A current event

Those fortunate times when general conference and Easter coincide give added emphasis to the Savior’s Atonement and Resurrection as a current event, rather than something that exists only in the dusty pages of history.

Yes, Jesus Christ rose on the third day, as all of Christendom understands. But He also lives today, and He loves us so much He has provided prophets, apostles and other General Authorities to impart His will to a troubled and chaotic world.

That was the message of the 185th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints April 4 and 5. That reality brought a new and hopeful joy to Easter celebrations already filled with the gladness of a redemptive sacrifice that conquered death and sin. The tragedies and sorrows of the world are not the last word on mankind’s struggles for greater meaning.

Members of the Church were thrilled on Sunday to hear their prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, as he announced plans for new temples in Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Port au Prince, Haiti; and Bangkok, Thailand. Each one represents opportunities to provide saving ordinances for those living and dead in parts of the world from which temples have been distant and difficult to reach.

Ivory Coast and Haiti, in particular, are places where the peace of a sacred temple experience will soothe hearts and minds often wearied by political upheaval and poverty. Each latter-day temple provides evidence that the Easter miracle is a true and living reality.

“As we attend the temple, there can come to us a dimension of spirituality and a feeling of peace which will transcend any other feeling which could come into the human heart,” President Monson said during the Sunday morning session. “We will grasp the true meaning of the words of the Savior when He said, ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. … Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’

“Such peace can permeate any heart — hearts that are troubled, hearts that are burdened down with grief, hearts that feel confusion, hearts that plead for help.”

Further, President Monson said, “My brothers and sisters, in our lives we will have temptations; we will have trials and challenges. As we go to the temple, as we remember the covenants we make there, we will be better able to overcome those temptations and to bear our trials. In the temple we can find peace.

“The blessings of the temple are priceless. One for which I am grateful every day of my life is that which my beloved wife, Frances, and I received as we knelt at a sacred altar and made covenants binding us together for all eternity. There is no blessing more precious to me than the peace and comfort I receive from the knowledge I have that she and I will be together again.”

In addition to the blessings that come through temples of the Lord are those that come as we provide the help the Savior would have us give to others. President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, spoke of how people can reach out and provide succor to those in need worldwide through the Church’s program of fast offerings.

Speaking in the Saturday morning session about the recent devastation of a cyclone on the island of Vanuatu, and the suffering of those who live there, he said, “They are so far away from the home where I read that report (of the cyclone), and yet I knew what the Lord would be doing through His servants. I knew what made it possible for them to succor those children of Heavenly Father was fast offerings, given freely by the Lord’s disciples who were far away but close to the Lord.”

Observing a monthly fast, he said, will give us the promises made by Isaiah: “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, spoke Sunday morning of the gift of God’s grace through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Asking piercing questions about how we feel about our own need for grace, he asked, “Do we understand our indebtedness to Heavenly Father and plead with all our souls for the grace of God? When we kneel to pray, is it to replay the greatest hits of our own righteousness, or is it to confess our faults, plead for God’s mercy, and shed tears of gratitude for the amazing plan of redemption?”

The great blessing of each conference session is that it provided direct counsel for navigating the unique circumstances of our particular time. The importance of temple attendance, fast offerings and seeking the grace of God provided instructions necessary to fortify ourselves against the onslaught of worldly temptations and trials in a modern age.

In addition, the conference was filled with important teachings about the sanctity of marriage and its place in the eternal plan of happiness, as well as the need to support and maintain religious freedom, among many other important teachings and doctrines.

Taken together, the conference provided answers to many of the world’s biggest problems. As always, each member of the Church has a duty to study what was said and examine how to improve their lives and bless those around them.

Above all, however, this conference was a celebration and reminder of the Easter message. God and Jesus Christ live. Apostles and prophets bore testimony that Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ love all people of the earth and guide the affairs of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ.

“Jesus Christ suffered, died and rose from death in order that He could … lift us up to eternal life,” declared Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “This Easter I thank Him and the Father who gave Him to us that Jesus still stands triumphant over death, although He stands on wounded feet. This Easter I thank Him and the Father who gave Him to us that Jesus still extends to us unending grace, although He extends it with wounded palms and wrists.”

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