Elder W. Mark Bassett invites all to ‘be publishers of peace’ this Christmas season and always

One favorite tradition of Elder W. Mark Bassett’s family is to reenact the Nativity story by reading and portraying the account of the Savior’s birth in the scriptures, accompanied by Christmas hymns.

Many of these live performances have been inspiring and spiritual, the General Authority Seventy said, but not always.

Toddler sheep erupting into a chorus of crying babies, shepherds’ staffs becoming lightsabers, dinosaur and dolphin costumes instead of wisemen or angels — “I must admit that as Christmas rolls around, I often wonder if maybe we should try a Christmas tradition that actually invites peace?” Elder Bassett remarked.

Speaking during the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional on Sunday, Dec. 5, Elder Bassett underscored the reason his family insists on keeping a tradition that sometimes turns to chaos: “We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ … that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26). 

In today’s state of earthly commotion, it seems that peace is becoming more difficult to find, he said. 

President Russell M. Nelson has declared, “The gospel of Jesus Christ is exactly what is needed in this confused, contentious and weary world. Each of God’s children deserves the opportunity to hear and accept the healing, redeeming message of Jesus Christ. No other message is more vital to our happiness — now and forever.”

Members of the First Presidency listen to the music while sitting during the Christmas devotional at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021.
Members of the First Presidency listen to the music while sitting during the Christmas devotional at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021. Credit: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

“The message of the Restoration is the message of Christmas,” Elder Bassett said. “The light of the star that guided shepherds to the babe in the manger parallels the pillar of light that descended upon Joseph — both preceding glad tidings of great joy announcing Christ to the world.” 

One of the most cherished titles of the Savior is “Prince of Peace,” he continued, quoting Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “His kingdom will be established including peace and love.”

Read more talk summaries from the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional

Elder Bassett encouraged listeners to consider the words of the angels in Luke 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Perhaps this was a declaration that “on the earth is now peace,” as the Savior would be born that evening in a humble stall, he said. 

Isaiah prophesied of the latter days as he wrote, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him [or them] that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace” (Isaiah 52:7).

The Savior declared to His disciples in Galilee and the land Bountiful: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9, 3 Nephi 12:9). 

“You and I are the covenant children of Jesus Christ, each His children …,” Elder Bassett said, referencing King Benjamin’s teaching in Mosiah 5:7. “Therefore, we — the children of God — are to be the peacemakers. This is our covenant duty. 

“You and I make a difference in today’s troubled world as we strive to be peacemakers — in our homes, our congregations, our communities, even across the world, by our kindness, by our good works and by our words — face-to-face as well as virtually. Let us faithfully ‘publish peace’ as we testify of Him, in word and deed.”

“The message of the Restoration is the message of Christmas.”

Following the example of the shepherds who went “with haste” following the angel’s visit, “likewise, ‘let us now go’ and ‘make known abroad’ the message of peace ‘concerning this child,’” Elder Bassett said, quoting Luke 2:15-17

“This is the message we declare as we love, share and invite those around us to partake of the hope and peace found in the good news of Jesus Christ.”

Elder Bassett concluded: “Despite the challenges, in the face of opposition, and amidst the commotion, let us persevere in publishing peace, this season and always, as we prepare ourselves and all around us for the great return of the Prince of Peace, even the Lord, Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. …

“May we be publishers of peace as we celebrate the birth, life and mission of our Savior this Christmas season and always.”