The primary point of doctrine which sets the Church apart from other Christian churches, is that we believe the heavens are not sealed. That God still speaks to the world through a prophet [who, if what I read on Facebook is to be believed, turned 84 on Sunday; I’ll check on that in a minute*]; that local church leadership is called by prophecy and revelation; that parents are entitled to revelation in leading their families; and that individuals may receive inspiration to guide their daily lives.
That’s the first bit of background that you need to have in order to appreciate this post.
The Church is huge. There are over 14 million of us, worldwide. The Church is divided into multiple areas (with area presidencies serving under the direction of the First Presidency, or the Prophet and his two counselors). It is further divided into stakes, similar to Catholic diocese, and wards, which are similar to Catholic parishes. We are parochial in nature, rather than congregational. If you live here, you will attend that ward. So, no shopping about for a preacher that you like. The doctrine is correlated throughout the church.
If I were to go to my sister’s near Seattle and attend church in the ward that would be hers if she were LDS, I would hear the same Relief Society lesson that I would in my own ward, or possibly the one I heard last week or will hear next week, allowing for the timing of stake conferences, ward conferences, General Conference. The delivery of that lesson, or the fleshing-out of the bones of that lesson, would be adapted by inspiration to the needs of that congregation. They generally give us too much material in the manuals to be covered within the confines of the class period, thus ensuring that we rarely have to experience someone standing at the front of the room and reading out of the manual while we read along in ours.
That’s the second bit of background that you need.
On the third Sunday of the month, the member of the stake high council (twelve men who are called out of their individual wards throughout the stake, to serve with the stake president and his counselors, to lead and teach and govern church members residing within the stake) go out to their assigned wards and speak upon a topic chosen by the stake president (again, through inspiration). Some of these brethren are gifted speakers. Some are not. Thus the loving tradition of calling this particular Sabbath Dry Council Sunday.
We have a new one in our stake. He is a young one (they are expecting their first child), which is typically not the norm; frequently brethren are called into the high council who have served as bishops in a ward, or counselors to a bishop. [Perhaps he was a Doogie Howser bishop?] He is a good speaker despite some understandable nervousness at the magnitude of his calling. So he spoke to us on Sunday, and what he said is not necessarily what I heard, or what I remember, as is often the case.
Frequently there is a word or phrase that jumps out at us, opens our hears, and allows the Spirit to get a toehold or maybe even truly get our attention. He spoke a little about the Pharisees in the Savior’s day, how they were so proud of being full tithe-payers that they even tithed on the herbs which seasoned their lives. They knew they were obedient, which meant that they were righteous, which meant that they were cooler than anybody else. The Savior chastised them for the things which they did not often think to do: being kind, being helpful, being loving. The sins of omission.
Which is when the Spirit suggested to me that after church I should drive to my old stake and go to sacrament meeting with Firstborn. And after that, I should scoot back to Fort Worth and surprise Secondborn in her Relief Society meeting. I may not ever know, in mortality, if I was going for them, or for me [I was not feeling the slightest bit needy when I got those impressions], and I may not need to. The real miracle is that I heard, and I went.
But before I did that, and before I taught Primary, I went up to the speaker and told him how much I had enjoyed what he’d said, and that I had gotten two specific pieces of revelation that I was going to act on, that day. And he lit up. Because sometimes the speaker and/or the topic have little or nothing to do with what we need to hear or ponder or do.
I frequently joke that the surest way for me to know that I am receiving revelation is when I am asked, or told, to do something that is good, that would not naturally occur to me. So it was an especial treat to be invited to do something that was thoroughly enjoyable.
*Google says that Wikipedia says that President Thomas S. Monson was born August 21, 1927, in Salt Lake City, which certainly sounds like 84 to me.
I came home and slept like a rock and knitted until the wee hours and had a great day at work yesterday and a decent night’s sleep last night.
And now it is Tuesday, and I woke ahead of the alarm, and tonight I am skipping Knit Night to get another massage, and one of my Facebook friends gave me a link to a woman who conducts free allergy testing twice a month, so I might be going there in September.
My arms are still relatively relaxed from the last massage, and my right foot and leg are holding up well, and the swelling and stiffness on my left side are noticeably less. The new shoes fit well, and a callus which had built up on the outer edge of my left foot is diminishing daily: it is now roughly the size of an uncooked lentil and no longer tender. It must have been pressing on a nerve.
Because we know I have a lot of that, some days. Just like in the song:
I’ve got nerves that jingle, jangle, jingle
As I go riding merrily along.
And they say, hey ain’t you glad you’re single?
What do you mean, that’s not how it goes?
- Five years into widowhood, after one year of incredible happiness and nearly 14 years of single blessedness. Have given up perfect manicures and pretty hands in order to resume playing the soprano recorder and to see if I can figure out how to play bluegrass banjo. Singing in the shower. Still really, *really* love to knit!