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Thread: I taught in Church today

  1. #91

    I taught in Church today

    I finished off my two week two-fer yesterday. Spoke in Sacrament meeting last Sunday and then in Stake Conference yesterday. I was given an 8 minute slot, which was challenging to limit myself to, which also meant that I had to write it out word for word to insure that I kept to the script, but I was pretty happy with how it worked out.

    If you’ve been anywhere near the Internet this past week, there’s a strong probability that you’ve seen the video footage out of France of a young Malian man, scaling the outer five floors of an apartment complex, to the aid of a toddler dangling precariously from a high balcony. In a follow up meeting with the President of France, Mr. Gassama described the experience as a pure instinctive reaction and one he never thought twice about. “When I started to climb, it gave me courage to keep climbing.” President Macron vowed to reward his heroism by beginning the naturalization process. To give this young migrant a home.

    In 1967, a man named George Price, came up with a mathematical equation that calculated the evolutionary concept of natural selection. This equation, essentially proved that there is no such thing as true altruism, but that any decision made to provide assistance to another entity was based on genetic self-preservation. A duty literally woven into our DNA. Interestingly enough, shortly after establishing himself in the world of evolutionary genetics with his equation, Price walked away from his comfort, dedicating himself to the needs of the downtrodden, giving away everything he had, and eventually his life, in an attempt to contradict his calculation.

    As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we are deluged in duty. This sworn service begins with baptism. Speaking to a gathered group of believers on the shores of Mormon, Alma impresses: Mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and stand as witnesses of God. In today’s church, we accept our own assignments. Temple service. Genealogical submissions. And now monthly ministering. Our scriptures read: Trek with those that trek. Conduct those primary kids to hopefully stand in unison during the primary program to be conducted. And stand as witnesses at Saturday morning’s move that one more thing will fit inside the moving truck. Irreverence aside, our opportunities to magnify our duty are numerous and intentional. Gathering together oft provides us with the care and cultivation of the congregation. And we, it. A sacred symbiosis of service.

    But who are we when outside the chapel doors, absent of assignment? As a biologist, I have spent a career immersed in the natural world of endangered species. Whether it be for a project proposal or a curious onlooker, throughout that time, I’ve frequently faced the inquisitive “why?” Can I eat it? Can it be cultivated? What’s the value of a four-inch fish? If every fish could be a five-foot salmon, my abilities of persuasion would improve significantly. As with animals, our opinions of others can be strongly influenced by our bias. We like to group ourselves by an assortment of familiar attributes. By our faith, by our team, by our tax bracket, even by the amount of our melanin. Are these people any less deserving of our endorsement? Do we question the value of the vulnerable when they don’t quite fit our measurement of membership? There have been times when driving down a freeway, I’ve passed a vehicle pulled to the side, stranded triggering an impression to stop. An impression I’ve too often tried to ignore. With eyes aimed at the mirror watching as the vehicle shrinks into the distance while the impression expands. I’ve come to coin these moments as “rearview repentance.” I’ve found the next exit, turned around in an attempt to redeem myself, only to find another party to the rescue or the vehicle gone altogether. In attempt to assuage myself, I am grateful that the need has been met but remorseful in my hesitation. Eliminating myself from the edification.

    In the New Testament, we read the story of a certain man who fell upon thieves on his way to Jericho. The man was beaten, robbed of his purse, and left for dead. As he lay in his need, Luke tells us that “By chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.” A priest and a Levite. Two believers and holders of the priesthood. The Levite, a worker in the temple. Constrained of compassion because of calling. Both parties, the priest even refusing to pause, cross to the other side and travel on. I’m pretty sure they didn’t even have rear view mirrors in their day.

    “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him…” The telling of this story was Christ’s response to the question, “who is my neighbor?” The answer: a foreigner in a strange land, with no cultural obligation. I’d like to highlight two additional terms. In the example of the priest, Christ emphasizes that the encounter was “by chance.” Conversely, the Samaritan “journeyed.” Happenstance compared to having a purpose. I have known people in life that happen upon. Sometimes they stop, frequently they move to pass on the other side. I’ve also been blessed to know people that journey. That search for service and when encountering any need, a response of reliability. The Samaritan was a servant of assertiveness.

    Who is my neighbor? As a young adult, I once chastised my father one evening after watching him struggle out of bed for the first time that day to put on his suit and tie to be a bishop for a handful of hours. His body was riddled with cancer and I felt strongly that he could do better at prioritizing his prescriptions. “How can you expend so much energy listening to people’s trivial problems?” He took the opportunity to instruct me on the axiom of the atonement. “Obedience requires that we bring all that we have to the altar. It’s not up to us to pick and choose. The question shouldn’t be what are we willing to give, only what is needed?”

    In General Conference a few years ago, Elder Patrick Kearon testified that “being a refugee may be a defining moment in the lives of those who are refugees, but being a refugee does not define them. Some of them will go on to be Nobel laureates, public servants, physicians, scientists, musicians, artists, religious leaders, and contributors in other fields. Indeed, many of them were these things before they lost everything. This moment does not define them, but our response will help define us.”

    We live in a world saturated in need and surrounded by physical and emotional refugees. And it can be overwhelming. Who is my neighbor? I can’t tell you what to give, when or to whom. That is a message reserved for the still small voice. But I will promise, that when we stop and we listen, it will guide us. True altruism is not arithmetic. Let us leave our lives of chance behind us and begin our journeys. When that spirit speaks, let us use the words of Isaac and Jacob. Moses and Samuel. “Here am I.” Let us leap into action knowing that when we start to climb, we will be given courage to keep climbing. Dedicating ourselves to unassigned service will lead to our Samaritan Savior to heal our own hurt, grant us peace and eventual citizenship to His eternal kingdom.
    Last edited by Dwight Schr-Ute; 06-04-2018 at 02:57 PM.

  2. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dwight Schr-Ute View Post
    I finished off my two week two-fer yesterday. Spoke in Sacrament meeting last Sunday and then in Stake Conference yesterday. I was given an 8 minute slot, which was challenging to limit myself to, which also meant that I had to write it out word for word to insure that I kept to the script, but I was pretty happy with how it worked out.
    my Sunday School class has an 8 minute opening, what are you doing next Sunday

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