If you were here summer devotional, you remember that a part of my message had to do with the stars. I’m going to continue that message a little bit. My hope, with all of my heart, is that when you walk outside tonight, and every other night when you see stars, you will think about them a little differently.
This Christmas season, we remember a particular star that was put in the night sky at that special time, a long time ago, to signify the birth of our Savior. That star was a manifestation of God’s love. That star gave light to an otherwise darkened world. That star served as something of a compass that would guide those who would follow nearer to God.
That’s a message of the stars when we look at them. But there are more messages to that star and to the stars in the heavens that I want to share with you. I should say this—in case you’re on Jeopardy and you get this question, give me half of your award winnings, right? The sun is the nearest star to the earth, 93 million miles away. The light that we see from the sun takes approximately eight minutes to arrive from the sun to the earth. That’s a good Jeopardy question. But it gets better!
After the sun, the next nearest star is actually a triple-star system called Alpha Centauri, and it’s approximately just over four light-years away. A light-year is about 5.3 trillion miles away. But I want to help you understand what that means. The closest star that you will see in the night sky, the light is over four years old that you are seeing. Most of the stars in the night sky are actually hundreds and even thousands of light-years away.
That star that Father put in the heavens on that special night long ago was put in the heavens much, much longer ago and is a testimony to me of one of the ways a loving Heavenly Father works. Allow me to explain. This sweet Devi that we just heard from was in the office of one of my staff members a few weeks ago on a totally unrelated issue. That staff member, Brother David Brooksby—like many other people who work at the College—prayed that morning to be sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit and to have strength to act on them.
Over the course of his meeting with Devi, he had the impression: this girl needs to be at the luncheon with Sister Oaks. You recall that she came a few weeks ago, and on occasion we have the opportunity to have special meetings like that with some of our guests. That was an unusual thing. There is a pretty thorough process on how those students are vetted, but he had the impression at the moment that Devi needed to be there. Not only that, but he had the impression to share it with her in the moment, which is not usual. He did. And he found out—she mentioned that she served on Temple Square—she had an experience with Elder Oaks on Temple Square that was impressionable to her. And she was moved by the opportunity to have lunch with the Oaks a few weeks ago.
But it gets better. Now, listen carefully to the message of the Christmas star. A few days before Sister Oaks spoke here, she called Brother Brooksby and said, “I have a friend who runs an orphanage in Nepal. One of your students was in that orphanage, and I would like to invite her to come to the lunch so I can meet her. Is there any way that you could please invite her to come to lunch?”
The seats had already been filled, but Devi was that student from the orphanage that Sister Oaks requested to call. One of the messages of the Christmas star is that God is already working to answer prayers long before you ever prayed for them. Just like He put that star in the heavens long before we ever saw its light.
My first invitation to you this Christmas season is to open your eyes to the stars, to the messages of love, to the light in an otherwise darkened world, to that guiding compass, if you will follow it, that God has placed in your life. And give particular heed and attention to those blessings that He has put there long before you ever prayed for them, for He knew you would need them. As you do so, I suppose your heart will fill with gratitude, perhaps in even more ways, this Christmas season.
There is more to my invitation and more to this message of the stars that I will conclude with now. The Church’s message this Christmas is “Light the World.” And that is, of course, our message to you—to light the world. But that comes in two parts. I think that this invitation to light the world really is an invitation to give heed to the two great commandments.
Let me show you. The first one goes like this: if you really, really want to light the world, and you even heard some of our devotional speakers talking about this—well, last week you heard Sister Gochnour, right? She talked about the two scriptures the Church is using. One is that He is the light of the world, and the second one is that “Ye are the light of the world.” Right? Let’s focus on that.
If you want to light the world, may I invite you to live so that He might light your world. Live so that He might light your world. You already know what you need to do. But this is a season that gets really busy, and it’s really easy to forget the focus and to forget what it is we need to do to live so that He can light our world. It’s really easy to get hunkered down and focused on our finals. It’s really easy to focus on our travel plans, to focus on the socials, and the parties, and on the shopping, and on things that matter less. My invitation to you is to live so that He can light your world. Do those things that you need to do to get His light in greater abundance in your life so that you may in turn light the world.
