Annual Christmas Devotional Brings Cheer After Long Year

Annual Christmas Devotional Brings Cheer After Long Year

At the 2020 First Presidency Christmas devotional, the prophet and three other Church leaders spoke of the love, peace, knowledge and joy that come from following Jesus Christ.

The speakers on Sunday, December 6, comprised Church President Russell M. Nelson; Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Brent H. Nielson of the Presidency of the Seventy; and Sister Rebecca L. Craven, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency. They spoke from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Conference Center Theater on Temple Square. The musical selections from the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square were recorded previously at past Christmas devotionals.

Summaries of each talk are below.

President Russell M. Nelson: “Rivet [Your] Focus on the Savior” This Christmas

The prophet thanked Latter-day Saints for their response to his November 20 video message to share gratitude on social media and give thanks to God in prayer. He also shared a 2019 video rendition of “Silent Night” from 7-year-old Claire Crosby (singing) and himself (accompanying on piano).

President Nelson encouraged everyone to focus on Jesus Christ during this difficult COVID-19 Christmas season.

“During this unprecedented year, when virtually every person in the world has suffered the effects of a global pandemic, there is nothing more important we can do this Christmas than to rivet our focus on the Savior and on the gift of what His life really means to each of us,” President Nelson said. “Our loving Heavenly Father ‘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, emphasis added). The Son of God then promised us that ‘whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die’ (John 11:26). What unspeakable, incomparable gifts from the Father and the Son!”

The prophet concluded with a blessing on all watching or listening to the devotional.

“May you and your families be blessed with peace, with an increased ability to hear the voice of the Lord, and receive revelation with an enhanced capacity to feel how much our Father and His Son love you, care for you, and are ready to guide all who seek after Them,” President Nelson said.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: “Dreams of the Night”

Elder Holland noted the significance of Jesus’s birth story occurring at night, “that period when muscles relax and fatigue is laid to rest, when prayers are said, revelation anticipated, and divine beings most likely to be near. And once a year, night is when children can scarcely close their eyes for the delight that is bubbling within them, knowing tomorrow it will be Christmas. Yes, however difficult our day has been, the sweet dreams of the night can make everything right.” He quoted Elder Parley P. Pratt’s book, Key to the Science of Theology (1855). “God has revealed many important instructions … by means of dreams. … [then] the nerves [are] unstrung, and the whole of mortal humanity lies hushed in quiet [slumber, and] … the spiritual organs … converse with Deity, … angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect,” Pratt wrote.

“And so it was this night of wondering awe,” Elder Holland concluded, “where truly, ‘the hopes and fears of all the years’ were met in the dreams of Bethlehem.”

Elder Brent H. Nielson: “The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)”

Elder Nielson spoke about his father’s four years of service during World War II, which included one especially depressing Christmas that featured the business of war, a meager evening meal and no gifts in the mail.

“My hope during this Christmas season is that no matter our circumstances, no matter where we are, and no matter how we may be separated from family or friends, we will remember that He, the Savior Jesus Christ, is the gift,” Elder Nielson said. “[And] that as we come unto Him, He will make our burdens light and that we might discover Him, as my father did, in the middle of a terrible war. The Savior said, ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’ As we trust Him, we will find peace and happiness, no matter our current circumstances.”

Sister Rebecca L. Craven: “A Swaddle and a Heavenly Hug”

Sister Craven shared a story of her daughter being comforted by a hospital worker with a warm blanket while her husband was undergoing surgery. “[The nurse] wrapped [the blanket] tightly around our daughter and said to her, ‘I feel like you need a heavenly hug.’ The Lamb of God, also known as the Good Shepherd, knows each of his flock. In our moments of need, He often sends earthly angels, like the compassionate nurse to our daughter, to wrap and encircle us in the arms of His love. He came to earth to bring peace and goodwill to all men. He comforts those who stand in need of comfort and mourns with those who mourn.

“In a world so much in need of peace,” she concluded, “our gentle words, our acts of compassion and kindness can be the means of wrapping another in a warm, swaddling blanket. I have come to understand that the more we act on promptings to serve others, the more heavenly blankets the Lord gives us to share.”

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