Mormon Tabernacle Choir – Sweet is the Work
Presiding – President Thomas S. Monson
Conducting – President Henry B. Eyring
Mormon Tabernacle Choir – With Songs of Praise and Gratitude
Opening Prayer – Sister Joy D. Jones [Yay, sister of my sister-in-law]
As a pilot, I often was helped by computers, but never had to interface with them personally. That changed when I was called as a General Authority. For the first time I had to delve into this strange, incomprehensible world.
People would try to help me. “See, that’s how to do it.” But I did not see. It took much time and patience and many liters of a diet soda that shall remain nameless…
Now I have an e-mail address, twitter, and Facebook accounts, and many tools. I may not measure up to the skills of a 7-year-old, but I’m pretty good for a septuagenarian. But the more I have, the more I take it for granted. Now if there is a delay of even a few seconds, we get frustrated. The more familiar we are with something, the more we lose our sense of awe. We consider these miracles commonplace.
Similarly, we can come to take the gospel for granted.
Imagine how the early Saints in the days of Jesus were humbled by the miracles in their midst. Imagine the early converts of the Restoration and how they marveled at the doctrines of salvation. Think of how *you* felt when you first came to know you were a child of God, that Christ suffered personally for your sins, that priesthood power is real, that families can be together in eternity, that there is a living prophet.
How could it be that we could be tired of the privilege of attending Church and reading the blessed scriptures? Life-changing truths are before our eyes and at our fingertips. But we let ourselves be distracted rather than following the example of our Master. We follow a path strewn with diamonds, but we can hardly distinguish them from pebbles.
When my youthful friends would ask about the gospel, I would not get their attention until I talked to them of the Plan of Salvation. How I loved to share this exciting message! God loves His children and the Savior redeemed us!
My friends would say these things sounded familiar, as though I was simply casting light on something that was already deeply rooted in their hearts. Mortals since the dawn of time have wondered where we came from, why we are here, and where we go after death. The Gospel has these answers, and the answers are plain and easy to understand. They are inspired.
We come from the heavenly courts of God. We learned the ways of God, Our Father. We participated in a grand council, where Heavenly Father presented a plan for our progression. But we would have to come to mortality and forget all that we had known. We hoped we would quickly learn to make right choices, even though we would make mistakes. But we had faith that Jesus would come to earth and sacrifice so that we might be made pure and return to God and Heaven.
With faith, we accepted Heavenly Father’s plan. That is why we are here on this beautiful planet Earth. God offered and we accepted. Even though we will inevitably die, we are eternal and will be resurrected. After the resurrection there will be a day of Judgment. Those who seek God and obey his laws will inherit unimaginable glory. There will be mercy. All will be made right. There will be regrets and anguish for our foolishness and stubbornness, but I have confidence that we will be not only satisfied, but astonished and overwhelmed by God’s love and generosity.
Does it not fill our hearts with wonder and awe to contemplate the Great Plan of Happiness our Father has prepared for us? Does it not fill us with unspeakable joy for all who wait upon the Lord?
If you are not filled with joy, I invite you to study these things. Let them bear witness to you of the Divine. If you have felt such joy, do you feel so now?
“What shall we give in return for so much?” Let us consider this question. What shall we give in return for the flood of truth and light? Heavenly Father asks that we uplift others and follow the light we have been given.
Let us share with our fellow man God’s message of love, for they are our brothers and sisters. This is the beginning of what we can do for so much.
Some day every knee shall bow and every tongue confess God and His glory. Let that day for us be today. Amen
Choir – We Thank Thee, O God
As a Nobel laureate suffered in the hospital near death, his grandchild asked, “Grandfather, if I loved you more, would you suffer less?”
Jesus taught for us to do good to them that hate us. He taught that we replace contention with forgiveness and compassion. When the disciples worried about associating with sinners, Jesus taught that as we act towards these, we act towards Him.
We may not be able to avoid tribulation, but we will suffer less spiritually.
Our Christian love and service naturally begins in the home. All of us are seeking to be converted, to be filled with our Savior’s love. He supports us in our mortal journey. We cannot do it alone.
As disciples, we begin to do this when we are baptized. Teaching one another the doctrine of the kingdom is a way to lift one another, particularly now that the secular sphere has increasingly abandoned moral teachings. Sit down and talk with your children and grandchildren. We need not be trained. Pray, ponder, and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Being a parent gives you the right to teach in the way that moves you and your children.
