The following is a talk I gave on New Years Day in Sacrament Meeting in front of over 200 members. I didn't know beforehand, that it would set the tone for the entire year. It went over far better than my wildest dreams. I am still on a high from that day, and the aftermath of this talk that day. Nothing has gotten me back down, not even the Forty-Niners blowing the NFC Championship game a few days later. My confidence and resolve has only grown since then. Since January 1, 2012, I have embarked on a journey of self discovery, that lead to my bell being rung and my total acceptance of myself as a Transgender Woman, and more specifically, a Transsexual Woman. As far as my life as "Bob", one could liken this talk to the iceberg, and Bob as the Titanic. This talk was the tip of the iceberg, but being a flawed guileful fake, as Bob, was destined for catastrophic failure....He's going down no matter what. What follows is one of the last things I ever attempted totally under the auspices of a male persona:
In Matthew 9:37-38 we read, "Then saith he unto his disciples, the harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into the harvest." Harvest being good works toward others, missionary work, charitable service to others, building up Zion, making Heaven a Place on Earth, making the world a better place for all mankind, and doing all this here and now. Heavenly Father does not want us all being waiting sheep. He wants us to live our faith, our faith as an action verb, not a noun. We don't have to wait for directives, to move to some compound, to some esoteric notion of Zion in some presumed sacred place, such as was the case formerly with Missouri. We are no longer under the commandment to move to Zion at some distant and vague time, because that made us a Church of waiters....waiting for doomsday, waiting for a second coming. The Church does change, it does become enlightened, and it does progress in alignment with the eternal law of progression. We are a Church of optimists, a Church of workers, a Church that personifies Service,Hope, Love, Empathy and Compassion. We actually have the power to make Zion everywhere, and to include everyone in it, and edify the lives of all humanity, and not to have to acquiesce to the dystopia of social problems, but to serve all humankind to the making of Heaven on Earth, even before the second coming.
There is ample opportunity for all 7.1 billion people to follow Christ's perfect example of service, self sacrifice and endurance, and to be able to return and live with him and Heavenly Father. Jesus gave us the authority to labor in the harvest, to serve others in his name, for the benefit of his flock, which is all humanity.
Thus, the people do have the power, to wrestle the earth from fools, and make Heaven a Place on Earth..
I have the pleasure , this first morning of a brand new year, to talk with you about service, ....service, self sacrifice and enduring to the end.
My Websters Dictionary, Encyclopedic Lexicon Edition, defines service as; working in or for government, efforts made in the public sector, a public servant, efforts expended in the armed forces, diplomacy, statecraft, the product of human beneficial activities, public worship, or music written for this,; the product of any human activity meant to satisfy human needs, with the other as the primary concern over self.
Some synonyms are: self sacrifice, co-operation, ministry, altruism, charitable, generous, liberal, equitable, goodwill, kindness, compassion, empathy, mercy, meekness, devotional, courage, forbearance, fortitude, long-suffering, patience, edification, brighten and love.
Its opposites are: covetousness, egotistical, greedy, illiberal, miserly, stingy, narrow-minded, parcimoneous, rapacious, self-centered, self-indulgent, self-seeking, uncharitable, ungenerous, cruelty, malevolence, inhumanity, indifference, apathy, avarice, impious, profane, narcassistic, vain, hinderance, impediment, succumbing, darken, ill-will, animosity,and acquiescence.
Who we serve is the most important choice of will and agency we will ever make. In Matthew 6:24 we find that we cannot serve both God and Mammon (mammon being money). They are opposites. Serving Mammon puts our life focus on ones own self, and the acquisitioning of it for ones self.
Serving God puts the focus of our lives on other people. In Luke 22:7 we read, "I am among you as he that serveth". Jesus set the perfect example, and summed his life up, in the end, that he was but a humble servant. If we desire to be followers of Jesus, we must serve others. Christlike service comes from genuine love for the Savior and of love, empathy and compassion for all other people. It means we are truly happy to be of service to others. We should not see making sacrifices to serve mankind as some sort of a drag, an added burden in our lives, that, oh what a bummer that I have to take time out from my busy life, to complete my hometeaching, to take the sacrament to someone who is ill, to get up at 2am to give a blessing, to paint someones house, weather or not they are a member of the Church, to put a roof on someones home, to move someone in or out of the Ward, to move a neighbor, to distribute food in needy neighborhoods, work in soup kitchens and myriad other ways to serve.
