A Thread For Talks and Lessons

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mom3
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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by mom3 » 29 Mar 2015, 20:58

DJ - Fantastic talk. I loved your closing lines. Thanks.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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slowlylosingit
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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by slowlylosingit » 30 Mar 2015, 07:32

Dark Jedi--that was fantastic! I can't believe how much happened during that last week of Christs' life! Thank you for posting, I love that quote about our dark Friday's. I feel like I have been there for awhile. Gave me a lot of hope.
"Our case was so insane, that if you made it up, nobody would believe it"--Gerald Conlon

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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by Curt Sunshine » 12 Apr 2015, 14:23

I spoke in a small branch today, and a sister in my ward was the other speaker. I asked her to read Pres. Wixom's talk Sunday morning and Pres. Uchtdorf's talk in the Priesthood session and speak about whatever she took from them.

She shared two stories: one about a relative who was away from the Church for years due to a really bad experience with some members and a local leader and one about herself and her struggles to accept that she doesn't get answers to prayers like most people who speak and teach and lead in the Church. It was heartfelt, personal and moving.

I changed my talk almost completely as I was sitting on the stand during the meeting. The assigned topic was "Faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ", and I prepared a talk combining elements of talks in General Conference from Pres. Uchtdorf, Elder Holland and Elder Nielson. As I sat on the stand and looked at everyone in the chapel (about a dozen people), I decided to scrap that talk and talk about two things, primarily: looking at who Jesus was as a mortal and whom he served during his ministry.

I mentioned that Jesus was born in a manger/stable/barn/grotto cave, that his father worked with his hands (that he wasn't a doctor or lawyer or professor but a carpenter), that his mother was (almost surely) an unwed teenager, that he was moved to and raised in Egypt (in order to escape Herod's rage), that he returned in a way as an outsider or foreigner, that he grew up in Nazareth (of which the Old Testament includes a question asking if any good thing can come out of Nazareth), etc. in almost every way, he would not have been accepted as an insider by the "important" people of his time.

I pointed out that when it came time for his ministry he served others like himself in some way: the outcast, the sick, the diseased, the obvious sinner, the poor, the hated and marginalized.

I repeated Pres. Uchtdorf's description of church as a repair shop, not a showroom, and I talked about how we all are fallen, failing, broken, etc. in some way and how we should be able to come to church for help being repaired/healed. I said we exercise faith in Jesus when we recognize ourselves as needing repair and accept other broken vessels to meet with us, no matter the nature of their brokenness - when our congregations are not just geographic wards (and branches) but also hospital wards.

I summarized the degrees of glory as conditions of the heart: unrepentant Telestial, no real effort Terrestrial and best effort Celestial. I explained that nothing in the descriptions includes a required checklist of actions but, instead, focuses on effort only. I talked about the statement, "We know that it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do," with a reference to Pres. Uchtdorf, and rearranged the statement to say what he taught, "(Even) after all we can do, we know that we (still) are saved by grace."

I ended with the parable of the sower and simply pinted out that the good soil produced different amounts of fruit, some thirty, some sixty and some a hundred. Again, it wasn't the amount produced that mattered, since ALL of it was called good, but simply that it produced good fruit. I told them that having faith in Jesus, at the most basic level, is about accepting that he will call us good if we do our best to produce good fruit, no matter how much we end up producing. It isn't about numbers; it is about loving effort, recognizing and accepting that we already have been saved by God's grace and will inherit the ultimate divine glory simply for trying to follow Jesus' example and love and serve ourselves and others.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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mom3
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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by mom3 » 14 Apr 2015, 09:41

Ray - I am glad for this forum because I don't live in your area but I needed your talk. I love the Jesus you portrayed, he is accessible by your description. I love a Redeemer and Savior, that is the guy ahead of me who has all the answers and is A+ in life. However, I often feel unworthy and disrespectful to that deity by my humanness. The Jesus of your talk is an olive branch of hope I can carry with me. Thanks.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by Curt Sunshine » 18 May 2015, 04:56

I spoke yesterday on High Council assignment, and I asked my son to be the other speaker. I will post an outline of my talk right after this, but below is his outline. I can't replicate what he shared between the bullet-points, but the outline will give you a sense of what he said:

Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk “The Gift of Grace”

Bible Dictionary on Atonement:
The word describes the setting “at one” of those who have been estranged and denotes the reconciliation of man to God…Jesus Christ was the only one capable of making an atonement for mankind.


