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Peace and hope the message from LDS First Presidency Christmas devotional

By Genelle Pugmire - | Dec 6, 2021

Courtesy Intellectual Reserve

Elder Dale Renlund speaks during the First Presidency Christmas devotional Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021.

Four leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continued the tradition of the annual First Presidency’s Christmas devotional Sunday from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. The event was presented remotely.

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square joined in with Christmas musical selections that added to the message of peace and hope as part of the 2021 devotional.

Speakers included 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.

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square performed “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “In the Bleak Midwinter,” “O Holy Night” and “Silent Night.”

Eyring spoke of the spirit of Christmas, describing it as “the joy that comes in worshiping and loving the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Courtesy Intellectual Reserve

The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square perform during the First Presidency Christmas devotional Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021.

He said we experience this spirit through studying scriptures that teach us who Jesus was and is and through loving others.

To demonstrate that spirit, Eyring read about Jesus, his role in creation and his Atonement from the New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants, the last two being sacred LDS scripture.

“(God) knows how to help us feel peace in adversity, even while the test continues,” 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.”

Renlund spoke of 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.”

Courtesy Intellectual Reserve

President Henry B. Eyring speaks during the 2021 First Presidency Christmas devotional Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021.

“This Christmas, ask your Heavenly Father for the spiritual gift of knowing of the living reality of the Savior of the world,” 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.”

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.”

In her talk, 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.”

Courtesy Intellectual Reserve

Sister Michelle Craig speaks during the 2021 First Presidency Christmas devotional Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021.

Quoting Elder Marvin J. Ashton (1915-1994), 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.”

Elder Mark Bassett addresses a small audience of family, friends and remote viewers during the First Presidency Christmas devotional Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021.

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