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A holiday party befitting the Sabbath

President Hinckley leads youth of Church in ringing in New Year

In a New Year's Eve celebration befitting the Sabbath Day, President Gordon B. Hinckley gathered with thousands of young men and young women in the Conference Center for a meeting that was carried to countless others by satellite broadcast to Church meetinghouses in the United States and Canada. During the hour-and-forty-five minute concert/fireside the youth were encouraged to make the most of the New Year and the rest of their lives by letting virtue garnish their thoughts unceasingly. (See Doctrine and Covenants 121:45, from which the 2007 Mutual Theme is taken.)

The youth who — along with some parents, leaders and others — filled the Conference Center to capacity were dressed and behaved in keeping with the Sabbath Day early on New Year's Eve. They, and those viewing around the country, were blessed in return with not only words of counsel and encouragement from President Hinckley, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Young Women General President Susan W. Tanner, but also with beautiful and uplifting music.

President Hinckley, who was accompanied at the event by his counselors, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, was the concluding speaker.

He began by reminiscing about celebrating as a youth the arrival of the New Year in New York and Chicago through radio broadcasts before midnight in Salt Lake City when, he said, "We got out baking pans and banged them together, making as much noise as we could."

Then he counseled the youth to make the most of the future that is before them. "Don't spoil that future. Don't make the kinds of mistakes that will bring regret. You can be wise and happy or stupid and miserable. The choice is yours," he said, evoking laughter from the congregation.

He continued, "I am going to offer you four suggestions tonight which, if adopted, will bring rich and wonderful blessings all of your days. They are be grateful, be smart, be clean, and be prayerful."

The suggestion to be grateful was illustrated by a story President Hinckley heard from his father. It was about two boys who, upon seeing an old coat and a worn pair of shoes lying by the roadside while the owner worked in a nearby field, decided against the prank of hiding them in favor of placing a silver dollar in the toe of each shoe. President Hinckley held up a silver dollar as he described the man's prayer of gratitude upon finding the anonymous gift.

"The boys remained hidden until he had gone," President Hinckley said. "They had been touched by his prayer and by his sincere expression of gratitude."

Counseling the youth to be thankful for their blessings and opportunities, and their parents, he added, "Thank the Lord for His goodness to you. Thank Him for His outreaching hand. Read about Him, and read His words. Read them quietly to yourself and then ponder them. Pour out your heart to your Father in Heaven with gratitude for the gift of His Beloved Son."

On his second suggestion, President Hinckley told the youth to increase their worth by getting all the education possible at whatever sacrifice is necessary. "There is no doubt, none whatever, that education pays," he said. "Do not short-circuit your education. If you do, you will pay for it over and over again."

Of the third suggestion, he compared an unclean life with the homes of his childhood that, after a winter of heating with coal stoves, were covered with black soot and grime. That required extensive spring cleaning which, though unpleasant, resulted in clean homes and renewed spirits.

He said, "Thus we learned that things look and feel better when they are clean, and to stay away from areas that were not clean."

Speaking of the evils of the world that come through television, movies, popular literature, the Internet, the lyrics of popular songs and the telephone, President Hinckley told the youth, "Avoid it. Shun it like the plague."

He told them to resist evil talk, including taking the Lord's name in vain, and profanity which "is the sign of an uneducated, uncultured, careless man or woman."

He spoke against the trend of getting tattoos. He said, "How beautiful is a well-groomed young woman who is clean in body and mind. She is a daughter of God in whom her Eternal Father can take pride. How handsome is a young man who is well groomed. He is a son of God in whom his Eternal Father can also take pride. He does not need tattoos on his body."

He also emphasized avoiding pornography, drugs and sexual transgression.

"Walk in the sunlight of that peace which comes from virtue," he said.

President Hinckley congratulated those youth who are among the great number who are clean. "You are simply being wise and doing what is right and smart and clean," he said.

Finally, he suggested that the youth make prayer as constant as the Polar Star in their lives.

"Prayer will change your life," he declared. "It will bring you peace. It will give you direction and guidance. It will help you feel that you are not alone in this big and sometimes brutal world. The Lord answers our prayers. I know that. I have seen it happen again and again and again. ... We can be perfect in our prayers."

Throughout the evening, to enhance the New Year's event, the youth were treated to music ranging from favorite hymns such as "We Thank Thee, O God, For a Prophet" and "The Spirit of God" to popular renditions of "In Dream's" from the soundtrack of "Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings" and LDS vocalist Peter Breinholt's "The Water Is Wide."

Featured were members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir interspersed with young men and young women from the Salt Lake area, and the Orchestra at Temple Square. Other musical guests besides Brother Breinholt were pianist William Joseph playing "Stella's Theme" which he co-wrote, and Catholic boy soprano Ryan Tani of Salt Lake City's The Madeline Choir School, soloist with the orchestra performing "In Dreams."

Elder Merrill J. Bateman of the Presidency of the Seventy conducted the event in the midst of the holiday setting of the Conference Center. Prayers were offered by David Ence and Lauren Bluth.

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