Atonement as a Process:

While many Christian faiths tend to focus on the Cross as the pinnacle point of the Atonement, we tend to see it as a broader process which includes Jesus’ life and ministry, his suffering in Gethsemane, the crucifixion, and his resurrection. Why would He live a life among the outcast and downtrodden? Why would He bleed from every pore? Why would He suffer hours of pain while hanging on the cross? Uchtdorf states:
“I have tried to understand the Savior’s Atonement with my finite mind, and the only explanation I can come up with is this: God loves us deeply, perfectly, and everlastingly.”


Definition of grace:

He then goes on to say that “a powerful expression of that love is what the scriptures often call the grace of God.” He defines that grace as the “divine assistance and endowment of strength by which we grow from the flawed and limited beings we are now into exalted being of‘truth and light, until [we are] glorified in truth and [know] all things.’”

Unlocking the Gates of Heaven: We have all sinned and have come up short so we are all unworthy to return to God’s presence. Even if we serve with our whole souls it is not enough, “we cannot earn our way into heaven”. “The grace of God is our great and everlasting hope,” since through it our sins can go from scarlet and can become white as snow.

Upward!:
“But the grace of God does not merely restore us to our previous innocent state. If salvation means only erasing our mistakes and sins, then salvation –as wonderful as it is – does not fulfill the Father’s aspirations for us. His aim is much higher: He wants His sons and daughters to become like Him…With the gift of God’s grace, the path of discipleship does not lead backward; it leads upward.”
Elder Eastwood once said,
“Christ doesn’t save us from something. He saves us for something. He did not just die for our sins; He made an investment. He wants to help us become who we are destined to be and we have to know that that is possible.”
Opening the Windows of Heaven:

Uchtdorf said,
“God pours our blessing of power and strength, enabling us to achieve things that otherwise would be far beyond our reach.”


One of my favorite scripture verses is the one that says, “Weak things can become strong.”

All we Can Do:
“We labor diligently…to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that is by grace that we saved, after all we can do.” - 2 Nephi 25:23


Uchtdorf:
“However, I wonder if sometimes we misinterpret the phrase “after all we can do.” We must understand that “after” does not equal “because.”
None of us have done or will ever do ALL that we can do; we will fall short. We tend to treat this like a logic problem: If I obey Lord’s commandments then I will be saved. Bro. Raney, a member in the ward from which I moved, said:
“The world teaches that if you do A then you get B,” that obedience equals salvation. “The Lord does things differently. If you do A then He gives you the whole alphabet…”


The only things He asks of us is “a broken heart and a contrite spirit.”

A broken heart and a contrite spirit is the recognition of our need for grace and the desire to love God and follow him. I know that if we have that broken heart and contrite spirit, if we continually try to better ourselves, to serve those around us, and believe in Christ’s Atonement and what it can do for us, then by the grace of God we will return to His presence.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by Curt Sunshine » 18 May 2015, 06:10

Here is the summary of my talk yesterday. The assigned topic was "Saving Grace". (My son's talk outline is before this one.)

1) "I Stand All Amazed":
I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me - confused by the grace that so FULLY he profers me.


I love that line, because I am a History teacher by original profession, a social scientist by nature and a lover of comparative religion. Grace has been a debated topic for thousands of years, and it truly has caused much confusion throughout history. In our own church history, I am old enough to have seen a time when we didn't talk about grace very much - and I am glad we talk about it more now than in the past. Today, I am not going to try to give a discourse about that debate over time; rather, I am going to talk specifically about the place of grace within Mormon theology and why I believe the Mormon concept of grace is even more powerful than we tend to realize.

