SALT LAKE CITY -- An Easter message of hope, forgiveness and gratitude was shared Sunday morning by leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the church's 182nd Annual General Conference.
President Thomas S. Monson urged conference participants to turn their thoughts to the savior's life this Easter season as they set a course for an eternal reward.
"Such blessings are earned through a lifetime of striving, seeking, repenting and finally succeeding," he said.
In his talk, "The Race of Life," Monson compared a person's life to a boat race.
"We enter mortality not to float with the moving currents of life, but with the power to think, to reason, and to achieve," he said.
The age-old question of what happens to a person after he or she dies, Monson said, was answered on the first Easter morning to Mary and others who approached the savior's tomb.
"Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen," Monson said, quoting New Testament scripture Luke 24:5-6.
Also sharing an Easter message was D. Todd Christofferson, of the Quorum of the Twelve.
"As our Easter celebration approaches, I express my own witness that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the Son of God, the very Messiah of ancient prophecy," Christofferson said. "He is the Christ who suffered in Gethsename, died on the cross, was buried, and who indeed rose again the third day.
"He is the resurrected Lord through whom we shall all be resurrected and by whom all who will may be redeemed and exalted in his heavenly kingdom."
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, spoke of forgiving others.
"Strained and broken relationships are as old as human-kind itself," he said, speaking of Cain in the beginning of the Old Testament having "tilled his soul with envy and hatred."
"I imagine that every person on earth has been affected by the spirit of contention, resentment and revenge," he said.
But he said a reluctance to forgive comes from judging others to be worthy of revenge.
"Stop it," he said. "It's that simple. We simply have to stop judging others."
He also quoted a bumper sticker he'd seen one day.
"Don't judge me because I sin differently than you," he said the sticker read.
"We must let go of our grievances. Part of the purpose of mortality is to learn how to let go of such things."
Elder Russell M. Nelson, of the Quorum of the Twelve, repeated the phrase "Thanks Be to God" several times throughout his talk as he outlined reasons to be grateful for both physical and spiritual gifts.
He said all people need to turn to the atonement of Jesus Christ for their salvation.
"God is the same yesterday, today and forever, but we are not," he said. "Each day, ours is the challenge to access the power of the atonement, so that we can truly change, become more Christ-like, and qualify for the gift of exaltation and live eternally with God, Jesus Christ, and our families."
His comments referenced Book of Mormon scripture Mosiah 4:9-10.
Julie B. Beck, who was released Saturday as the Relief Society general president, spoke of a divine nature of the Relief Society organization for women.
"We are taught that 'it is as obligatory upon a woman to draw into her life the virtues that are fostered by the Relief Society as it is an obligation for the men to build into their lives the patterns of character fostered by the priesthood,' " she said, quoting Boyd K. Packer in the church publication Daughters In My Kingdom, page 16.
She urged women to do "everything possible to become spiritually and temporally self-sufficient."
Quoting former LDS Church president Lorenzo Snow, Beck said, the future of the Relief Society is full of promise.
"As the church grows, the (Relief Society's) field of usefulness will be correspondingly enlarged, and it will be even more potent for good than it has been in the past," she said, quoting Snow.