Leaders of the Church are anticipating Christmas this season, encouraging Latter-day Saints to look outside themselves and to serve their fellow men. From the #LightTheWorld campaign to helping refugees in need, Church leaders have been posting on social media about the opportunities members have to share their testimonies of Christ this December and what they can look forward to in 2019.
At the beginning of President Russell M. Nelson’s address during the 2018 Christmas Devotional, the prophet shared a story about meeting 12-year-old Lydia Terry, who is suffering from a rare type of brain cancer. Later that night, a picture of President Nelson and Lydia was shared on social media. In the post, President Nelson said how Lydia’s deepest desire is to forever be with her family, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. He then asked the following questions followed by an invitation:
“What are your deepest desires?” he asked. “What do you really want to experience and accomplish in this life? Do you really want to become more and more like Jesus Christ? Do you really want to live with Heavenly Father and with your family forever and live as He lives?
“If you do, you will want to accept many gifts offered by the Lord to help you and me during our time of mortal probation. This Christmas season, let us focus on four of the gifts Jesus Christ gave to all who are willing to receive them.”
Elder Gary E. Stevenson also talked about his experience participating in the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotionalon Dec. 2. Inviting Latter-day Saints to measure the spiritual condition of their heart, he encouraged Church members to receive the Savior and to share their love for Christ this season.
“The Christmas season seems like an ideal time for each of us to thoughtfully evaluate the status of our own heart,” he said. “I invite each of us to choose to do something that expresses, in an outward way, our inward feelings about our Savior, as the gift we give Him this year.”
In a video posted on Facebook on Dec. 1, Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society general president, asked Latter-day Saints to help #LightTheWorld this Christmas season. The video highlighted the new giving machines placed around the world, which give people the opportunity to purchase items like clothing, eyeglasses, medicine, hygiene supplies, wheelchairs, sporting equipment and livestock for those in need.
“We have so many opportunities to follow Jesus Christ and light the world by the things that we do,” she said. “I’m planning on making my personal worship more meaningful by visiting the temple and enjoying the light there. There are so many ways that you and I can be a light. What do you want to do this season to light the world?”
Primary general president Sister Joy D. Jones talked about her favorite Christmas story by sharing a new animated Church video on Facebook. The video talks about Samuel the Lamanite from the Book of Mormon and how he prophesied of the Savior’s birth.
“I know hearts will be touched as this message is viewed by children, families, and individuals,” she said. “It will provide opportunities for fun and meaningful conversations about the birth of our Savior this Christmas season.”
This week, Elder David A. Bednar spoke during a devotional at Brigham Young University about enduring joy. In an Instagram post following the devotional, he also applied having joy to this coming Christmas.
“In this Christmas season, may each of us strive to appreciate more fully the supernal gift of joy,” he said. “When you sing ‘Joy to the World’ this Christmas season, may you begin to see with new eyes and hear with new ears as ‘Saints and angels sing,’ as we ‘repeat the sounding joy,’ and as we ‘ever worship God.”
Reflecting on a humanitarian trip several years ago, Sister Becky Craven, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency, talked about how we can lighten one another’s burdens around Christmas time.
“There are many types of burdens with which people are encumbered,” she said. “Is there something we can do to help? I hope we can all join together this Christmas season to Light the World with the Savior's love by finding opportunities to lighten the loads of others.”
Elder Cook paid tribute to his wife in an Instagram post shared on Dec. 6. In the post, Elder Quentin L. Cook commented on a picture of Sister Cook from their recent trip to Europe and expressed his love for her and the way that she connects with Church members. He also spoke of his appreciation for women in the Church around the world.
“To you sisters around the globe, I wish to say that we love and admire you,” he said. “Thank you for your service.”
Sister Reyna I. Aburto, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, wrote on Facebook about the refugee crisis in South America. People in Venezuela have been forced to leave their country due to a lack of food and opportunities, Sister Aburto said. But Latter-day Saints in Brazil have been reaching out to help and have brought refugees into their homes.
“The Brazilian members are great examples of what it looks like to follow the Savior and help one another,” she said.
Sister Lisa L. Harkness, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, is looking forward to the new home-centered Church curriculum. She also gave details as to what Church members can expect for their Church schedule this upcoming year.
“This will be a great opportunity to learn the gospel at home, supported on Sundays by what is taught in Primary Singing Time and in the classroom,” she said.
Recently, Elder D. Todd Christofferson was able to visit with young adult Church members in Puerto Rico. In the post, Elder Christofferson said that he is impressed with how “vibrant” young adult Latter-day Saints are around the world and that their role in the Church is increasingly more important.
“To all of you young adults — married or single — I hope that you know that you can make a real contribution,” he said. “You don’t have to wait until you are older to make a difference in the Lord’s cause. You add a real vibrancy to the Church. You make things better for older and younger members.”