2) Definition of grace:

Grace means favor - as in being seen as favorable / worthy of being favored. It also connotes giving something without requirement, as in bestowing a favor on someone. In this light, it is a gift that does not require a matching gift in return. It is NOT a loan, since it cannot be paid back.

2) Overview of the pre-existence and its foundational relationship to Mormonism's unique view of grace:

We had two choices: to accept HF's plan and suffer many things in mortality, including a fall from grace (favored status of parent-child relationship) and an atonement (a return to a higher favored status of equality) or to accept Lucifer's alternate plan, which was no fall from grace, no atonement and return in the same condition as we had prior to mortality. The first plan included pain and suffering and anguish and grief and weakness and transgression and sin and guilt and disability and everything else we experience in this life that allows us to learn and grow; the second plan was pain-free and growth-less.

We teach that the atonement was promised to all who would accept HF's plan. In essence, HF said to all of us:
Trust me. I will not fail you. If you choose to accept what I am offering, my grace will cover everything you experience as a result of mortality, and you will be saved from the natural consequences of that life.


So, when I am asked by a friend if and when I have been saved, I answer:
Yes, I have been saved - before I was born by my acceptance of Jesus as my Savior and Redeemer. So have you - and so has every other child of God. Paul said, "For as in Adam ALL die, so in Christ shall ALL be made alive." I believe him.


Brothers and sisters, we have been saved by the grace of God already - so why is it so hard for us to accept that?

3) Before I talk about the biggest reason I think we struggle to accept that, I want to highlight one of the most fascinating and least understood verses in the Bible, then add an interesting insight from the Doctrine & Covenants.

Luke 2 tells of Jesus' life from birth until the age of 12. The last verse in that chapter (verse 52) gives a summary of the next 18 years. It says:
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.


Remember, grace means to be favored, so, in a real way, this verse says that Jesus increased in grace. D&C 93:13 puts it this way:
And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness.


This places grace, in its fullest sense, as the empowerment that moves us through a process of growth - and it frames grace in terms of growth and progression, rather than in terms of a one-time offering. In other words, as my son said, we are not saved from something; rather, we are saved continually to or toward something. Yes, we have been saved - but we also are being saved. If even Jesus, of Nazareth, went through this process, why do we tend to insist that we be perfect now?

4) The Gospel and life are full of paradoxes, and perhaps the most central paradox of all is that we are acceptable to God just as we are but we also are commanded to be perfect, as Matthew 5:48 says. Our teaching of this need for perfection, I believe, is the biggest stumbling block to an acceptance of the grace that so fully he profers us - not that we believe in perfection but that we don't teach it the way it was meant by Jesus in that verse. We tend to accept the Mosaic Law view of perfection - a view that equates perfection with being mistake-free (like a test that requires 100% to be given a passing grade). For that reason, whenever we make a mistake, large or small, we feel guilty and worthless and unworthy and not acceptable to God. Often, this occurs even when our mistakes are the direct result of things we inherited from just being born.

However, the footnote for Matthew 5:48 frames perfection very differently. It says that to be perfect is to be "complete, whole, fully developed" - and, interestingly, that Jesus was NOT an example of that when it was given. Notice that ONLY Heavenly Father is listed as an example of perfection in that verse.

It also is difficult to accept grace when we are focused on not letting others see our weaknesses and struggles. Pres. Uchtdorf also compared the church to a showroom for cars and a repair shop. He said church meetings aren't supposed to be a showroom; they are supposed to be a repair shop. My father used to say that warts only can be healed if they are exposed and treated - if we let other people see them. I believe in wearing nice clothing to church to show respect, but when we put on our Sunday best and carefully apply makeup before we go, others only see us as if we were in a showroom - and they never see our warts - and they think they are the only people in church who have warts - and they feel guilty and worthless - and the perfection cycle continues.

