With resounding acclamation of more than 20,000 voices in the new Conference Center, Latter-day Saints, by direction from President Gordon B. Hinckley, gave the Hosanna Shout in unison. The Spirit evident on that occasion was an inspiring manifestation of the power of God and His acceptance of the new worship hall.
The Hosanna Shout is an expression of highest praise and reverence to God in recognition that His Beloved Son is the fulfillment of all Messianic prophecies. Thus when the Savior entered Jerusalem, multitudes hailed Him as the Messiah, shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David . . . Hosanna to the Highest." (See Psalms 118:22-26; Matthew 21:9.)
Fittingly, the Hosanna Shout given at the conclusion of the dedicatory prayer offered by President Hinckley was a joyful exclamation of the faith of Latter-day Saints in Jesus Christ and their dedication to His cause.
As impressive and inspiring as the dedication was, however, it must not overshadow the messages given at this historic conference. Fifteen Prophets, Seers, and Revelators, among others, addressed the conference. The central theme was captured by President James E. Faust's candid assessment: "We as a people are not yet what we ought to be — far from it." The message is clear: In short, we must become something more than what we are. We must become converted to Jesus Christ so that we emulate Him in our conversation, deportment, thoughts, even our appearance. The place where conversion should be most manifest is in our family associations.
"The family must hold its pre-eminent place in our way of life," said President Thomas S. Monson, "because it is the only possible base upon which a society of responsible human beings has ever found it practicable to build for the future and maintain the values they cherish in the present."
Likening the generations of the family to links in a chain, Elder David B. Haight encouraged individuals to not become "weak links" so as to impede a future generation from a strong family linkage.
"We should remember that our family relationships — even more than our Church callings — are the setting in which the most important part of that development can occur," counseled Elder Dallin H. Oaks.
When we begin to pay "more attention to what we are, rather than exclusively to what we do, our public and private persons will be the same," said Elder Neal A. Maxwell. Then we become the "man or woman of Christ."
The dramatic change required by conversion occurs when individuals really "dedicate themselves to becoming disciples of the Lord," emphasized Elder L. Tom Perry. Discipleship to Christ then becomes a challenging test to overcome evil thoughts and habits that enslave, and provides us with opportunity to give an uncompromising loyalty to the kingdom of God.
How does such change take place?
It begins in the home. "Parents should teach their children to pray," Elder Henry B. Eyring said. Our goal "is for them to want God to write upon their hearts and be willing then to go and do what God asks of them."
Parents and grandparents "need to do a better job of teaching our children and grandchildren to understand what it means to enter the kingdom of God," added Elder Robert D. Hales. "When we understand our baptismal covenant, our baptism will change our lives and will establish our total allegiance to the kingdom of God. . . ."
Children and youth must be taught the sacredness of their bodies.
"Your body . . . is the instrument of your mind and the foundation of your character," declared President Boyd K. Packer. Therefore, youth must avoid immodest dress and "dress and groom as to show the Lord that you know how precious your body is."
As he did with the Relief Society sisters, President Hinckley cautioned priesthood brethren against tattooing the body and the fad of body piercing. He further warned against the drug Ecstacy, and all forms of pornography. "I plead with you," he said, "not to befoul your minds with this ugly and vicious stuff."
Elder Jeffery R. Holland warned that the cultural permissiveness "will only get worse." And therefore it is absolutely essential for young men to sanctify themselves and be clean and worthy to bear the priesthood of God.
For any who may have committed serious errors and want to find their way back, Elder Richard C. Scott instructed on the law of repentance and how true repentance will "put your life together" again.
Our guidepost and standard must be the scriptures, Elder Russell M. Nelson declared. The scriptures provide a "spiritual road map" to guide us in our journey home. In order to obtain a witness of the truth of the scriptures, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin recommended that we "study the words of Moroni" and follow his counsel to pray with sincerity and with faith.
An evidence of true conversion, stated Elder M. Russell Ballard, "is our willingness to share [the gospel] with others and to help missionaries find someone to teach."
The new center is now dedicated, and it is pleasing to the Lord. President Monson appealed, "As a symbol of our gratitude, as an expression of our love for the Lord, should we not rededicate our lives and our homes in like manner?"
Concluding a conference which enjoined all Latter-day Saints to become more Christ like in our nature, President Hinckley said: "If we have drawn nearer to the Savior, with a more firm resolution to follow His teachings and His example, then this conference will have been a wonderful success. If, on the other hand, there is no improvement in our lives, then those who have spoken will have in large measure failed."
We are not yet what we ought to be. But the message of this conference is that we can become someone better than what we are if we apply these teachings.