The Spirit of Christmas

The Spirit of Christmas

First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional

Sunday, December 5, 2021

My dear brothers and sisters, I am grateful to be with you in this worldwide Christmas devotional. The sublime music and words have touched our hearts. They brought the true spirit of Christmas, the joy that comes in worshipping and loving the Lord Jesus Christ. We are bound together in our love and devotion for Him.

That feeling of worship grows each time I read scriptures that help me know who He was and who He is. From that reading and praying, I have come to know Jesus as Jehovah, who, under the direction of our Heavenly Father, was the Creator of all things. Paul described it this way:

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

“Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

“Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

“For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

“And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.”1

At the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem angels did sing and, as prophesied, a new star did appear to light the sky, honoring the entrance of the Son of God into mortal life.

He towers above us, and yet the events surrounding His mortal birth draw from us a feeling of His being close to us. He chose to come down from His throne at the right hand of the Father to take upon Him mortality. He did it out of love for every son and daughter of His Father who would be born into the world. He did it out of love for you—and for me.

He could have been born into any situation. Yet Jesus was born in humble circumstances in a tiny village. Shepherds welcomed Him. A few Wise Men were later led by inspiration to worship Him. The political leader ordered that He be killed. He had to be taken to a foreign country to preserve His life. When an angel told His mortal parents He could return to His country, they took Him to Nazareth. He spent nearly 30 years there, growing up and working as a carpenter, before His public ministry began.

You might wonder, as I do, why it was necessary for the perfect Son of God to be sent on such a mission. Remember how He described His humble acceptance of His call:

“I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

“And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

“And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”2

Jesus showed His love and humility. Despite His place of power and majesty with His Father, Jesus chose for His earthly disciples common men, including fishermen, a tax collector, and a zealot.

He preached to and associated with lepers, the sick, the maimed, the despised. He loved and accepted the lowliest among them, despite His having come down from courts on high. He served them, loved them, and lifted them up.

His remarkable loving-kindness and restraint increased even at the end of His earthly mission. He faced opposition and hatred He knew were part of the mission to which He was called and had accepted. It was to suffer for the sins and infirmities of all who come into mortal life.

You remember the words of Jacob as he taught of the Atonement of Jesus Christ:

“O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it.

“And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam.

“And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day.”3

The baby in the manger in Bethlehem was the Son of God, sent by the Father to become our Savior. He was the Only Begotten Son of the Father in the flesh. He is our Exemplar.

To have the spirit of Christmas, we must try to love as He loved. His words to you and to me are, “Love one another, as I have loved you.”4

You can feel the spirit of Christmas, as I have, in those words. I have felt the light and the optimism that comes from the influence of the Holy Ghost whenever I remember and ponder the example of the Savior of the world.

For me, perhaps the sweetest remembrance has been that the Lord stands ready to help us whatever befalls us. As Mormon taught:

“God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing.

“And God also declared unto prophets, by his own mouth, that Christ should come.

“And behold, there were divers ways that he did manifest things unto the children of men, which were good; and all things which are good cometh of Christ; otherwise men were fallen, and there could no good thing come unto them.

“Wherefore, by the ministering of angels, and by every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ; and thus by faith, they did lay hold upon every good thing; and thus it was until the coming of Christ.

“And after that he came men also were saved by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the sons [and daughters] of God. And as surely as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you.”5

At this season, many of you pray for the strength to endure trials that test you to what may feel to you like your limit. I testify that the Savior and the Father have heard your petitions asking for relief and for that which is good for you and for those you love and serve.

The answers will come as they did to the Prophet Joseph Smith. You will recognize Joseph’s prayer for help as like your own. And you will feel the love of the Lord for Joseph and for you in His comforting answer to Joseph’s cry. Joseph prayed:

“O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?

“How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries?”6

And the Lord replied as He may to you and to me:

“Peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;

“And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.

“Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands.”7

I know for myself that the promises are sure for you, for me, and for those we love. The Lord has felt our pains. He so chose out of love for us. He knows how to help us feel peace in adversity, even while the test continues. He will send friends as angels to stand by you “with warm hearts and friendly hands.” Our own hearts will be changed for the better as we endure personal trials through faith in Him.8 And with that change, we will ourselves become the friends the Lord can send as angels to others.

As His witness, I testify that the baby born in Bethlehem is Jesus Christ, the beloved Son of God. I promise that as you ask Heavenly Father in faith and in the name of Jesus Christ, the Spirit will bring feelings of peace to you and to your loved ones.

I express my love to you with my wish that you may have a joyous Christmas season—this year and always. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.