“One word best describes the feelings we experience at Christmastime. That word is love,” said President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional. “After all, the gift that we celebrate at Christmas is a gift of love — God’s gift of His Son,” President Uchtdorf told the audience gathered for the annual event in the Conference Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Sunday, December 3, 2017.
“During this season, touched by that love, hearts soften,” President Uchtdorf continued. “We feel a tenderness that causes us to reach out to others in kindness and compassion. Christmas inspires us to love better.”
President Uchtdorf shared Christmas memories of his childhood in East Germany, where he said his family lived in modest circumstances. “Twice within seven years, we fled our homes as refugees.” He said Christmas trees were difficult to find and the gifts were often handmade.
“These were times of great need, but I consider them happy times because I could feel the love we had for each other, for the Lord, and for His Church,” recalled President Uchtdorf.
“Our Savior taught us by example to love everyone. He also taught us to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves,” said Sister Cristina B. Franco, second counselor in the Primary general presidency, who said Christmas is the season to give love.
Sister Franco spoke of a time growing up in Argentina when she donated one of her favorite toys to children spending Christmas day in the hospital.
Secondly, she said Christmas is the season to give service. “At Christmastime, I think of the missionaries … who, as representatives of Jesus Christ, give freely of their time and service to all mankind. I think of all the brothers and sisters who spend many hours serving faithfully in their callings. Also, at this time, I think of the men and women serving in the military to ensure our safety.”
Sister Franco said Christmas is also the season to give forgiveness. “Forgiving others brings peace and joy to our lives,” she said.
“Let us all give the best gifts,” encouraged Sister Franco. “Let us sacrifice with grateful hearts our favorite toys — not the ones we’ve worn out. And let us give the gift of love, the gift of service to those around us, and the true gift of forgiveness.”
Elder Kevin R. Duncan of the Seventy shared personal stories of past Christmases, including experiences growing up on a farm in Utah. “I was just beginning to learn about this man, Jesus Christ, whose birthday we were celebrating. But it seemed like a pretty good deal. It was His birthday, but we got all the presents.”
He continued, “Thankfully, with the passage of time, my understanding of the Savior increased — His birth and birthday, His life and miracles, His power and sacrifices, His Atonement and Resurrection, but mostly His majesty and His incomprehensible love.”
Elder Duncan said, “As a child, I thought Christmas came just one day a year. As an adult, I now realize that it is Christmas every day. Because of the benevolence of our loving Heavenly Father and our beloved Savior Jesus Christ, we are the recipients of a continuous flow of heavenly gifts — every day.”
President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the devotional. Music was provided by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square.
“Let this become our Christmas tradition, no matter where we are — to be a little kinder, more forgiving, less judging, more grateful, and more generous in sharing our abundance with those in need,” concluded President Uchtdorf.
You can watch the entire devotional below.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.