Of all the seasons of the year there is none so beautiful as Christmas, President Gordon B. Hinckley said Dec. 3.
"Our hearts reach out to those in need. Love overcomes hate."
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.
During his remarks, President Hinckley noted that his mother died in November of 1930; he was then 20 years old.
"The Christmas that followed was the saddest our family ever experienced; my father, still a relatively young man, felt alone and awkward. He did his best to hide his sorrow, but it was evident. But shining through the darkness of the time was the assurance and the faith in the redemption wrought by the Savior of the world.
"I have experienced those same circumstances in my own life, although I was much older at the time. My beloved eternal companion left me nearly three years ago. I have known much of loneliness since then. But again, shining through all of the darkness is the sublime figure of the Son of God, who gave His life that we might live.
"This is the true meaning of Christmas the reality of the Atonement brought by the Savior of the World."
President Hinckley said in "these days of war and conflict, of men dying in uniform, and of attempts to find a resolution to difficult problems," there comes to mind the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Christmas carol, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." In the hymn Christmas bells remind listeners that right will prevail with peace on earth, good will to men.
Christmas, President Hinckley said, is a beautiful season when people reach out to others and when love overcomes hate.
It was Jehovah, who under the direction of His Father, created the earth, said President Hinckley. He was the God of the Old Testament. He spoke to the prophets.
"Born in a manger, He came to earth under the humblest of circumstances. The Son of the Almighty became the Savior of all mankind.... He walked the roads of Palestine working miracles. He healed the sick, He brought sight to the blind, He raised the dead. He blessed the little children and condemned any who should offend them.
"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. No 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. Our eternal lives are in His hands, and our eternal progress lies in obedience to His teachings.
"He is the implementor of our Father's plan of Happiness. He is our Savior, of whom the angels spoke that first Christmas Eve. He is our Redeemer, our Lord and our God. He is our King Emmanuel, who has saved us when we have been powerless to save ourselves.
"And now He had come again, in glory with His Father, both of whom appeared to the boy Joseph. The restoration of His gospel is complete with all of the keys and authority appertaining thereto.
"At this marvelous season of the year we experience the mystique of Christmas. Love grows a little stronger, hearts are a little 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. There is a deep underlying current of happiness."
Concluding, President Hinckley expressed his love and blessing to Church members worldwide. "I pray that the true spirt of Christmas will abide in the hearts of each of you. May the bells of Christmas ring loud and clear."
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