I am grateful to President Thomas S. Monson for the invitation to represent the First Presidency to speak in this Christmas devotional. I add my appreciation to the words of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf for the magnificent music of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the orchestra.
Tonight our hearts have been drawn to the Savior, and our commitment to follow Him has been strengthened. The beautiful lights placed in this Conference Center are a symbol of the joy we have felt.
The Savior came into the world with light designed to confirm and celebrate His arrival. You remember the account:
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. …
“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”1
They were drawn, on that sacred night, to go to the Savior. What they saw with their physical eyes, in the stable, was a tiny baby. What they went to verify was visible only through spiritual feelings. We know that the Light of Christ is an influence that we can recognize by its effects.
The Savior said:
“For, behold, it is I that speak; behold, I am the light which shineth in darkness, and by my power I give these words unto thee.
“And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy.”2
I felt that light, joy, and desire to do good when our first great-grandchild was born. I looked down on her and thought, “She seems to glow with a beauty I didn’t think was possible.” In an instant I realized that the beauty I saw and the glow I felt when I looked at her face came from her purity and, to me, by the Light of Christ.
It is important for you to trust that precious capacity to see more than what physical eyes see. It does not require having received the gift of the Holy Ghost. For instance, we had a neighbor in Utah. She was a widow, an elderly widow. For years the members of our ward included her in quilt-making and other activities. She enjoyed their friendship but showed no interest in the restored gospel.
She told me that on one Sunday, after she moved to Nevada, she came back to her apartment feeling dark, discouraged, and alone. Her doorbell rang.
She described what happened this way. She said, “I opened the door, wondering who it could be. And there on the doorstep, I saw two beautiful women standing side by side. And I felt that I saw halos around their heads.”
They were the missionaries who came because my wife loved that widow enough to ask a mission president to offer the gift of the gospel of Jesus Christ to her friend.
I went to Las Vegas to baptize and confirm that widow. And my wife and I were her companions when she first went to the temple. In all those sacred moments of covenants, there seemed to me to be a brightness about her, just as I felt when I looked down with love on my first great-grandchild.
You have had such moments when you felt the Spirit of Christ, as you may at this moment. That is because these words are true: “Every soul who walks the earth, wherever he lives, in whatever nation he may have been born, no matter whether he be in riches or in poverty, had at birth an endowment of that first light which is called the Light of Christ, the Spirit of Truth, or the Spirit of God—that universal light of intelligence with which every soul is blessed.”3
You might have felt the Light of Christ tonight in this devotional, the purpose of which is to remember and to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. All of us here have experienced an influence to want to be kind or to help someone in need. All of us have felt an increased desire to stay away from evil. And we each have felt a desire to be less prideful, boastful, or critical—to be more like the Savior.
As we have felt the pure love of Christ, we have felt more His love for others. Charity is the pure love of Christ. Whatever we feel now is only a beginning. The Lord promised each of us a glorious future this way: “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.”4
Some watching and listening tonight were drawn to be with us in the hope that they could find peace as they face the sorrows of sickness and death that come with mortality to us and to those we love. I testify that Jesus Christ “is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.”5
President Thomas S. Monson, the Lord’s living prophet, has assured us: “With all the strength of my soul, I testify that God lives, that his Beloved Son is the firstfruits of the resurrection, that the gospel of Jesus Christ is that penetrating light that makes of every hopeless dawn a joyful morning.”6 I add my humble testimony to his.
I bear my witness that God the Father lives and that He gave us the gift of His Beloved Son out of love for us. I know as surely as I live that the resurrected Savior lives. He atoned for our sins. And I testify that He is the Light of the World and the sure source of comfort, hope, peace, and joy. I pray with all my heart that we all will draw closer to Him, to feel the warmth of His light and love. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, whom we worship and serve, amen.