My dear brothers and sisters, this afternoon I would like to speak about gratitude: first, for a loving family; second, for a living prophet; and third, for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Nephi stated that he had “been born of goodly parents” (1 Ne. 1:1). I echo his same words, for I too was born of goodly parents—a father who was a faithful Latter-day Saint who honored his priesthood and a loving mother who died when I was a young child, leaving my father with six children. My father remarried a widow with nine children, thus giving me, in all, five brothers and nine sisters. I am grateful for my second mother, who loved me as one of her own and who was an example to me. I thank my Father in Heaven for all of my brothers and sisters, who have loved and supported me and who also love the gospel and the Lord. It has now been 54 years since the Lunt-Taylor family was joined together, and even though our parents are gone, we feel unity and love for each other. I also have felt the love and support of grandparents, uncles and aunts, and other relatives.
I am grateful for my loving and devoted wife, Sharon, and our six children, two sons-in-law, and five grandchildren. The Psalmist said: “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord. … Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them” (Ps. 127:3, 5). I am grateful for this heritage of the Lord and for their love and support.
I express gratitude for a living prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley. Last November he visited many South American countries, including Chile. That same week Chile hosted an important summit meeting for all nations of Latin America. There were presidents and dignitaries from 16 different countries. Streets in the areas where they stayed and met were barricaded. Day and night, sirens wailed and red lights flashed to make way for those men as they traveled back and forth from their meetings. In the midst of all the commotion, President Hinckley arrived. There was no fanfare and no special welcome, recognition, or privilege extended to him. Two vans left the airport and maneuvered through the streets of Santiago, one carrying the Lord’s living prophet. At the hotel there were police and guards to protect the summit visitors, while President Hinckley, with his family and others, entered unnoticed.
My mind went back to a stable many years ago, where the birth of the Son of God went unnoticed except for a few shepherds in the fields watching over their flocks. God’s kingdom on earth moves quietly along behind the scenes of more-publicized events.
The next day, as President Hinckley spoke to over 50,000 Saints and testified of Christ and of His Church, one could feel his conviction. He told all present that he wanted them to remember that they had heard Gordon B. Hinckley say that God lives and Jesus is the Christ. He counseled the Saints to put their lives in order, to teach their children the ways of the Lord, and to form eternal families by being sealed in the temple. At the conclusion of the conference, with tears in their eyes and a testimony in their hearts that here, truly, was a prophet of God on earth, the vast congregation stood and waved white handkerchiefs in farewell. President Hinckley took his handkerchief from his pocket and with love returned their farewell. I know, as those many Saints in Chile and throughout the world know, that President Gordon B. Hinckley is the living prophet of God on earth. I am grateful for him and for his example.
I express gratitude and love for Jesus Christ and His Atonement, for His willingness to leave the realms of the heavens as a God and come to earth as a lowly babe, born in a stable to Mary and Joseph because there was no room for them in the inn. He lived a life of service, forgetting Himself in the cause of His Father’s other children. His desire was to fulfill the Father’s will, which is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
In the final hours of His mortal life, He went into the Garden of Gethsemane and took upon Himself the sins of all mankind, from Adam until the last person born on earth. There He “suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent” (D&C 19:16). His own words describe that experience: “Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink” (D&C 19:18). A few hours later, He was tried and judged of men and then crucified on a cross. The great Jehovah, the Creator of this world and worlds without number, submitted Himself humbly to the desires of evil men and thus accomplished the will of the Father.
The resurrected Savior taught the people in the Americas “that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world” (3 Ne. 27:16). In writing of repentance, President Boyd K. Packer said: “In the universal battle for human souls, the adversary takes enormous numbers of prisoners. Many, knowing of no way to escape, are pressed into his service. Every soul confined in a concentration camp of sin and guilt has a key to the gate. The key is labeled Repentance. The adversary cannot hold them, if they know how to use it. The twin principles of repentance and forgiveness exceed in strength the awesome power of the tempter” (The Things of the Soul , 114).
The Lord said in Isaiah, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1:18). The Lord has said in our day, “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more. By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them” (D&C 58:42–43).
Jesus Christ is the judge of all: “The keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate” (2 Ne. 9:41). I feel He will be disappointed if we are not worthy to live with Him and His Father. Brothers and sisters, may we know how to use the key labeled repentance so that we may, as we stand before the Savior, “listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading [our] cause before him—
“Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;
“Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life” (D&C 45:3–5).
My desire is to be worthy to have this everlasting life with Jesus Christ and our Father, and I pray we will all have this same desire and strive to achieve it.
I bear witness that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God, our Lord and Savior. At this special time, as we remember His Resurrection, I express my deep gratitude for Him and for His Atonement, and I do so in His name, even Jesus Christ, amen.