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Latter-day Saint Worship: Keeping the Spirit of Christmas Throughout the Year

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.

 —Ebenezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol

For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), the Christmas season is a special time to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. Every year, Latter-day Saints gather with family and friends and recall the tender scene of “the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12). Like other Christians, Latter-day Saints recognize that without the Savior’s atoning sacrifice and His victorious Resurrection, His birth in Bethlehem would not mean all that it does today.

As former Church President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) put it, “There would be no Christmas if there had not been Easter. The babe Jesus of Bethlehem would be but another baby without the redeeming Christ of Gethsemane and Calvary, and the triumphant fact of the Resurrection." Thus, people around the globe implicitly honor Christ’s glorious life and sacrifice by remembering His birth.

Nativity Scene on Temple Square


In the New Testament of the Bible, the Lord instructed His disciples how they might remember Him not only during this season, but always:

“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it” (Matthew 26:26-27).

Luke records the Savior’s subsequent admonition: “This do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19; italics added).

Administering the broken bread and blessed water in remembrance of Jesus Christ is the central feature of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Sunday worship service. Indeed, while partaking of the Lord’s sacrament each Sabbath day, members of the nearly 30,000 Latter-day Saint congregations around the world reflect on the Savior’s love, and they promise to follow Him throughout the week. Inasmuch as Latter-day Saints sincerely remember the Savior through partaking of the sacrament, they carry with them a special spirit — a Christlike spirit associated with Christmas.

“What is the spirit we feel at Christmastime?” asked Church President Thomas S. Monson in a 2009 Christmas devotional. “It is His spirit — the spirit of Christ."

More recently, President Monson stated, “The spirit of Christmas is something I hope all of us would have within our hearts and within our lives, not only at this particular season, but throughout the years.”

President Monson has also taught that Latter-day Saints can have the spirit of Christmas with them long after the tree is taken down by choosing to serve others. Along with his two counselors in the First Presidency, President Monson wrote, “There is no better time than this very Christmas season for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus Christ. It is the time to love the Lord our God with all our heart and our neighbors as ourselves. This joyful season will bring to each of us a measure of happiness that corresponds to the degree in which we have turned our minds, feelings and actions to the spirit of Christmas. … Let [this] be a time of forgetting self and finding time for others. Let it be a time for discarding the meaningless and for stressing true values. Let it be a time of peace because we have found peace in His teachings. We testify of the living reality of our Lord and Savior, even Jesus Christ. He is indeed ‘the way, the truth, and the life’ (John 14:6).”

As Latter-day Saints focus on “the way, the truth, and the life” this Sunday on Christmas Day, their worship won’t be too different from their typical Sabbath service — members will partake of the Lord’s sacrament, study the scriptures, sing hymns, serve others, care for the poor and needy and spend time with their family and friends. In doing these things, Latter-day Saints believe they can honor Christ not only on Christmas Day but throughout the year.

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