President Cordon invites all to learn from the first receivers of the infant Savior

‘Jesus Christ was and is our first and forever gift of Christmas,’ President Cordon testifies during First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional

When Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon’s father, Harold Hillam, was 9 years old, he received the miraculous gift of a train set for Christmas. 

It was 1943 and the world was engulfed in World War II. All were worried about loved ones on distant shores and money and food shortages at home. “It seemed impossible for such a marvelous gift to be a reality,” related President Cordon during the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional on Sunday, Dec. 4. “Oh, how Harold treasured that train.”

As the world emerged from the war a few years later, economic conditions had not improved. A few days before Christmas, Harold’s father asked him if he would be willing to give his train to his little brother Arnold so that he could have a gift that year. 

For Harold, “this was the request of all requests” but as Christmas morning arrived, Arnold squealed in delight when he received a train just like his older brother’s, President Cordon said.

“Eventually Arnold realized his cherished gift was not ‘just like’ Harold’s train — it was Harold’s train. When Arnold understood the significance behind the gift, that train became priceless.”

This family story is a gift to her, President Cordon said, because it reminds her of the sacrifice and love of the Beloved Son of God.

“Jesus Christ was and is our first and forever gift of Christmas. I testify of this truth: He was born, He lived, and He died for us, and He lives ― still,” President Cordon testified.

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But how do individuals receive such an exquisite gift? “Let’s step away from frosted window panes and painted candy canes, and let us learn tonight, together, from the humble roles and sandaled soles of the first receivers of the infant Savior,” she said.

Receive His Holiness

President Cordon told listeners they could not truly know what Mary and Joseph felt in searching their way through the bustle of Bethlehem to find that all the inns were full. “But I have always imagined them moving forward with quiet strength and trust.”

What must have felt like a stark setting would not remain that way. “The Lord would soon fill the hollowness with holiness,” she said.

Christmas lights shine around the Conference Center in Salt Lake City
Christmas lights shine around the Conference Center in Salt Lake City following the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Reading Luke 2:7 — “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” — President Cordon asked, “Can we prepare room in our hearts to receive Christ and allow His holiness to fill our hollow places?”

Guidance or miracles will probably not be found in the hustle and bustle, “but in the quiet places where we live and work, where we go for help. Wherever our humble needs arise, we can and will receive answers to our whispered prayers,” she said.

Receive His invitation

In Luke 2:10–11, an angel appears to the shepherds and proclaims, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy. … For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

President Cordon noted that the shepherds then hasten to meet their King. “Many times, our still, small impressions from the Lord may not be received because they did not fit cleanly into our calendars, our plans or our timing. The Christmas story reminds us to be like these devoted shepherds who did not delay doing what was needed to come to Him and receive their King.”

After receiving Him, the shepherds then share Him, President Cordon observed. “They made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child” (Luke 2:17). 

Receive with faith

The wise men were the great seekers of Jesus Christ, whose journey was ongoing, President Cordon said. They had to seek, ask, wait and go and do so again before they saw the child with Mary, His mother, and offer gifts.

“I have often pondered, in our receiving of Christ, do we diligently seek Him and then allow Him to lead our journey to places and people unknown to us? How can we express our gratitude through the gifts and worship we offer?” President Cordon asked.

Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon speaks at the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

In the grand story of Christmas, “blessed are the receivers. As beloved as the gift of my father’s train, and the tender gifts of time and treasures made by families everywhere, those gifts pale in comparison to receiving the true gift of Christmas — that of Jesus Christ.”

How glorious to imagine the day when all will proclaim, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come; Let earth [and each and every one of us] receive her King,” President Cordon declared.

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