches that lit up the sky. Boats with thousands of lights and groves of Christmas trees on the stern and bow. They got some oooooooooo’s and ahhhhhhhh’s… but none of them stirred the soul like the scene of Christ being born into the world.

This massive group of people was reminded that if you take Christ out of Christmas, you really don’t have Christmas or “holy-days” at all. You don’t have Santa, and reindeer, and presents, and Christmas trees and lights and everything else that comes with the holiday season. Without Christ… we don’t have anything to celebrate and truly cheer for.

When I got off the freeway in Costa Mesa that night before boarding that boat, there was a gigantic billboard that read: “JESUS CHRIST IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON.” I had a cynical thought when I saw that. I wondered to myself… how many people actually believe that nowadays?

The answer. Unequivocally… was thousands, even hundreds of thousands in just one little ritzy beach city in Southen California. They showed it with every emphatic roar as we went by on a boat that honored His birth. Sure there were some who might have laughed, pointed, and made an occasional joke. There are others that might not particularly agree with our system of religion. But what I took away from this night was that by and large, people love Jesus, and they will cheer for him. They will cheer for him because deep down, they know that he is cheering for them. Regardless of where they’re at in their life. Regardless of who they are now. And regardless of who they were in the past. He represents the deepest feelings of almost every beating heart; the hope of a future filled with peace.

In the coming years… we will need more people to cheer for him regardless of the building they attend church in. We’ll need more and more people to “light the world” with his love, mercy, and hope as did Ryan, Jessica, and a host of young men and women who were willing to let their light shine in honor of him on a cold and windy night in front of hundreds of thousands of people.

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  • diane rowley

    This filled my heart with joy, Greg! Thanks for sharing it & Merry CHRISTmas!

  • Peter Steimle

    Love it! Thank you!

  • Don Dopf

    What an awesome experience to witness such a broad spectrum of folks acknowledging the Savior of the world. Thanks for sharing this Greg!

  • Allen Arnoldsen

    Wow. THAT was a powerful column Greg. You know just how to say things. I’m blown away with the beauty of your description of this event and the impact it will have near and far.

  • Jameson Hatfield

    I’m concerned that maybe there never was an issue as to whether we Mormons were Christians or not?

    Could the devil distract members from their moorings, if they take cues from him or the world, and not the prophets?

    If he can do so, he succeeds, and we’re teaching a reactionary gospel, and who is then leading us?

    Btw, I never had an identity crisis. Did you?
    I’ve always believed in the Father, in the Son, and in the Holy Ghost; actually, the whole gospel that was restored through Joseph Smith.

    Let’s illustrate. If you or I had lived in Adam’s day or dispensation, we’d teach & testify of Adam as God’s mouthpiece, & of Jesus to come. It would be Adam and Jesus–through whom salvation could be gained.

    In Enoch’s dispensation all teaching would center around the great prophet Enoch, that his words and deeds were those the Lord of power, who would yet come in time’s meridian. It would be mostly of Enoch and Jesus that we spoke.

    The same would follow with all other dispensations, from Noah to Abraham to Moses. A “dispensation head” is “the chief revealer of Christ to their dispensation.”

    Well, who would we testify of in the time of Christ, if we had lived in the New Testament times? The answer? Probably a little of John the Baptist, but mainly all teaching and testimony would center on Christ, His life, sufferings, death, and resurrection. In fact, the most powerful testimony we could bear would be of His resurrection.

    In fact, His authoritative organization of His Church, just as Joseph Smith did for our day, would be another important thing we would highlight.

    Now, come ahead yet to the last dispensation in which we now live. It is the day of Joseph Smith, when all teaching and testimony are to be centered on Joseph and Jesus-the two through whom our salvation may be gained.

    In fact, the Lord said of Joseph Smith, that he has done more for the salvation of men than any other man except Christ. Can you get a better commendation than that? The Lord loves Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith did what the Lord would have done had He been here in person. (See N.T. & 3rd Nephi Church organizations)

    So now, the 16 million dollar question: How are we mainly and mostly teaching the gospel in our wards, classes, & when you hear missionaries come back & report?

    Are they teaching from the context of Adam’s day? Not usually. Enoch’s, Noah’s, or Abraham’s dispensation? Not really. Maybe some teach as if they lived in Moses’ day? I’ve never heard one yet.

    If you’ve been listening, many have of swung into a New Testament context, where all is centered on Christ, & Joseph Smith is largely left out. In fact, many have left out the Father and the Holy Ghost.

    You see, all this non-sense about someone’s friend who joined the church, then after a month she decides to quit. They ask her why. She says, “because I’ve never heard the name of Jesus mentioned even once in a sacrament meeting, but you claim to be His Church.” She couldn’t handle it; she wanted a Christian church.

    Did anyone remind her that every sacrament meeting begins and ends with a prayer in His name? The sacrament itself, has two prayers offered in His name, for the express purpose that “All” who partake of those emblems may more fully remember Him and have His spirit to be with them.

    Every sermon is spoken & closed in His name. The meeting is directed by a bishop who got his authority through those holding keys, which are directly traced to the church President, who acts for and holds all the keys of the Lord’s Church.

    Also, the principles of the gospel–each and everyone–testifies of Christ, for they are what He lived and obeyed to gain His salvation. Remember, He didn’t center His life on Himself, but on the gospel truths of God, His Father.

    There’s more, but it’s all there; it always was. There never was a crisis. I always knew I believed in Christ, His Church, & His Prophets.

    And, if we’ve been guiled into thinking we need to really hammer on that one piano key of the Savior–here, now, & always, we just might be out of context, or worse, and the Holy Ghost may not be sustaining us as fully as we desire.

    For even in New Testament times, they taught all the principles of the gospel. And in no dispensation did they ever just bang on one key, endlessly. Nope. As all 88 keys of a piano, (to borrow Pres. Packer’s idea) work together to create endless possibilities of music, so do all the principles of the gospel, together and individually, testify of Christ, His saving gospel, and of the Prophet Joseph, through whom Jesus revealed it all.

    If we individually find ourselves teaching or sharing the gospel out of context, we can learn and change. Let’s get into the right dispensation and do it right. God will pardon beginner’s effort or childish errors, and the Holy Ghost will be a nearer and dearer companion than before.

    I hope this helps someone gain a little perspective on some of these important matters. My best wishes to all.