5) This brings me to the way we tend to explain things in terms of parables. In "Believing Christ", Stephen Robinson gives the parable of the bicycle - in which a girl asks her dad if she can have a bike. He tells her that she can have a bike if she saves every penny she earns until she can afford one. She returns after some time with 61 cents and says she has saved all of her money and asks, again, if she can have a bike. Her father takes pity on her and buys the bike for her, even though her money doesn't not come close to covering the actual cost.

I appreciate the point Brother Robinson makes that God will give us the bike even if we can't pay for it on our own, but I like a different parable. I believe he provided a vehicle for us (a way to go where he wants us to go) in his first plan before we were born and simply asks us to accept it and do our best to learn to operate it - to try to drive where he wants to take us. The vehicle is free, as is the license to drive it; all that is required of us is to get behind the wheel and drive. When we get into an accident, he asks us to learn from the experience, get back behind the wheel and continue to drive. He doesn't care how many accidents we have (or, even, as the parable of the workers says, when we start driving); he only cares that we accept the gift of the vehicle and drive. I believe he will let us drive until we reach our final destination, no matter how long that takes. After all, he has time and all eternity to be patient and extend his love.

Truly, even after all we can do, it still is by grace that we are saved.

6) I want to spend the last few minutes talking about how, in order to be full participants in divine grace, we need to extend to others the same grace we receive from HF and Jesus.

We are invited to become like God, and being gracious is perhaps the ultimate goal in that process. I am concerned that we are not as accepting and loving toward others as God is toward us. If he offers his grace to ALL of his children, and if Jesus spent his ministry serving the people who were rejected and shunned by the religious people of his day, I am convinced we should be more like him and less like the leaders who avoided the sinners and the sick and the despised. If we are full of grace, we will not turn anyone away; we will embrace all and love them actively and fervently, no matter what mistakes we believe they are making; we will help them on our collective journey through life; we will ride with them, together, side-by-side. If someone stumbles into our Sacrament Meeting, reeking of alcohol - or wearing what we deem to be totally inappropriate clothing - or holding hands with someone we think they should not love in that way - or any other image that comes naturally to our minds when we picture a sinner- in those situations, I pray we can be grace-filled and thank God they found us rather than ask why they are here. We judge too much, too quickly, too harshly and too stereotypically - and I believe Jesus would say, simply:

I loved and served them when nobody else would. Why won't you do the same? They have my grace; why can't they have yours? Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Brothers and sisters, may we be gracious to all around us, as God is gracious to us, is my prayer.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by DarkJedi » 18 May 2015, 07:19

I was also assigned to speak yesterday with the topic being continuing revelation (not especially my favorite topic). I write talks longer than necessary in case it ever happens that I have more than the allotted time (which has not yet happened, but will if I don't do it) and I mark more important things for when I have less than the allotted time (which always happens) and I do an edited version for when I have a lot less than the allotted time (which sometimes happens). Yesterday was plan B, the highlighted version and I'll only do an outline here.

I pointed out that three Articles of Faith directly speak to revelation (5, 7 & 9) and that the belief in continuing revelation is one of the main things that sets us apart from most other churches/religions. I read the following quote from Boyd K. Packer:
Revelation continues in the Church: the prophet receiving it for the Church; the president for his stake, his mission, or his quorum; the bishop for his ward; the father for his family; the individual for himself.
I told them Dallin H. Oaks gave a talk on the two types of revelation (personal and priesthood) and read the following quote:
In the personal line we pray directly to our Heavenly Father, and He answers us by the channels He has established, without any mortal intermediary. We pray to our Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, and He answers us through His Holy Spirit and in other ways. The mission of the Holy Ghost is to testify of the Father and the Son, to guide us into truth, and to show us all things we should do. This personal line of communication with our Heavenly Father through His Holy Spirit is the source of our testimony of truth, of our knowledge, and of our personal guidance from a loving Heavenly Father. It is an essential feature of His marvelous gospel plan, which allows each one of His children to receive a personal witness of its truth.
I told them most of us have at some point had at least some form of this revelation and it is most often where our testimonies come from.

