Jesus Christ, painting by Del Parson
I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Jesus Christ was an important part of my life as a child, and still is to this day. Our family attended church meetings every Sunday. When I was young, the men would attend Priesthood Meetings in the morning, then come home and bring the whole family back for Sunday School at 10:00 AM. In the evening we would all return back for the Sacrament Meeting worship service at 7:00 PM. It was a long day of worship for young families, but we were together. Later in the week we would return to the church for different auxiliary meetings and activities for women, children and youth.
On Tuesdays after school, my friends and siblings and I would walk the three blocks from the elementary school to the church for Primary. We would learn songs about Jesus and divide up into classes according to age to hear stories and learn scriptures and participate in other activities. When I was about seven years old we were each given a small 5 x 7 copy of a painting of Jesus Christ, which I treasured. We were also given a New Testament, which I also treasured. When I was eight years old, I was baptized as Jesus was, by immersion. I knew and felt his love for me then.
Easter and Christmas were definitely fun holidays that we celebrated in the traditional American way, with colored eggs and candy, Santa and giving of gifts, and always plenty of good food, but we were taught the meaning behind these religious holidays too. We knew that God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to earth as a baby born to a mortal mother. He taught his fellow men to love God and to love one another. He taught by parable and he taught by example. He suffered in Gethsemane and died in Golgatha, and was resurrected after the third day. Because of the life and sacrifice and atonement of Jesus Christ, we can all repent, improve, and one day become perfect, as He is. After we die, we will all be resurrected, never to die again, because Jesus died for us, and was resurrected. He broke the bonds of death. We have no need to fear.
I have always known that my Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ love me. I was taught at my mother's knee to pray each evening before I went to bed. We prayed as a family, morning and evening to God, in the name of Jesus Christ. I know that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ hear our prayers, love us, and guide our lives as we learn to listen to the promptings they send to us.
Every Monday evening our parents would gather the family together for a Family Home Evening where we would sing hymns, learn to lead music, practice giving talks to each other and sharing our talents with each other, and teaching lessons about the gospel of Jesus Christ to each other. We would read a chapter of scripture from the Bible or the The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, each one taking their turn to read several verses. And of course, at the end of the evening we would take turns providing a treat for the family!
When I was in college a change was made church wide, so now each congregation holds a three hour block of meetings sometime during the day on Sunday, beginning with the Sacrament Meeting, then Sunday School, and ending with the Priesthood meeting for men and the other auxiliary meetings for the women and children. This consolidated scheduled has proved to be a blessing as families now need to travel only once on Sunday to church. This leaves us more time to spend together as families.
When I turned 21 years old I made the decision to take 18 months away from my college studies to serve as a Missionary for Jesus Christ. I spent a little over two months studying the Spanish language, and then spent the remaining 16 months living in Colombia, South America teaching people about our Savior, Jesus Christ and his gospel. I know that Jesus Christ lives. He is our brother. He knows and loves each one of us personally, deeply. He wants the best for us. He wants us to become like him. I knew this as a child, and I know it still today.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.