During the annual First Presidency Christmas Devotional, President Thomas S. Monson asked Church members worldwide to make time in their lives and room in their hearts for the Savior.
"In our busy lives, with ever so many others competing for our attention, it is essential that we make a conscious, committed effort to bring Christ into our lives and into our homes," he said.
President Monson offered a message of peace and hope to a capacity congregation on Dec. 7 in the Conference Center, which was adorned with Christmas lights, trees and poinsettias. His counselors in the First Presidency, President Henry B. Eyring and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 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.
During his address, President Monson recalled the old story of an innkeeper in Bethlehem at the time of Christ's birth. During a census taken by Caesar Augustus, many travelers came to the innkeeper asking for accommodations.
"There were two who came to the inn — a husband and a wife — whom the innkeeper would not have turned away for all the gold and silver in the world, had he known who they were," said President Monson.
But the innkeeper did turn the couple away. "The only lodging to be found for the couple was a manger — no doubt just a crude cave where animals were kept.
"The innkeeper missed the greatest opportunity that an innkeeper could ever have had. Long years afterward, it would not do him any good for him to repeat over and over again the words, 'If only I had known who they were, I would have made room for them.' "
President Monson recalled the words of scripture: " 'And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.' No room. No room. No room. Ever has it been."
President Monson said that today, lovely homes provide rooms for eating, rooms for sleeping, playrooms, sewing rooms, television rooms — but no room for Christ.
"My brothers and sisters, I know that it is the desire of each of us to make time in our lives and room in our hearts for our Savior. No matter how successful we have thus far been at accomplishing such a goal, however, I am confident we would all wish to do better. Now, this very Christmas season, is the perfect time to renew our efforts."
President Monson said down through the ages the message from Jesus has been the same. "To Peter by the shores of Galilee, He said, 'Follow me.' To Philip of old came the call, 'Follow me.' And to you and me, if we but listen, will come that same beckoning invitation, 'Follow me.'
"As we follow in His steps today, as we emulate His example, we will have opportunities to bless the lives of others."
President Monson said opportunities "to give of ourselves are, indeed, limitless, but they are also perishable. There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There are souls to be saved.
"Is there someone for whom you should provide service this Christmas? Is there one who awaits your visit?"
President Monson said years ago he paid a Christmas call at the home of an elderly widow. While he was there, the doorbell rang. "There stood a very busy and prominent physician. He had not been summoned; rather, he had just felt a prompting to pay a visit to a patient who was lonely."
During this season, the hearts of those confined reach out and yearn for a Christmas visit, he continued. One Christmas, President Monson visited a care center and sat and talked with five elderly ladies. They had a wonderful time together.
"One patient, a little woman with a hump back, looked longingly out the window and repeated over and over again, 'I know my boy will come to see me today.' I wondered if he would, for there had been other Christmas seasons when he had never even called."
President Monson said there is yet time this year to extend "the helping hand, the loving heart and the willing spirit — in other words, to follow the example set by our Savior and to serve as He would have us serve. As we do serve Him, we will not forfeit our opportunity — as did the innkeeper of old — to make time for Him in our lives and room for Him in our hearts."