SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Dec. 5, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — On Sunday night, members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints heard “messages of peace and hope” delivered by four leaders of the Church, as well as a performance by the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.
The event, broadcast to sites around the world, was the 2021 First Presidency Christmas devotional, according to a Church news release.
The Tabernacle Choir performed “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “In the Bleak Midwinter,” “O Holy Night,” and “Silent Night.”
Speakers were President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency; Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder W. Mark Bassett of the Seventy; and Sister Michelle D. Craig of the Young Women General Presidency.
President Eyring spoke of the spirit of Christmas as “the joy that comes in worshiping and loving the Lord Jesus Christ,” the news release said.
He encouraged members to study “scriptures that teach us who Jesus was and is and through loving others.”
Elder Renlund told listeners about his childhood and hearing his father read from the New Testament about the birth of Jesus.
“The Christmas season is a natural and beautiful time to study (the Savior’s) life and to strive to emulate His character and attributes,” Renlund said.
The importance of being peacemakers “in our homes, our congregations, our communities, even across the world…” was at the heart of Elder Bassett’s presentation, as he encouraged Church members to share the message of peace just as missionaries do “as they serve as the Savior would.”
Sister Craig spoke of sharing “our individual gifts to lift and serve others.”
“Some of the very best gifts are gifts of our time and talents,” she is quoted in the news release.
“Don’t let the music in you go unsung, the hug ungiven, the forgiveness unoffered,” she said.
A summary of each speaker’s presentation, as stated in the news release, follows:
President Henry B. Eyring: President Eyring spoke of the spirit of Christmas. He described this as “the joy that comes in worshiping and loving the Lord Jesus Christ.” He said we experience this spirit through studying scriptures that teach us who Jesus was and is and through loving others.
President Eyring read New Testament scripture that speaks of Jesus’s role in Creation, of His submission to the will of the Father and of His teaching to follow His example of love. President Eyring quoted Book of Mormon verses about Christ’s Atonement and His power to help us in any circumstance. And he used words from the Doctrine and Covenants to illustrate the power of prayer and God’s promised peace.
“(God) knows how to help us feel peace in adversity, even while the test continues,” President Eyring said. “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. And with that change, we will ourselves become the friends the Lord can send as angels to others.”
Elder Dale G. Renlund: Elder Renlund taught the importance of knowing the divinity of Jesus Christ. He said that his father would read Luke 2 each Christmas Eve. After reading verse 32, in which Simeon holds the baby Jesus and speaks of Him as “(God’s) salvation,” Elder Renlund’s father would pause and say: “I may not be able to hold that little baby Jesus in my arms, but I know, just as well as Simeon knew, that that baby was the Son of God, my Savior and Redeemer. He is real, and He lives.” After this powerful declaration, his father would look at each member of the family and say, with an emphatic nod, “And you can know it too.”
Elder Renlund described how at age 11 he felt God tell him the Book of Mormon teaches truth. And it is by that same power that he knows Jesus is the Savior of the world. Such knowledge, he said, is a spiritual gift available to anyone.
“This Christmas, ask your Heavenly Father for the spiritual gift of knowing of the living reality of the Savior of the world,” Elder Renlund said. “The Christmas season is a natural and beautiful time to study His life and to strive to emulate His character and attributes. As you do, you can know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that He atoned for your sins.”
Elder W. Mark Bassett: Elder Bassett reminded Latter-day Saints that followers of Jesus Christ should be peacemakers.
“This is our covenant duty,” Elder Bassett said. “You and I make a difference in today’s troubled world as we strive to be peacemakers—in our homes, our congregations, our communities, even across the world, by our kindness, by our good works, and by our words — face-to-face as well as virtually. Let us faithfully ‘publish peace’ as we testify of Him, in word and deed.”
Using language from Luke 2, Elder Bassett encouraged Church members to “‘make known abroad’ the message of peace ‘concerning this child.’ This is the message missionaries teach our loved ones and friends; this is the living message that service missionaries share as they serve as the Savior would. This is the message we declare as we love, share, and invite those around us to partake of the hope and peace found in the good news of Jesus Christ.”
Sister Michelle D. Craig: Sister Craig said we should cultivate and share our individual gifts to lift and serve others. “Some of the very best gifts are gifts of our time and talents,” no matter how small, she said. “I believe such gifts are holy gifts.”
Quoting Elder Marvin J. Ashton (1915–1994), Sister Craig said gifts come in many forms, including listening, weeping, thinking and praying.
“Take your gift of listening with love and visit a lonely friend,” she said. “Do you have the gift of avoiding contention and of being agreeable? Those gifts have never been more needed — give them to your family, friends, and neighbors. Tell a wanderer you love them and invite them to your kitchen table. Teach an inspired lesson. Write a kind note. Gather others and use your gift to reach out and build Zion and build the people around you. God needs all kinds. He’s given all gifts for uplifting his children. Don’t let the music in you go unsung, the hug ungiven, the forgiveness unoffered.”