Editor’s note: “This week from the pulpit” highlights recent messages from General Authorities, General Officers, and leaders of the Church. This story will be updated throughout the week. Find summaries of remarks below or use the hyperlink menu to jump to a specific section.
- • The Uchtdorfs Celebrate Their Anniversary
- • The Church in South America
- • Spiritual Math
- • Elder Johnson Speaks to BYU–Hawaii Graduates
- Remembering the Symbolism of Shepherds
- • Elder Bednar Speaks to BYU–Idaho Graduates
December is a time of celebration for many within the Church, and it isn’t only because of the Christmas season. For example, on Christmas Day 95 years ago, President Russell M. Ballard’s grandfather, Elder Melvin J. Ballard, dedicated South America for the preaching of the gospel. This week, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, also celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary, and a new set of BYU–Hawaii students recently graduated.
Here’s a brief look at each of these events and more counsel from Church leaders as you go throughout your week.
The Uchtdorfs Celeberate Their Anniversary
On December 14, Elder and Sister Uchtdorf celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary. In a post on Facebook, Elder Uchtdorf reminisced about how he and Sister Uchtdorf met as teenagers and Germany—and that while she knew he had a crush on her, they were just friends. Elder Uchtdorf wrote that in their youth, he and Harriet learned to dance the foxtrot, boogie-woogie, and rock and roll, and they still love to dance together today. Watch a video of the Uchtdorfs filmed before COVID-19 and read some of their counsel below.
The Church in South America
Ninety-five years ago on Christmas Day, President Russell M. Ballard’s grandfather dedicated all of South America for the preaching of the gospel, envisioning a day when it would be a “power in the Church.”
That prophecy has certainly been fulfilled, and on December 12 of this year, President Ballard spoke to the Latter-day Saints South America Seminar 2020, sharing his thoughts about his grandfather’s service. During the seminar, he spoke about how it took several weeks for his grandfather to arrive in Argentina, there were few Spanish-language teaching materials, and the Book of Mormon wasn’t formally translated at the time.
Church News reported that President Ballard encouraged others to remember his grandfather’s experiences this Christmas with their loved ones.
“Tell them what a wonderful blessing it is that President Heber J. Grant—the president of the Church—sent one of his Apostles to Argentina to dedicate all the lands of South America.”
Read the full story at Church News.
There are many instances when the odds have been against people in the scriptures in one way or another. For instance, Nephi and his brothers sought to obtain the brass plates—but Laban had 50 men at his command, and it was obvious who would win.
Or consider Moses and the Israelites, who were blocked by the Red Sea while the Egyptian army was at their backs. Giving up and serving the Egyptians seemed like the best option.
But when God is on your side, and when your faith is placed in Christ and in His servants, those numbers don’t matter—you will win every time, Elder Tad Callister, emeritus General Authority, explained.
“Regardless of the opposition’s numbers or worldly power, there is no secular force that can rob us of our testimony or our exaltation, for God has declared: ‘fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever’ (Doctrine & Covenants 122:9),” Elder Callister wrote. “Spiritual math is a heavenly math that always takes precedence over its worldly counterpart. It helps us know that we ‘can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth (us)’ (Philippians 4:13).”
Read the full article at Church News.
Elder Johnson Speaks to BYU–Hawaii Graduates
In the virtual commencement exercises for BYU–Hawaii, Elder Paul V. Johnson, the Commissioner of the Church Educational System, spoke to recent graduates on how there is a bright future ahead, despite the current situation surrounding the pandemic.
According to Church News, Elder Johnson said that each generation faces their own trials—whether it’s World War I, the Spanish flu, the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, Vietnam War, the rise of drug culture, or the terrorism. Today is no exception, but past generations have accomplished what the Lord has wanted them to.
“You will, too,” Elder Johnson said. “The faithful who went before you did not shrink from nor shirk their responsibilities. You will not either.”
Elder Johnson also promised the new graduates that they would eventually reach their promised land, just like the Jaredites, and that while they might be facing uncertainty upon their graduation, God’s promises are sure.
BYU–Hawaii president John “Keoni” S.K. Kauwe III also shared several things he has learned during these times. Read more about his and Elder Johnson’s addresses at Church News.
Remembering the Symbolism of Shepherds
In a Christmas message this year, the Young Women General Presidency reflected on the meaning of shepherds and shepherding.
From the foreordained shepherds who bore witness of the birth of Christ to the “Good Shepherd” who watched over His Father’s flock to the ancient Apostles who took the Savior’s place as shepherds, many have had the humble and important role throughout history.
But shepherds aren’t just a thing of the past. We, too, have shepherds, mentors, teachers, and friends in our life who have brought us closer to Christ. The Young Women general presidency asks us to consider how we can be like the shepherds of old and follow the Savior’s example to watch over Heavenly Father’s flocks and prepare others to do the same.
“In this unique and stretching Christmas of 2020, may we all remember that the Good Shepherd knows His sheep,” they wrote. “He loves us, protects us, and walks with us. He knows our names, and He knows our hearts. We know His voice and He is calling us to follow Him. He also pleads with each of us, because we love Him, to love and feed His lambs and invite them to trust in the saving grace of ‘the Lamb of God’ (John 1:29).”
Read the full article at Church News.
Elder Bednar Speaks to BYU–Idaho Graduates
During BYU–Idaho’s fall commencement exercises, Elder David A. Bednar spoke of the benefits of limitations, constraints, and afflictions.
The Apostle stated that just as the pioneers paved the way for those who followed after them, today’s graduates, who have faced different challenges due to the pandemic, will likewise aid future students because of their efforts.
“Truly you are pioneers in the era of COVID-19, just as those early pioneers blazed the trail to the Great Salt Lake Valley almost 175 years ago," Elder Bednar said. "You are helping to dig wells from which you will not drink. And you are lighting fires from which you will not draw warmth.”
Elder Bednar continued by saying the 2020 graduates have benefited from the sacrifices of those who came before them and that the lessons today’s students have learned from the pandemic “will live on long after the pandemic has been eradicated.”
Making a scriptural comparison, Elder Bednar also spoke of how Lehi’s son Jacob was raised during a time of conflict in the wilderness but that he was promised his affliction would be for his gain. He then explained how affliction and limitations of many kinds can “become remarkable sources of spiritual learning and insight” and how the pandemic can teach us to value gospel learning in the home, to have reverence for the sacrament, and to have an appreciation for temple covenants.
“Limitations and constraints caused by a multitude of different circumstances can become remarkable blessings if we have spiritual eyes to see and discerning ears to hear,” Elder Bednar said.
Read more of Elder Bednar’s remarks at Church News.