President Russell M. Nelson invited all to “Come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord” during the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional on Sunday, December 3, 2023.
His prerecorded address culminated the annual broadcast from the Conference Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who celebrated his 99th birthday in September, attended the devotional.
“What a joy it is to commence another Christmas season when we commemorate the birth of our Savior and Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ,” President Nelson said. “Let us live in the spirit of ‘Hallelujah,’ ever praising the Lord God Jehovah.”
President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the devotional, extending greetings and Christmas wishes from the First Presidency. “As we enter this sacred season, we pray that you will be blessed with peace in your hearts and love for those around you,” he said. “May you feel the love of the Savior in your life and know that ‘his hand is [ever] stretched out still’ (2 Nephi 19:21).”
Also speaking during the devotional were Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Sister Tracy Y. Browning, Second Counselor in the Primary General Presidency, and Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Presidency of the Seventy.
Come, Let Us Adore Him
President Nelson spoke fondly of Christmas memories through his life that included serving others through Sub-for Santa and singing Händel’s “Messiah,” which praises the Lord and His millennial reign.
Alluding to a recent back injury that has kept him at home to heal and recover, President said, “During the past few months, I have learned a lot more about pain and its refining influence. My heart has been drawn out to our Savior as I have tried to imagine the extent of His suffering. … In the most supreme act of compassion that defies mortal understanding or description, the Savior submitted Himself to unparalleled spiritual and physical agony.
“We revere the Babe of Bethlehem precisely because He later offered the incomprehensible, infinite sacrifice in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross of Calvary.”
President Nelson said his wish for listeners is actually a prayer that you will “feel the deep, eternal love our Savior has for you personally,” “gain your own personal witness that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” take full advantage of the Savior’s Atonement by repenting daily,” and “use this holiday season to begin a season of even greater personal worship.”
Because of Christ’s restored gospel, the blessings of His priesthood are available to all mankind as they come unto Him and are perfected in Him, he said.
“I know that God lives! Jesus is the Christ! This is His Church. He directs the ongoing restoration of His gospel,” he testified.
Receive and Offer the Gift of Change
Elder Gong shared three favorite Gong family Christmas traditions: enjoying clothespin and other tree ornaments that “tell our family story,” displaying creches or nativities that depict the birth of the holy Christ child and reading Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” aloud as a family.
Referring to the character Ebenezer Scrooge’s change from a “grumpy old miser” to a good man and friend, Elder Gong asked, “Are there those around us, perhaps we ourselves, who could be a different person if only we would stop typecasting or stereotyping them as their old self?”
“This Christmas, perhaps we can receive — and offer — Jesus Christ’s precious gifts of change and repentance, of forgiving and forgetting, for each other and ourselves. …
“He can free us from the ghosts of our pasts. He can unshackle us from the regrets of our and others’ sins. Jesus Christ can redeem our self-centered selfish selves through rebirth in Him,” he said.
Christmas is a time for us to purposefully look for and fill our lives with “emblems of remembrance,” said Sister Browning. These Christmas symbols help us recall the sacrifice of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who offers the gift of salvation and new and eternal life.
“God gives us the gift of remembrance, so we do not forget the Giver,” she said, “so that we come to feel His limitless love for us and learn to love Him in return.”
Jesus Christ extends the enduring and essential gifts of “wisdom, testimony and faith,” the Holy Ghost, and eternal life, she taught.
“While at times our minds and hearts may wander and wane from Him, His constancy assures us that the Lord does not forget us — at Christmas or any other time.”
“Let us not fail to remember the true Giver — He who never forgets us and gives us power to remember Him through His Spirit, at Christmastime and all the time,” she said.
Christ Was Born to Save
“Christmas is for everyone because God sent His Son for all of us and for each of us,” said Elder Johnson.
“No matter the time period or the circumstances, the birth of the Savior has always been a reason to rejoice. He came to offer each of Heavenly Father’s children “peace in this world and eternal life in the world to come.”
Elder Johnson shared several thoughts of peace and hope surrounding Christmas that were written by his daughter, Alisa, who passed away from cancer.
“As I think about the miracle of Christ and the many gifts of God,” wrote Alisa, “I feel hope for everything and everyone. Not necessarily the kind of hope that everything will be perfect, but that everything will be okay, and eventually goodness prevail. … I don’t think it’s ever too late for miracles, for change, for peace.”
“[Christ] was born to save,” Elder Johnson concluded. “To save you and to save me. What an incomparable gift that can only be given by Him. No matter our current circumstances, may we more fully sense His gifts in our lives this Christmas season.”
Music during the devotional was provided by The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square under the direction of Mack Wilberg and Ryan Murphy, with Richard Elliott at the organ. Prayers were given by Elder James W. McConkie III of the Seventy and Young Men General President Steven J. Lund.