-- Archives of the 2013 Christmas Devotional are now available HERE. Previous Christmas Devotionals are accessible through this portal. The whole thing has now been uploaded to YouTube:
What is unchanged is the focus upon Jesus Christ. President Thomas S. Monson led off by talking about "The Real Joy In Christmas". President Monson urged people not become so caught up in the pressures of the season that we place our emphasis on the wrong things and miss the simple joys of commemorating the birth of the Holy One of Bethlehem. The money shot:
"Our celebration of Christmas should be a reflection of the love and selflessness taught by the Savior. Giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit. We feel more kindly one to another. We reach out in love to help those less fortunate. Our hearts are softened. Enemies are forgiven, friends remembered, and God obeyed. The spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than in things. To catch the real meaning of the spirit of Christmas, we need only drop the last syllable, and it becomes the Spirit of Christ".
President Monson really hits the nail on the head here. Why are we constantly buying more "things" for people who already have "things"? Does the husband really need another tie? Does the wife really need another brooch? Does the son really need another video game? Does the daughter really need another doll? How about giving a gift to our Savior this season by doubling the normal fast offering or putting a 10-spot in the Salvation Army kettle or buying a bag of groceries for the local food bank? Jesus told us that whosoever did things unto the least of these our brethren are doing it unto Him.
After a musical interlude, President Monson was followed by Sister Rosemary Wixom, President of the Primary. She addressed the importance of children during the holiday season, noting that children invite the magic of Christmas through their innocence and inquisitiveness. Sister Wixom said “We miss something if we don’t see Christmas through a child’s eyes, for children see the light, they hear the music and they smell the fragrance of Christmas trees and candy canes with real anticipation.”
After another musical interlude, Sister Wixom was followed by Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Presidency of the Seventy. Elder Rasband effectively followed up on the theme set by President Monson by asking how we would worship the Lord during this Christmas season. Would we get bogged down in endlessly shopping and hustling about and adorning our homes, or will we bring peace to troubled hearts, good will to those in need of higher purpose, and glory to the Father in our willingness to do His bidding? After citing a few stories, Elder Rasband concluded his talk by fervently bearing a ringing testimony: “I bear my witness that our Eternal Father lives. His plan of happiness profoundly blesses the lives of each of His children in all generations. I know that His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, the babe born in Bethlehem, is the Savior and Redeemer of the world and that dear President Thomas S. Monson is His Prophet on the earth today. These words of praise speak truth in my ears, ‘Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will to men.’”
And finally, after another musical interlude, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve concluded the devotional by attesting to Jesus Christ's role as the Prince of Peace. He noted that as personal challenges come and often bring worry, individuals yearn for inner peace, and proclaimed that Jesus Christ is the only source of true and lasting peace. Elder Nelson testified that Jesus taught us how to care about others more than we care about ourselves, and also taught us about mercy and kindness — making real changes in our lives through His power. He taught us how to find peace of heart and mind. Elder Nelson promised that as we follow Jesus Christ, He will lead us to live with Him and our Heavenly Father, accompanied by our families