The prophet and many of the apostles sent special Christmas greetings on their Facebook pages. Some include very personal stories that you have not heard before.
President Russell M. Nelson
While we read the Christmas story in Matthew and Luke, we find the true meaning of Christmas in the gospel of John. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
The first and greatest gift of Christmas was neither gold, nor frankincense, nor myrrh. It was the willing gift from a loving Heavenly Father of His Beloved, Only Begotten Son.
On that first Silent Night, I can only imagine the holy mixture of emotions that our Heavenly Father must have experienced, watching from heaven as His Beloved Son entered a fallen world in the lowliest and most indigent of circumstances.
God is not devoid of emotions. He looks after us with all the tender feeling of a loving parent. I imagine the joy He felt in knowing that this precious infant would eventually win a glorious triumph over sin and death—throwing open the doors of heavenly possibilities so that you and I could someday live again with our loved ones.
But I also believe His joy was tempered by the perfect knowledge of what awaited His Beloved Son. In a few short years from that holy night, this same Son would suffer as none had ever, nor could ever, suffer.
But because our Heavenly Father loves us so much, He allowed these joyful and painful events to take their proper course. Because the world needed saving, and because you and I need saving, He sent us a Savior.
This Christmas, let us accept God’s perfect and precious gift. Let us cast our burdens and sins at the Savior’s feet and experience the joy that comes from repentance and change. Let us follow Jesus Christ and emulate His life as we celebrate His birth.
I wish you, my dear friends, a very merry Christmas.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
In December of 1976, my father underwent surgery, but near the conclusion of it, he suffered a major heart attack that he would not recover from.
I spent several nights in the hospital with him. You will forgive me if I admit that somewhere in the early hours Christmas morning I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. Of all the times to lose your dad, did it have to be the time when dads are the greatest guys in the world and gifts for little boys somehow appear that, in later years, would be recognized to be well beyond the meager Holland budget? Lying under that oxygen tent was the most generous man I have ever known, a Kris Kringle to end all Kris Kringles, and by some seemingly cruel turn of cardiac fate, it was Christmas morning and he was beginning the drawn-out process of dying.
Then and there heaven sent me a small, personal, pre-packaged revelation—a tiny #Christmas declaration that was as powerful as any I have ever received. In the midst of mumbling, I heard the clear, unbroken cry of a baby. It truly startled me. I had long since ceased paying attention to where I was wandering that night, and only then did I realize I was near the maternity ward; somewhere, I suppose, near the nursery. To this day I do not know just where that baby was or how I heard it. I like to think it was a brand-new baby taking that first breath and announcing that he or she had arrived in the world, the fact of which everyone was supposed to take note.
“Jeff, my boy,” my Father in Heaven seemed to say with that baby’s cry, “I expected a little more from you. If you can’t remember why all of this matters, then your approach to Christmas is no more virtuous than the over-commercialization everyone laments these days.
“You need to shape up just a little, to put your theology where your Christmas carols are. You can’t separate Bethlehem from Gethsemane, or the hasty flight into Egypt from the slow journey to the summit of Calvary. It’s of one piece. It is a single plan.
“Christmas is joyful not because it is a season or decade or lifetime without pain and privation, but precisely because life does hold those moments for us, but also holds an answer to them.”
President M. Russell Ballard
Sometimes at Christmas, we have trouble finding the right gift for a loved one. As a missionary, I had the opposite problem. I had the perfect gift—I just wasn’t sure who I was going to give it to.
When I was in Edinburgh, Scotland, near the end of my mission, I saw a beautiful pink cashmere sweater set—a Scottish specialty—in a shop window. There was no one I had in mind for it, I just knew I wanted to buy it. So I did.
When I got home and was unpacking, I showed the sweater set to my mom who asked, “What in the world are you going to do with this?”
Very confidently, I answered, “I’m going to find the girl who fits it, and I’m going to marry her!”
I gave that sweater set to Barbara Bowen for Christmas in 1950. It was a bold move considering we weren’t even steadily dating at the time!
I was pleased to see that she adored the sweater set. A short time later, we were engaged. That was more than 70 years ago.
During this Christmas season, I give thanks to God our Father for sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to the earth. The Savior overcame death and sin. If we follow Him, we can experience everlasting joy.
Although my sweetheart and eternal companion has passed from this earth life, I know that because of Jesus Christ’s willingness to come to earth to fulfill God’s plan, we all can return to our heavenly home to live with our Heavenly Parents, our Savior, and our loved ones once again.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Christmas has always been a special time for me. A time for loving. A time for giving. A time for remembering.
I remember the rich, centuries-old #Christmas traditions of Czechoslovakia that awed me as a very young child. I remember the candle-lit Christmas trees, the handmade gifts, the smell of festive preparation. I remember the beautiful carols and majestic organ music that brightened the dark streets of Zwickau in East Germany. I also remember the humble attic our family crowded into after we had fled for a second time from perilous situations and started a new life in West Germany after World War II.
As I look back with heartache and joy, perhaps what I remember most about Christmastime is the love my family had for each other, how we loved and accepted the restored Church of Jesus Christ, and how we loved the Savior.
There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, to follow such examples and rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus the Christ. It is always the right time to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and our neighbors as ourselves.
As we make the Savior and His supernal gift to us the center of our life this Christmas season and always, we will declare to the world with joy and solemnity that the life of Christ “neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary.”
All who accept His loving gift will never hunger or thirst. They will find rest for their souls and rejoice with all their heart and soul that “the Lord is come.”
This Christmas season and throughout the year, may we receive and give the greatest gifts of Christmas.
