Declaring the Book of Mormon to be “like an exquisite banquet table, one thousand feet long, covered with the most desirable food, fruit and flowers from across the world,” Elder Neil L. Andersen addressed thousands of young adults here Sunday evening, Jan. 31.
“It will take me a lifetime and more to enjoy the gift of this heavenly banquet,” Elder Andersen declared. “Some of the fruit I have not yet tasted. There are delicacies that I savored long ago, and I long to find again. There are flowers full of color and fragrance that bid me to come closer. There are combinations I am only now beginning to discover.”
Speaking on the campus of Utah State University in Logan, Elder Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was the featured speaker for the 72nd Annual Joseph Smith Memorial Devotional, sponsored by the Logan Institute of Religion. By his side was his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, who also offered remarks. Seated on the stand were Utah State University President Stan L. Albrecht and his wife, Joyce.
Long before the arrival of Elder Andersen on this foggy Cache Valley evening, young adults and high school seniors began lining up on the stairs of the Spectrum athletic arena in anticipation of receiving counsel from an apostle.
In his address, after explaining that he hoped to “honor the Prophet Joseph by discussing with you what he called the most correct book upon the earth, the Book of Mormon,” Elder Andersen issued a solemn promise.
“I promise you that if you will open your heart and your mind during the next 45 minutes, you will leave this meeting with a thought or an impression that is new and reinforcing to your faith in Christ, the Restoration, and the daily power of this sacred book in your lives.”
Continuing, Elder Andersen referred to the declaration by the Prophet Joseph that the Book of Mormon was the “keystone of our religion,” and explained that the title of his remarks was a variation on that statement: “The Book of Mormon: The Keystone of Your Faith.”
The apostle referred to a recent Harris Poll that reflected the diminishing spiritual landscape among today’s millennials. “As you see in your generation some move from their convictions, your firm testimony of the Book of Mormon will keep your life anchored in the Savior and in His gospel.”
Continuing, he held up a page from the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon and spoke of the miracle of an unlearned man translating the work in less than 90 days. During the evening, Elder Andersen also held up other Church archive treasures, including a journal kept by the Prophet Joseph and a copy of the Book of Mormon owned by Hyrum Smith.
Referring to the Book of Mormon prophecy that there would be a marvelous work and a wonder across the world, Elder Andersen pointed out the explosive growth of the Church and missionary work and declared, “the power of the marvelous work and a wonder is right before our eyes.”
The apostle then said he wanted to spend the remainder of time discussing the Book of Mormon as “the keystone to receiving daily spiritual direction” and called the sacred book a “spiritual Liahona.”
“A serious, believing and continual study of the Book of Mormon combined with your faithfulness to the commandments, will open a window to heaven, both showering blessings upon you and inviting your spirit to discover the mysteries of God.”
Elder Andersen then shared several tender excerpts from emails sent through the Institute of Religion with students’ reflections on how the Book of Mormon has strengthened their faith.
Continuing, Elder Andersen declared with conviction: “I thank our Heavenly Father for this most remarkable book .
“In my early days, the feelings and understanding that came to me from the Book of Mormon led me to desire to better love our Savior Jesus Christ and to better know Him. It reassured my faith in the Restoration. For more than 50 years, it has been central to receiving daily spiritual direction and guidance.”
In conclusion, the apostle challenged the teens and young adults to “make the Book of Mormon a daily part of your life . I know that it is sacred and holy and one day will have its place as the most correct of all the books upon the earth.” In Sister Andersen’s remarks, she held up a blue paperback copy of the Book of Mormon from her youth, calling it “a priceless, priceless treasure.”
This was the copy, she related, given to her by her seminary teacher. She recalled reading Helaman 5:12 and the words “rock of our Redeemer.”
“That was something that entered my heart and my spirit and my mind . I bear my testimony that this is a sacred book from God and as we embrace it the Lord Jesus Christ will be mindful of us and that the wonders of heaven will be opened to us.”
Providing music for the evening was the Logan Institute of Religion Combined Choirs consisting of close to 500 members, accompanied by organists Luke Maddox, Bri Wright and Brae Beck, and directed by Allen Matthews and Eric Stauffer. Elder Andersen commented that the music was exceptional.