Wow-we-woo, it’s Conference time again!
In my quest (like the rest of us) to try to stay awake during the soothing, spiritual hours of LDS General Conference, I discovered a few years ago that blogging during Conference helps me stay awake and focused AND allows me to keep/share my thoughts on the various talks! In that spirit, I’ll be blogging as we go through the sessions this weekend, publishing my thoughts after each talk.
As a fun side comment, a few years ago I got a BUNCH of traffic to my old blog for people who were looking for things like “Elder Packer’s Crow Poem.” Hopefully I get more visitors this year and can spread the good word about the things that are happening this weekend in downtown Salt Lake City!
Well….it’s almost time, so be sure to check back in as the session/weekend goes on.
First woman praying at LDS General Conference
There has been much ado of recent about the role of women in the Church and what it should be. Recently talk arose that-for the first time ever-a woman may be asked to pray in General Conference. It has historically been an assignment given to local or general Priesthood leaders.
Though women have spoken during LDS General Conference for years (and years and years,) the “first” of having a woman pray during Conference is something that many eagerly await. I couldn’t help but notice that the opening prayer of the Conference was not given by a woman. Will be keeping my eye out for this.
Ever affable and as lovely a man as they come, President Monson announces the building of two new temples (Cedar City, Utah and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.) How many people in the Church roll their eyes when they hear that another new Temple is being built in Utah? The number must be high.
President Monson also adds that the current number of LDS missionaries serving around the world is 65,000. If I remember correctly, it seemed like before the “raising of the bar” in 2002 the average number of missionaries was around 66,000 and afterward the number dipped to 50,000-55,000. Good to see the numbers going back up!!
President Packer returns to the poem, this time self-written. Like the Crow Poem, though, this is another poem about growing old and the differences between youth and advanced age. He’s quite the clever poet, clearly with a sense of humor and an interest in observing the world both around him and within him. (As a side note, I missed breakfast and am going to have to sneak a glass of Ovaltine at some point!)
If I do the math correctly (he said a year ago he added a few more lines as an 88-year-old) President Packer is now almost 90! I’m just now realizing that an impressive feat would have been to transcribe this lovely lyrical creation of President Packer…unfortunately we don’t have a DVR so I won’t be going back to try (I could easily do this with the online stream if I wanted, but this is live-blogging!)
As we listen to President Packer’s account of snakes at his home, my mom points out that he lives nearby, just down a small road from the apartments we lived in when I was in high school. She says it’s tucked in so nicely that you wouldn’t even know a home is back there!
“If he can weaken and destroy the family, (the adversary) will have succeeded.” He has tactfully and subtly woven this talk’s beginning into a narrative on protecting family and (traditional?) marriage and its role in this life and in the Gospel. He remarks on the importance of having a mother and a father who holds the Priesthood, giving “an example of love and fidelity” to his wife. “You will do no greater eternal work than within the walls of your own home.”
“We are free to choose what we will, and to pick and choose our acts. We are not free to choose our consequences.” “Agency is defined in the scriptures as ‘moral agency.'” (Not, as many continually repeat, “Free Agency.” That’s the principle of the NBA that allowed LeBron to leave Cleveland for Miami, not the principle of the Gospel that allows us to choose to follow or disobey the Lord’s commandments. :D)
President Packer states that we must separate the sin from the sinner. “Every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.” (Moroni 7:13)
Elder Dean Davies
Starts by sharing an experience from an earthquake in San Fransisco…lots and lots of damage because in years past buildings were situated on top of very unstable soil. Then reads Helaman 5:12 about being built on a sure foundation.
We need “daily personal prayer and feasting on the scriptures.” Unlike Temples, that are built on a foundation which will remain solid, we need to constantly be watching for our personal foundation of testimony to remain strong. “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.” (Alma 37:37) <-----BIG! As we are listening, my mom (totally on topic) exclaims, "I wonder where they found land in Rio to build that new Temple." That's actually a really good question! From my little geographical knowledge of Rio de Janeiro (based FULLY on movies, mainly Fast Five,) it seems like real estate property (especially in decent areas) is at a major premium! "By anchoring our lives to Jesus Christ and his Atonement...we will be strengthened, we will experience real personal growth...our lives will be built upon a sure foundation."