In the long version I had included a rather lengthy discussion of Oliver Cowdery and D&C sections 8 and 9, which I condensed to referring to the burning in the bosom/stupor of thought as being the main reference to personal revelation, but I pointed out these revelations were specifically for Oliver Cowdery, that they specifically referred to translation which Oliver never actually accomplished, and that these are included in D&C as a guide to us, not how revelation would necessarily work for us. I testified that I have had spiritual experiences and spiritual witnesses but that I had never experienced what I would call a "burning in the bosom" or a stupor of thought. (Since section 8 references to Oliver Cowdery's gifts, I had included a discussion of gifts using D&C 46 in the long version, pointing out that for some of us it is given to believe and not all have all gifts, but I skipped that section).

I then quoted President Eyring and Elder Oaks respectively:
That personal revelation of acceptance, for which we all long, does not come easily, nor does it come simply for the asking. The Lord gave this standard for the capacity to receive such witnesses from God. It is a guide for anyone seeking personal revelation, as we all must.
President Eyring Continued :
Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. (D&C 121:45)
Revelations from God—the teachings and directions of the Spirit—are not constant. We believe in continuing revelation, not continuous revelation. We are often left to work out problems without the dictation or specific direction of the Spirit. That is part of the experience we must have in mortality.
I told them that revelation is not necessarily a single awe inspiring event, that it is usually subtle like dew.

I told them Heavenly Father doesn't want to solve all of our problems for us and that part of our mortal experience is to think and learn for ourselves.

I referenced 2 Nephi 28:30 "line upon line" and then 1 Cor 13 starting in verse 8 (when I was a child and seeing through a glass darkly).

I told them that each of us are at different places in what we understand and that our understanding is often clouded by our own experiences, and that just because someone else has a testimony of something doesn't mean we're bad or sinful or unworthy - but all things we need would be revealed in the Lord's time. (This, and the following quotes, was the only thing that elicited any comment afterwards, from a sister who thanked me because she always sits there in F&TM wondering why everyone else knows all these things and she doesn't. I assured her she was OK, that even the prophets admit they don't know everything and that her testimony was what she needed.)

John Taylor:
Adam’s revelation did not instruct Noah to build his ark; nor did Noah’s revelation tell Lot to forsake Sodom; nor did either of these speak of the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt. These all had revelations for themselves.
Brigham Young:
The greatest fear I have is that the people of this Church will accept what we say as the will of the Lord without first praying about it and getting the witness within their own hearts that what we say is the word of the Lord.
Pres. Uchtdorf:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a place for people with all kinds of testimonies. There are some members of the Church whose testimony is sure and burns brightly within them. Others are still striving to know for themselves. The Church is a home for all to come together, regardless of the depth or the height of our testimony. I know of no sign on the doors of our meetinghouses that says, “Your testimony must be this tall to enter.”
I told them revelation was a personal thing and to not worry about the revelations other members receive or their own perceived lack of testimony and emphasized that God gives each of us what we need in the time we need it.

