Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sorta-liveblogging general conference: Sunday morning session

You know, i always think of the Sunday morning session as the obvious biggest-deal session, and it might used to have been,* particularly back in the day when it was the only session people in lots of places could actually ever see, but nowadays? I really think the focus has blurred a bit.

* Gratuitous Southernism thrown in at no additional charge.

So: Like all the rest of these, my notes are in “liveblog” style (y’all** remember liveblogs? anyone?), where the first speaker is at the bottom of the post, the next speaker is above that, the next is above that, and so on. This means that by the end of the conference you’ll be able to scroll down to the bottom of the Saturday morning session post and scroll up to read through the entire conference chronologically. However, under each speaker, the comments are done top-down, because otherwise i’d just be confusing myself to no end.

** Second bonus gratuitous Southernism thrown in at no additional charge.

Anyway, off to the races.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf (of the first presidency)
  • [Jeffrey R. Holland and Dieter F. Uchtdorf speaking back to back? People’s brains gon’ ’splode!]
  • The Easter resurrection of Jesus changed everything—it changed my life, it changed your life, it changed the destine of all of God’s children.
  • And because of it, Satan has no lasting power.
  • It is marvelous that the Son of God would condescend to save us, as imperfect as we are—so why? All that it can be is that God loves us deeply.
  • The scriptures often call this love “the grace of God”. [I’ve not heard that connection often before—i like it.]
  • “We should know about God’s grace if we intend to inherit what has been prepared for us”.
  • “Grace unlocks the gates of heaven”—all of us are unworthy no matter what we do, and so we are powerless to overcome the barrier of justice except that the atonement allows mercy to appease those demands.
  • The grace of God doesn’t merely erase our sins and restore us to an innocent state—God has a higher aim, desiring us to become exalted, receiving of the fullness of God.
  • To receive that glory we must enter the gate of heaven changed in such a dramatic way that it is described as being “born again”.
  • “Grace opens the windows of heaven”—it is by God’s amazing grace that we can be blessed to allow us to overcome the Deceiver, rise above sin, and become perfected in Christ.
  • God’s grace offers us both temporal blessings and spiritual gifts that help refine us to become our best selves.
  • Are we confident and comfortable in our good deeds, impatient with those who don’t live up to our standards, checking off all the good-doings boxes—or do we love much, understanding our indebtedness to God?
  • When we pray, do we recite a list of our obedience and accomplishments or do we plead for forgiveness?
  • If grace is so amazing, then, why do we even care about obedience? Because we obey out of love for and gratitude to God.
  • This love and gratitude will miraculously merge our actions with the will of God.
  • Sometimes we misinterpret “we are saved by grace, after all we can do”—after does not mean because. [And now i would like to take a moment to thank him for pointing this out—it’s a big problem in our discussions of obedience, i feel.]
  • “Today and forevermore, God’s grace is available to all whose hearts are broken and whose spirits are contrite.”
  • [Intense end to an intense session. Glad that the last two addresses finally gave us a focus on Easter and its meaning. Off to make an Alaska-time-zone brunch and try to reset my mind so it can pay attention for the afternoon.]

Jeffrey R. Holland (of the quorum of apostles)
  • “Although we should always remember—we promise in our weekly sacramental prayer we will—nevertheless, this [Easter] is the most sacred day of the year” to remember that Jesus reached into “the very abyss of death” to save us.
  • We cannot fully comprehend the atonement of Christ (and thus not fully celebrate Easter or Christmas) without understanding the reality of Adam and Eve and the Fall.
  • All of us were, because of the Fall, doomed to eternal death—so is that our only purpose? To leap as high as we can, survive for our threescore years and ten, and then fall forever into nothingness? The answer is an emphatic and eternal no!
  • The entire sequence was part of the divine plan of God, to provide for our eternal happiness and given us a Savior to atone for the Fall.
  • “Jesus of Nazareth was and is that Savior of the world, the ‘last Adam’, the author and finisher of our faith, the alpha and omega of eternal life.”
  • “So today we celebrate the gift of victory” over all of our sorrows and fears and death and sins.
  • Jesus atoned for our sins and rose from death so that he could grasp us as we fell and raise us to eternal life.
  • [Dang. That was intense. There’s times that i bemoan the fact that we don’t really have a tradition of old-time-religion revival-style preaching in our church—and then Jeffrey R. Holland comes in and reminds me that no, it’s not always foregrounded but we totally do have it.]

Brent H. Nielson (of the quorums of seventy)
  • [If you’re speaking in the slot immediately before Jefrrey R. Holland, you ought to be allowed to speak without his speaking slot already having been announced—it just seems like it would be fairer.]
  • How should we respond when a family member falls away from the church?
  • We should continue to love and hope, and be patient with those who struggle—and, most emphatically, don’t push them away from being part of the family.
  • Telling (with permission) the story of his sister’s falling away from and return to the church: “Although we could not embrace all of her choices, we most certainly could embrace her.”
  • Sometimes the way to leave the ninety and nine and seek out the one that is lost is to watch and wait and pray and love.
  • Even those who continue faithful fall short and are lost and need to be found—all of us are, like the prodigal son, on the long path back home.
  • [Really, really amazing sermon. The seventies are kicking it hard this conference.]

