Blessed Are the Peacemakers


Blessed Are the Peacemakers

2021 First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Once again, our beloved First Presidency has invited us to come together as we begin our celebration of Christmas. While our traditions and customs throughout the nations vary, we are all grateful and blessed to be united—worshipping as one our Savior Jesus Christ and celebrating His birth over two millennia ago.

One favorite tradition in the Bassett home, as well as in many of yours, is to reenact the nativity story. For us, reading the accounts of Isaiah, Luke, Matthew, Nephi, and Mormon, accompanied by Christmas hymns and animated by a live performance portraying Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus, has been inspiring and spiritual—but not always.

For example, one Christmas Eve, our flock of toddler sheep erupted into a chorus of crying babies. Their bawling quickly spread to the shepherds and angels and even to the swaddled babe himself. The next year, we had no flock. No one dared play the role of a sheep for fear that, somehow, sheep were the cause of the frightening and calamitous wailing. A different year, the shepherds’ staffs became lightsabers, and another year no one was willing to be a Wise Man or an angel, insisting instead on donning dinosaur and dolphin costumes from Halloween. But perhaps our most memorable reenactment was when the very newborn child tumbled from his much too elevated and very unstable manger, plummeting toward the stony hearth, only to be caught inches above the floor. I’ll take credit for that diving catch, although the fall was completely my blunder as well.

Silent night? All is calm? Our nativities might better be called “Pandemonium in the Manger.” I must admit that as Christmas rolls around, I often wonder if maybe we should try a Christmas tradition that actually invites peace?

Peace—that sweet and hopeful state we all desire, not only at Christmas but always. Throughout the world today, however, it seems that peace is becoming more difficult to find. While studying the Doctrine and Covenants this year, I was reminded of a revelation describing our day:

“And in that day … the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them.”1

In today’s state of earthly commotion, where can be found this greater peace that all the world desires?

President Russell M. Nelson has declared:

“The gospel of Jesus Christ is exactly what is needed in this confused, contentious, and weary world.

“Each of God’s children deserves the opportunity to hear and accept the healing, redeeming message of Jesus Christ. No other message is more vital to our happiness—now and forever.”2

The message of the Restoration is the message of Christmas. The light of the star that guided the shepherds to the babe in the manger parallels the pillar of light that descended upon Joseph—both preceding glad tidings of great joy announcing Christ to the world.

Isaiah’s message to our troubled world continues to be, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”3

Elder Quentin L. Cook taught, “One of the most cherished titles of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is ‘Prince of Peace’ [Isaiah 9:6]. … His kingdom will be established including peace and love.”4

As we read the words found in Luke this year, I hope you’ll consider the words of the “multitude of the heavenly host praising God,” when they said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”5 I have pondered these words and thought that it might be appropriate for us to consider this as a declaration that “on the earth is now Peace.” “Peace has come!” they might have exclaimed. For, literally, on that evening in that humble stall, the very “Prince of Peace” was come to earth.

On that first Christmas day it was the herald angels declaring that peace had come. Before them Jacob declared, “We knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us.”6

Again, Isaiah prophesied, now of our day, as he wrote, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him [or them] that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace.”7

So, who are these beautiful people who publish peace? The Savior declared to His disciples in both Galilee and the land Bountiful that “blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”8

In addition, King Benjamin taught, “And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.”9

You and I are the covenant children of Jesus Christ, each His children. Remember, He declared that the peacemakers are to be called the children of God. Therefore, we—the children of God—are to be peacemakers. This is our covenant duty. You and I make a difference in today’s troubled world as we strive to be peacemakers—in our homes, our congregations, our communities, even across the world, by our kindness, by our good works, and by our words—face-to-face as well as virtually. Let us faithfully “publish peace” as we testify of Him, in word and deed.

Again from Luke we read:

“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.

“And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

“And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.”10

Likewise, “let us now go” and “make known abroad” the message of peace “concerning this child.” This is the message our missionaries teach our loved ones and friends; this is the living message that service missionaries share as they serve as the Savior would. This is the message we declare as we love, share, and invite those around us to partake of the hope and peace found in the good news of Jesus Christ.

So back to the Bassetts’ nativity reenactments that we chaotically attempt every Christmas—why do we insist on keeping this tradition, encouraging our children and grandchildren to recreate for us that beautiful night of all nights, when angels came with good tidings of great joy?

The answer is simple and delightful: “We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.”11

Yes, we see that the whole earth is in commotion and men’s hearts fail them. However, despite the challenges, in the face of opposition, and amidst the commotion, let us persevere in publishing peace, this season and always, as we prepare ourselves and all around us for the great return of the Prince of Peace, even the Lord, Savior, and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Repeating President Nelson’s words, “Each of God’s children deserves the opportunity to hear and accept the healing, redeeming message of Jesus Christ.”

May we be publishers of peace as we celebrate the birth, life, and mission of our Savior this Christmas season and always is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.