President Eyring: President Eyring has been asked to conduct this meeting. President Monson is watching the proceedings from his home. The music will be provided by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Choir: Arise, Oh God
Opening Prayer: Larry R. Lawrence
Choir: God, Bless Our Prophet Dear
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: I think we could feel how congregations around the world joined in that sentiment, “God bless our prophet dear.” President Monson is very grateful for your dedication to the Lord and His gospel.
A family was vacationing thousands of miles from home when they lost their dog, Bobby. They were devastated. Months later, the family was shocked to see Bobby again at their doorstep. Bobby became known as “Bobby, the Wonder Dog.”
Bobby is not the only one with a strong instinct for returning home. Monarch butterflies, leatherback turtles, and the artic tern are among those species who travel thousands upon thousands of miles to return home. When I read of this powerful instinct in animals, I ponder whether human beings have a similar instinct, which calls them to their heavenly home.
Deep within us is a yearning to return to our heavenly parents. Some will suppress this yearning. But those who do not quench this yearning can embark upon a marvelous journey towards heavenly climes.
God is our Father. He loves us and cares for us. There is a way to return to Him.
God knows our greatest sorrows and hopes. He knows the times we have felt limitless joy, the times we have wept in anquish or cried out in anger.
No matter your history, know that you are not alone. God still calls to you. The Savior extends his hand to you, as he did to his disciples on the Sea of Galilee. He speaks to you, “Come, follow me.”
When you walk towards Heavenly Father, there is something within you that will confirm you are on the right path and returning home. The scriptures teach us a thousand reasons we should turn to the Lord.
First, your life will be better.
Second, God will use you to make the lives of others better.
When we embark or continue on the incredible journey that leads to God, our lives will be better. That does not mean that we will not have trials. But just as God makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, He also allows trials to afflict the just and the unjust. Following the Savior will not remove all our trials. But it will remove the barriers between us and God, who will walk beside us and even carry us when our need is greatest.
You will experience the fruits of the spirit, which are peace, hope, and faith. These fruits come from following the Savior. They can attend us even in the midst of the darkest storms. Even in the darkest night, we can be encircled with peace. The scriptures teach, “Trust in the Lord with all thy heart…He shall direct thy paths.”
Those who pray, believe, and walk the path the Savior prepared will receive the consoling assurance that all things work together for their good. Though the righteous fall seven times, they arise again.
Do you yearn for that peace which doth surpass all understanding? Then turn to the Lord. Your life will be happier and more purposeful.
Inevitably this path will also cause you to be a blessing to those around you. As you serve God and serve and care for your fellow man, you will see progress in ways you may not have imagined possible. Often when we look at ourselves we only see our own deficiencies. We think we must be more wealthy, more spiritual, more of everything. But the God of the Universe will magnify you. Out of small things proceedeth that which is great.
Paul wrote to the saints in Corinth, he suggested that few of them would be considered wise by earthly standards. But he confirmed that God will use the weak things of the earth to confound the world. “I will be their shield, and they shall fight manfully for me, and I shall preserve them.”
I and my family took time to visit Church history sites in the eastern states. People I had read of became more real to me as I walked where they walked. They had many great traits that allowed them to contribute to the gospel of Jesus Christ. But they were also weak, just as you and I are. Some of them fell away from the gospel. But then many of these turned again to the Church.
We may say in our hearts that we would never abandon the prophet Joseph. And that may be true. But we don’t know. But how encouraging is it to know that God used them anyway, to contribute a verse or a melody to the glorious anthem of the restoration.
Though we are imperfect, when our hearts are turned to God we can see wonderful blessings come into the lives of those we love and associate with through us. God will use you if you are willing. He will magnify the compassionate actions you sow into a marvelous harvest of goodness.
In many ways we are far from home. But we don’t have to feel lost. Heavenly Father has given us the light of Christ. Turning to Him requires effort. We must strive to learn His will and do what is required. Life is not a self-driving car or a vessel on auto-pilot. Discipleshipp requires a willingness to swim upstream. The Savior will help us, but the commitment to love Him and keep His commandments must come from us.
