Sunday, January 15, 2017

Citizenship in the Ward

I spoke in the Lynnfield LDS Ward today. What an amazing ward! While I found many parts of their services edifying, perhaps the most startling was how early their chapel filled up. I showed up about ten minutes early to the building. At my ward, that would be a near-empty chapel, but in Lynnfield the chapel was pretty full and the overflow was already filling up. I almost wanted to ask if the congregation was really full of Mormons, as nobody seemed to abide by "Mormon standard time." In the end they had to open up into the cultural hall.

The other speaker in the program covered the material really well, so I just had to not mess it up too badly. That's always nice. My assigned topic was "reaching out to our community, strengthening our ward family, then outward." The Bishopric member pointed me at Elder Perry's talk, which focused on Alma, Peter, and John Taylor as examples. I over-prepared as usual, but since I wanted my wife's feedback I actually delivered some of the talk to her the night before. I think that really helped hone the message, and it helped me get rid of things I thought were interesting but that weren't as central. I think the talk ended up covering things pretty well.

Here's the notes, or you can look at the Google doc:

Reaching out to our community,  strengthening our ward family,  then outward

  1. Introduction - A Muppet Christmas Carol
    1. Marley and Marley - earthly abundance and hoarding it
    2. learning to recognize abundance and give from it
    3. Boy Scouts - family life, citizenship in the community, nation, and world
  2. Scarcity vs. Abundance
    1. Elder Perry - “It has always interested me to note that in the scriptures when the Lord talks about righteousness, we hear him declare abundance, fullness, and plenty. Shortage and scarcity are not from him, but are man-made because of our failure to follow his original instructions to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over [it].” (Gen. 1:28.)
      Now to maximize our potential, he has given us direction from the beginning on our behavior while we sojourn here as mortals on earth. He has asked us first to love him by believing on his words, and secondly to love our fellowmen enough to help bring them to a realization and a testimony of him.”
    2. Elder Packer - “Oh, if I could teach you this one principle. A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it! Somewhere in your quest for spiritual knowledge, there is that “leap of faith,” as the philosophers call it. It is the moment when you have gone to the edge of the light and stepped into the darkness to discover that the way is lighted ahead for just a footstep or two. “The spirit of man,” is as the scripture says, indeed “is the candle of the Lord.” (Prov. 20:27.)
      It is one thing to receive a witness from what you have read or what another has said; and that is a necessary beginning. It is quite another to have the Spirit confirm to you in your bosom that what you have testified is true. Can you not see that it will be supplied as you share it? As you give that which you have, there is a replacement, with increase!”
  3. Experience of Peter, the apostle
    1. Walking on water
      1. He didn’t wait for it
      2. Lord reached out
      3. He did it again!
    2. Last supper
      1. Luke 22:31-32 - culminating. Had been converted, would be again
        31 ¶And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
        32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
    3. I go a fishing - He was waiting for it. Don’t wait for it!
      1. John 21:15-17 -
        15 ¶So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
        16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
        17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
  4. The ward family and our extended stake family
    1. Abundance in the ward
      Elder Hales - “We all belong to a community of Saints, we all need each other, and we are all working toward the same goal. Any one of us could isolate ourselves from this ward family on the basis of our differences. But we must not shut ourselves out or isolate ourselves from opportunities because of the differences we perceive in ourselves. Instead, let us share our gifts and talents with others, bringing brightness of hope and joy to them, and in so doing lift our own spirits.”
    2. We have all found ourselves in a new stake, the North Shore Stake.
      Let’s talk about that a bit.
      Elder Eyring's talk from this past General Conference where he talked about the North Shore Stake: "I left Albuquerque to go to school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. There was one chapel and a district that stretched across much of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. I drove the hills of that beautiful country to sacrament meetings in tiny branches, most in small rented facilities or little remodeled homes. Now there is a sacred temple of God in Belmont, Massachusetts, and stakes that spread across the countryside. What I could not see clearly then was that the Lord was pouring out His Spirit on people in those little sacrament meetings. I could feel it, but I could not see the extent and the timing of the Lord’s intentions to build and glorify His kingdom."
    3. Purpose of a Stake: a source of abundance
      President Benson - “From the revelations, we can see that a stake has at least four purposes:
      1. Each stake, presided over by three high priests and supported by twelve men known as a high council, becomes a miniature Church to the Saints in a specific geographic area. The purpose is to unify and perfect the members who live in those boundaries by extending to them the Church programs, the ordinances, and gospel instruction.
      2. Members of stakes are to be models, or standards, of righteousness.
      3. Stakes are to be a defense. They do this as stake members unify under their local priesthood officers and consecrate themselves to do their duty and keep their covenants. Those covenants, if kept, become a protection from error, evil, or calamity.
      We only build temples in stakes. The blessings and ordinances of the temple prepare one for exaltation. Of course, it is not possible for every stake to have a temple, but we are presently witnessing some remarkable—yes, miraculous—developments in the building of temples in different parts of the world. Such a program permits members of the Church to receive the full blessings of the Lord.
      4. Stakes are a refuge from the storm to be poured out over the earth.”
  5. Welfare - Strengthen each other from our abundance: temporally, socially, and spiritually!
    1. Bishop Glenn L Pace - “We must reach out beyond the walls of our own church. In humanitarian work, as in other areas of the gospel, we cannot become the salt of the earth if we stay in one lump in the cultural halls of our beautiful meetinghouses. We need not wait for a call or assignment from a Church leader before we become involved in activities that are best carried out on a community or individual basis.” (Ensign, Nov. 1990, p. 10.)
    2. Programs
    3. The fourth mission of the church: caring for the poor and needy
      1. Matt. 22:36–40 - Lawyer asking “which is the great commandment in the law?” Love God, and love thy neighbor
      2. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt. 25:40.)
      3. “Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will.” (D&C 58:27.)
      4. “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” (Mosiah 2:17.)
  6. Conclusion
    1. Apocryphal quote: “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” - Attributed to Japanese Admiral Yamamoto after Pearl Harbor
    2. Abundance, ward & stake, welfare
    3. Scrooge, Peter
    4. Testimony

Extra notes

A Poor Wayfairing Man of Grief

Alma the conversion of Alma the younger
John Taylor - Converted by Parley P Pratt and then strengthening him

ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country” - JFK

Holding to the rod of iron

Strength of a critical mass (like a fire)
Ten responsibilities of stake members

Gone with the Wind - Scarlett wanting to serve after she gets money

Lord of the Rings - the strength of men

Wait for it!
I am inimitable. I am an original.
I’m not falling behind or running late.
I’m not standing still, I am lying in wait.

Strengthen the Stakes of Zion - Harold B. Lee

I am convinced that the greatest of all the underlying reasons for the strength of this church is that those who keep the commandments of God are 100 percent behind the leadership of this church. Without that united support it would be readily understood that this church could not go forward to meet the challenges of the day. Our call is for the total membership of the Church to keep the commandments of God, for therein lies the safety of the world. As one keeps the commandments of God, he is not only persuaded as to the righteousness of the course that is being followed under the leadership of the Church, but also will have the Spirit of the Lord to guide him in his individual activities, for each baptized member has been given a sacred endowment when he was baptized and which has been committed to every baptized member of the Church by the authority of the priesthood: the gift of the Holy Ghost, which, as the Master declared, would teach all things, would bring all things to their remembrance, and even show them things to come. (See John 14:26.)”

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