I have had the privilege of attending many cultural celebrations held in conjunction with temple dedications. I have loved all of them, including the most recent one I attended in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, last November.
Latter-day Saint youth who participate in cultural celebrations put on marvelous, memorable programs. Last year in Phoenix, just prior to the celebration, I told the participants, “You are children of light.”
I would like all of the youth of the Church to know that they are children of light. As such, they have a responsibility to be “as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). They have a duty to share the truths of the gospel. They have a calling to stand as a temple beacon, reflecting gospel light to an increasingly dark world. They have a charge to keep their light aflame and burning brightly.
In order for us to be “an example of the believers” (1 Timothy 4:12), we ourselves must believe. We must develop the faith necessary to survive spiritually and to project a light for others. We must nurture our testimony until it becomes an anchor to our lives.
Among the most effective ways to gain and keep the faith we need today is to read and study the scriptures and to pray frequently and consistently. To the youth of the Church, I say, if you haven’t done so, develop now a habit of daily scripture study and prayer. Without these two essential practices, outside influences and the sometimes-harsh realities of life can dim or even extinguish your light.
The teenage years are not easy. They are prime years when Satan will tempt you and do his utmost to entice you from the path which will lead you back to your heavenly home. But as you read and pray and as you serve and obey, you will come to know better “the light which shineth in darkness” (D&C 6:21), our Exemplar and our strength—even the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Light we are to hold up to dispel the gathering darkness (see 3 Nephi 18:24).
With a strong testimony of the Savior and His restored gospel, you have limitless opportunities to shine. They surround you each day, in whatever circumstances you find yourselves. As you follow the example of the Savior, yours will be the opportunity to be a light, as it were, in the lives of those around you—whether they be members of your own family, classmates, co-workers, mere acquaintances, or total strangers.
When you are a light to the world, people around you will feel a special spirit that will make them want to associate with you and follow your example.
I plead with parents and leaders of our youth to help them stand firm for truth and righteousness. Help open wide to their view the gates of learning, of understanding, and of service in the kingdom of God. Build within them strength to resist the temptations of the world. Give them the will to walk in virtue and faith, to be prayerful, and to look to heaven as their constant anchor.
To our youth, I say, our Heavenly Father loves you. May you feel also the love which Church leaders have for you. May you ever have a desire to serve your Heavenly Father and His Son. And may you always walk in truth and stand as a light among God’s children.