Please heed the call of our Savior. The Lord has established the Church of Jesus Christ to encourage, lift, and inspire. The Church provides opportunities for you to lift others. It is designed to lift your life, your community, and your nation.
Trust in the Lord. Let your talents reach out to bless and heal. Let us join together in this glorious pilgrimage to glorious climes. The gospel is the pathway that leads us home. Each hour we will draw a little closer to our God.
I leave you my blessing, Amen.
The Savior taught, “Whosoever will lose their life in service to others, will save themselves.”
More and more we are more focused on the tiny screen in our hands than the faces around us. We may be more concerned with how many “likes” we have than putting an arm around a friend. If we are not vigilant in how we use our personal devices, we may turn inward.
I believe most members consider service at the heart of their discipleship. But we may not see that some of the most significant needs we can meet are in our families, our congregations, and our communities. We may be so focused on wishing to help those around the world that we fail to see the person sitting next to us who needs us to put our arms around them.
When one sister was on her way home from providing quilts to refugees in Kosovo, felt prompted: “What you have done is a very good thing. Now go home and serve your neighbor.”
Sarah, a ten-year-old girl, took the time to help her sister so her mother could get needed rest.
We can serve at any age, and such service is most needed in the home. For those in the teen years, serving in the family should be at the top of your priorities as you seek to change the world.
Another area of service can be in our ward families. My children would complain that mutual was not something they wished to do, they didn’t get much out of it. And if I was having a good parenting moment, I would say, “Why do you think it is about what you get out of it?” There are others who need us.
Elder Christofferson reminds us that we are the hands, heart, and feet of the body of Christ. As disciples of Christ, we watch out for one another and find ways to serve and strengthen each other. We are not just takers, but givers and suppliers.
Next time you are at Church, consider how you can bless others. Ask your Heavenly Father how you can reach out and serve.
Our grandson, Ethan, is 17. Inspired by his mother’s example, he prays each day for inspiration for how he can help others. I am impressed by how aware he is of those around him. God will open our eyes to see the one who needs up that day.
In addition to serving family and ward members, look to your neighborhood and community.
I was recently instructed by an area president in a location with great needs that the best way to help is to pay generous offerings and help those in your own location.
Begin your service in your own homes and within your own families. You can find ways to serve, lift, and strengthen. You will be able to see the kind of family you wish to have someday.
Reach out to those in your ward and community. This service, even if it can’t be much, will bless us in ways we cannot imagine.
May we realize the blessing it is to help God by serving His children. Amen.
Jesus counseled that sometimes the world is opposed to the good of our souls.
Peter said, “The foolishness of this world is wisdom in God.”
James taught, “The friendship of the world is emnity with God.”
The Book of Mormon prophesied the destruction of those who were puffed up with the vain things of the world. We see that those who would seek to follow the iron rod to the fruit of God would be mocked by those in the great and spacious building.
President Monson said, “We must be vigilant in a world that has moved so far from God, refusing to surrender what we value most.”
Exaltation in familes is God’s eternal plan. Salvation is an individual matter but exaltation can only occur in families.
We must live in this world, but if we seek exaltation, we must follow God’s commandments, particularly regarding matters related to family.
If we are disobedient to the required actions of the gospel, then we will be unable to be prepared to meet God.
Latter-day Saints who understand the plan of salvation have a unique view. Christ’s sacrifice saves us from death and permits us to return to God. Inevitably those who seek to follow God will come into conflict with those who do not acknowledge God’s way.
“Fear ye not the reproach of men,” said Alma. Those who do understand God’s plan are always commanded to follow God’s way.
The Church’s 1995 proclamantion on the family is different from many practices in the world. Most obvious of these are cohabitation without marriage, same sex marriage, and raising children in such relationships. We’ve witness a rapid public embrace of cohabitation without marriage and same sex marriage. As latter-day saints we must balance the need to honor law, honoring God, while living in this world.
Just eighteen years after the fmaily proclamation, the United States Supreme Court ruled to permit same sex marriage. The rise of those living together without marriage was more gradual, but now we see over 40% of families cohabiting without marriage.