And so it is that the invitation is to Light the World in 25 ways in 25 days. Right? But I want you to use the message of the Christmas star to help you in your efforts to light the world. What if—what if you, like Brother Brooksby and all else who work here at the College, start your day with a prayer that you can be sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit so that you don’t just do some random service project for 25 days, but you pray to know who you can specifically help and serve.
What if you look for specific ways that you can share God’s love in the lives of those around you, that you can shine a light on an otherwise darkened world, that you can be a type of compass that others might follow as they seek to draw nearer to God? I think as you serve in these ways, your service will become more meaningful. And it is my testimony that as you learn to serve in these ways and light the world in these ways, that you—like the Christmas star—will find not only that you are an answer to others’ prayers, but that God was using you to answer others’ prayers long before they ever prayed them.
May God bless you this Christmas season and always to light the world as you remember Him who is the Light of the World. I testify to you that not only is He the Light of the World, He is my light. And I pray with all of my heart that He will be yours this Christmas season and always. May the stars in the heavens always remind you of this invitation, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
President J. Lawrence Richards:
I think, despite what Adrian said, they sounded pretty good. Don’t you think?
Now, I’m going to embarrass Adrian, but we’re going to do it in a way that doesn’t distract from the Spirit. Adrian, come here. Adrian doesn’t like his picture taken. I’m going to invite you to pull out your cell phones. Pull out your cell phones, and I’m going to step away from the pulpit, and I want you to take his picture. I have no idea why we’re going to do that, but it will come to me. So, I’m going to step away, and you take his picture. And, Adrian, you just man up, okay?
Thank you. You’re a good sport. Brothers and sisters, I think life is about doing uncomfortable things. We were sent here on a great mission, and we knew that there would be some uncomfortable things, much like standing in front of a group and having your picture taken when you don’t like it. But I also know that this loving Father in Heaven has done some things to make the uncomfortable things of life not only bearable, but teaching moments.
So, what did Adrian just learn in the past 30 seconds? There were no darts that came out of your cameras. There was no heart attack that he had. He’s not going to have to lay down on the floor and put his legs up because he feels faint. Thank you for helping Adrian do something that is uncomfortable.
What does that have to do with anything? I don’t know yet, but it’s coming. And it will show up. Let’s start here: though we have been sent to this earth by a loving Father in Heaven to learn to become like Him and to set aside the natural man, that leads to moments of being uncomfortable. You have come to LDS Business College. Part of our job is to make you intellectually feel uncomfortable. How are we doing? All in favor that we’re making you uncomfortable, manifest by the uplifted hand. [Audience members raise their hands.] Any opposed? [Audience members raise their hands.] You’re not working hard enough if you oppose that, are you?
So, you have come to the College to learn to do some uncomfortable things—to grow, and to stretch, and to become what Father in Heaven would have you become. And in that process, Father in Heaven has blessed you and blessed me with people—stars put into human orbits to circulate around you in such a way that they come in contact with you at certain times and in certain places, even in Nepal, for the purpose of helping you accomplish exactly what Father in Heaven has asked you to accomplish in your life. And is some of it uncomfortable? Yes, because we are here to put away the natural man. And the natural man doesn’t want to get up early and read scriptures. The natural man is too prideful to kneel, sometimes, in front of Father in Heaven, because.
But as we set aside the natural man and open ourselves up to those who have been put into human orbits to lift us, to strengthen us, to help us through uncomfortable moments, then we are doing our part as children of our Father in Heaven to lift others. Let me give you an example.
How many of you have seen—I love the Church’s Bible videos. How many of you have watched them? [Audience members raise their hands.] How many of you haven’t? [Audience members raise their hands.] Repent. Lds.org—and you watch those Bible videos. The latest one is on Gethsemane. How many of you have seen that one? [Audience members raise their hands.] The rest of you, I invite you to go watch it. Because, in a very tender way, a very quiet way, we see the Savior at night going into that Garden of Gethsemane—the wine press. And He goes in, and He kneels, and we watch a little bit of His suffering.
