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This week on social: 'The greatest of all gifts,' how to better attend the temple and looking ahead to 2019

During the week of Christmas, the First Presidency and many Church leaders bore testimonies of Jesus Christ. Leaders also looked forward to the new year in their posts, anticipating 2019 with hope, happiness and optimism.

On Dec. 23, President Russell M. Nelson testified of the reality of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world in an Instagram post. He also taught that it is possible to become more like the Savior by making and keeping sacred covenants.

“What is the key to loving as He loves, forgiving as He forgives, repenting to become more like Him, and ultimately living with Him and our Heavenly Father?” he asked. “The key is to make and keep sacred covenants. We choose to live on the Lord’s covenant path and to stay there. It is not complicated. It is the way to true joy in this life and eternal life beyond.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland shared a personal experience in an Instagram post on Dec. 23. Exactly 42 years prior, his father had two heart attacks. Unable to get to his father until Christmas Eve, Elder Holland shared how while at the hospital, he was in “sorrow and self-pity” until heaven sent him a “small, personal, prepackaged revelation” — the cry of a baby. The sound of that infant reminded Elder Holland of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the gift of eternal life.

“God could not have sent a more penetrating wake-up call,” he said. “It came to me in a profound way that in this life, no one can have real love without dealing with real loss, and we certainly can’t rejoice over one’s birth and the joy of living unless we are prepared to understand and accept difficulty, trouble, and death. These are God’s gifts to us.”

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I will never forget December 23, 1976. It was the day my father had two heart attacks—during and after his back surgery that day. By the time we finally got to see him, wired and tubed and gray and unconscious, it was mid-afternoon on December 24, Christmas Eve. “Magnificent timing,” I muttered to no one in particular. . At 3:00 a.m. in a very quiet hospital, immersed as I was in some sorrow and self-pity, heaven sent me a small, personal, prepackaged revelation—a tiny Christmas declaration. In the midst of my mumbling about the very poor calendaring in all of this, I heard the clear, unbroken cry of a baby. To this day, I do not know just where that baby was or how I heard it. I like to think it was a brand-new baby taking that first breath and announcing that he or she had arrived in the world. . God could not have sent a more penetrating wake-up call. It came to me in a profound way that in this life, no one can have real love without dealing with real loss, and we certainly can’t rejoice over one’s birth and the joy of living unless we are prepared to understand and accept difficulty, trouble, and death. These are God’s gifts to us. . With new eyes then, that morning, I went back to look at my dad, the great gift-giver who was starting to make his way out of the world on Christmas Day. He was doing so on the wings of the greatest gift ever given—the Atonement and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because of the birth at Bethlehem and what it led to, there is rising after falling. There is life eternal.

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Sharing the #LightTheWorld video on her Facebook account on Dec. 23, Sister Lisa L. Harkness, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, bore her testimony of Jesus Christ. Her post also looked forward to the new year.

“May we all be strengthened to meet the new year with more hope and charity, more happiness and love, and more faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” she said. “How do you plan to share the light of your personal faith in our Savior Jesus Christ?”

President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, bore his testimony in an Instagram post on Christmas Eve about the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Calling it “the greatest of all gifts,” President Eyring said that all people can also give Christ a gift as others did of old by doing the necessary things that will bring them home to Him.

“You can’t give that gift to Him in one day, or one Christmas, but you could show Him today that you are on the way,” he said. “You could pray. You could read a page of scripture. You could keep a commandment.”

On Christmas Eve, President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, bore a simple yet profound testimony of Jesus Christ.

In a tweet on Christmas Day, President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, proclaimed that the Christmas season is first and foremost a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Sister Cristina B. Franco also shared the #LightTheWorld on her Facebook page on Dec. 26, focusing on President Nelson’s challenge to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year. The challenge has been a blessing, she said, as it has been an opportunity to prepare to be a more home-centered Church in 2019.

“In January, when we begin to study from the New Testament, aided by ‘Come Follow Me — For Individuals and Families,’ we will be ready to do so!” she exclaimed. “I know that immersing ourselves in daily study of the Book of Mormon is one way that we can Light Our Faith!”

When attending the temple, Elder D. Todd Christofferson encouraged others to be “a better, holier you,” and to become more and more like Christ.

“Look at what in your life is unworthy that can be eliminated,” he said. “Consider your Christlike attributes that can be expanded and improved. Use the time between now and the next time you go to the temple so that when you walk through that door that says, ‘Holiness to the Lord,’ you are a holier person than you are today.

Sister Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president, shared a video of her 2-year-old grandson singing “I Am a Child of God” on Facebook. She also testified of the value of teaching children the gospel in the home.

“How are you teaching the gospel to your children?” she asked. “What ideas do you have to make gospel learning in the home a joyful experience for your family?”

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