Church Christmas Devotional tells holiday stories

Written by: 
Alyssa Olsen

More than 100 BYU-Hawaii students gathered in the HGB chapels and at various ward functions to view the first presidency Christmas Devotional and welcome in the Christmas season.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the devotional. He said one of the best parts about the Christmas season is its music, especially that performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square. BYUH students concurred, noting the music was powerful in inviting the spirit.

Camille Rust, a freshman from Utah studying marine biology, said, “I really liked the choir. The music was just amazing! It really brought the Christmas spirit, and got me a lot more excited for Christmas. ‘Carol of the Bells’ was one of my favorites.” She said she was sad it was the shortest, but it made the biggest impact.

Another student, Dillon Silva a freshman from Utah studying biology, said, “I really like how President Uchtdorf shared about the history of the Christmas carol 'Carol of The Bells' and how it was originally titled ‘The Generous One.’” President Uchtdorf talked about the Christmas spirit and how he feels it powerfully while listening to and singing Christmas songs.

Regarding the ‘Carol of The Bells,’ President Uchtdorf said, “I love its message of hope and optimism. Isn’t that the message of Christmas?”

Silva shared his love for talks that relate gift-giving to Heavenly Father’s generosity. “He always is blessing us and with Thanksgiving and Christmas in the holiday season, we all have the opportunity to be grateful for the wonderful blessings that The Generous One so lovingly gives us. I like to reflect on that and think of how I can return the favor or give back to Heavenly Father. I feel loved and closer to him at this time of year,” he said.

Uchtdorf also told a story of an African man who had never been able to walk due to a disability. The man received a wheelchair from the church, and was overcome with gratitude at that profound change in his life. Perry Christensen, a religion professor at BYUH said of the story, “The church has given wheelchairs throughout the world. I always hear that they do, but I’ve never heard anything else about it.” Hearing the story from Uchtdorf, Christensen explained, “has really made it real for me, as to what the church does that blesses so many lives.”

Toward the beginning of the program, Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the presidency of the Seventy remarked on “The Christmas Carol,” written by the English author Charles Dickens. He said that in order for us to capture the magic of this sacred time of year, we must see it through a child’s eyes.

Clayton quoted Dickens and said, “‘It is good to be children sometimes and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty founder was a child Himself.”

Clayton said Christmas brings together families friends and communities through celebrating Christ and his birth. He said, “The sweetest gift given at Christmas will always be the one our Savior himself gave us: His perfect peace.” He said, “Because of the Savior born 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem, there is hope and so much more.”

The meeting included a talk by Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president, who told a story about the difficulty faced by her family and and herself when her father passed away during the Christmas season. Burton testified of Christ and the plan of salvation that helped her family through their seemingly trial-filled Christmas season when she said, "When times are difficult, we can make the choice to turn away from Him and struggle through our afflictions alone, or we can make the choice to turn to Him and the Father’s plan."

She concluded and continued the theme of incorporating the music of the season by saying that her prayer is "For each of us is to accept the invitation of the sacred Christmas hymn to 'come, let us adore him' and our Heavenly Father for His glorious and perfect plan!"

Uploaded Dec. 17, 2015