Sparkling Christmas trees and lights adorned the Conference Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the annual First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional on Sunday evening — ushering in the sacred season with holiday music and messages.
“Christmas is a time to remember that we are all children of a Father in Heaven, who gave his Only Begotten Son that all would be redeemed from death, and who has offered the blessings of salvation and exaltation to all mankind on the same conditions,” said President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, at the conclusion of the devotional.
During his remarks, President Oaks revisited the announcement of the Savior’s birth to three different groups — “the very humble, the very holy and the very wise” — and testified of the His command to love and serve God and one another.
“Christmas is a time to eliminate arrogance and provocation, to subdue criticism, to practice patience, and to de-emphasize differences among people,” he declared.
Other speakers during the devotional were Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder José A. Teixeira of the Presidency of the Seventy and Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon.
Summaries of their messages are listed below:
- President Dallin H. Oaks: Christmas is a time to “de-emphasize differences”
- Elder Neil L. Andersen: “For the Righteous, Christmas Means All Will Be Well”
- Elder José A. Teixeira: “Christmas’s Greatest Gift”
- President Bonnie H. Cordon: “Let Earth Receive Her King”
President Russell M. Nelson presided at the devotional, which was conducted by President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency. Elder Ricardo P. Giménez , General Authority Seventy, offered the opening prayer. The closing prayer was given by Elder Michael John U. Teh, General Authority Seventy.
The devotional was broadcast live from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City with an audience of about 9,800 people. For the first time since 2019, the annual devotional was open to the public. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 devotional was held in a smaller venue, the Conference Center Theater, and closed to the public. The 2021 devotional had a limited audience of 4,000 family members and invited guests.
Musical selections performed live by The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square included “Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful,” “O Come, Little Children,” “Christmas Bells Are Ringing” and “The First Noel.” The choir and congregation sang together the closing hymn “Silent Night.”
Natalia Lopez, a BYU-Idaho student from Colombia, drove with her roommates from Rexburg for the devotional. She felt peace as she listened to the beautiful Christmas music and messages. “It was an opportunity to remember what Christmas really is about,” she said.
Video and audio recordings of the devotional will be archived for on-demand viewing on Gospel Library and Gospel Media. Video and audio recordings in most languages — as well as text in English, Spanish and Portuguese — will be available in about a week.