Christmas is for children and for families, said President Gordon B. Hinckley Dec. 7.
"Perhaps it is not inappropriate to remind us of the word of Jehovah when the family seems to be falling apart all over the world and the traditional family is under attack," he said.
Speaking during the annual First Presidency Christmas Devotional, President Hinckley offered a message of peace and hope to a capacity congregation in the Conference Center, which was adorned with Christmas lights, trees and poinsettias. His counselors in the First Presidency, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, also offered holiday messages centered on the Savior and His gospel.
Hundreds of thousands of Church members around the world heard the devotional, broadcast on the Church satellite system, BYUTV, and on KBYU in Utah.
Music for the evening was provided by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square. Directed by Craig Jessop and Mac Wilberg, the choir and orchestra performed several traditional Christmas hymns and carols.
"We have been uplifted by the glorious music of this magnificent choir and by the eloquent testimonies of our Brethren," said President Hinckley at the beginning of his address, which was preceded by messages from his counselors. (Please see reports on related links above.) "My heart is mellow with a spirit of love as I look at this vast audience gathered in the Conference Center and then think of the even larger number of you scattered over the earth."
The Church is now "an immense worldwide family of those who love the Lord Jesus Christ and who also love His great prophet of this dispensation, even Joseph Smith," he said.
As Church members celebrate the birth of the Savior, they also remember the birth of the Prophet Joseph, he explained.
"It is because of him, and his singular and remarkable experience that we know the Savior as we do. . . ," he said. "Though Joseph's life was taken at an early age, his testimony of the Eternal God and the risen Lord lives on with luster and eloquence.
"I look to him. I love him. I seek to follow him. I read his words, and they become the standards to be observed in guiding this great Church as it moves forward in fulfilling its eternal destiny."
President Hinckley then spoke of the Lord Jesus Christ, "the great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Creator under the direction of His Father."
It was Jehovah whose finger wrote on the tablets of stone the Ten Commandments, he said. It was Jehovah, speaking through His prophets, who decried evil and pleaded for righteousness in Sodom and Gomorrah. Then, as recorded in the Old Testament, centuries passed.
"Under the plan of the His father, the Son of God condescended to leave His royal courts on high to be born in the most lowly of circumstances in a vassal nation," President Hinckley said. "On that night of nights, the great plan of the Almighty was unrolled as a scroll. The Only Begotten of the Father came into the world to become the Savior of all mankind."
President Hinckley said there are no plainer, simpler, nor more wonderful words than those found in Luke 2:10-11: "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."
"He left His mark upon the world, which can never be erased nor diminished. Concluding that brief life was the agony of Gethsemane and the terrible suffering of Golgotha, to be followed by the glory of the resurrection. None other had ever done before what He did. He rose from the grave and through His great act of atonement came salvation for all men. Their eternal lives are in His hands, and their eternal progress lies in obedience to His teachings."
President Hinckley said he is convinced that no Church member fully understands the magnitude of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. "He is our Savior of whom the angel spoke that first Christmas Eve. He is our Redeemer, our Lord and our God. He is our King Immanuel, who has saved us when we have been powerless to save ourselves.
"And now He has come again, introduced to the boy Joseph by His Father in a grand theophany unequaled in the history of the world. They parted the curtains and brought light to the somber darkness of the centuries in opening this, the dispensation of the fulness of times."
It was the Savior, said President Hinckley, who outlined the great plan of happiness. "The fruits of that plan depend upon our personal righteousness, with acceptance of the teachings of our Lord."
Concluding, he said, at this marvelous season Church members feel the mystique of Christmas. "Love grows a little stronger, hearts are more generous. We are more inclined to strengthen the feeble knees and lift up the hands that hang down. Children's hearts are made glad. There comes an added magic in the air."
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