Light of Christ Illuminates First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional
Contributed By By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer
- Christ’s light transforms lives and touches hearts.
- Service-anchored living should be the yearlong pattern of one’s life.
- The Christmas story is a tender and moving account of family unity, sacrifice, love, and service.
- Reach out to others and give of yourself to increase the Christmas spirit.
“The best gifts are not material things but gifts of listening, of showing kindness, of remembering, of visiting, of forgiving, of giving time.” —Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president
It is Christ’s light that transforms lives and touches hearts, said President Henry B. Eyring on Sunday, December 7.
“All of us have experienced an influence that made us want to be kind, to help someone in need,” said President Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency. “All of us have felt an increased desire to stay far from evil. And we each have felt a desire to be less prideful, boastful, or critical—to be more like the Savior.”
His remarks were part of the First Presidency's Christmas Devotional at the Conference Center. The spirit of Christmas was celebrated through word and song at the annual event, which drew tens of thousands to downtown Salt Lake City—while many more enjoyed the program on television or via the Internet.
The devotional included seasonal music from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, along with several Christmas messages from general Church leaders.
President Eyring said the annual Christmas event once again offered viewers worldwide an opportunity to deepen their commitment to love and follow Christ.
The Light of Christ, he said, illuminated Sunday’s Christmas devotional.
It was a star’s light that led the shepherds to the baby Jesus, he said. They needed to know if the promised Messiah had indeed been born.
“What they saw with their physical eyes was a tiny baby,” he said. “But what they wished to verify was visible only through spiritual feelings.”
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles began his remarks by reading the familiar Christmas story found in Luke 2.
President Eyring then spoke of the recent birth of his first great-grandchild. The tiny baby girl seemed to glow with a beauty he didn’t think possible.
“I realized that the beauty I saw and the glow I felt when I looked at her face came from her purity, by the Light of Christ.”
It is important to trust “that precious capacity to see more than what physical eyes see.”
How is it, he then asked, that He who ruled in the heavens—the very Creator of the earth—should consent to be born in poverty, endure scorn and abuse, and, in the end, be crucified?
“Jesus endured all that was necessary in life and in death to atone, redeem, and establish a celestial pattern for the children of God—for us.”
Elder Christofferson said it was essential that the Son of God be “born of the flesh” and “descend below all things” so that He might redeem all things.
“Just as Jesus, we came down from heaven to do the will of Him that sent us and to achieve, with the grace of Christ, immortality and eternal life,” he said.
The Christmas season, he concluded, is rich with stories of sacrifice and ministering as people seek to help others. Such service-anchored living should be the yearlong pattern of one’s life.
The Christmas story is, at its center, a family story, observed Elder Richard J. Maynes of the Presidency of the Seventy.
“Not only is there extensive and detailed genealogy recorded, but perhaps nowhere else in all of literature, whether religious or secular, is there a more tender and moving account of family unity, sacrifice, love, and service,” he said.
The Christmas story teaches of a family that connects heaven and earth. The holy family—Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus—stands as a supernal example of God’s Christmas gift to all mankind.
“The family was unified in seeking God’s glory, unified in serving one another, unified in fulfilling God’s will, and unified in sacrifice, obedience, and love.”
The best way to increase the Christmas spirit is to reach out to others and give of one’s self, said Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, the Church’s Young Women general president.
“The best gifts are not material things but gifts of listening, of showing kindness, of remembering, of visiting, of forgiving, of giving time,” she said.
Christmas offers many helpful symbols, she added.
“When we see shepherds, may we remember to be humble. When we see wise men, may we remember to be generous. When we see the star, may we remember the Light of Christ, which gives life and light to all things. When we see a tiny baby, may we remember to love unconditionally with tenderness and compassion.”
Video and audio recordings of the devotional in 58 languages will be provided on broadcast.ChurchofJesusChrist.org within a week. Text will be available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese within a week.