Thursday, June 23, 2016

Are We Not All Family?

Contrary to popular belief, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints does in fact allow women to teach from the pulpit.  We are not called as bishops, but we are asked to preach quite frequently.  I received the invitation to teach on Father's Day and the following is essentially the gist of the talk I delivered.  Inasmuch as I purposefully did not write out the sermon beforehand, but relied completely on mere bullet points and it is unlawful to record our Sacrament services, I cannot relate it exactly. 
My brethren and my sisters, I am grateful for the talk just given because it flows directly into my remarks today.  I love the way Elder Bednar begins his talks and would like to begin by doing much the same thing.  He invokes the Spirit of God to be present before he speaks, and I would invite the Spirit to be here with me and with you that all of us may be edified together.
As I have pondered and prayed about this assignment it seems that the Lord has directed my thoughts toward one venue and disallowed me to consider any other means of address on this subject, so I will follow with how I feel impressed to speak. 
When I was a very young child, I remember looking at the tangible objects around me and the world around me and feeling that all this was very foreign.  I remember feeling that I came from another place, a better place, a place I couldn't quite remember but knew had existed.  I pondered these things deeply in my childhood and felt very homesick for a world from before my mortal birth.  I was noted to be rather a strange child, and those of you who know me today are probably thinking that not much has changed.  (giggles from the congregation)
I was about five when, in pondering these things, I felt a very familiar presence with me.  It was a presence I knew well, and felt I had spent many millions of years with this person in one on one activities.  It was then that I knew perfectly that God was not only the Master of the universe, but also very much my Father.
Joseph Smith indicated that when we meet God the Father the surprising thing will not be how different and strange He is, but how familiar He is to us.  I testify that I know perfectly that this is true.  He knows us and He loves us.  He knows us, not merely from our births into this world but He knows who we have been from long before this world was.  (Mormon) scripture indicates that He knew us when we were intelligences, before we were clothed in spiritual bodies and He knows us more intimately than all the world including all our Facebook friends together possibly could. 
That being said, I began to grow up and became acquainted with life and all its chaos.  Sometimes life is full of unexpected trials and sometimes we do not know which way to go or which way our life will take us.  I have been praying much the last two weeks, unsure of which way my life would go, but even though I don't know, I know that our Father does.  He gives us trials that He knows we need.  He knows who we have been for forever in the past and He knows who we can and will be in the eternities in the future, and every trial He gives us is designed to be exactly what we need. 
Now, today is Father's Day, and we honor our fathers.  They work so hard and they leave their families for forty hours a week and sometimes longer in order to work.  This is wonderful.  It is noble.  It is heroic.  But when our Heavenly Father goes to work, what does He do?  My brethren and my sisters, we are His work and His glory.  Our progression is His work, and I am continually amazed that He would even care about how we progress and improve, but He does.  We are everything to Him.
As I have prayed about what gift we can render our Father today, my thoughts have been led to one idea and I invite you to join me.  This Father's Day, let us remember who we are.  Let us remember a little more that God is our Father, that we are brothers and sisters, and when we interact with each other, let us remember that we are all one eternal family, for that is exactly what we are.  When we say "Sister Driggs", "Sister Richardson", or "Brother Hopkins" (gesturing toward these people) or whoever it may be, let us mean it.  They are our siblings.  We are all family. 
I know not only that Heavenly Father lives, but I know our Father.  I love Him.  I know perfectly that He loves His children and is involved in everything we do.  I know perfectly that the doctrines of this Church are true, and I leave this with you in the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, amen.

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