I briefly touched on the priesthood line of revelation with a quote from Elder Oaks and left it at that.
Unlike the personal line, in which our Heavenly Father communicates with us directly through the Holy Ghost, the priesthood line of communication has the additional and necessary intermediaries of our Savior, Jesus Christ; His Church; and His appointed leaders.
Because of what He accomplished by His atoning sacrifice, Jesus Christ has the power to prescribe the conditions we must fulfill to qualify for the blessings of His Atonement. That is why we have commandments and ordinances. That is why we make covenants. That is how we qualify for the promised blessings. They all come through the mercy and grace of the Holy One of Israel….The priesthood line is the channel by which God has spoken to His children through the scriptures in times past. And it is this line through which He currently speaks through the teachings and counsel of living prophets and apostles and other inspired leaders.
I bore witness that my own testimony has its ups and downs, but talked about my Spiritual witness of Joseph Smith's First Vision as an investigator many years ago, testifying that I believe Joseph was a prophet. I said I also believe in Jesus Christ and that I believe Jesus Christ, and quoted from "I Know That My Redeemer Lives." I told them were are taught that no one can know that Jesus is the Christ except by the Holy Ghost and that is where my testimony comes from - nevertheless to some it is given only to believe the testimonies of others.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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mom3
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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by mom3 » 19 May 2015, 20:23

Thank you both. I am in such need of the hope your talks bring. I love knowing that part of our discussions here get carried forward through your words. I also appreciate you posting them, the past couple of weeks of church talks have been brow beaters about all we haven't done. In my life presently I don't need anyone else's list, I have a long list of what I haven't done already written.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by Curt Sunshine » 20 Jul 2015, 17:29

I spoke yesterday on the topic "What is fasting?" Between two talks that lasted longer than anticipated and an intermediate hymn that took a while to start, I had five minutes left. Afterward, I realized that was a good thing, since it allowed me to focus on the heart of the message I wanted to give.

I started by mentioning how important it is to understand what something means in order to live it properly. I used reverence as an example by saying that I could be sitting silently in church and be totally irreverent. Reverence means "deep respect, worship, adoration, etc." - and I could be thinking about sports or my job or any other topic that did not make me reverent. I also pointed out that some of our hymns are supposed to be sung "confidently", "with vigor", "enthusiastically" - and many of them are sung best when sung loudly. Those songs, when done appropriately, are sung reverently - since they convey deep respect, adoration, worship, etc.

(If I'd had more time, I would have used modesty as another example.)

I told everyone that I had planned on reading Isaiah 58, which I highly recommend and see as the best explanation of what fasting is and is not, but that, given the time constraints, I would summarize the central message, instead. I first said that I don't think God cares one bit about us not eating when we can choose to eat, in and of itself, and that fasting is not supposed to equal not eating - just like reverence does not equal being quiet or silent. With that, I focused on Isaiah 58.

The first few verses explain why Israel was condemned for the way it fasted. They abstained from food but simultaneously continued to oppress the poor - and performed their normal labors - etc. Fasting changed nothing about their practices and their lives. They also fasted for their own benefit, including making it an obvious sign of their righteousness. In fact, by wearing sackcloth and using ashes, they put on disguises that made them appear to be poor - a rank form of hypocrisy.

The rest of the verses focus on the pure intent of fasting: helping the poor, the afflicted, the imprisoned, etc. In other words, fasting is supposed to help people who generally don't understand poverty and hunger in a powerful way forge a link with people who don't have the luxury of choosing to fast - who go without food regularly and without end in sight - who would never dream of making a show of their poverty - etc. In a way, it is similar to temple work, which is supposed to connect our hearts with our ancestors in a unique and eternally-binding way and help us respect, understand and love them differently than we could without that concept.

I emphasized that if we are not feeling connected to the most poor and needy - the truly destitute among us and throughout the world, in some way and to some degree, we are not fasting as it is meant to be. If we are not becoming more Christ-like in how we interact with those who are hungry and marginalized and outcast and demeaned and ridiculed and "stand in need of comfort" in some way, we are missing entirely the foundational reason why we are supposed to fast. If we are not receiving the suffering of the poor, we are not fulfilling a pure fast. I said there are legitimate reasons why we should fast at times for certain blessings in our own lives, but that if we make ourselves the center of most of our fasts we are, in a real way, no different than the Israelites in Isaiah 58.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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mom3
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Re: A Thread For Talks and Lessons

Post by mom3 » 20 Jul 2015, 20:28

Thanks Ray. I know what I am reading tonight.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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