Our ward is similar to many: speakers are typically given a general conference talk to frame their topic for their talks. And the results are similar to other wards’, too. We have some speakers who say, “I was asked to talk about President Monson’s talk from….” And other speakers who did what ours did on Sunday.
Second, the two adult speakers were former Relief Society presidents from our ward. And I was bishop when they both were called. So you can imagine I was pretty excited to hear from them both in sacrament meeting.
last April’s conference. I love Elder Holland, and I particularly loved that talk. If you can’t instantly remember it, go back and have a look; you’ll be glad you did.
Fourth, although they were both assigned the same talk, each of their talks was strikingly different from the other. Both messages were remarkably complementary without overlap. (I know sometimes things don’t work that way. Sometimes the talks overlap quite a bit. But this was not one of those times.) Each of their talks referenced Elder Holland’s address and the parable that formed the core of his talk, but each one also included personal experiences and testimony to reinforce the message of the day.
And that’s why it was so delightful. Each of these sisters prepared remarks that spoke to her experience in life and in the gospel. Those personal experiences were as important as the words of the apostle they each quoted, because those experiences served as additional witnesses of the truth. For me, that’s a way that sacrament meeting talks can be relevant and revelatory: as I hear the thoughts and life experience of the speaker, I can also find parallels in my own life with which I can connect myself to the message. As I do that, the Spirit helps me connect even more deeply, and I come away edified.
I’m no longer in a position to plan sacrament meetings, but if I were, I think I would rely less on general conference talks. (I did it because a bishop I served with did it, and at the time it was a valuable practice for me, and for the ward where we served.) Of course there’s nothing wrong with focusing on the conference talks; we do it in lots of settings, and it’s good to be reminded of what we’ve been taught in conference. But I think I’d encourage speakers to search the conference talks along with scriptures and other appropriate sources around a specific theme or topic, rather than assigning a talk. (Of course I don’t know what I’d actually do: hopefully I’d listen to the Spirit and do what I was prompted to do.)
But in this week’s meeting, even with just one talk between them, our adult speakers both hit home runs. I was fortunate to be there and to learn from them.
By the way:
1. Don't forget to check out the last finalists in the Four Centuries of Mormon Stories contest here.
2. And my latest post at Real Intent, "Venus & Mars and the Empty Bucket " is here.