The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addressed members of the church from the Conference Center on Sunday at the annual Christmas Devotional. Presidents Thomas S. Monson, Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf counseled members to hold close to their hearts the true meaning of Christmas and to share the joy of Christ’s birth with others.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
President Uchtdorf spoke of contentment during the Christmas season, focusing not on the imperfections that come with the holiday, but by focusing on Christ.
He said despite all of the planning and preparing that goes into the Christmas holiday, something usually goes wrong when preparing the “perfect” day.
“Sooner or later, something unpleasant occurs,” he said. “And as a result, the Christmas season is often a time of stress, anxiety, frustration and perhaps even disappointment.”
President Uchtdorf said if we will open our hearts, the Spirit will touch us and we will see that Christmas is much more than the minor things of life we use to adorn it.
“We realize in these precious moments what we feel and know in our heart — that Christmas is about the Christ,” he said.
Just as the Wise Men of old, President Uchtdorf said each member should seek Christ and lay precious gifts before Him.
“We should offer him our love,” he said. “We should give him our willingness to take upon ourselves his name and walk in the path of discipleship. We should promise to remember him always, to emulate his example and to go about doing good.”
President Uchtdorf concluded his remarks by reminding members that the Christmas season can be an opportunity to recommit to keep the spirit of the Son of God in our hearts every day of the year.
“This is a wonderful time of the year,” he said. “It may not be perfect, but if Christmas can point our hearts toward our Savior, we can rejoice even in the imperfections of the season.”
President Henry B. Eyring
President Eyring spoke of the first Christmas and the witnesses of light and angelic visitations that announced Christ’s birth.
“One of the most beautiful symbols of the birth of Jesus Christ into this word is light,” he said. “The appearance of the long-promised Messiah brought light to a darkened world.”
President Eyring said just as the beautiful lights of Temple Square help to remind of the birth of the Savior, so does hearing the words of an angel sent from God.
“No recounting of the Christmas story is complete without hearing words of an angel sent to prepare the way for his arrival,” he said.
President Eyring said the Christmas story tells of our Heavenly Father’s love for his children.
“He gave us the gift of the Savior, his perfect son, the lamb without blemish,” he said.
President Eyring listed the restoration of the gospel, apostles and prophets and the atonement and resurrection of Christ as eternal and glorious gifts.
“Those are gifts to us that we can offer to others for him,” he said. “We do that by remembering him and trying with all our hearts to do what he would do and love as he loves.”
President Eyring concluded his remarks by counseling members to invite others to take part in these precious gifts.
“You can give a great and wonderful Christmas if you remember the gifts God has given you, and as best you can, offer them to others as he would,” he said.
President Thomas S. Monson
President Monson told of several stories that teach the true meaning of Christmas and urged members to not become distracted by sales and presents, but to remember to keep Christ as the center of the celebration.
President Monson told two stories — Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and “The Mansion” by Henry Van Dyke. In both tales, wealthy men neglect their neighbors and dedicate their lives to the gaining of worldly wealth and the recognition of man. As a result, each learns a life lesson about true happiness and the spirit of the season.
“These readings never fail to bring to me the spirit of Christmas,” he said. “The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of love and of generosity and of goodness. It illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than in things.”
President Monson then urged members to keep the spirit of Christmas the whole year, and not merely during the holiday season.
“This is my plea tonight,” he said. “Because when we keep the spirit of Christmas, we keep the spirit of Christ, for the Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit. It will block out all the distractions around us which can diminish Christmas and swallow up its true meaning.”
Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s birth. President Monson said because Christ came to this earth, we have a perfect example to follow.
“As we strive to become more like him, we will have joy and happiness in our lives and peace each day of the year,” he said. “It is his example which, if followed, stirs within us more kindness and love, more respect and concern for others. … May his precious spirit be with us, and may he ever be the center of our celebrations and indeed of our very lives.”