Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Sacrament Meeting Talk from July 18. 2010

This is my talk from last Sunday as I prepared it. I added a few personal stories, but have chosen to leave them out for, well, personal reasons. Enjoy!

Let’s start with one of my favorite stories from the scriptures. In Mosiah Chapter 17, we are introduced to Alma, who was one of King Noah’s priests who believed the teachings of Abinadi. Alma fled from Noah’s servants and hid in the wilderness, where he wrote down “all the words which Abinadi had spoken” (MOSIAH 17:2-4) Then, in Chapter 18, we read that Alma “repented of his sins ... and began to teach the words of Abinadi” (vs 1-3). The people who believed Alma went to hear him teach in a place called Mormon (vs 4-6).

Starting in verse 7, we read 7 And it came to pass *after many days there were a goodly number gathered together at the place of Mormon, to hear the words of Alma. Yea, all were gathered together that believed on his word, to hear him. And he did teach them, and did preach unto them repentance, and redemption, and faith on the Lord.
8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?

We have already entered into that covenant with our Heavenly Father when we were baptized. However, the blessing of having His spirit poured out upon us is contingent on us serving Him. How do we serve Him? By Lifting one another’s burdens, mourning with those that mourn, and comforting those that stand in need of comfort.

Unnfortunately, We have talked much, maybe too much, over the past three weeks about lifting, mourning and comforting. However, I noticed an interesting footnote in this scripture that I think sums up what we, as church members, can gain from this scripture. the footnotes for Verse 8, where it says “the fold of God” direct us to “Brotherhood and Sisterhood” in the Topical Guide. And, when you turn to “Brotherhood and sisterhood” in the Topical Guide, it cross-references to Friendship. So being in “the fold of God” means to be a friend.

So, what is a friend? The For the Strength of Youth Pamphlet says that a true friend is someone who “will encourage you to be your best self.” Proverbs (17:17) says a friend loveth at all times. It also warns us (in 22:24) to “make no friendship with an angry man.” Elder M Russell Ballard said that “Friendship should never be offered as a means to an end; it can and should be an end unto itself.” (Liahona Jan 2002)

However, I would like to expand the definition of a friend a little bit today. Maybe a friend can be someone who we haven’t met yet.

There was an article recently in the Financial Times of London about the Church. In the article, Utah State Senator Ben McAdams tells a story about when he first moved to New York for Graduate School: “My wife and I packed up a van and drove our stuff across country. When we showed up at our place, there were 15 people there to help us unload. We’d never met any of them before, but they moved us in and invited us over for dinner. We had an instant social network.” Certainly, the people in their new ward did not yet consider this new family to be their “friends.” Yet, they had the spirit of friendship, and made the burden of moving across the country lighter.

In this month’s Ensign, President Henry B Eyring said “In the next few days you will have many opportunities to be a friend.... It may be as you walk on a dusty road. It may be as you sit down in a railroad car. It may be as you look for a place to sit in a Church congregation. If you are watching, you will see someone carrying a heavy burden. It may be a burden of sorrow or loneliness or resentment. It may be visible to you only if you have prayed for the Spirit to give you eyes to see into hearts and have promised to lift up the hands that hang down.
The answer to your prayer may be the face of an old friend, one you have not seen in years but whose needs suddenly come into your mind and heart and feel as if they are your own. [...]
When we reach out to give succor and to lift a burden, [Christ] reaches with us. He will lead us to those in need. He will bless us to feel what they feel. As we persist in our efforts to serve them, we will more and more be given the gift of feeling His love for them. That will give us courage and strength to reach out again and again in faithfulness.”

I believe that this is what Elder Holland meant in Oct 2008 General Conference when he said "But when we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day.... Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind."

Friendship is a wonderful gift. The more often we give it, the more often we receive it. I hope we are all grateful for quality friends. And may we all seek to be truly good friends—to bring out the best in each other and help each other live righteous lives. (Monte J. Brough, “True Friends,” New Era, Nov 2002, 37)

1 comment:

Karen said...

What a beautiful talk! Wish I could have heard it in it's entirety, with your spirit and personality present. Great job!!