Gérald Caussé (of the presiding bishopric)
  • [Another person not a native speaker of English—he’s from France—speaking in English.]
  • Sometimes when even wonderful things are around us all the time we don’t really notice they’re there.
  • Such wonders include our conversions and answers to our prayers.
  • “Is the gospel still wonderful to you?”
  • Never tire of (re)discovering the truths of the gospel.
  • French guy quoting Marcel Proust!
  • Our amazement should be rooted in simple truths.
  • Most wonders of the gospel cannot be perceived through our natural senses, but must be perceived through our spiritual senses with the help of the Holy Ghost.

José A. Teixeira (of the quorums of the seventy)
  • [He’s Portuguese. Not Brazilian, actually from Portugal. Speaking in English, though.]
  • Tribulations can hit us hard enough we can think that happiness is impossible—which makes it vital to focus on Jesus Christ, who is the only source of a fullness of joy anyway.
  • As we focus on Jesus Christ, we will have a greater desire and ability to live joyfully.
  • Be careful not to prioritize relationships with those we haven’t ever really met (i.e., people we know only online) over those in our own families.
  • Pivot to a discussion of how to use the internet healthily.
  • “Make time to set aside your mobile device…Life is not confined to a four-inch screen.” [That’s why i got an HTC—the screen’s five inches.☺]

Rosemary M. Wixom (general president of the primary organization)
  • The Lord can only teach an inquiring mind.
  • We need to support and love those who are struggling with doubts, but give them enough space to work through what they’re facing.
  • A story of a member who went through a bout of inactivity caused not by sin or apathy or falsely feeling slighted (or any of the other easy excuses for active members to explain inactivity), but rather simply as a part of the journey toward true conversion.
  • To rebuild faith, start with the basic doctrines (e.g., those in the Children’s Songbook).
  • It’s okay to work to believe even if you don’t know and understand everything in the gospel you might have struggles with.
  • Hold to what you know as you struggle to learn and understand what you don’t know—and be patient with and support those who don’t know what you know rather than castigating them for their lack of knowledge.
  • [This was an interesting address—it couched everything within the “safe”-for-female-speakers topics of the primary organization and women’s lives and struggles, but the overall message went beyond where you normally hear addresses with those foci go. Very nicely done.]

Thomas S. Monson (president of the high priesthood)
  • The church has concentrated efforts on completing announced temples for past two years, but today he’s announcing three new ones: Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; and Bangkok, Thailand. [I’m really, really, really hoping that the Bangkok temple isn’t a cookie-cutter one, but one that reflects local architecture—instant prettiest temple in the world!]
  • The temple is a place of peace and fulfillment of our needs.
  • The sealings that occur in the temple are a particular source of peace and hope.

1 comment:

Heather the Mama Duk said...

President Monson
I have a friend who lived in Thailand for several years before moving here. They are American, but were there for work. She was so excited over that temple being announced. He looked tired, but his voice was strong!

Sister Wixom
Primary voice! That was at least the second talk on being patient with those who are struggling. Quite interesting given the dissenters yesterday.

Elder Teixeira
Good talk, but I was a bit disappointed in his three tips because, darn it, I already do all that. I was hoping for something new lol

President Causse
Is it bad that when I look at him I see Vlad the Impaler aka Dracula? Yeah, probably. I liked what he said about discovering/rediscovering the Gospel and finding joy in that. I recently finished rereading the BoM and found so much more in there even though I've read it several times in my life. Though I am having trouble finding the joy in the Old Testament...

Elder Nielson
His talk was beautiful. It reminded me of my best friend's story a lot... and I attended the temple with her in February when she finally got back there. I doubt we'd still be best friends if I had not just watched, waited, and prayed that she'd find her way back. And loved her no matter what religion she was trying out... even if ultimately she had decided to stick with another one.

Elder Holland
The day God gave out the "awesome speaker" skills, he must've gone through the line 6 or 14 times. He knocked it out of the park and then some with this one. It was *silent* in that Conference Center. I'm not sure people were actually even breathing during it, they were listening so intently. He was a fire and brimstone preacher without the ugliness of the fire and brimstone condemnation. I think all those Seventies who were being awesome were channeling their inner Elder Holland, but there is only one real Elder Holland. So many people (around here) insist we don't read the New Testament and don't believe in the resurrected Jesus. There's a church here, a megachurch, that actually has a "Save the Mormons" campaign. I wish they'd listen to Elder Holland's talk (followed by President Uchtdorf's). They've got us all wrong.

President Uchtdorf
His talk was such an amazing continuation and went along so perfectly with Elder Holland's talk. I love when that happens. I really liked him pointing out AFTER does not equal BECAUSE. I do think we forget that. Often. This was probably the best explanation of obedience, works, and grace I have ever heard.

We had significant technical difficulties during that session. It always happens during Sunday morning's session. There was lots of skipping going on. I actually ended up getting out of the Mormon Channel app and going into the livestream on the BYUTV channel app (we watch on the Roku). It was much better, but still had a few glitches, just not as often as the Mormon Channel did.