Sunday, October 7, 2012

LDS President Thomas S. Monson Shows His Vigor At The Sunday Morning Session Of The 182nd Semiannual General Conference

Special Note: All posts on the October 2012 Semiannual General Conference can be simultaneously displayed HERE, with the most recent post appearing first.

Audio and video archives of conference talks now being made available HERE; written transcripts to follow later this week.

After yesterday's "fireworks" of the missionary age eligibility announcement and some powerful motivational talks by Elders Dallin H. Oaks and D. Todd Christenson, the Sunday Morning Session of the 182nd Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may have seemed mundane by comparison. But what may be mundane to many of us may be the vital message needed by someone else. Perhaps the most significant aspect of this session was that President Thomas S. Monson gave his third address of the conference, and he usually ends up giving the closing address of the Sunday Afternoon session. This seems to be an effective rebuttal of rumors spread by anti-Mormons that President Monson was supposedly "in the early stages of Alzheimer's". President Monson appeared pretty hale and hearty to me.

Here are brief summaries of each talk:

-- President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor First Presidency: "Where Is The Pavilion?". President Eyring spoke about separation from God, and how we can draw closer to Him. The problem is that although God always see us and is willing to communicate with us, we may be unwilling to listen or submit to His will and timetable. This obstructs communication. President Eyring added that the Lord's delays often seem long, and can even last a lifetime, but they are always calculated to bless. They need never be times of loneliness or sorrow on impatience. Although His time is not always our time, we can be sure that the Lord keeps His promises.

-- President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve: "The Atonement". Primarily a reminder that in mortality we would fall short of being perfect, and that it was not expected that we would live without transgressing one law or another. Thus a Redeemer had to step forward to make a substitutionary Atonement, which actually began in Gethsemane. The purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Atonement is to wash clean the sins of those who will repent, and President Packer concluded by saying, "That is what Latter-day Saints do around the world. That is the Light we offer to those who are in darkness and have lost their way. Wherever our members and missionaries may go, our message is one of faith and hope in the Savior Jesus Christ."

-- Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society General President: "First Observe, Then Serve" Basically, the one point I took away from this talk was that we shouldn't just go charging in to a situation like a bull in a china shop, but take the time to observe the situation to ensure our service is in the most helpful way and for the right reason. Sister Burton pointed out that sometimes we are tempted to serve in a way that we want to serve and not necessarily in the way that is needed at the moment. The service of Latter-day Saints will more likely resemble the Savior's ministry as they ask, when serving, "Am I doing this for the Savior, or am I doing this for me?"

-- Elder Walter F. Gonzalez, Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy: "Learning with our hearts" Elder Gonzalez put forth the idea that when people know Jesus Christ with all their heart and mind, they will receive knowledge from God unobtainable by any other means. All have access to knowledge to heaven when they read the scriptures, pray, follow the prophet and take time to be still and feel celestial promptings. But Elder Gonzalez cautioned individuals against iniquity and forgetting the Lord, two actions that will impede the ability to receive revelation.

-- Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Quorum of the Twelve: "The first great commandment". Of course, the first of the two great commandments spoken of by Jesus in the New Testament is to love the Lord with all our heart. Elder Holland reminded Church members of the Savior's powerful words, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." To illustrate this point, Elder Holland re-told the story of the resurrected Savior's encounter with Peter, when Jesus asked Peter three times, "Lovest thou me?", using more modern language and references. Elder Holland then wrapped it up by saying that it is that work of discipleship that Church members still need to commit to today. We have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share and good to do. We can't quit and we can't go back, because after an encounter with the living Son of the living God, nothing is ever again to be as it was before.

-- President Thomas S. Monson: "Taking an inventory of life" President Monson noted that as he reviewed the past 49 years since he gave his first conference address in 1963, he discovered that although he had countless experiences he would classify as unremarkable and even ordinary, in retrospect, they enriched and blessed lives — not the least of which was his own. President Monson recommends we do the same -- take an inventory of our lives and look specifically for the blessings, large and small, we have received. President Monson also added that the Lord's purposes are often accomplished as individuals pay heed to the guidance of the Spirit, and urged members to never postpone a prompting, relating a couple of personal anecdotes the illustrate his meaning.

LDS personal blogs discussing the Sunday Morning Session:

-- Feast Upon The Word: Summarized with bullet statements. It appears that Kirk Caudle was more impressed with this session than I was, although he shares my regard for Elder Holland. I'd also say that Elder Holland's talk was the most inspirational.
-- Feminist Mormon Housewives: Summaries with over 160 comments so far.
-- By Common Consent: Live-blogging, with over 270 comments so far.
-- Dave's Mormon Inquiry: Features an expanded discussion of Jeffrey Holland's talk.

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