How the tradition of Nativities remind that Christ is ‘the greatest of all gifts,’ Elder Teixeira explains

‘When we keep the spirit of Christmas, we keep the Spirit of Christ,’ Elder Teixeira says

One favorite Christmas tradition of Elder José A. Teixeira and his family each year while living in their home country of Portugal, was setting up an elaborate Nativity scene.

Like many in Portugal, they kept a wooden box with all the tiny figurines that were used to build the Nativity scene, as well as a miniature village. New figurines or elements were added to the collection each year, including villagers, farmers, houses, animals, wind and water mills, hills, rivers, valleys, trees and fields. 

At the center they placed the most important figurines, such as the star, shepherds, wise men, animals and manger with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. 

The large Nativity scene was created and assembled over several days, sometimes weeks, but it helped the family to remember the important events described in Luke Chapter 2 and made celebrating Christmas more meaningful, said Elder Teixeira, a member of the Presidency of the Seventy. 

“But finally, Christmas day arrived, and the baby Jesus figurine was placed in the manger, and the conversation then turned to the significance of Jesus Christ in our lives and what He did for us, and of Him being the greatest gift of all gifts,” he said. “What an extraordinary gift, what a sublime gift. The Christmas season is a time to reflect and act upon the blessings and opportunities we have because of the birth, life, Atonement and Resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Elder Teixeira shared his Nativity experience and Christ-centered message as one of the speakers at the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional Sunday, Dec. 4.

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Celebrations of Christmas

Elder Teixeira quoted poetry by Anne P. L. Field, which he felt captured the spirit of celebration around Christmas.

O Child of Mary’s tender care!
O little Child so pure and fair!
Cradled within the manger hay
On that divine first Christmas day!
The hopes of every age and race
Are centered in Thy radiant face!
O Child whose glory fills the earth!
O little Child of lowly birth!
The shepherds, guided from afar,
Stood worshipping beneath the star,
And wise-men fell on bended knee
And homage offered unto Thee!
O little Child, our Infant King!
What balm of every sorrow lies
Within those clear, illuminated eyes!
O precious gift to mortals given
To win us heritage in Heaven!

Focusing on the Savior during the Christmas season can bring a wealth of blessings, such as finding peace and hope, divine guidance, greater perspective and purpose, gratitude, comfort when feeling alone and more. 

As Church members count their blessings, they can turn outward to help and lift the burdens of others.

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

“Christ can transform our Christmas beyond the ribbons of kindness and affection, and wrap our celebrations with charity,” he said. “Re-centering our focus on Christ during Christmas will provide us a more significant measure of His love in our lives, and a greater capacity to love and serve others around us.”

Share love, service

The general authority from Portugal urged Latter-day Saints to carry the love of Christ in their lives throughout the year.

“When we keep the spirit of Christmas, we keep the Spirit of Christ,” Elder Teixeira said. “May we, this season, focus on Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, and may we let our own light shine this season by sharing with others our love, our compassion and our service.” 

He closed with his witness of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.

“Because He came, there is meaning to our existence,” Elder Teixeira said. “Because He came there is hope. He is the Savior of the world and He is our greatest gift.”

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