Today was another one of those chaotic combined-wards Sundays, which meant there were a lot of laughs. It’s pretty much inevitable once you have that many people congregating together on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, the day before break ends. Last Sunday the Relief Society was pretty much standing-room only, so this Sunday they had the sisters go to the Chapel, where the priesthood generally hold their Elders’ Quorum meetings when we’re all combined.
The guys still thought they were meeting in there. It was pretty hilarious to see them walk in, get halfway up the aisle and see only Sisters. Some got a slightly horrified look on their faces, others tried to flirt it off, and others looked like they were contemplating staying with the Relief Society. The ‘sisteren’ filled the chapel completely and it made for a really amazing lesson.
The 3rd Ward RS president, H. had prepared a lesson on charity for this Sunday, and it was a really beautiful lesson. We talked about how charity is not a biological imperative – it is a virtue that must be constantly strived for. Like usual, we didn’t really work out of Preach My Gospel. We generally read a few passages from it, reference the scriptures given, and just go where the Spirit guides. Today we spoke about how Christ is the ultimate example of charity in our lives, and how charity is a manifestation of the Atonement working in our hearts.
While I was doodling (bad habit), I recalled something I had read by Mother Teresa years ago: “I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no more hurt, but only more love.” We have to take ourselves out of the equation, we need to take a moment to step out of our own lives and gently step into the life of someone else, if only to bear their burdens alongside them for a short while.
One of my favorite scriptures in the New Testament is found in John 15, verse 13: “Greater love hath no man thatn this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” I’m pretty sure this was the first scripture I’d ever memorized outside of the Lord’s Prayer. I’ll be honest, I remember it most clearly because it was referenced by Kris Kristofferson Big & Rich’s song, The Eighth of November. Kristofferson swaps out “friend” for “brother,” which I find extremely poignant. I think we do need to keep in mind that we’re all on this earth together, and let’s face it, sometimes we forget that. A few verses later in John, we read “these things I command you, that ye love one another” (v. 17). Love is simply another word for charity.
You were wonderin’ how I was going to tie charity, Kris Kristofferson and Big & Rich together, weren’t ya? :)
We all know the verses in 1 Corinthians 12 & 13 where Paul extols the importance of charity and gives us a definition of the virtue, saying “charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself… charity never faileth…” That is the Relief Society motto, charity never faileth. President Monson adressed this at the last Relief Society General Meeting in his talk. I have a copy all marked up, and I have several favorite parts. “True charity is love in action.” I cannot say it any more beautifully, or more simply for that matter, than President Monson. Charity is love with it’s workboots on. I liked also the quote from Horace Mann, “to pity distress is but human; to relieve it is godlike.”
Is anyone else reminded of President Monson’s warm fuzzies? I know I am!
A scripture that we turned to today looked a little neglected in my scriptures. All the previous references had already been highlighted and annotated to their fullest extend (it’s a little hard to see what they say sometimes). Colossians 3:12-14 was just highlighed in orange, bright on a white and black page (worry not, it is now annotated). I really loved it, so I’ll share:
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindess, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forebearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man having a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things, put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
I really loved these verses. So simple, but so true. I love that it reminds us that charity goes beyond service for our fellow brothers and sisters, it is also forgiving them. And forgiving ourselves. We talked today about how we need to love ourselves in order to love one another.
Speaking of love, I loved that our Sunday School lesson tied in as well!! (how’s that for a segway, eh?) We were talking about the parable of the sower (Matthew 13), and somehow started talking about Christ’s love for us, and how we can fully feel that love if we just take the first step towards him – believing. We need to open our hearts to allow the Spirit to work within us in order to be able to help others.
This principle was still on my mind during Sacrament meeting. For the first time in a long time (I’m assuming), both the overflows were filled. We had so many brothers and sisters in attendance that the sacrament water had to be passed twice in order that all could partake of it. I was slightly oblivious as I was deep into my scriptures, but was brought back by Bishop O. asking for a show of hands to see who hadn’t received the water. “I love that we have more people in this congregation than sacrament!” was what he said.
Just a humorous note: after we had the passing of the sacrament, which took about 25 minutes and another blessing of the water, Bishop O. announced that we would skip the intermediate hymn. He looked around at us, grinned, and asked us all to stand. We all slowly stood up, looking around awkwardly at one another. “Get out your wiggles!” was our order from Bishop. We laughed, feeling like we were all in Primary again. I don’t know that I’ve ever been in a meeting where the Bishop asked the entire congregation to stand in the middle of the meeting, for any reason! I think we were all caught between being really amused and feeling seriously awkward. :)
Talk about love. The speakers, while they had topics quite irrelevant to my thoughts (or so I thought!) all somehow added to my chain of charity and love related musings. The first speaker, Bro. D. has just returned from his mission in the Tallahassee, Florida mission. He spoke on the blessings of serving a mission (charity!), and I really enjoyed his message. The next speaker, a sister who looked unabashedly at Bishop and said, “I was called at home, last night. And asked to give a talk, last night. Bishop wanted me to speak. Today. My talk is really relevant to my feelings right now. I was asked to speak on forgiveness.” She shot him a look that was worth a thousand words. Needless to say, Bishop O. laughed and turned a little red (forgiveness! charity!).
The last speaker, who readily admited that he was happy the passing of the sacrament took so long, as it shortened his talk quite a bit, spoke on keeping the Sabbath day holy. He mentioned that he received most of his personal revelations in the past few months while “zoning out” during talks. He referenced the talks from a few weeks ago, pinpointing the “exact point where I totally zoned out – sorry Sister V. I really enjoyed your talk though!”
Little did he know that I was “zoning out” too. I was thinking about a talk that P. had referenced in Sunday school. My friend K. had steered me to it this week, as had another friend, S. I came home, looked it up and really loved it. It is a 1996 BYU address given by Elder F. Enzio Busche. Here’s a little excerpt:
You can find the entire address, Unleashing the Dormant Spirit, here.
The last speaker referenced Moroni 6:3-6, changing the words slightly as he read: “…And the [Buena Vista wards] did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak with one another concerning the welfare of their souls. And they did meet together of [in the Buena Vista wards] to partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus.”
This reminded me of the scripture mastery, Moses 7:17-18 (“and the Lord called his people Zion, for they were of one heart and one mind…”) which in one of his addresses, President Kimball followed up with Mosiah 4:26:
…I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally…
Let’s kick this back to Colossians (the other green bit of text), and we have brought it back to charity! The ultimate lesson I learned today? All you need is love.
I hope this post isn’t three hours long, like our Sunday meetings generally are, but I just really loved the theme of today. It gave/gives me a lot to think about, for which I’m grateful. This whole spring break combining wards thing wasn’t too bad. ;)
(please note by the end of this post not only were Big & Rich, Kris Kristofferson, and the Beatles mentioned, that I neglected to include the High School Musical joke made today during Sunday School… you’re welcome! (; )