Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Howard W. Hunter on true Christmas giving

President Howard W. Hunter (1907-1995) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1959.  He served as Church President for only nine months, from June 5, 1994 to his death on March 3, 1995.
"Never did the Savior give in expectation of receiving. He gave freely and lovingly, and his gifts were of inestimable value. He gave eyes to the blind, ears to the deaf, and legs to the lame; cleanliness to the unclean, wholeness to the infirm, and breath to the lifeless. His gifts were opportunity to the downtrodden, freedom to the oppressed, forgiveness to the repentant, hope to the despairing, and light in the darkness. He gave us his love, his service, his life. And most important, he gave us and all mortals resurrection, salvation, and eternal life....
"This Christmas, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again.
"Christmas is a celebration, and there is no celebration that compares with the realization of its true meaning—with the sudden stirring of the heart that has extended itself unselfishly in the things that matter most (see McCalls Magazine, Dec. 1959, pp. 82-83).
"A life filled with unselfish service will also be filled with peace that surpasses understanding. This peace can come only through living the principles of the gospel. These principles constitute the program of the Prince of Peace, who is also the Prince of Glory and the Prince of Eternal Progress."
- Howard W. Hunter, First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 4, 1994; see Ensign Feb. 1995, p. 77
Click here to read a report of the talk

I've always loved this excerpt from gentle President Hunter. It provides some of the most memorable and powerful thoughts of Christmas that can bless and change lives. First, he ponders about the example of the Savior in giving gifts—the One who never gave "in expectation of receiving" but instead devoted his life to serving and teaching.

The, President Hunter shares one of the truly precious lists of suggestions to help us achieve that same spirit of Christmas love and giving. Surely there is something in this summary that each of us could choose that would make the holiday more blessed for us and for those around us:

And finally, this beautiful promise: "A life filled with unselfish service will also be filled with peace that surpasses understanding." What a treasure that would be!

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