We do not participate in service because we expect something in return. This is not a "getting your ticket punched", to heaven or a desired degree of glory. It can be said, that on many service projects, there are the usual suspects. But we shouldn't be doing this to be seen as the usual suspects. There is no such thing as accumulating punched tickets of service rendered. This is not a competition, this is not a contest. We are judged for our hearts attitude, not on attendance, or pounds lifted.
If we truly want to live our faith, service must be seen as the happiest, brightest and most wonderful part of our lives. President Spencer W. Kimball explained that, "God meets our needs through other people". We must engage and help others in a selfless way, if we expect to progress anywhere in this mortal life, and especially spiritually. The most important way to engage and interact with others is to serve them. Some of us ask God to bless the sick and the suffering, to bless the armed forces, to bless this land or that land, to bless this thing or that thing...but then they do little or nothing for them. No real effort is expended to make sure the prayed for desires come to fruition.
We must remember that God works through us. When we help one another, we serve God. One of the most wonderful representations of service exemplified in a life lived, is that of King Benjamin, in Book of Mormon times. King Benjamin makes perhaps the greatest address of all time, as we read in Mosiah chapters 2 to 4.
In Mosiah 2:16-17, we read; "Behold, I say unto you, that because I said unto you that I had spent my days in your service , I do not desire to boast, for I have only been in the service of God. And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; That when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God."
In Mosiah 3:13 , we read, "And the Lord God hath sent his holy prophets among all the children of men, to declare these things to every kindred, nation and tongue, that thereby whosoever should believe that Christ shall come, the same might receive remission of their sins and rejoice with exceedingly great joy, Even as though he had already come among them." We should not be sitting around waiting for this, we the people have the power and authority to build the Zion we so desire, here and now. We accomplish this with service to others.
In Mosiah 4:15 & 19, we read, "But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; Ye will teach them to love one another and to serve one another; for behold, are we not all beggars." There are no conditions, no exclusions, no exceptions...we are to love all people, unconditionally, all the time, we are to serve all people, unconditionally, and lovingly, all the time. For we are nothing if we are not in service of others, we are nothing in and of ourselves, we are beggars. Among the many things asked for here, by King Benjamin, is that we have a duty to labor toward the building of Zion, making Heaven a Place on Earth, and making all people feel as though Jesus were already with us, and not to be waiting; but search our hearts as to what it would be if Jesus were to be here right now....And Then Make It So.
In Matthew 25:40, we read, "Insomuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." We also read in the verses following, that the converse is true, that if we inhibit, impede, withhold or conditionalize our service, we will face everlasting punishment.
We should treat all people, Black, White, Brown, Rich or Poor, Christian, Muslum, Buddhist, Jew, straight, gay, lesbian, bi, or transgender, Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative, active church-goer, less active or athiest, man or woman, boy or girl, and so on....all people unconditionally, As if they were Jesus Christ....For whatever we think towards, feel towards, act towards, whatever we do to anybody else, its as if we actually did it to Jesus Christ himself.
We as a Church have fallen short in our collective treatment of African Americans, toward women, and more recently and currently what is passed off as our collective attitude toward members of the LGBT community. If we take the scriptures seriously, and I know we do, we cannot be denigrative and bigoted toward members of the LGBT community, because we wouldn't be doing such things to Jesus, so why do it to anybody. I, for one, resolve now to act it ways that rise above and overcome our embarrassing and shameful past in regards to Blacks, women, and the LGBT community. And by LGBT, I mean Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender. They are among us here right now. we must decide weather we want to be known as a Church of wall-builders, with guards and bouncers at our doors, or a Church of bridge builders, with greeters and fellowshippers at our doors. Everyone, including all the LGBT community is worthy of our attention and service, love, and compassion.
I believe right here would be a good place to break up this talk into a second part and a second post. Thank you for reading this far, I hope you will join me for the conclusion.
As I was giving this talk, I really felt the spirit move through me, with impressive strength. As I came to the LGBT stuff I made sure to look into the eyes of the congregation. I think they really got it. I even gave signals to my wife and girls, for when I said the word "transgender" I looked at my wife, and into her eyes each time.
I will elaborate more on the reception of this talk at the end of part two, of this talk. I will say, I was so amazed by the response. Let me know what you think so far. Leah-Loreli.