Youth, you are among the most effective gospel teachers. Do not be afraid, but have faith to testify of what you know. As you share your testimony, your faith will grow.
Some of our most impactful learning comes from meeting together as families and in council. Family Home Evening is not a time for lecture, but a time to learn the gospel, to care and share, and to have fun with one another. Our love will grow stronger and we will suffer less. The most important work we do in our families is when we invite the Holy Spirit to be with us, but how much time we spend together in patience.
When some before this life chose not to follow, the Heavens wept. Some in this life have children who choose not to follow. But we cannot pray away the agency of another. The father of the prodigal son waited and watched for the time when his son might return. Our children and family members already chose to follow the Savior in the pre-mortal realm. Sometimes it is only through their life experiences that they are awakened again. The decision to return must be their own.
For those who serve as caregivers, how the Lord loves you! God, who seeth in secret, will reward you openly. I have a neighbor who tenderly cared for his wife, who had Alzheimer’s disease. He was an example to everyone in our congregation. One day, she requested to see her husband again. When he replied that he was her husband, she sweetly replied, “Oh. Good.”
My gentle wife sustains me. Without her, I would not be here.
If you are alone, I urge to to accept the Savior as your caregiver. He will not leave us comfortless. Let us renounce the war that so often wars in the heart of the natural man. If you have come to a knowledge of the glory of God and his love for us, you will not suffer yourselves or your children to fight and quarrel one with another.
Jesus taught, “Love one another, as I have loved you.” Jesus continues to stretch forth His hands. He loves us with a perfect love. This is His Church. Thomas S. Monson is His prophet. May we love more and suffer less. Amen.
In the struggles of mortality, we are never left alone. Jesus taught that we must always pray.
A woman came to a judge and pleaded. She came continually. Eventually the unjust judge gave her relief so she would not continue to bother him.
If the unjust judge could relieve the widow’s suffering, will not our God answer our prayers? If we pray with a sincere heart in faith, we will receive. Thus will we become one with God.
If we expect to receive, we must seek and knock. James 1:5 advises, “Pray in faith and doubt not.” Miraculous healing, powerful protection, and peace come as we pray in faith.
We pray to our father in the name of Jesus Christ by the Spirit, invoking all three members of the Godhead. God gave us commandment to serve Him, to only worship Him.
President Henry B. Eyring taught of how his father prayed during his final battle with cancer. Father Eyring was asking why he had to suffer so much. The answer came that God had need of brave sons. And so he continued on knowing of God’s care for him, despite the pain.
We come unto the Father in the name of Christ because Christ is our advocate before the Father, requesting that we be granted mercy. Christ does not want us to suffer. He wants us to come to Him, to be comforted and given peace.
Our prayers should not be rote, but earnest. When we pray with faith, the Holy Ghost can guide our thoughts, that our words may be consistent with the will of God. It is not only important to know how to pray, but to know how to receive the answer to those prayers. The answer to prayer is most powerful when what we want is silenced in a desire to know what God wants, as President Eyring expressed.
As Jesus pray, “Not as I wilt, but as Thou wilt.” Jesus suffered according to the flesh that He might take upon Himself the sins of mankind. Though Jesus prayed for relief, He desired God’s will more than relief.
The answer to our prayers may not be what we want. But as we plead in faith, we will be strengthened to do what God ordains. All flesh is in God’s hands. Be still, and know that He is God.
Whether we pray for strength or wisdom or merely the ability to endure, sincere desire offered in gratitude will bless us and instill in our hearts a steadfast faith in Christ.
Prayer is a gift from God. We need never feel lost or alone. Every moment of precious prayer may be holy time spent with Our Father. Amen.
Choir – Redeemer of Israel
When Moroni came to Joseph Smith, he told the young man that his name would be had for good and evil among the nations. This battle is not new. It began when Joseph emerged from the Sacred Grove, and continues in our day on the internet.
The wise and noble and virtuous will seek the message Joseph Smith was given of the Restored Gospel. Because of the truths Joseph restored, we learned so much of how we could return to God with our families.
Brigham taught that Joseph was the man decreed to bring forth the keys and priesthood to perform the great work of this last dispensation. Joseph was born into a family that he loved. But Joseph was often confused by the teachings of the preachers of his day. He found wisdom in the Bible, “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God.”