The Proclamation affirms that children are entitled to birth within a family where mother and father are married and honor one another. The proclamation encourages measures to view the family as the fundamental unit of society.
As one of the seven now living when the Proclamation came forth, I feel compelled to explain what occured. Twenty-three years ago we felt prompted to this, though it seemed that the basics of the family as the fundamental unit of society was well-established and had no need of emphasis. The proclamation was developed over the course of more than a year. When the proclamation was ready, President Hinckley presented it at the Relief Society session of General Conference, stating a need to “warn and forewarn.”
President Benson taught that every generation has its test. One of the great tests of our generation is this matter of family. If we will cling to our values and cling to our inheritance, we will be blessed in a magnificent way. We will be viewed as people who have found the key to unique happiness. Amen.
Choir and Congregation: High on the Mountain Top
Elder John C. Pingree, Jr.: Giresh was converted, and when Nepalese refugees were relocated to Utah, Giresh was able to help them. And through Giresh, these children of God were able to learn of the gospel.
God has opportunities for each of us to play a meaningful role in furthering God’s work. The power is within us to accomplish much righteousness. The Lord needs you to change the world.
How do we come to understand and perform the work God has for us?
First, we can serve others. When I returned from my mission, I missed the focus on serving others. It was a time for me to study and begin my family, but I was comforted when I realized I could still serve. A medical professional continued his practice and raised a family, but set aside a day a week to serve those who could not otherwise access medical care.
Second, discover and develop your spiritual gifts. Ask God for help to know our gifts. And we can ask those around us and ponder this ourselves. Sometimes we feel we don’t have any particular gift. One woman felt she did not have such a gift and in anquish prayed. She was prompted to pay attention to others. And she was able to do much good.
Third, learn from your trials. As we face and overcome our own trials, we can use the knowledge gained to serve those around us. Because of our empathy, we can serve others.
Fourth, seek the guidance of God. All things are present before God, and He will impress upon us what we can do to bless others.
The adversary will seek to dull our sensitivity to the spirit. Satan seeks to distract us with less important matters. Are we so preoccupied by worldly things that we become intimidated. But God will be with us. He will not fail us.
Satan teaches us that we are not important, or conversely will encourage us to become prideful in that which we have done.
But as we yield ourselves to God as instruments of righteousness, our lives will be blessed and those around us will receive the help of God. Christ did the Father’s will and completed His divine assignments. Amen.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson: Christ, while teaching to those who followed him, perceived that some were more interested in food than the gospel. And so Christ spoke to them that he was the living bread, that He would give His life.
The disciples rejected the literal interpretation of this teaching that Jesus was the bread of the world and His blood was the drink of the world.
Christ expanded the metaphor, saying that those who did partake would live in God.
How is it that by partaking of the flesh and blood of Christ we can receive the blessing of Christ’s sacrifice? After we have faith, have repented, and have been baptized and received the Holy Ghost, we press forward. And that is when we partake of the sacrament, with the bread representing the flesh of Christ and the water representing the blood of Christ.
The bread is torn, making each piece unique. And in this same way Christ’s sacrifice can meet our unique needs.
The water represents Christ’s blood, which can cleanse us of all sin.
The further meaning of this symbolism of partaking of the flesh and blood of Christ is to internalize Christ into our life. Jesus could not have atoned for the sins of others if He himself were not sinless. As we remember and honor His sacrifice, we ought also consider His sinless life. We must not be content with where we are, but strive to give away our sins and become what God expects of us.
A friend recently underwent a surgery that required significant recuperation. After reading the scriptures, he drifted off to sleep. In the dream, he say his life, his errors and omissions. The friend awoke startled, and fell to his knees and poured out his yearning to God to be free of those things that separated him from God. He could feel the love of God reaching out to him. He developed more empathy to others, and was able to more completely understand the message of hope in the Bible and Book of Mormon.
This man was not discourage, but was able to feel real hope because of Jesus Christ. Holiness can come through partaking of the sacrament and Christ’s sacrifice for us.
