Tuesday, October 5, 2010

General Conference Was Wonderful - But It Made Me Jealous

I love General Conference!  I was able to listen to every moment of the proceedings.  Each talk lifted and inspired me.

I was so grateful that such emphasis was placed on pornography and the certain possibility of recovery from that and other addictions.

I was also grateful that Elder Packer declared that homosexual promiscuity could be repented of.  I'm sure that will cause a fire storm in some circles.  Gays don't seem to understand that they cannot dictate to the Lord what is right and wrong.  He makes the rules.  As the church is nothing if it doesn't represent God; how can anyone suppose that capitulating to social demands would do anything but destroy the church.  If they honestly think they can influence church policy by protesting what the church stands for, they are of necessity, making the church out to be something it is not.  The church is, after all, a Theocracy.  If it were operated as a Democracy, it would represent the people, not God.

In my youth I was quite jealous of the General Authorities.  They seemed to have such a romantic life, traveling the world, teaching the gospel.  I wanted to be so engaged.  I was also jealous of the opportunities they had to sit in council with prophets and apostles.  I imagine those meetings to be uplifting, harmonious, full of light and love.  In my more mature years it is becoming more obvious how challenging, difficult and demanding their jobs are.  I imagine constant jet lag.  I conjure images of sleepless nights, strange food, tiring schedules and long absences from home.  I remember one day standing the the Salt Lake airport and seeing Elder Neal A. Maxwell walking down the concourse on his way home from who knows where.  He looked resolute, but utterly exhausted.  My heart went out to him as he carried his enormous burden.  I wonder how many birthdays and ball games and school plays and anniversaries they the are required to miss.

My grandkids live right through the back gate.  I am able to serve in meaningful realms right here at home.  I am no longer jealous of their busy lifestyles.  I was thinking today that I shouldn't be jealous of their opportunities to sit in council in their various quorums.  I have a quorum.  Somehow though, my quorum doesn't seem to be following the pattern that appears to transpire at church headquarters.  My quorum is more like a class.  A rather disconnected class at that.  We do precious little to promote brotherhood.  We don't commiserate or council together.  We just sit in the same room for a lesson; one that draws distressingly little comment even.  We serve as individuals, but we don't serve as a group.  We all have testimonies.  I dare say we all love each other too.  We don't socialize as a group.  We don't seem to have a collective purpose.  We accept Temple and Home Teaching assignments, but we seem to content to do no more than we're asked.

I'd like a quorum that was more like the School of the Prophets.  I think we can do this!  I think there a just a few things that would make a big difference.

  1. We could sit in a circle instead of rows.  I need to look into the eyes of my brethren, not at the back of their heads.
  2. We could actually take on a project, or three.  I can't count how many times I've been organized into a committee around the three missions of the church, never to actually meet or do anything with said committee.  To date, those committees have never actually committed to or accomplished anything they set out to do.
  3. We could actually have Personal Priesthood Interviews regarding our Home Teaching and our Quorum objectives.  I heard an example once of a Quorum Leader who held PPI's.  They were such a pleasure that no one missed them and everyone looked forward to them.  He would have his brethren say the opening prayer so he could "take their spiritual temperature" and then seek the guidance of the Lord as to what they needed to yet do to build the Kingdom.
  4. We could have a monthly pot luck social during which we could get better acquainted with one another, as couples.  No big deal.  No special preparations.  No assignments.  No dishes.  Just sociality.
  5. We could actually study the lessons, rather than have the teacher read it to us.
  6. We could actually explore the application of the Atonement to our lives, rather than pontificating about how much we know.
  7. We could identify problems and actually work on solutions.
Do you not suppose that this is more like what transpires in the Quorum of the 12 Apostles?  More than what we are currently doing?  I want to be part of a quorum like that.  I don't want to have to be called to Salt Lake City to get it.  I want it right here in the part of Zion that has been granted to me.

Earlier this week I praised the Freedom Ward in Star Valley.  Over the century they've been serving together, they been much like I describe.  The Priesthood has been the governing body in the town.  I remember the topic in Priesthood Meeting once was the acquisition of a fire trailer to be used in fighting fires in the community.  This was accomplished along with dozens of other projects.  They never even considered having the government take care of their needs.  The did that themselves.  They volunteered one another's equipment to help with the crops.  They cooperated in strengthening the gene pools of their herds.  They took turns watching their stock on the range.  They worked together on irrigation projects.  Their quorums had things to accomplish and they did them.

There are some very real challenges in my local, city ward.  We lack the kind of pressing community problems to solve that are part and parcel of everyday life in a farming community.  In the city, though we live closer together, we are actually more isolated and independent.  Also,some of my quorum members meet with Aaronic Priesthood quorums, some are in the Primary.  We need to find a way to include them.  We need their strength.  Additionally, we need to overcome the status quo.  Most of us have never seen the kind of quorum I envision.  It will be easiest to just stay the same.  While I hope not, it just may be that the only way to change things is to start with the boys in the Aaronic Priesthood.  The final problem I can think of is a matter of personal commitment. Like everything in the Kingdom, conversion is the key to motivation.  While many may be converted to the Church, some may not be converted the notion that a Priesthood Quorum may not be what we've always allowed it to be.  Like everything else in mortality, a vibrant quorum requires energy and effort.  It requires vision and purpose.  It requires faith and devotion.  Oh, how I pray we can do this.

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