|First Presidency Christmas Devotional
December 6, 2009
President Henry B. Eyring
First Counselor in the First Presidency
We can choose this Christmas and every day to create a small part of the Christmas story in our own lives.
The story of Christmas is a story of love. We heard the story first before the world was created. Heavenly Father told us of His plan of happiness for all of us, His beloved children.
Out of love He would let us come down from His royal courts to live in a world where we would be free to choose to come home again to Him. He said that because of temptations and because it would be so hard for us always to choose the right, that we would need a Savior. We would all need power beyond our own to be rescued from death and from sin.
Jehovah, out of His great love for the Father and for us, volunteered to come down from His exalted place as the perfect Firstborn in the spirit world to face the trials we would face and to save us if we loved Him enough to keep the commandments He would give us. At the heart of those commandments, we were to love the Father and His son and all of God’s other children. Hearing that story so filled our hearts with love for the Father and His Son that we shouted for joy and worshipped them.
Many have told since of the glorious time in that story when the Christ child is born to rescue and lead us home. Of the inspired accounts, the ones we treasure most help us feel again the tender love and care of the Father, and of His Beloved Son, for all of us, and especially for the least of us.
That is one of the reasons we love Luke’s story of the birth of Jesus. Each time we hear it we can feel again the love of our Father for us and for all His children. Each detail of the story makes real for us the message of love.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, wraps her firstborn child tenderly and lays Him in a manger. God sends angels in glorious light to announce to humble shepherds that the long-promised Messiah is born. And Luke tells us that choirs of angels were sent to celebrate this greatest of gifts from a loving Heavenly Father to His children. The words of Luke seem almost to bring to our minds and hearts the memory of the sound of angelic music:
“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 this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”1
The story of Christmas given to us by Luke creates feelings of peace and goodwill, just as the angel choir promised. Every inspired account of the birth of Jesus has that power.
The great prophet Isaiah wrote of the Christ child hundreds of years before He was born in a stable. He knew that Christ would be born to save us and to become the King of kings:
“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.”2
Handel set Isaiah’s Christmas story to music, and those words sung by choirs have lifted hearts for generations. Some of us have sung them ourselves. Just this week members of my ward were invited to bring their music to sing along with a choir. Each time I have heard or sung Isaiah’s story of Christ, I have felt joy and peace. The promise of peace, which the Lord brought at His birth, come whenever we qualify to experience His love and cleansing power, which comes because of His Atonement. And every inspired story of Christmas brings a feeling of His love for us.
Heavenly Father out of His love sent angels and prophets to tell that story of Christmas even before Jesus was born. Moroni, in the Book of Mormon, tells us why God did that:
“For behold, 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…
“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.”3
It is still the same after the coming of Christ: we lay hold upon every good thing through our faith in Him. True stories of Christmas always increase that faith in Him and in His mission. And with that faith our determination grows to join with Him to help in His loving mission of mercy and rescue.
It is wonderful to remember Him always but especially as we celebrate His birth. He came to bless children. He healed the sick. He invited all, even those who despised Him, to follow Him and so choose the way home to our Heavenly Father.
We can choose this Christmas and every day to create a small part of the Christmas story in our own lives. We can accept the invitation of living prophets to help those who are lost along the pathway, and have wandered, to come back to it. We can offer the gospel, which is the only way home, to all we meet along the way. We can lift up those who are tired and hungry and lonely, as the Savior did and now invites us to do with Him. As we do, they can feel how much the Savior loves them and wants to lead them on the way to the God He loves.
In the stories of Christ’s birth, we can see and feel who He was and who He is. That lightens our load along the way. And it will lead us to forget ourselves and to lighten the load for others. That can make every day feel like the best of our Christmases past.
We can feel again the Savior’s loving approval and His thanks. And those we help for Him may sense the helping hand the Master holds out to them, if only they will choose to take it.
I testify that the child born of Mary in Bethlehem was the divine and perfect Son of God. He loves us perfectly, as does our Father. Jehovah came as the Christ to open for us all the way to escape from sin and sorrow. I pray that we will choose that way and help all those we can to go home to God with us in love, in the name of Jesus the Christ, amen.
1. Luke 2:8–14.
2. Isaiah 9:6.
3. Moroni 7:22–23, 25.