With simple faith, Joseph acted on the promise in James and went to God in prayer. God and Christ appeared to answer the young man’s prayer.
In later years Joseph was chosen to bring forth the Book of Mormon and establish the restored gospel.
It is through the Holy Ghost that we can know the truth of all things. I first read the Book of Mormon as a young early-morning Seminary student. It had such an impact on my life that I continued to read the Book of Mormon, thinking of how the young Joseph Smith would have received these words.
How would Joseph have felt when he learned of the need for baptism as expressed in the Book of Mormon? When he learned that Christ visited those living in the western hemisphere.
Think of the pain Joseph and Emma felt when their son, Alvin, died shortly after birth, before being baptized. Think of how Joseph felt when he translated the promise that innocent children are saved by the merciful power of Christ, rather than damned as the preachers of that day taught.
Think of how Joseph felt when he realized that some of the prophecies in the Book of Mormon were speaking of him. Two centuries later, it is easy to see how these prophecies were fulfilled. But when Joseph translated these passages, he had not done hardly any of the great things discussed. And he was already actively opposed by many.
To any who may be questioning their testimony of Joseph Smith or who are struggling with erroneous or misleading information about his life, I invite you to look at the impact Joseph’s life has had. Because Joseph was a prophet, each of us has access to the blessings of the temple, of baptism, and the power of the priesthood to save. Because of Joseph we know that our cherished family relationships can endure eternally. Because of Joseph a window to the eternities has been opened to us.
Because of Joseph we have witness upon witness and testimony after testimony that Jesus is the Christ. To the witness of Joseph Smith and all the prophets and apostles and saints of God, I add my witness.
May we fearlessly proclaim our witness is my prayer. Amen.
When I was a missionary in Peru, my missionaries wished to go to a bridge. I felt strongly that this was unwise, but the other missionaries’ desire to visit the Inca bridge overwhelmed my caution. At first they were careful, but then they began to walk very fast. I tried to catch up and had to run quickly to catch up.
I rounded a curb and saw a missionary who was stopped. One missionary was stopped entirely and I asked why. He said he felt prompted to stay where he was.
As I continued on, I realized there was nothing solid under my feet. I looked at the river 2000 feet below me. The branches were not strong enough to support my body. I prayed. Just as I was about to fall, I felt an arm grab me. The missionary who had stayed behind was the one who saved me. But ultimately it was my Heavenly Father who saved me.
Three times the Spirit had told me not to go to the Inca Bridge.
We continued forward and found the other missionaries. We told them what had happened, and we returned from the bridge in careful silence.
I had ignored God’s warning, but in his mercy he did not enact full justice, but was merciful to me.
In the early morning of that same day I had prayed with my lips. When I clung above the terrible fall to the river, I prayed with my heart.
One one occasion Jesus was praying. His disciples asked that He teach them how to pray. Today He teaches us to pray, saying “nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done.”
Paul describes how Jesus prayed in Gethsemane. When we pray, are we really praying or merely saying words? When Jesus prayed, the heavens were opened. When was the last time you felt a connection with heaven while you prayed?
Do you prepare yourself for important decisions by praying to Heavenly Father? Jesus invites us to pray always. He knows that Heavenly Father gives us what is best for us.
Sometimes we don’t want to receive. Why? At the moment that we speak Our Father’s name, He hears us. He knows our minds and hearts. You cannot hide anything from Him, but He sees you with eyes of love and mercy. His love and mercy are with you as soon as you say, “My Father in Heaven.”
Heavenly Father does not ignore us because we only come to Him when we are in trouble. He does not tell us He is too busy.
Let us pray to Our Father. Amen
Heavenly Father really wants us to come home.
When I was training for my profession and met the other interns, I felt I could never measure up. As I wrote up a young boy suffering from pneumonia, I was fearful and frustrated. I did not know how to do this simple thing.
A senior resident put his hand on my shoulder and told me how proud the other senior residents were of me. He had faith in me when I didn’t have faith in myself.
Sometimes at Church we are discouraged when we are invited to improve ourselves. We compare ourselves to what we think others are doing and feel that we can never measure up. If we must compare, let us compare ourselves with our past selves or what we wish to be in the future.
Heavenly Father will never discourage us – that is Satan’s trick.
Yes, you are going to be good enough. Yes, you will make it, as long as you don’t rationalize or rebel. God is our loving Father, and wishes for us to return. He truly gave His son that we might return to him. He intends for us to make it!
