My Favorite Conference Sermon

[ 7 ] Comments

by NotMolly

Merlin or Goonhilly 6I’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.

Journal EntryI 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?

About NotMolly

Liz blogs as NotMolly, and lives on the western reaches of the Rocky Mountains with her Tall, Dark, and Slightly Neanderthal husband, their four beloved Minions, a huge number of books and assorted musical instruments, and four very spoiled pet hens. She can occasionally be somewhat serious and ponder The Big Stuff. And then she'll probably lapse into puns again...

7 Responses to My Favorite Conference Sermon

  1. Bonnie says:

    This is our tradition too! When I was young, my parents had a dish and since they lived 25 miles from town, they invited friends and neighbors to come. We’d have a potluck between sessions both days. When I grew older, both my sister and I would come for conference bringing all our little ones. People would scatter around with coloring books and snacks and journals in the front room as the words from living prophets and apostles, seventies and auxiliary leaders resonated through the spacious front room. We still have conference celebrations even though the farm is a part of our past. And my notes are my own conference address too.

    I think what I’ve found most compelling about conference is that the Lord works on our expectations: there is something profound about the fact that we sit down and listen with pen and paper in hand. When he knows we’re serious, he speaks. Trying to do that in-between conference has changed the way I communicate with heaven. Loved this, Liz!

    • Liz C says:

      Thanks! Our lesson in SS this past week was on the spirit of revelation, and it struck me very strongly that my habit of jotting notes has become a very worthwhile way to receive inspiration and yes, personal revelation. I wonder if, just like our brain’s neurons wire into steady pathways the work with great efficiency when we duplicate similar processes over time, our souls have that kind of wiring through the spirit of revelation?

      I absolutely love it. The charged, invigorated feeling I get when I’m really tuned in and *hearing* the Spirit is fantastic. I’ve had so many experiences where the inspiration that comes through answers my current needs (or a past need, or even a future need) so perfectly, *regardless of the actual words of the speaker.* It’s like Heavenly Father is just waiting for me to tune into the channel, and then pours out everything I need, direct download.

      • WoozleMom says:

        Your comment here about the neurons in our brains reminded me of a couple of posts at Segullah. If you haven’t read them before, they are pretty interesting. I haven’t reread them yet, but I’m going to just as soon as this comment posts!

        segullah.org/daily-special/the-battle-in-our-brains

        segullah.org/daily-special/the-battle-in-our-brains-part-2

  2. Lisa says:

    I have a lovely conference notebook. I love taking notes, it helps me to focus and be more involved in those beautiful sermons.

  3. Becca says:

    I LOVE this post, Liz!

    I can’t tell you how many times I have been discussing General Conference with someone and made a comment “I’m sure so-and-so said at General Conference” only to later scour my notes for the “quote” and find out that The Holy Ghost was the “so-and-so” who had spoken, and only to me. As a stickler for accurate attribution for quotes and such (especially when it comes to prophets and apostles) I have learned to be a little more scrupulous with my personal General Conference talks, rather than spouting them off like doctrine ;)

    A teacher once said to us before a class “Don’t write down what I say, write down what you are going to do because of what you heard.” Or, as I like to say it, don’t write down what the teacher says, write down what the Spirit says. This is my rule especially at General Conference, particularly now that the transcripts of the talks are normally available within days of the actual talks. If anyone said anything particularly noteworthy, it is a simple thing to find the quote. But if the Spirit speaks something to me during General Conference and I fail to write it down, that tid bit of wonderfulness is lost to the vast sea of my mind.

    Well done, Liz :)

  4. Ray says:

    Thanks for this post, Liz. I agree completely – even though there are and have been certain apostles whose talks consistently have resonated with my soul.

    Elder Wirthlin was that way (“Concern for the One” is my favorite conference talk of all time.), even though his delivery made it necessary sometimes to go back and read the printed copy to catch the full power of his amazing messages. Pres. Uchtdorf is that way (surprise? I thought not.) now – regularly amazing me with the way he can say something in a gentle yet direct way, often calling us to repentance in such a way that we nod our heads and say, “He’s right.”

  5. MSKeller says:

    “Perhaps it is the physical act of sitting down with paper and pen, determined to hear whatever my Heavenly Father wants me to hear.” – I think that is the crux of it. Though I vary between digital notes and paper notes. Still not certain which I like better, they both have their benefits. Though I have found that I look back at the digital ones more often just because they are easier to search I guess.

    I haven’t always loved conference, but I’ve found that as I love the Lord more, I love conference more. Funny that.

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