It is a rare privilege to be living on earth as time slips into a new millennium. As Latter-day Saints, we understand the immeasurable significance of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, some 2,000 years ago. “God sent his Only Begotten Son to earth to do at least two things that no other person could have done,” President Howard W. Hunter observed. “The first task Christ did … was to redeem all mankind from the Fall, providing an atonement for Adam’s sin and for our own sins if we will accept and follow him. The second great thing he did was to set a perfect example of right living, of kindness and mercy and compassion, in order that all of the rest of mankind might know how to live, know how to improve, and know how to become more godlike” (“‘What Manner of Men Ought Ye to Be?’” Ensign, May 1994, 64).
Nearly 600 years before the birth of the Savior, the prophet Nephi recognized the importance of Jesus Christ’s mission: “We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Ne. 25:26). Today, we continue to worship the Lord as a living, glorified being who loves us and who is personally concerned for our welfare. That He lived and died some 2,000 years ago is a matter of public record; that He lives and directs His Church today is confirmed by personal revelation and the inspired testimonies of His servants and the fruits of their labors.
Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the Seventy testifies: “Each of us will taste the bitter ashes of life, from sin and neglect to sorrow and disappointment. But the atonement of Christ can lift us up in beauty from our ashes on the wings of a sure promise of immortality and eternal life. He will thus lift us up, not only at the end of life, but in each day of our lives” (“Beauty for Ashes: The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” Liahona, April 1997, 48).
The Lord is ever aware of our needs and eager to help. One sister relates how she prayed to Heavenly Father and was blessed by the power of the Atonement: “I had no one to turn to, no place to go, except on my knees. I prayed as I had never prayed before. I fasted faithfully, meaningfully, and often. I read and studied the scriptures from cover to cover for the first time in my life. … And he was there. He heard my humble pleadings. He put his arm of love around me. He forgave me of my sins and showed me a better way. I was amazed at the happiness, success, and opportunity that came into my life” (“After Divorce: Clearing the Hurdles,” Ensign, August 1985, 50).
We can draw closer to the Savior by following His tender admonition to “walk with me” (Moses 6:34). “We must know Christ better than we know him,” President Hunter counseled; “we must remember him more often than we remember him; we must serve him more valiantly than we serve him. Then we will drink water springing up unto eternal life” (Ensign, May 1994, 64).