I have often wondered why Christ was called the son of man, but the I read the words of Enoch, which explain that Christ is divine, the son of the man of righteousness, or God.
We are the product of all we read, all we see, all we hear. We seek holiness as we take up our cross each day. Our mortal experiences give us the chance to choose holiness.
When we are in the service of our fellow beings, we are only in the service of God.
Service is not something we endure, but is the very fiber of which life in the Celestial Kingdom is made.
“Holiness to the Lord” was the theme of the early Saints, being found on sacrament cups and plates, on banners, signs of businesses, even printing on flags on occasion. These artifacts of the early Saints remind us how pervasive the message of God’s holiness can be. And if we surround ourselves in God’s view of our lives, He will help us see what we can do to be where He is, and how we can serve those around us.
Take time to be holy. Take time to be with Jesus and seek his likeness.
I bear testimony of Jesus Christ, the living bread. Amen.
Choir: God is Love
But Heavenly Father would not give us a commandment he knew we could not keep.
Around the Church I hear the Saints say they can never measure up. Sister Darla indicated that Satan has taken the covenants and commandments and turned them into misery.
I know we have potential to become as God is. But I also know that we must not beat up on ourselves. With a willingness to repent, I would hope we could pursue personal improvement in a way that would not cause depression and illness. God does not want that for any of us who are “Trying to be like Jesus.”
We live in a fallen world, the Telestial world, not the Celestial realm.
When Christ urged us to be perfect, even as He and His Father in Heaven is perfect, He laid out for us a vision of a possibility in eternity. God is perfect and able to love His enemies.
You and I are sometimes that enemy. There are times we despitefully use God. But He loves us and has mercy on us. He holds out His peace to us.
Focusing on the achievements of the Father and the Son rather than our own failures does not give us any justification for sin. But I am suggesting that a purpose of the scripture could be to remind us how magnificant the stature of Christ really is.
Come unto Christ, and be perfected in Him. Love God with all your might, mind, and strength.
Our only hope for true perfection is to receive it as a gift from heaven. We will never earn it.
A servant was in debt to the king of ten thousand talents. The king forgave the debt. But then that servant would not forgive one who owed the servant a tiny fraction of a pence. Looking at modern equivalents, it appears that the ten thousand talents was billion dollars and the fraction of a pence was a hundred dollars. The debt of the talents is impossible to pay (no one can shop that much).
Jesus in his parable used an unfathomable measurement because His gift is unfathomable.
We may not be able to demonstrate the ten thousand talent perfection the Father and Son possess. But we can be a little better, at least at the hundredth pence level of perfection. This is within our ability to do.
Aside from Christ, there have been no flawless performances. Let us strive for constant improvement rather than obsessing over toxic perfectionism.
A priest said, “Look at my life now, and look at my prior life… Don’t attack the path I follow. If I follow the path but follow it drunkenly, is it nonetheless the path?”
Don’t gloat. Give your help to anyone attempting to walk back to God.
We often aspire to a more Christlike life than we attain. That does not make us hypocrites. It makes us human. Do not allow the weakness of those around us cause us to be cynical about the truth of the way to God or the salvation of Christ.
I testify of that grand destiny, made available to us by our Lord, Jesus Christ, who himself walked grace by grace until in his immortality he attained all the Father hath.
Let us continue until we are in the embrace of Heavenly Parents. For such a perfect gift, I continue to give thanks, no matter how imperfectly. The Lord Jesus loves us. Amen.
Choir: Faith in Every Footstep
Presiding – President Monson is watching from home
Conducting – President Eyring
Choir – Come Ye Who Love the Lord
Opening Prayer – Elder Larry R. Lawrence
Choir – Arise, Oh God, and Shine
Talk – Speaker 1 – President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Talk – Speaker 2 – President Bonnie L. Oscarson
Talk – Speaker 3 – Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Rest Hymn – High on the Mountain Top
Talk – Speaker 4 – Elder John Pingree Jr.
Talk – Speaker 5 – Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Choir – God is Love
Talk – Speaker 6 – Elder Jeffrey Holland
Choir – Faith in Every Footstep