Here’s something I don’t say all that often: I love President Packer’s talk! It’s mostly an appealing collection of reminiscences about his life, and sweet advice from an old man to young men whom he clearly cares for deeply. He began “Young men speak of the future because they have no past, and old men speak of the past because they have no future. I am an old man, but I will speak to the Aaronic Priesthood about your future.” He gives them the advice we’d all like our sons to hear: don’t use drugs, don’t get a tattoo (“stay away from that”), don’t worry if you’re not tall or handsome or athletic, study well, “do not run with friends that worry your parents,” “if you have been guilty of sin or mischief, …learn about the power of the Atonement.”
And my favorites: “You young men should not complain about schooling. Do not immerse yourself so much in the technical that you fail to learn things that are practical. Everything you can learn that is practical–in the house, in the kitchen cooking (emphasis mine!), in the yard–will be of benefit to you. …You can learn about fixing things and painting things and even sewing things and whatever else is practical. That is worth doing. If it is not of particular benefit to you, it will help you when you are serving other people.”
Bishop Edgley introduces a theme that will run all through conference–how members can help each other get through the economic crisis. “The unemployment and financial wakes of this storm are splashing over every stake and ever ward throughout the Church. I suspect they have been felt in some way by each of us.”
“Opportunities [to lift and help] abound and yours is the opportunity and responsibility of marshaling the Lord’s resources. Among our quorum members you will likely find those who know of job openings, and others who are skilled at writing resumes or assisting in interview preparation. Regardless of titles or skills, you will find a brotherhood committed to bear one another’s burdens.”
“May the Lord bless us all with the same sense of urgency to answer the call today to bring in our people from these economic challenges as He did for the handcart companies…”
Elder Costa reiterates the importance of Family Home Evening and family scripture study. “As we consider the wise use of our time and resources to meet the needs of our families, our employment, and our Church callings, it is important to remember that every priesthood holder needs to grow spiritually. …Our Savior extended this invitation to each and every one of us individually: ‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’ When we do His work and His will, rather than our own will, we will realize that the yoke is easy and the burden is light. He will be with us always. He will reveal to us the exact portion that we need for success with our families, our career, and every responsibility that we have in His church.”
President Uchtdorf started with the story of the crash of a Lockheed jet in the Everglades, which was determined to have been caused by the crew’s focus on a faulty sensor. It turned out that everything was working fine, but they were so distracted by trying to figure out what was going on with the little lightbulb that they didn’t notice their altitude was dropping until it was too late to avoid a crash. He contrasts this with the story of Nehemiah, who was so intent on finishing the Lord’s work that he would not come down from the city walls he was working to rebuild.
“Think for a moment what could be accomplished in our personal lives, in our professional lives, in our families, in our wards. Think of how the kingdom of God would progress throughout the earth. Imagine how the world itself could be transformed for good if every man who bears the priesthood of God were to gird up his loins and live up to his true potential, converted in the depth of his soul, a true and faithful man, committed to building the kingdom of God.”
And he used blogging as an example of a potentially unrighteous distraction. Ouch!
President Eyring also began with an extended metaphor–the way that soldiers care for their wounded fellows, particularly the example of U.S. Army rangers in Somalia in 1993, who went at great personal peril to rescue their downed compatriots. “Such a feeling of responsibility for others is at the heart of faithful priesthood service. Our comrades are being wounded in the spiritual conflict around us. So are the people we are called to serve and protect from harm. Spiritual wounds are not easily visible, except with inspired eyes. …as a priesthood holder responsible for the spiritual survival of some of Heavenly Father’s children, you will then move to help without waiting for a cry, “Man down!”
“…You are under covenant, as has been made clear to you, that when you accepted the trust from God to receive the priesthood, you accepted a responsibility for whatever you might do or fail to do for the salvation of others, however difficult and dangerous that might appear to be for you. …Your office, whatever it is in the priesthood, brings with it an obligation to lift up the hands that hang down and strengthen the feeble knees of those around you. You are the Lord’s servant covenanted to do for others, as best you can, what He would do.”
Too grossed out by President Monson’s egg salad example to say much :), but he offered “three suggestions which, when observed and followed, will lead us to safety :
Pray fervently; and
His concluding admonition: “Let us never despair, for the work in which we are engaged is the work of the Lord. …The strength which we earnestly seek in order to meet the challenges of a complex and changing world can be ours when with fortitude and resolute courage, we stand and declare with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”