My Favorite Conference Sermon
I’ve had a Bit of a Thing about Conference since I was small. You see, my two best friends were brother and sister, and their family had one of the first satellite dishes in our county. That satellite dish was bigger than our van. To pick up particular signals, there was a complex ritual of turning and fine-tuning, often accomplished with one kid down at the satellite dish, cranking away, and another leaning out the upstairs window, giving feedback until everything was tuned Just So. It was so cool.
So instead of going to the chapel to sit and listen to the radio broadcast of Conference, my family went to their ranch, and ranged ourselves around a huge open room, where we could snuggle into a couch or chair all together, or sit at the huge, long dining table, or over at the kitchen island. Conference weekend meant big pot-luck meals, and handsewing projects, and journaled notes, and a lot of silliness between sessions. It was… well, it was Us, Together, every time.
Even after we graduated high school and went off into the world, twice a year, we came home for Conference. I can remember leaving school just after midnight, and driving all night to get home for Saturday morning session; driving straight to the ranch so I could crash there for a few hours before the organ kicked into key and the sermons started. And now, twice a year, I get quite homesick for the view from that particular room, for those days spent in a Best Friend Sandwich, journals in our laps, waiting to hear something to spark us.
These days, my entire family knows that Conference is Mom Weekend. That the volume will indeed be up on the computer, and that they are Not To Be Pesty during the sessions. They anticipate that I will be singing all the songs, and taking loads of notes. I like Conference. A Lot.
When it was proposed that me and my fellow Real Intent writers share a bit about our favorite talk from October Conference, I got excited; it’s that same anticipatory gladness you feel when you’re headed home to greet loved ones you haven’t seen in awhile.
I pulled out my notebook, the special one my little girls call “Mother’s Church Book,” because I save it for Sundays and Conference and Special Stuff. It’s not up for grabs if someone needs notepaper or drawing paper or paper to make a little origami cup for the drinking fountain.
I started leafing through my notes from October, and I got the same feeling I had when I made the notes: excited, enthused, inspired. I found concept after concept that I’ve re-read, highlighted, underlined, starred; places where I’ve added more notes and cross-references to scriptures, other entries, song lyrics that apply. Some sermon sections have practically their own soundtrack right there in the margins.
And then I started pulling up the hard-copy of the sermons.
There are some direct quotes I could link. There are specific bits that relate back to the hard-copy. But for the most part? What I wrote, and what I read, are two very different things. A few times, I read the hard-copy, and was a little startled at the actual theme of the sermon. And because of that, I find my Bit of a Thing about Conference getting even more deeply ingrained.
Perhaps it is the physical act of sitting down with paper and pen, determined to hear whatever my Heavenly Father wants me to hear. Perhaps it is the process of adding my Amen to a world-wide body of faith. Perhaps it is the set-aside time, without distraction. I do think the separate, set-apart quality of time during Conference is a large part of it, this open dialogue between my Father and me. Since I was little, I’ve had confidence that if I go into Conference weekends with questions in my heart, and a pen in my hand, I will hear things that will help me find answers.
And then I write those answers down in my special book, that set-apart book dedicated to remembering. The themes I see develop over time are those answers to my questions. I fall in love with particular sermons, not necessarily for the exact hard-copy content of the address, but for the inspired thoughts and concepts that rain down, that float on some pretty divine winds, that fill me up until they spill out onto the page.
I think I’m deciding that my favorite Conference sermon is the one that’s very uniquely mine. It’s the one my Heavenly Father needs me to hear, and it’s a composite of all the speakers, all the music, all the prayers; it comes down through a lineage of all the other Conference sessions, right back to those first years, when we had to open up a window and shout down to whichever kid was aiming the satellite dish, so we could tune it in properly, hear with clarity, see without distortion.
We’re half-way to Spring Conference. I think I need to buy a new packet of my favorite pens, and have a spare blank book on hand, just in case. My Favorite Conference Sermon is waiting for me to write it down.
- Do you keep a record of Conference notes?
- How do you go about recognizing the messages Heavenly Father sends you?
- How are you preparing for Conference this spring?