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President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: 'Can We See the Christ in Christmas?'

Let this December be "a season of seeking the Lamb of God, the King of Glory, the Everlasting Light of the World, the Great Hope of Mankind, the Savior and Redeemer of our Souls," said President Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

"I promise that if we unclutter our lives a little bit and in sincerity and humility seek the pure and gentle Christ with our hearts, we will see Him, we will find Him — on Christmas and throughout the year."

Speaking during the First Presidency Christmas Devotional Dec. 6, President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, recalled a time at the end of World War II when his family lived in Zwickau, East Germany. There they found and joined the Church and attended meetings in a little villa that had been converted into a meetinghouse.

"One of the most striking things about our chapel was its beautiful stained-glass window depicting the Savior and the visit of our Heavenly Father and His Son to the Prophet Joseph Smith. As a young boy, I often looked up at this window and felt a special spirit. How I loved our quaint meetinghouse."

Years later, however, President Uchtdorf grieved when he learned the much-loved chapel had been demolished to make room for a high-rise apartment building.

"I would think that those who made the decision to take down the building had good intentions and did not know what this villa meant to our small flock. To them it probably looked like just another building. Had they been able to see it as a house of worship, a place of rejoicing and friendship, a sacred chapel — had they only seen the place the way I did as a young child, they might have made a different decision."

Not being able to see the sacred either with the eyes or with the heart has been a fault of the human condition since the beginning, President Uchtdorf explained. "Sometimes the most precious and sacred things are right in front of us, in plain sight, but we cannot or will not see them."

This may be especially true during the season of Christmas, he added.

"All of these spectacular displays and decorations that compete for our attention can be beautiful and uplifting, but if that's all we see, then we're missing something that's in plain sight. Sometimes, despite our best intentions, we become so preoccupied with responsibilities, commitments, and the stress of our many tasks that we fail to see with our hearts, that which is essential and most sacred."

Even many who lived during the time of the Savior's mortal ministry could not see Him, though He walked among them in plain sight, President Uchtdorf said.

Jesus Christ was born in a stable surrounded by lowly animals. He did not go through the pattern of worldly education. "The sophisticated and the proud, those who placed their trust in worldly learning, could not see Him."

Jesus the Christ was not wealthy, nor did He hold a political office. "The wealthy and the influential, those who were caught up in their busy affairs of commerce and government, could not see Him."

The Scribes and Pharisees were so steeped in their own traditions and so blinded by their own narrow interpretation of scriptures that they could not see Jesus, the humble man who walked among them. "The self-righteous and unteachable, those whose hearts were closed to the Spirit, could not see Him."

So who saw Him? President Uchtdorf asked, and then answered: "Humble fishermen and laborers saw Him. The ailing, the humble and the distraught saw Him and recognized Him as the Salvation of Israel. But there were those among the rich and powerful who were teachable and therefore could see the Christ."

Further, President Uchtdorf said, "when we read about people who could not see the Savior for who He was, we marvel at their blindness. But, "do we also let distractions obstruct our view of the Savior – during this Christmas season and throughout the year? Some are external distractions ?— the gifts we worry about, the decorations, or the clamorous advertising ?— but often it is what is inside us that blinds us from seeing the Christ.

"Some may feel a certain level of intellectual aloofness that distances them from Christ.... Some are so caught up in the details of running their lives that they don't make time for much else.... Some, like the Pharisees, seek for the Christ, but their hearts are so set upon their own theories, spiritual hobbies and opinions that they fail to recognize Him....

"This is a season of rejoicing. A season of celebration. A wonderful time when we acknowledge that our Almighty God sent His Only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem the world, to redeem us."

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