Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered on Sunday evening, Dec. 8, at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City and in homes and meetinghouses around the world to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional.
Speakers included Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary general president; Elder Patrick Kearon of the Presidency of the Seventy; Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; and President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency.
Here are summaries of their messages:
- Sister Joy D. Jones: “The Gift that Never Stops Giving”
- Elder Patrick Kearon: “Bringing Christmas into Focus”
- Elder Ulisses Soares: “A Modern Angelic Host”
- President Dallin H. Oaks: “The Gospel of Peace”
Sister Jones opened the devotional by testifying that the Savior Jesus Christ is the “perfect gift — the gift that never stops giving.”
Elder Kearon encouraged Church members to prayerfully renew their focus on the Savior and seek to do His works during the Christmas season. “As this Christmas approaches, let us do more of what matters and much less of what doesn’t,” he said.
Elder Soares illustrated the importance of serving others in kind and quiet ways. “As we approach Christmas, I wonder if we could become more like the angelic host by visiting modern shepherds to provide the good news of Christ, peace and comfort,” he said.
“And I wonder if we can become more like the shepherds by responding to the call to visit and minister to the modern Josephs and Marys in our neighborhoods and communities to provide reassurance that God loves them and is watching and caring for them.”
President Oaks testified of the Savior as the Prince of Peace and declared that peace comes from keeping His commandments. “Peace is the Savior’s promise, and peace is our goal,” he said.
He emphasized various scriptures and teachings from Church leaders to expound upon the peace that comes from remembering life and lessons of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“What our Savior taught about peace in the life of a single person also applies to peace in a family, peace in a nation, and peace in the world,” President Oaks said.
Tammy Bills, 37, from North Ogden, Utah, said attending the First Presidency Christmas Devotional is her favorite way to celebrate Christmas. “This one, especially. I felt like it helped me to think about how I am spending my time, to refocus on Christ.
“I almost didn’t even make it here tonight because I was making myself so busy. That would have been so sad to miss out on something so special.”
Decio Grillo, 32, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, said the Conference Center was the best place he could have been at tonight. “There were beautiful words. It was more motivation for me to be a better person. Especially in the Christmas season.”
Music was performed by The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square. Among the musical selections were “Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful,” “For Unto Us A Child is Born,” “Christmas Bells are Ringing” and “Away in a Manger.” The congregation joined the choir for the closing hymn of “Silent Night, Holy Night.”
As a musician, Melinda Barnes, 30, from Ogden, Utah, said she enjoyed the arrangements performed by the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra. “The music really touched me a lot. The feeling just always permeates everything. It was really nice.”
“Away in a Manager” was her favorite song performed, she added. “Especially the last verse. That was just so powerful.”
President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the devotional. Brother Milton Camargo, second counselor in the Sunday School general presidency, offered the invocation. The benediction was given by Sister Michelle Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency.