Savior's influence 'stirs within us'

It is because of Jesus Christ and His teachings that Church members reach out to those in trouble, distress and need, wherever they may be, said President Gordon B. Hinckley.

Speaking Dec. 6 at the First Presidency Christmas Devotional held on Temple Square, President Hinckley explained: "At this Christmas season, we gather together to sing His praises, and speak our words of faith and gratitude and love. It is His influence in our lives that stirs within us a little more of kindness, a little more of respect, a little more of love, a little more of concern."

More than 6,000 Church employees and their families gathered in the Tabernacle — decorated with sparkling Christmas trees, festive garlands and bright poinsettias — for the annual devotional.

Thousands of other Church members watched the devotional, which was telecast in 11 languages over the Church's satellite system throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. It was also rebroadcast on KBYU-TV in Utah.

Members of the Quorum of the Twelve, the Seventy and the Presiding Bishopric, as well as general auxiliary leaders, attended the devotional, which was conducted by President Hinckley. Elder Joe J. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy and Anne G. Wirthlin, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, gave the invocation and the benediction, respectively.

The Tabernacle Choir, directed by Jerold Ottley and Craig Jessop, and accompanied by Clay Christiansen and John Longhurst, provided Christmas music. The congregation also joined the choir in singing several Christmas carols.

In his address, President Hinckley affirmed "We honor the Beloved Son of our Eternal Father. It was Jesus, His Firstborn, who left the glory of His Father's presence and condescended to come to earth as the promised Messiah.

"It is proper that we gather together to remember Him in reverence and with love. He has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. He has brought meaning to our mortal existence. He has given us the gift of eternal life."

President Hinckley said the faith of Church members in Jesus "is quickened and it becomes certain knowledge because of him who was His great testator, the Prophet Joseph Smith whose birth we also honor during this month of December.

"No one has borne more certain knowledge of the Son of God, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ than has this great prophet of this the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times," said President Hinckley. "Praise to his name. Honor to his memory. Reverence to him as an instrument in the hands of the Almighty in bringing to pass the restoration of His work in our time."

President Hinckley said the world, "which gropes for the light of faith in darkness of doubt needs the testimony of the Prophet Joseph. For us, who share that testimony, there can never be any doubt concerning the place of our Redeemer in the great and majestic plan which God our Eternal Father has for His sons and daughters of all generations."

Recounting the life of the Savior, President Hinckley noted that Jesus was the only perfect man to walk the earth.

"No event of human history carries a more compelling witness than does the reality of the resurrection," said President Hinckley. "His followers on two continents testified of it. Uncounted millions of men and women through the ages have suffered, even unto death, for the witness in their hearts that He lives, the Savior and the Redeemer of mankind whose Atonement came as an act of grace for the entire world."

President Hinckley noted that Church members, of all people, can sing the words, "Joy to the world, the Lord is come." (Hymns No. 201.)

"We honor him, we worship Him, we love Him as our Redeemer, the great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New Testament. The entire thrust of the testimony of the Book of Mormon declares our living Lord before Whom we kneel in humility and faith."

Recounting experiences from a recent trip to Central America — where he visited with Hurricane Mitch victims and spoke to thousands in three meetings in Nicaragua and Honduras — President Hinckley spoke of a 2-year-old girl orphaned in the disaster.

"She lost her mother in death some few months ago." When the hurricane hit the father piled the furniture in his house high to avoid the rising water, President Hinckley explained.

"He took a little mattress and placed it at the top and laid [his daughter] on it. In his frantic and desperate effort he suffered a stroke and died," said President Hinckley. "No one knew anything of her, until a young man, two days later, happened to look up in that abandoned house and saw her still alive. He tenderly brought her down and delivered her to the bishop and the bishop's wife. It was there that we saw her."

President Hinckley noted that, through the blessings of the Church welfare program, members in need in the country have received new bedding, ample clothing and food "that will sustain life but is not very tasty."

"I would hope that at this Christmas season, when there will be no gift-giving among these devastated people, this small orphan girl might receive perhaps a little taste of candy, something sweet and delicious. I must see that that happens.

"God bless the people everywhere . . . that their hearts may be opened and their hands extended to help the needy."

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