Ronan: Good afternoon Brother and Sister Bloggernacle. Nice to see you again. (Courtesies and half-hearted offers to “help you with something.” Perhaps even a creased birthday card for one of the little ones.)
For our message today, we have brought three props: a mirror, a picture of a Mormon McMansion, and a rusty garden tool (a rake). Yes, it’s really weird that we came to your home wearing suits and holding a rake, but it will all make sense soon, I promise. President Monson’s First Presidency message is about “becoming our best selves.”
Steve: I brought my 40 gig iPod with me to play you a little song. Did I tell you it’s 40 gig? I even have an external hard-drive for my computer to hold all the cool songs I have. Anyway, let me play you something from the Book of Michael:
I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
(If you wanna make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
(Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)
(Na na na, na na na, na na, na nah)
(Holds up the mirror) What do you see?
Ronan: Take a good look at yourself Bloggernacle. President Monson suggests we ask ourselves these questions: “Am I what I want to be? Am I closer to the Savior today than I was yesterday? Will I be closer yet tomorrow? Do I have the courage to change for the better?” Consider the words of Jesus: “What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.”
Steve: (holds up picture of a McMansion) Nice, eh? Jesus said that in his Father’s house are many mansions. He didn’t say “townhomes” or “ranchers.” You know, big homes = happy families. Anyway, I digress. President Monson again:
It is time to choose an oft-forgotten path, the path we might call “the family way,” so that our children and grandchildren might indeed grow to their full potential. There is an international tide running. It carries the unspoken message, “Return to your roots, to your families, to lessons learned, to lives lived, to examples shown, even family values.” Often it is just a matter of coming home–coming home to attics not recently examined, to diaries seldom read, to photo albums almost forgotten.
Ronan: Ah, families. You know Bloggernacle, you’re like our family…
Steve: We love you.
Ronan: (swings rake, almost decapitating Steve) The final prong (no pun intended) in “becoming our best selves” is service. You know, like cleaning an old lady’s yard (shakes rake). President Monson tells this story:
Many years ago, while serving as a bishop, I felt impressed to call upon Augusta Schneider, a widow from the Alsace-Lorraine area of Europe who spoke very little English, although she was fluent in French and German. For years after that first impression, I would visit with her at Christmastime. On one occasion, Augusta said, “Bishop, I have something of great value to me which I would like to present to you.” She then went to a special place in her modest apartment and retrieved the gift. It was a beautiful piece of felt, perhaps six by eight inches (15 by 20 cm) in size, to which she had pinned the medals her husband had been presented for his service as a member of the French forces in World War I. She said, “I would like you to have this personal treasure which is so close to my heart.” I protested politely and suggested there must be some member of her extended family to whom the gift should be given. “No,” she replied firmly, “the gift is yours, for you have the soul of a Frenchman.”
Shortly after presenting this special gift to me, Augusta departed mortality and went home to that God who gave her life. Occasionally I would wonder concerning her declaration that I had “the soul of a Frenchman.” I didn’t have the slightest idea what that meant. I still don’t.
Many years later, I had the privilege to accompany President Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) to the dedication of the Frankfurt Germany Temple, which temple would serve German-, French-, and Dutch-speaking members. In packing for the trip, I felt impressed to take along the gift of medals, without any thought concerning what I would do with them. I’d had them a number of years.
For a French-speaking dedication session, the temple was filled. The singing and messages presented were beautiful. Gratitude for God’s blessings penetrated each heart. I saw from my conducting notes that the session included members from the Alsace-Lorraine area.
During my remarks, I observed that the organist had the name of Schneider. I therefore related the account of my association with Augusta Schneider, then stepped to the organ and presented the organist with the medals, along with the charge that since his name was Schneider, he had a responsibility to pursue the Schneider name in his genealogical activities. The Spirit of the Lord confirmed in our hearts that this was a special session. Brother Schneider had a difficult time preparing to play the closing number of the dedicatory service, so moved was he by the Spirit which we felt there in the temple.
I knew that the treasured gift–even the widow’s mite, for it was all Augusta Schneider had–was placed in the hand of one who would ensure that many with the souls of Frenchmen would now receive the blessings the holy temples provide, both for the living and for those who have passed beyond mortality.
Steve: What’s that got to do with a garden rake?
Ronan: Garden rake = service. Doing genealogy = service. I’m just following the Ensign’s suggestions, man. It said to bring a garden tool as a prop.
Steve: Bottom line, guys: have the souls of Frenchmen. I studied at the Sorbonne you know. Vive la France!