Sunday, July 4, 2010

Welcome to Conference

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Welcome to Conference, by President Thomas S. Monson

Today is Independence Day (4th of July). As we contemplated how we would celebrate the birth of our nation, I was, at first, concerned because it didn't seem that there was much that we could do. In striving to keep the Sabbath day holy (see Exodus 20:8), we wanted to stay away from BBQs and lakeside festivities. However, my concern turned to gratitude; I wish that more major holidays fell on Sundays because it enabled us to cut to the heart of the celebration and focus on the real reasons for the holiday: freedoms and blessings.

As I think of the many freedoms that we enjoy, I cannot help but realize that this grand suite of freedoms provided the perfect ground for the Restoration of the Gospel. Where else could the fulness of the gospel come forth?

In his opening remarks to general conference, President Monson reminded that it was "180 years since the Church was organized." Moments ago, my wife and I had a mathematical exercise where we determined just how old our nation is (234 years), and when it will be 250 years old (2026, btw). Obviously this is older than any of us are, but it's striking at how young—or recent, if you prefer—the Church and nation are.

While I'm sure that many—if not all—Church members have contemplated on the correlation of Independence and the Restoration (which sounds almost contradictory: correlation and independence), I'm grateful for the environment of freedoms that enabled the Restoration and the unfolding of many additional truths (e.g. advancements in science, technology, industry, society, and medicine).

I thought of the blessings that our Independence provided as we sang "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," and "America the Beautiful" at church this morning. This is because of lyrics speaking of "templed hills," and extolling the merits of "heroes proved in liberating strife,"and ending in the Lord purifying us all "till all success be nobleness, and ev'ry gain divine."

As I parse this most recent general conference in hopes of improving my life and more fully being in line with what the Lord expects of me and who He wants me to be, I hope I can remember that the very life I live now is the result of divine help in preparation for grander things, even the Restoration of the Gospel.

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