“Knowing the Savior through Service Emphasized at Christmas Devotional,” Ensign, Feb. 2004, 74–75
In a devotional commemorating the birth of the Savior, members of the Church found themselves counseled not only on how to bring the Christmas spirit into “full bloom” through serving others, but how that spirit can be cultivated year-round by coming to know Jesus Christ.
“He is our Savior of whom the angel spoke that first Christmas Eve,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley. “He is our Redeemer, our Lord and our God. He is our King Immanuel, who has saved us when we have been powerless to save ourselves.”
From the Conference Center stage, nestled among lighted evergreens, the members of the First Presidency participated with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square in the annual First Presidency Christmas Devotional on 7 December 2003.
Knowing Jesus through Joseph
“My heart is mellow with a spirit of love as I look at this vast audience gathered in the Conference Center,” said President Hinckley, “and then think of the even larger number of you scattered over the earth. We are now an immense worldwide family of those who love the Lord Jesus Christ.”
President Hinckley honored the Prophet Joseph Smith—whose birthday is also celebrated during Christmastime—and his First Vision for contributing to what we know about the Redeemer. “It is because of him, and his singular and remarkable experience, that we know the Savior as we do. …
“In that single, glorious vision, more knowledge was gained concerning the nature of Deity than had been obtained in all the endless discussions of men through the centuries. Though Joseph’s life was taken at an early age, his testimony of the Eternal God and the risen Lord lives on with luster and eloquence.”
Exhorting members to serve others as the Savior did, President Hinckley concluded, “I pray that the true spirit of Christmas will abide in the hearts of all and so touch our lives as to cause us to reach out in love toward others, encouraging that goodness in the lives of men and women, which is the Spirit of Christ.”
The True Spirit of Christmas
“Giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit,” taught President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency. The spirit of Christmas helps us become “more interested in people than things,” he said.
Teaching about the true spirit of Christmas, President Monson said, “To catch the real meaning of the ‘Spirit of Christmas,’ we need only drop the last syllable, and it becomes the ‘Spirit of Christ.’ When we have the spirit of Christmas, we remember Him whose birth we commemorate at this season of the year.”
As we turn our hearts outward, President Monson promised we will find that “opportunities to give of ourselves are indeed limitless,” but warned that “they are also perishable.”
Following the Savior will lead us to serve others, and serving others leads to knowing the Savior better. “If we are to have the very best Christmas ever, we must listen for the sound of sandaled feet. We must reach out for the Carpenter’s hand. With every step we take in His footsteps, we abandon a doubt and gain a truth. …
“One line of holy writ contains a tribute to our Lord and Savior, of whom it was said, ‘[He] went about doing good … for God was with him’ (Acts 10:38). My prayer is that at this Christmas season and all the Christmastimes to come, we may follow in His footsteps. Then each Christmas will be the best Christmas ever.”
The Challenge to Know Him
“The challenge is not only for us to know about the Savior, but to know Him,” said President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency. We come to know Him by serving Him, President Faust explained, quoting King Benjamin from the Book of Mormon: “For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?” (Mosiah 5:13).
“Christmas is more enjoyable when we think of the needs of others before we think of our own,” said President Faust. “When the Savior sacrificed His life, He was thinking of all others who have ever lived or who will ever live on this earth. He was not thinking of Himself when He went to Gethsemane, endured Golgotha, and triumphed over the tomb.”
President Faust counseled that during “the busyness of the holidays, each of us should spend time in solitude reflecting upon the supernal gifts provided to us by the Savior’s life and ministry. He was born for everyone. His death benefited everyone. He atoned for the sins of all mankind and, through His resurrection, liberated all mankind from death. …
“The message of Christmas is not just a story of the birth in a stable, the Wise Men, the shepherds, or the flight into Egypt. The message of Christmas is also a celebration of the Atonement and the Resurrection that the birth of the Savior made possible.”