Thursday, February 12, 2009

Returning Home

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Returning Home, by Elder Eduardo Gavarret
Of the Seventy

While living in Chicago, I attended a moving priesthood meeting where the power of invitations was discussed. I remember a program that had been developed where less active men were invited to meet with a member of the stake presidency (or bishopric) where they were lovingly welcomed and asked to prepare to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. While most of them felt unworthy for such, the invitation to prepare opened a door for the priesthood leader to discuss what needed to be done to prepare. Often, all that was needed to get these men back to church was a loving invitation (read about a similar program in Omaha here).

I was reminded of this when Elder Gavarret said:

They accepted the invitation made by priesthood leaders, full-time missionaries, and others who took upon themselves the responsibility to help them return to Church and come unto Christ. To each one of them, we say, "Welcome. Welcome home!"

Before He ascended into heaven, Christ gave the charge: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). While we often think of those who have not yet heard the truth, this charge also includes a call to help those who have fallen away.

As a teenager, I was teamed up with one of my role models for home teaching. Kimball Boone had recently returned home from his mission, and he taught me much by his example of Christ-like love. On one home teaching outing, he gave me a hand-written quote on a note card, explaining that our work together reminded him of that particular quote. While I cannot find the source (maybe I can later), to the best of my knowledge, the quote was from Joseph F. Smith (or was it Joseph Fielding Smith?), and it read:

Truly the 'worth of souls is great in the sight of God' (D&C 18:10). To save the souls of those who have strayed from the fold is just as worthy and commendable, and causes just as much rejoicing in heaven, as to save the souls of those in far-off parts of the earth.

Elder Gavarret gives a new spin on this principle when he shared an interaction he had with a man who had been away from the fellowship of the church for many years. He related:

When I asked him why he had decided to return, he replied, "My friend Fernando and this good bishop invited me to come, and I did. I found the Church many years ago, and I have a small flame still burning within my heart. It may not be strong, but it is there."

I concluded, "Well, as your brethren, we shall blow that flame together to keep it alive."

I loved the imagery of the small flame being fanned and kept alive through love. As we love others, we are showing love for our Father in Heaven. Closely related to Mosiah 2:17 is the following:

The interest, attention, and care towards our brethren are profound manifestations of love for our Heavenly Father. In fact, we express our love for God when we serve and when this service is focused on our neighbor's well-being.

I credit a large portion of the good aspects of who I am to the loving care of others, including their bold invitations to improve. I hope I can likewise help others, in love, to come to higher ground (while I'm continually being lifted by others, too).

1 thought:

Maryann said...

I really like that message too. You have been a great example to me of lifting and helping those around you. I can see you have already done the same kind of love and care with those you have served, and I know you will continue to do that.