PROVO — BYU final exams end well before Christmas, which wasn't the case when Elder D. Todd Christofferson studied there. The free time between school and the holiday should give today's students more time to follow his advice.
"I hope you will take time this Christmas season to set aside some time, at least an hour if not more, to reflect on the wonder and majesty of the Son of God," said Elder Christofferson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which owns and operates BYU.
"Let it be an hour of reassurance and renewal."
When he and his wife Kathy were students, BYU finals fell in January. Elder Christofferson drew laughter from thousands of students at the Marriott Center in the final campus devotional of the semester just for saying that he and his wife would take their books home for the holidays to study.
"We had every intention of devoting hours to studying for finals in addition to celebrating Christmas," he said, drawing more laughter on his way to the punchline. "Of course, we never cracked a book. Rather we just felt guilty the whole time, and it ruined the holiday. So, if you’re looking for sympathy from me because you have final exams right before Christmas, forget it."
He shared multiples stories of Mormon pioneers worshipping despite lacnuking comfort and even necessities at Christmas.
Students may themselves be facing concerns an even anxiety this Christmas seasons, he added.
"I realize that you may have concerns and perhaps some anxiety about the future. There may be a lot of 'noise' in your life, more or less constant engagement online without 'down time,' without time to be quiet and reflect and think, without time to look inside and discern where you are and where you should be going. You may be influenced by unrealistic expectations like perfection should be immediate or uninterrupted happiness and success should be the norm in life."
He said taking time to relax and reflect on Christ's Atonement can create peace.
"It’s appropriate this time of year just to think about that baby in the manger," Elder Christofferson said. "Don’t be too overwhelmed or occupied with what is to come... Take a quiet, peaceful moment to ponder the beginning of his life — the culmination of heavenly prophecy but the earthly beginning for him."