A clear, clarion signal

One of the annoyances of modern life is static. Drive your car under power lines or a bridge and try to listen to your radio. The clear signal is interrupted by screeching noise.

Turn on a television set when the cable service is down or when the weather interrupts the signal to the antenna and watch the snowy images on the screen jump haphazardly. What a welcome relief it is when the sound or pictures return to their clear, uninterrupted position.Finding a channel free from interference may take some careful tuning, but when the receiver is properly tuned in, the reception is clear and distinct, and static is eliminated. The message is easily heard.

Such a clear message awaits Latter-day Saints during general conference this weekend. Through modern technology the conference proceedings will be conveyed to many parts of the world. To those who are properly tuned in, the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ will bring peace and joy in a world awash in confusion and static. The comfort found in worshiping with thousands - no, millions - of fellow Saints gives a reassuring hope that we are in tune with our leaders and with each other.

This is our twice-yearly opportunity to "feast upon the word" and hear for ourselves the messages we need to carry the work forward. It is also our opportunity to sustain those General Authorities who preside over us. This year also marks the sesquicentennial of the arrival of the first company of pioneers into the Great Salt Lake basin.

A century and a half ago this very month, Brigham Young was leading Church members out of the United States to a place where they could worship God without interference. A century ago, Utah had been a state for just 16 months. Fifty years ago, the Church was dealing with the aftermath of World War II and rebuilding relationships in countries ravaged by it. Efforts to re-establish missions and reorganize branches and wards in devastated areas were being made. Now, some of those countries, which for so long went without the blessings of the restored gospel, are welcoming missionaries and reaping the benefits of democracy.

President George Albert Smith declared in the April 1947 conference that the pioneer spirit lives on. Such a message is certainly pertinent today. The pioneering spirit still lives on! Many members today are, indeed, pioneers in the gospel in their families and in their countries.

The message of President Smith's addresses of 50 years ago was to look ahead to the challenges awaiting Church members and not to despair. He applauded a missionary force of nearly 3,500 that was carrying Christ's word to many lands. He was upbeat and positive in his remarks, reassuring the Church that the Lord was directing the work.

Seven men preceded President George Albert Smith as president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Now a half-century later, seven other men have succeeded President Smith, and the present-day prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, carries the legacy of those early eras and reminds us of our own responsibilities.

President Hinckley sees the challenges facing the Church at the end of the 20th century. He leads a growing, vital organization, but he also, like his predecessors, recognizes whose work this really is. President Hinckley moves ever forward, urging us to do the same: to love and serve God, to keep His commandments, to be true ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ, to make right choices, to be worthy of the blessings of the priesthood, to serve in the Church, to put our trust in the Lord and to believe in ourselves.

Those who tune in to hear the prophet's message - and the messages of other leaders of the Church - will not be disappointed. The messages of the conferences are constant: The head of this Church is Jesus Christ; the fullness of the gospel was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith; President Hinckley is the prophet today; the work of the Church goes forward.

It is up to each of us to make sure that nothing in our lives will create a blockage to prevent the message from getting through.

If we are properly tuned in and are living in such a way that our spiritual channels are open, we will hear the clear, clarion message of the speakers. We will find sustenance, not static! We will clearly recognize the words of the Lord's anointed to this generation. If we but open our ears, we will hear the whisperings of the Spirit speaking to us, confirming to our souls the truthfulness of the messages. If we ignore the promptings and choose to remain in the dark, we will miss that which we need most at this time - direction for our lives in a world filled with turmoil and strife.

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