Wednesday, May 07, 2014
Big Happy Changes
I was thrilled because in my Stake calling we help with the get togethers surrounding the Women's broadcast. Now that we all meet together, I'm hoping family traditions will emerge where daughters and grandmas get together and go out to eat. My husband and our son do that with friends and family after the priesthood session. Maybe we won't have to serve food before the broadcast anymore! So, yay—one less event to cater on my part. Also, for Stake Conference they invited the 8 year-olds and up to the formerly named "Adult Session" on Saturday night and did away with the Youth Session that normally takes place at 8am before Stake Conference—another event that I'm in charge of cancelled. Yippee!
You have to figure that church leaders used to think that we needed special separate meetings for the youth. Maybe they would talk about things differently to the teenagers. I understand that. But not anymore. Now it's becoming more and more clear that everyone is getting the same message. I find this pretty thrilling and cool. I wonder if it is a reaction to how children are "growing up" faster these days and facing difficult issues that were once only encountered as adults. I think it's empowering for kids to be included. I feel like church leaders are giving the explicit message that we need you, that we need everyone. The new lower missionary age reflects this too.
It shows that church leaders have faith in the young people of the church. It's not easy to put the possible salvation of a soul into the hands of an 18-year-old boy. But we don't care! We trust the Gospel and the message and we are just going nuts with it!
M. Russell Ballard has long been a proponent of empowering all saints to get out there and live their faith. I remember when I first started blogging I was nervous to mention LDS things because I didn't want to take on the haters (they go by the name "anonymous"). But the church had a big get together with bloggers and they told us to say whatever we wanted and to blog openly about our religion. They trusted us. They invited us to fill out profiles on Mormon.org and answer questions about the gospel for anyone interested to read. We weren't vetted. Our responses weren't edited. I thought, wow. They might get some weird stuff. But they didn't care! They trusted people to put themselves out there and show the world what Mormons look like. There's certainly enough anti-Mormon content online. Why not flood it with pro-, if imperfect, Mormon content as well?
In his recent conference talk about missionary work President Ballard also encouraged everyone "regardless of calling or level of activity" to get Preach My Gospel and try to spread the word. I just think that is HUGE. He doesn't want to limit the preaching of the gospel to "experts."
I think this is a shift in the church. At our persecuted roots lies our inclination for isolationism. Tarring and feathering is a pretty big turn off. It took a lot of years to get going. But now that we are becoming a worldwide church I am impressed with the expectation that everyone rolls up their sleeves and gets bizy with the Work.
I was at the Women's Broadcast with my mom, daughter, sister, and little niece, Hazel. The inclusion of primary girls at the broadcast was nothing earth shattering. It was more a reflection of how the gospel actually works. When I was a teenager my mom was the Young Women's president. She brought my little sister Carly to everything because she didn't have anyone to leave her with. Carly was at Youth Conference. Carly stayed late doing dishes after firesides. It was no big. This meeting just reflected that and acknowledged that the distinction between ages and classes is, for the most part, an arbitrary way we organize things. During the broadcast they showed a video about being on the "Covenant Path" that starts with new babies and baptisms and ends with a funeral. How harsh! It's like, "Welcome to the Women of the Church. Live your life in service and then die." But that's how it goes. No need to shield anyone from it. We're hardcore.
When I was younger I was pretty much just aiming for a temple marriage. That was my goal and I figured that was the end-all be-all and I'd be done. It was a good goal and I'm glad I got married in the temple, but I had no idea how much was left on the other side of that. Because my mom is so good and because it seems to come easily to her to do what is right, I thought that's just how you became when you were old. (And by "old" I guess I just mean "adult.") But that is not the case. I see plenty of old people who are self-absorbed, flawed, immature, and still working on things—myself included.
I now view the gospel as a continuum and everyone is on it. I think recent changes and talks reflect this idea as well and I think it is a better, or at least more meaningful, way to understand the gospel. Certainly, there are "milestones" such as baptism that you will hit and I do believe in the line upon line, precept upon precept concept but there is a lot more circling back then I originally expected.
This whole idea of giving the same message to the youth makes me think of the Vulgate, which was the first translation of the bible from Greek or Hebrew (which most people couldn't read) into Latin. It gave much more equitable access of the scriptures to people. I like that idea and I like young people being empowered and expected to do more.
From my discussions with the young women in our stake they seem to think it's a bit of a drag though. "What does all this mean to you guys," enthusiastic leaders ask in reference to the younger missionary age, the new curriculum, and all the new meetings the youth "get" to go to.
"It means we have to do more," they sigh.
Hahahahahhaha. Welcome aboard!