Elder L. Tom Perry Shares Message of Freedom and Family
By Marianne Holman, Church News staff writer.
Christmas is a time for families and for reflecting on the birth of the Savior, Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve said during the BYU Management Society Salt Lake Chapter’s Christmas luncheon on Dec. 19, held in a ballroom at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City.
“We live in a Christian nation, and this season of the year has most of us turning to the New Testament to read the real story of the mortal mission of our Lord and Savior,” he said. “It is the season to celebrate His birth.”
Looking to the accounts of the birth of the Savior in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, Elder Perry shared some of the background of these accounts and some of his personal insights.
“From Matthew’s account, we can see he felt that our heritage is important as a guide to us in the present and also for our future,” he said. “We face the same challenge today from those who think our past heritage is out-of-date in today’s world.”
These people are at odds with the nation’s founders, Elder Perry said. For when the nation faced its greatest trials and tribulations, the founders sought the blessings of the Creator and, further, they discovered the essential connection between the survival of a free land and the protection of religious freedom.
“In many countries, including the United States, religious freedom is slowly and dangerously eroding,” he said. “We’ve seen this erosion in matters of individual conscience, expression, and self-determination. In virtually no circumstances should religious groups or individuals have to choose between their most sacred beliefs and the rights and privileges of citizenship.”
From the story of the birth of the Savior as recorded in the book of Matthew, individuals feel a sense of gratitude for the heritage that allows religious freedoms.
Drawing from the gospel of Luke, Elder Perry spoke of the most commonly quoted story told at Christmastime. “Luke completes an orderly, classic story, which has commonly been called the most beautiful book ever written. It depicts the glorious beauty and perfection of the Savior.”
Luke also features Christ’s kindness toward the weak, the suffering, and the outcast, and focuses on the Savior’s mother, Mary.
“Christmas is a time for families,” he said. Recognizing that all of the books of scripture begin in a family setting, Elder Perry said those beginnings are one way the Lord is sending a strong message. “It is time to remember His greatest of all gifts—the gift of life eternal where father and mother and children can be united together for all eternity.”
As the world moves away from the doctrine of the sanctity of the family unit, families must join in living and teaching the eternal truth that marriage is ordained of God, he said.
Elder Perry added, “We celebrate the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ, because He came to earth to do what we could not do for ourselves. He suffered for our sins and died for us. He came forth the third day, the first fruit of the resurrection. It is the culminating event in history that puts the Lord’s great plan of salvation in place for His children.”
Family activities and traditions can be a beacon to the rest of the world as an example of how to live in peace and harmony until the day He returns to rule and reign, Elder Perry taught.
“So again, ... let the message of Christmas penetrate our hearts and our souls on this most glorious occasion of all that brings us closer to our Savior,” he said. “Witness after witness has testified to this miraculous and significant event that has occurred. ... It is the most celebrated event in all human history, the birth of our Lord and Savior, the only child permitted to come to earth with dual citizenship—one of heaven and one of earth—thus permitting Him to have power over death through His atoning sacrifice, granting the same gift of immortality to all His children.”