Sister Elaine S. Dalton
Some foolios joke around that when a woman takes the podium it’s time to put your notes down and zone out for 15 minutes or so (either because the talk will not be pertinent to them or because it will be filled with “fluff.”) I disagree wholeheartedly. With my face buried in my computer screen, my first indication that a sister was approaching the podium was hearing the sweet voice of Sister Dalton. I love the tender messages that the sisters of the Church share at General Conference and local meetings.
Sister Elaine Dalton brings out her famed experience with these words, found on a stone in Scotland: “What e’er thou art, act well thy part.” She reads from the Proclamation to the Family that fathers and mothers each have roles in the family that they are expected to honor! Fathers are accountable before the Lord (think of that phrase) for the physical protection and well-being of their families and to wield the Priesthood in righteousness. Mothers are accountable before the Lord for the nurturing of their children.
Rant Alert: I hate how the role of women is diminished by women both outside the Church and within it. The greatest thing that can be done for a child is for that child to receive love, affection, support and understanding from his or her family. A child should be educated and instructed in both spiritual and earthly things. This has more impact on who a child becomes than ANYTHING else I can imagine. And yet, because women are “supposed” to have this role and not another, they are “less important??” I could not disagree more. If my spouse went to work for 8-9 hours a day to earn the money needed for our family to have our temporal needs met and I stayed home, educating children, nurturing them and helping them grow from infancy to adulthood and someone tried to tell me that my role was “lesser,” I would laugh in his/her face. Each adult was once a child, and each adult is shaped eternally by his/her experience as a child. The responsibility to raise and teach children is the greatest role in existence on this Earth. The End.
Elder Craig Cardon
The Savior was not only able to had power to heal physical infirmities, but to forgive sins. And He not only forgives sins at the Final Judgment, but He forgives sins on Earth, here and now! He knows that we are weak and that we fight battles again, and again, and again. We sometimes think that He gets tired of us making mistakes over and over and over, but the same man who once answered Peter’s inquiry of “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” with the merciful “I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:22)
The message here is that we can’t mess up often enough or badly enough that the Lord will not readily forgive us when we finally do turn to Him and ask for strength, forgiveness, and cleansing. A clear conscience and a clean slate is ALWAYS available to those who will turn to the Lord and lay claim on His Atonement. Remember that each trial and each poor choice could be viewed as a “temporary” trial or struggle. “We are advised not to see men as they are at present, but as they may become.” “I will be merciful unto your weakness.”
“He knoweth the weakness of man and how to succor those who are tempted.” “He commands us to repent, and to forgive.” “Notwithstanding your sins, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you.” The Lord wants to forgive us and is NEVER tired of us, our mistakes, or our need for forgiveness. THIS TALK ROCKED!!
Elder M. Russel Ballard
Elder Russell starts with a “shout-out” to President Packer, and lets him know we’re all hoping to hear the “98-year-old” version of his poem! Love it.
The Hubble telescope indicates that our HUGE Milky Way Galaxy is only one of about 200B (that’s 200,000,000,000) similar galaxies, some much larger than hours. The power of God extends over ALL of this. “Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man,” a man cannot realize the full measure of his ability to exercise the Priesthood without a woman. In other words, both the power of procreation and the power of the Priesthood are dependent on a man and a woman exercising both together. This is beautiful. Translation: We’re all a team here! “It doesn’t matter who scores, it only matters that we score.”
(FYI, my mom is now sleeping peacefully on the couch across from me. Now ask me, is SHE live-blogging LDS General Conference? No, no she’s not. Boom.)
Elder Ballard uses a beautiful allegory of a tomato plant, planted by his granddaughter. It has the potential of giving life to literally thousands of tomatoes in just a few seasons. Though it may be weakened by neglect or malnourishment, it can be brought back to life with tender care and the essential things it needs. So it is with us, spiritually. The power of the Priesthood can help strengthen those in need.
First Woman Praying at LDS General Conference ALERT!!
Sister Jean Stevens will be offering the benediction! Whoooooa.
President Henry B. Eyring
“This is His Church. We take His name upon us as we enter his Kingdom.” (btw, I’m super distracted right now, writing back and forth with a friend of mine about the significance of a woman praying for the first time at General Conference, etc.)
Entering the waters of baptism means taking upon yourself the name of Christ, become His witness, and help those in need. Some faithful parents serve the Lord well, but have children who go astray. “His arms are outstretched with yours to succor the children of our Heavenly Father.”
“I know the Savior lives, as surely as Joseph Smith did” after seeing Him standing at the right hand of the Father in the Sacred Grove.”
Awesome session…back for more later!