Elder Quentin L. Cook
Being at the Missionary Training Center to celebrate Christmas day was an incredible privilege. To see so many valiant elders and sisters preparing to serve missions was such a marvelous sight.
My first Christmas away from home was as a missionary in England, December of 1960. On Christmas Eve, my companion Noel Luke and I decided to greet people in their homes and leave a blessing and brief Christmas message. It was a beautiful night, and the cloud-filled sky had a bright moon shining through, creating a heavenly feeling.
Suddenly everyone in the neighborhood had their televisions tuned to a beloved comedian and singer, Harry Secombe, who rendered “Bless This House” in a manner which brought tears to our eyes. His song reverberated and bounced back from the clouds. We had this overwhelming feeling that we were truly emissaries of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, trying to “bless” our Heavenly Father’s children.
No matter where you are or what your life situation is this Christmas, each of you can use your unique God-given gifts and talents to bless and serve others around you. You can show kindness and compassion to others as our ultimate example, Jesus Christ, did.
He devoted His life to the poor, the needy, the sick, and the afflicted. The best way we can show gratitude to the Savior for what He has done for us is to be His servant—to, in effect, be His hands here on earth.
May your Christmas be filled with joy and your new year bring blessings of peace!
Elder D. Todd Christofferson
At this season, I recall the poignant experience of Joseph F. Smith, the sixth President of the Church, at an earlier time in his life when he was a young father. He was working long hours, and while he was blessed to provide food and shelter for his family, there was little else. He described how he felt that holiday as he longed to provide his family with a wonderful Christmas:
“I left the old home with feelings I cannot describe. I wanted to do something for my [children]. I wanted something to please them, and to mark the Christmas day from all other days—but not a cent to do it with! I walked up and down Main Street looking into the shop windows—into . . . every store—everywhere—and then slunk out of sight of humanity and sat down and wept like a child, until my poured-out grief relieved my aching heart; and after a while returned home, as empty as when I left, and played with my children, grateful and happy only for them.”
Joseph F. Smith grew up without his father, Hyrum Smith, and in his youth was sometimes rough and undisciplined. I cannot help but believe that this experience, along with others, helped transform him into the strong, tender, and spiritually sensitive man he became.
Just as the Savior’s experiences in mortality had redeeming purpose, our experiences, especially the difficult ones, will prepare and enable us to lift and help redeem one another.
At Christmas, the stories of sacrifice and ministering multiply across the world. Our gifts and service gladden hearts; the kindness of others pours healing balm into our own wounds. It is living the Savior’s way of life. And since, as He, we came down from heaven to do the will of the Father, it must not be only an annual event, but rather the pattern of our lives. In all that serves to deepen our empathy, broaden our understanding, and purify our souls, His declaration reassures us: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Elder Neil L. Andersen
Christmastime is a wonderful time to solidify the habits we seek for all of our lives.
In our world of distractions, complexities, and temptations, where we have influences pulling us in every direction, we take responsibility for the person we want to become. Desiring to be a lifelong disciple of Jesus Christ is very important to each of us, and to chart our course we make time for the Lord each and every day. We make prayer a part of each day. We nurture our spirits with the word of the Lord in the scriptures. We find more time for the holy temple, the House of the Lord. We curb some of our social media. Let us prepare ourselves to be instruments in the hands of the Lord in helping those who need our attention and our love.
As you shape your daily habits to include the Lord, you will feel the Savior’s love and approval. I bless you that as you increase your efforts from now through Christmas, the desire to continue these habits beyond Christmas will stay with you, and your progress as one of the Savior’s disciples will grow. I pray that in your very busy world, you will make time for the Lord each and every day.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband
The shepherds reverently approached the stable to worship the King of kings. How will we worship Him this season? Endlessly shopping? Hustling about and adorning our homes? Will that be our tribute to our Savior? Or will we bring peace to troubled hearts, good will to those in need of higher purpose, glory to God in our willingness to do His bidding? Jesus put it simply: “Come, [and] follow me.”
Elder Dale G. Renlund
(translated from Spanish)
My father was a calm man, a man of few words in both his mother tongue and English he learned as an adult. He was extremely frank and was never effusive with praise; he never pretended or exaggerated.
On Christmas Eve, he read Luke, chapter 2. But my father did not stop in verse 19; he continued with the report of Mary and Joseph leading the child Jesus to the temple of Jerusalem to make an offering in compliance with the law of Moses.
My father read: “And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon… And he had received revelation from the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Christ of the Lord. And moved by the Spirit, he came to the temple. And when [Mary and Joseph] carried the child Jesus…then [Simeon took Jesus] into his arms and blessed God, and said, “Now, Lord, send your servant away in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples.”
At that time, my father always paused and shared his testimony. Always in the same brief way, I declared: “I may not be able to hold that little child Jesus in my arms, but I know, as well as Simeon knew, that baby was the Son of God, my Savior and Redeemer. He is real and he lives.” After that powerful statement, he looked at each of us with his penetrating heavenly eyes and, bowing his head, said emphatically, “And you can know it too.”
Just like my earthly father, I know that I will not be able to hold that little child Jesus in my arms; but I know, with the same certainty that Simeon had, that baby was the Son of God, my Savior and Savior of you, my Redeemer and Redeemer of you of. He is real and He lives… and you may know it too.
Elder Gerrit W. Gong
For many of us, Christmas is a joyful season. At the same time, some of us can feel alone, lost, isolated, or sad.
Let us celebrate Christmas this year by following Jesus Christ to do all we can to make sure there is room in His inn for each of us. As we do so, we will find the true meaning of Christmas.