I love President Hinckley. He would say, “All we need to do is try. But we really need to try.” As we try, we will come closer and closer to the Lord. I sometimes think we don’t realize how very much the Lord wishes to help us.
The atonement is not just for sinners, but for saints who wish to do good they otherwise would not do. The atonement is God’s help to assist us to return to Heaven.
If we sincerely repent, our past sins will not prevent us from returning to heaven. “Yeah, as often as my people repent, I will forgive their trespasses.” God will forgive the earnest penitent no matter how many times we may have fallen. As Elder Holland said, it is not possible to sink so low that the atonement of Christ cannot reach.
Even though God may take away the eternal consequences of sin, He may not be able to take away the consequences of our sin. Perhaps the worst sin is the premeditated sin. But even then we can repent.
Rationalization will not save us. We cannot say, “God knows it is too hard for me.”
Rebellion will also separate us from heaven. As a doctor, I know that unnecessarily rejecting medical care can needlessly lead to physical death. Similarly rebelling against the care God wishes to give us can needlessly lead to spiritual death.
If you do not rationalize or rebel, you positively will be able to return to God. God wants us to come home. Jesus lives and is our redeemer. Amen.
Choir – Take Time to be Holy
King Nebuchadnezzar dreamed a dream of a stone cut without hand that would fill the whole earth. When his advisors could not interpret the dream, the King commanded that they be slain. But Daniel was able to intepret the dream.
The gospel is this stone cut without hands that will roll forth and fill the whole earth. It is like an enormous puzzle. All of these pieces will be placed together to rightly frame this divine work. Little by little the stone cut without hands began to roll forth.
Now millions of Latter-day Saints throughout the world are connecting the puzzle and are setting in place the work. You are an important part of the puzzle.
When we have completed all, Jehovah will declare, “The Work is Done.”
Now is the time to come together and bring souls unto God.
You may be discouraged because your past efforts to share the gospel with your friends and family have not seemed to be successful. You may feel great guilt. But guilt is not sufficient. Guilt alone is like trying to start a gas-powered car with only a battery. The battery might seem to get the car started, but it won’t continue on.
Love of God and our commitment to Him is far more powerful than guilt. Speak of God’s great gifts to all mankind. He has promised that “whoso shall confess me before men, I shall honor before God.”
As you respond to spiritual promptings, the Holy Ghost will carry your words to the heart of others.
Bringing souls to God is a group effort. Involve the missionaries. But also remember that each soul must accept the truth on their own time. Twenty-five years ago a young woman decided to accept the gospel in France. But this was not a decision of a moment. It was built on loving invitations of many others in the years before.
When you share the gospel, your grade is always an A+, even when you do not see your testimony immediately result in a loved one being baptized.
In some countries it is not legal to share the gospel. In these countries it requires unusual faith and courage to share the gospel. One woman will package the Book of Mormon in giftwrap with lots of candies. She writes that the Book of Mormon is the sweetest gift she knows.
Another woman felt prompted to talk with a young man about God. He was baptized and soon they were sealed. The blessings of sharing the gospel may not always be what you expect.
When you share the gospel, you do not come with empty hands. Technology is available to help you.
Go forth. It is not by chance you live in whatever place you might be. The gospel must go to every nation, tongue, and people. The gospel will never be destroyed, but will stand forever.
Let us work so that when God descends in glory, we may present to Him the great work with which He has entrusted us. Amen.
Choir – If the Way be Full of Trial, Weary Not
Closing Prayer – Marcus B. Nash
Presiding – President Thomas S. Monson
Conducting – President Henry B. Eyring
Choir – Song
Opening Prayer – Joy Jones
Choir – I Know My Savior Loves Me
Talk – Dieter F. Uchtdorf – Rejoice in God’s Glorious Plan
Talk – Robert D. Hales – Let us Love More and Suffer Less
Talk – Carol F. McConkie – The Prayer of Faith
Rest Hymn – Song
Talk – Craig C. Christensen – Be Not Ashamed of Joseph
Talk – Juan A. Uceda – Prayer at the Inca Bridge
Talk – Name J. Devn Cornish – You Are Good Enough
Choir – Take Time to be Holy
Talk – Neil L. Anderson – The Stone Cut Without Hands
Choir – If the Way be Full of Trial, Weary Not
Closing Prayer – Marcus B. Nash