And then He comes out, and, you know, the scriptures say He comes back to His Apostles and they are sleeping. And He says, “Can you not wait for me, watch with me but for an hour?” And then He goes back into the Garden. And in the first scene when He is in the Garden, He is kneeling, and then He is leaning against the rock that is there. But the second time He goes back into the Garden, the Savior is now feeling the full weight of the wine press. And He lays Himself upon the ground, and all you can hear is a little bit of His suffering, audibly.
And then in the background comes a light, and it is a person dressed in white with a light, an aura, around that person. And he walks through the tall green grass that they have depicted there, and he comes up behind the Savior, and he simply kneels and puts his hand gently upon the Savior’s back. No words are depicted; just a star in a human orbit at a time when the Savior needed it. And not much was said, but a hand upon the Savior’s back. An angel, a star, sent from Father in Heaven to give comfort.
If the Father loved that Son that much to send an angel, brothers and sisters, He loves you equally well in your own garden of Gethsemane. And it may not be an angel, but I will tell you, it will be someone you know. And perhaps this Christmas season, an invitation might be that you are a star in someone’s human orbit. And will you allow yourself to be the comforting hand upon someone else’s back?
I promise you that by so doing, you will be lifted. You will have the satisfaction of being as the scripture says: “Ye are the light of the world. A city . . . [upon] a hill [that] cannot be hid.” You will possess what Doctrine and Covenants 50:24 describes about being a light, and that that light grows brighter day by day until it has received a fullness of light. That’s you. So just go be a star. Go be a light. Reach out this Christmas season and figuratively be there in a human orbit to touch someone’s life.
Pray for it, like David did. And then in quiet ways—hopefully in ways you will never know, the influence that you have been those are the best ones, when you are an influence because you were just there for your Father in Heaven. But you don’t really know what the impact was. Will you, as His sons and daughters of light, be there in the orbit for someone else?
Now, a final thought: Christmas season—we love to sing those Christmas hymns, don’t we? I invite you, this season, when you sing them, to listen to the words. It’s like the hymns at church. You know, you just sing them; you don’t even need the hymn book anymore. And if you’re lost, you look at the chorister standing up front—they’re saying the words, pronouncing them extra well so you can follow along. I invite you, when you sing the Christmas hymns this season, you ponder the words.
We already sang today about being a light and life. Did you catch it in the very first hymn we sang? I promise you that if you do, and you do that with an open heart, Christmas hymns will mean something more to you than you’ve ever felt before.
Now, one last thought comes to mind. Let’s go back to the Garden of Gethsemane, and you and your own Garden of Gethsemane in your life as you try to improve. Elder Dale G. Renlund said this: “The moment [you] decide to try again, the Atonement of Christ can help [you].” Isn’t that interesting? Try what again? Try anything uplifting and worthy and of good report and praiseworthy, and the Atonement will help you.
And finally, Elder Dallin H. Oaks. He said this: “The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgement of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become.”
So, brothers and sisters, my Christmas wish for you is that you will be about your individual becoming. And part of that, that I feel today, is about stars. It is about your light, your orbit in lifting others. May the Lord bless you. I love you. You are precious to your Father in Heaven, and every once in a while, I get to feel a small part of His love for you, and I will tell you it is awesome. You are His, and He sent His Son to win you by His love. And He has done that.
May you be happy this Christmas season. You have all the reasons in the world to be happy, despite the vicissitudes of life, despite the challenges. You have all the reasons in the world to be happy because you are His. You are covenant children, and all the promises of the covenant are yours. And I leave you that as a testimony, and my love for you and my desire that you be about your personal becoming, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 See “Light the World” at https://www.mormon.org/?cid=HP_FR_25-11-2016_dMIS_fmorg_xLIDyL1-A.
 See John 8:12.
 Matthew 5:14.
 See “Light the World” at https://www.mormon.org/?cid=HP_FR_25-11-2016_dMIS_fmorg_xLIDyL1-A.
 “The Savior Suffers in Gethsemane,” The Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos, https://www.lds.org/bible-videos/videos/the-savior-suffers-in-gethsemane?lang=eng.
 See Matthew 26:36–44.
 Matthew 5:14.
 Dale G. Renlund, “Latter-day Saints Keep on Trying,” Apr. 2015 General Conference.
 See Articles of Faith 1:13.
 Dallin H. Oaks, “The Challenge to Become,” Oct. 2000 General Conference, emphasis in the original.