SALT LAKE CITY — President Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, reminded listeners during the Sunday morning session of the church's 182nd Annual General Conference that "those truths which will enrich our lives and see us safely home" can be found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
On a morning that saw Saturday's bright breeziness giving way to Rocky Mountain bluster, with cold winds and light snowfall around the church's massive Conference Center, President Monson observed that "when compared to eternal verities, most of the questions and concerns of daily living are really rather trivial."
"In our times of deepest reflection or greatest need," President Monson said, "the soul of man reaches heavenward, seeking a divine response to life's greatest questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where do we go after we leave this life?"
President Monson explored those three questions during his Sunday morning conference address, with stories from his youth and ministry as well as scriptural passages to illustrate that "no longer need these universal questions remain unanswered. From the depths of my soul, and in all humility, I testify that those things of which I have spoken are true.
"Our Heavenly Father rejoices for those who keep his commandments," President Monson continued. "He is concerned also for the lost child, the tardy teenager, the wayward youth, the delinquent parent. Tenderly the Master speaks to these, and indeed to all: 'Come back. Come up. Come in. Come home. Come unto me."
Earlier in the session, President Monson's second counselor in the First Presidency, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, spoke powerfully on the principle of forgiveness, particularly as it relates to feelings of hurt, anger and envy in relationships.
"Refusing to forgive is a grievous sin," President Uctdorf said, noting that "sometimes of all the people in the world, the one that is the hardest to forgive – as well as perhaps the one who is most in need of our forgiveness – is the person looking back at us in the mirror."
President Uchtdorf elicited hearty laughter from the Conference Center congregation when he said that the topic of judging others "could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: stop it!"
In the end, he concluded, "it is the merciful who obtain mercy. Heaven is filled with those who have this in common: They are forgiven, and they forgive."
The Sunday morning session also featured talks by two members of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Elder Russell M. Nelson spoke about gratitude, and urged his listeners to be mindful – and to give thanks to God – for the physical, spiritual and gospel gifts they are given.
"God is the same yesterday, today and forever, but we are not," Elder Nelson said. "Each day, ours is the challenge to access the power of the Atonement, so that we can truly change, become more Christ-like and qualify for the gift of exaltation and live eternally with God, Jesus Christ and our families. For these power, privileges and gospel gifts, thanks be to God!"
Elder D. Todd Christofferson, also one of the Twelve Apostles, bore witness to the power of revelation that directs the church of Jesus Christ today as it did anciently.
"We value scholarship that enhances understanding, but in the church today, just as anciently, establishing the doctrine of Christ or correcting doctrinal deviations is a matter of divine revelation to those the Lord endows with apostolic authority."
Even in the presiding councils of the church, he said, "in the end, the objective is not simply consensus among council members, but revelation from God. It is a process involving both reason and faith for obtaining the mind and will of the Lord."
Julie B. Beck, released yesterday as general president of the church's Relief Society organization for women, spoke about how three simple words – faith, family, relief – "have come to express the vision of prophets for the sisters in the church." She became emotional at the conclusion of her talk as she cited former church president Lorenzo Snow, who promised the women of the church that "as you have shared in these labors, so you will most certainly share in the triumph of the work and in the exaltation and glory which the Lord will give to his faithful children."1 comment on this story
Also speaking during the session was Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Presidency of the Seventy, who spoke movingly of his grandson, Paxton ("Our champion," Elder Rasband said), as a way of illustrating the need for care, consideration and service to those who have special needs.
"Heavenly Father loves your afflicted one, and he loves you," Elder Rasband said, extending his prayer that "we will continue to bear nobly our burdens and to reach out to those among us who are suffering and in need of being lifted and encouraged."