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Finding our ‘new normal’: What every general conference talk had in common

by | Oct. 09, 2020

Editor's note: Our bi-weekly Friday column, “Found in the footnotes,” explores some of the footnotes from remarks given by General Authorities and General Officers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

My web browser homepage leads straight to ChurchofJesusChrist.org, and when I visited on Wednesday, a headline caught my eye: “A Conference Focused on Christ—Read and Watch Talks Here.”

In the hours and days following general conference, reporters released articles summarizing the events of general conference. Many identify key themes and principles taught by Church leaders. Included in the list of what I saw in headlines were topics like emphasizing faith over fear, rooting out racism, hope for the future, and building unity.

Perhaps that’s why the headline on the Church’s homepage stood out to me. If I had to pick one theme for the 190th Semiannual General Conference, it would be a single word: Christ.

Church News editor Sarah Jane Weaver reported, “Speakers during the 190th Semiannual General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all testified of Jesus Christ and His restored Church—asking members to look forward with faith.”

► You may also like: A promise or invitation from each October 2020 general conference talk

Each leader that stood at the Conference Center Theater pulpit testified of the Savior. Every talk teaches us about the Lord. In a year when President Russell M. Nelson has encouraged us to “hear Him,” it truly was a conference focused on Him.

As I’ve been doing my first initial read of the addresses, I’ve noticed each time there was a reference of the Savior. This has reminded me of an invitation President Nelson extended to the women during the October 2018 general conference, where he invited the sisters to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year and encouraged them to mark each verse that speaks or refers to Jesus Christ.

I still have that Book of Mormon where I marked every reference to the Savior, and I turn to it often. Every time I do, I see how involved the Lord was in the lives of the people in the Americas and it reminds me how He will be there for me in my life too.

In his October 2020 conference address, Elder Neil L. Andersen said, “The Book of Mormon is a powerful witness of Jesus Christ. Virtually every page testifies of the Savior and His divine mission.”

In a footnote, he expounds on this thought with two quotes:

“As [the Book of Mormon prophetic scribes] wrote their testimonies of the promised Messiah, they mentioned some form of his name on an average of every 1.7 verses. [They] referred to Jesus Christ by, literally, 101 different names. . . . When we realize that a verse usually consists of one sentence, it appears that we cannot, on the average, read two sentences in the Book of Mormon without seeing some form of Christ’s name” (Susan Easton Black, Finding Christ through the Book of Mormon [1987], 5, 15).

There are over 6,000 verses in the Book of Mormon, and I find it incredible that nearly every other verse references the Savior. Within those verses, we also learn more about the character of Christ in a way we don’t in the Bible. The second quote in Elder Andersen’s footnote explains this in greater detail:

“While the words atone or atonement, in any of their forms, appear only once in the King James translation of the New Testament, they appear 35 times in the Book of Mormon. As another testament of Jesus Christ, it sheds precious light on His Atonement” (Russell M. Nelson, “The Atonement,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 35).

When looking for references of the Savior, it’s hard to miss the references to the Atonement of Christ, and studying that gave me a deeper understanding of the role He can play in my life. As I read Elder Andersen’s talk and reflected on the experience I had last time I intentionally looked for the Savior in the scriptures, an idea came to mind. I think this year as I study the general conference remarks, I will mark every reference to the Savior. As I do that, I pray I can discover my new normal—a new normal not defined by masks and COVID-19, but instead defined by placing my focus on the Savior and Heavenly Father, as President Nelson said during his Sunday afternoon remarks:

“If you really want to embrace a new normal, I invite you to turn your heart, mind, and soul increasingly to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Let that be your new normal.”

It’s my hope that we can all find our new normal as we study and apply the words of our Church leaders. Truly they are teachers for our times and they are pointing us to Him.

► You may also like: See a powerful quote from each October 2020 general conference talk

Lead image: Intellectual Reserve, Inc. 

Image title The General Conference Addresses Journal Edition will have all the text of the General Conference addresses from October 2020 in one spiral-bound paperback. Extra-wide, lined margins give you space to record your impressions and document insights you receive. The journal edition is now available for preorder and ships at the end of October.

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Lindsey Williams

Lindsey Williams joined the LDS Living team with a passion to find the stories that matter most. Previous stops in her career include BYU-Pathway Worldwide, the Special Projects Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Utah Valley Magazine. When she's not searching for stories to write, the Colorado Springs native is most likely on a hiking trail. Follow her on Twitter with the handle @lindsey5brooke.

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