As Thanksgiving passes by and the Christmas season begins, Church leaders have taken to social media to share uplifting and inspiring messages focused on Christ, gratitude and serving others.
At the beginning of the Christmas season, Elder Ullisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared his testimony of the birth of Christ in a video posted on his social media pages on Nov. 29.
In this video, he shared the testimony of the ancient prophet Isaiah, who prophesied of the coming of the Messiah, and the narrative found in the Gospel of Luke that recorded the fulfillment of those prophecies.
“The Savior’s life was a personification of love and good will toward men,” he said in the video, noting that Christ sought out the poor, the sick and the hungry, and blessed little children even when He was tired from work and travel. “These selfless acts were not limited to a specific season or holiday but were evident in all He did every day of His life. Even as He went to Gethsemane, endured Golgotha and triumphed over the tomb, He was not thinking of Himself, but of others.”
Christ’s example can help each person learn to think of others’ needs before his or her own. In following Christ and serving others, Elder Soares promised that “we’ll find limitless opportunities to experience the real joy and the true meaning of Christmas, which may become a condition of our heart and mind and not just a day or season. In addition to that, we will certainly find peace on earth and good will toward men, not only for their afflicted and bitter hearts, but also for ourselves.”
Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society general president, Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president and her first counselor, Sister Michelle D. Craig, each shared the new Nativity video, “The Christ Child,” on their Facebook pages on Nov. 24 and invited others to watch it.
“The Christ Child was born to bear your sorrows and make your burdens light. And as His followers, you can do the same,” Sister Bingham wrote. “What do you do to remember the Savior at Christmas?”
Sister Cordon is in awe of Mary’s strength in the final days before her Child was born, and she gained new insight in Joseph, “an earthly father trusted to guide and nurture the Mortal Messiah,” she wrote. “And at the heart of it all is our Savior Jesus Christ, the Miracle, the Author and Finisher of our Faith.”
Read more about the making of “The Christ Child” video and why it is different from other versions of the Nativity story
In August, Sister Craig walked into a craft store and saw Christmas trees and decorations on display. Her heart began to race in anxiety over how quickly the Christmas season was approaching. A month later, she was in a meeting where the new “Light the World” campaign was introduced, and she watched “The Christ Child” for the first time.
“Instead of panic about the approaching season, I felt peace. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I felt optimistic. I was filled with a profound gratitude for my Father in Heaven and the ‘matchless gift of His Divine Son,’” she wrote. “So this season, let’s be intentional about linking arms, hands, and hearts and together LIGHT THE WORLD as we remember the greatest gift the world has ever known, Jesus Christ.”
Sister Becky Craven, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, shared a Christmas story about her granddaughter, Jayci. About this time last year, Jayci and her family were living with Sister Craven as their home was being built. However, Jayci was struggling with missing friends, her own bed, familiar surroundings and holiday traditions her family usually shared. “Not having her favorite Christmas decorations or doing their long-standing tradition of ‘Christmas tree roulette’ was especially difficult for her.”
What is Christmas tree roulette? Every year her family would buy a tree wrapped in twine, then open it at home. Then they would decorate the tree whether or not it was good.
During one Young Women class on a Sunday in early December, Jayci shared this favorite tradition of hers and how much she was missing it that year.
“That very Tuesday, Jayci came out of her youth activity simply beaming and holding a little tree,” Sister Craven wrote in the Dec. 4 Facebook post. “It was a real tree with string wrapped around it and a sweet card saying, ‘now you can cut the twine on this one.’”
Jayci and her mother cried and expressed gratitude to Heavenly Father for being mindful of her and for the “sweet angels who were aware of her hurting heart and served her with such Christlike love.”
On Thanksgiving day, President Russell M. Nelson shared how he wakes up each day eager for the adventures before him. “I hope you feel that same exuberance for the gift of life,” he wrote in the Nov. 28 Instagram post. “Though our world is filled with serious challenges, I am optimistic about the future and confident about the fundamental goodness of humankind.”
Each new morning is a gift from God, who gives each person air to breathe and life each day. “Therefore, our first noble deed of the morning should be a humble prayer of gratitude,” he wrote.
Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, shared her gratitude for the 33,000 Relief Society presidencies around the world by sharing her experience with her own Relief Society president.
Kerri Green made a promise when she was called three months ago “to keep your name safe,” Sister Eubank wrote in the Nov. 28 Facebook post.
She quoted Green, who told all the Relief Society sisters in her ward, “The thing I ... promise is that I will keep your name safe, that I will see you for who you are at your best. And that I will never say anything about you that is unkind, that is not going to lift you. I ask you to do the same for me because I am terrified, frankly, of letting you down, of not being able to rise to the occasion. Please love each other that way as well.”
“This is the true spirit of the gospel and the essence of Relief Society,” Sister Eubank wrote.
President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, shared his thoughts on Thanksgiving and the importance of gratitude in a Nov. 27 Instagram post, accompanied by a watercolor painting of a beach.
“One way to bring more gratitude into our lives is to offer a private prayer with thanks,” he wrote. Start by counting blessings, then pausing. By exercising faith and with the help of the Holy Ghost, “you will find that memories of other blessings will flood into your mind. If you begin to express gratitude for each of them, your prayer may take a little longer than usual. Remembrance will come. And so will gratitude.”
During Thanksgiving week, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles expressed his gratitude for the opportunity he and his wife, Sister Kathy Christofferson, had to travel with President Nelson to Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore and Indonesia. “It was an inspiring experience,” he wrote in the Nov. 26 Instagram post.
During the trip, he had the clear impression that the Lord is very mindful of the members in Southeast Asia. “I testify that the Lord is mindful of you, too. He knows what is in your heart, what challenges you face, and what issues you deal with.”
Each person can be happy no matter the situation because the Lord is anxious to help. “Because of the Savior’s Atonement, you can truly be joyful in any circumstance.”
Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles also took the opportunity of the holiday to express gratitude for his family. “I love watching my children and grandchildren learn and grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ,” he wrote in a Nov. 27 Instagram post.
On a recent assignment to the Pacific area, he was able to meet up with two of his grandsons who are serving missions in the area — one in Fiji and the other in Australia. While in Fiji, he and his wife, Sister Melanie Rasband, joined their grandson and his companion on a lesson with a family. They discussed “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”
“My heart swelled with joy,” he wrote. “It was a blessed and unique opportunity for us to testify — together as a family — that because of Jesus Christ, our family, the family we were meeting with, and all families, can be together forever! How grateful I am for this eternal truth.”
President Dallin H. Oaks offered guidance to today’s young men and women in a Dec. 2 Instagram post: “Be careful how you label yourselves. Don’t define yourselves by some temporary quality.”
Each person is a son or daughter of God, and that is the single best quality a person can characterize his or herself. “That fact overrides all other labels, including race, occupation, physical characteristics, honors, or even religious affiliation,” he wrote.
Repentance is not only for the big things, but for little things as well, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf wrote in a Dec. 5 Instagram post.
“For me, repentance is not only a way to activate the Atonement of Jesus Christ and have my transgressions not only forgiven but also ‘remembered no more’ — it’s also the ‘A list’ of what I’m working on to improve,” he wrote.
“Repentance elevates and prioritizes things I’m working to change.”
Accompanying the post was a photo of verse highlighted in a copy of the Doctrine and Covenants: “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:42).