Day 7: San Francisco Pride Sabbath

Day 7 MoTab Tour โค Sunday 24 June 2018, San Francisco, California

A Sabbath Day on tour with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is always a very special experience. This one was extra special.

It was a big day. So much happened that I can’t possibly share everything with you. But, I’m going to attempt to share as many highlights as (and lots of photos).

Taught By The Spirit

The presiding General Authority from LDS Church headquarters travelling with the Choir this week is Elder Donald Hallstrom and his wife Sister Diane Hallstrom. They are wonderful people. After the sacrament was blessed and passed to our very large congregation, Elder and Sister Hallstrom were the speakers for the remainder of our church meeting. Their messages were filled with the Spirit of God, enriching and inspiring.

Photo @MormonNewsroom

Sister Diane Hallstrom’s Message on Becoming Like Our Savior (excerpts):

She began her remarks with a quote from a Jewish prayer:

“Entrances to holiness are everywhere

She spoke of ways that we can become a more holy people, and individually more like our Savior Jesus Christ.

The heart is the spiritual center of our faith, affections, and desire to change. What kind of heart would the Lord have? By humbling ourselves, and approaching him with a reverant, broken heart and a “contrite spirit” we can become more like our Savior.

“There is nothing so whole as a broken heart.”

A broken heart is receptive to the Spirit, and teachable.

Sister Hallstrom referenced some of my very favorite words that the Choir sings during our concert from the hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing:

“Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”

When we give our heart to the Lord, He can perfect us. In this life, no matter how much we speak of Christ, it is always going to be too little. But we can strive to learn of him, speak of him and testify of him, at all times, just as the Book of Mormon teaches:

“Come unto Christ and be perfected in Him.”

We can teach our children, and others to love everything that Jesus is. In turn, the Savior will rejoice in how we are seeking out and becoming more like him. He has the power to turn our greatest weaknesses into strengths. Let us choose to be one of His true disciples, study his life and words, and become like him.

Elder Hallstrom’s Message on Reverence (excerpts):

Elder Hallstrom began his powerful message with a reminder that when doctrine is taught by the spirit and we listen by the Spirit we can each hear things that were not verbally said. This is how we can each sit in the same meeting and hear the same speaker but receive a different and personalized message.

Elder Hallstom’s message focused on the principle of reverence, which is a profound love and respect for diety.” We seek in every way for our ability to be taught by the Holy spirit.

It is a lifetime effort to connect the things that we know, with what we do and who we are.

Elder Hallstrom offered three ways we can transfer what is in our heads to our hearts.

1. Involve ourselves in public worship.

Take opportunities to offer a public prayer, to speak in a meeting, to bear public . Choose to sing the hymns of Zion in a loud and full voice, which is a very important gift of worship. Make the words of those hymns become our prayers. Elder Hallstrom encouraged us that no matter who is speaking or teaching we should listen, tune in, and give the Spirit a chance to be the true teacher for us. We should avoid judging and never be condescending to anyone who is speaking or teaching. He promised that being “fully engaged” in our church meetings will bring us amazing insights and greater reverence.

2. Family worship

The finest place to teach our family is in the home. The Church is simply a “back up system” and second witness to what we teach in the home.

Young people need spiritual experiences in their youth. Something they have FELT and deposited in their spirital bank is critical when trials come and they need to “make a withdrawl” from their spiritual reserves. This is why things like doing family history and attending the temple to perform ordinances are so important and encouraged. Having family worship time in our homes and in the temples teach our hearts greater reverence.

3. Personal Worship

Personal pondering and spiritual study is how we really come to know our Savior. This happens one by one by one. Parents cannot do it for their children. Parents can certainly “help mightily”, but each individual must choose to seek and follow God, and hold to their covenants. Freedom to choose is a beautiful part of God’s plan.

An important part of our personal worship is our Effort of ministering to one another, caring and lifting. This is what it means “To assist in the process of reverance.”

Elder Hallstrom warned that it is even possible to be so busy doing good things that we lose time to do the truly essential things. He stressed the importance of focusing on being an example to our families, because our decisions we make today will have a tremendous influence on our families and posterity for generations.

He shared personal stories about his grandparents and parents keeping their faith as they endured many agonizing trials. Because his grandparents led a reverent life, they turned to the Lord for peace and comfort in their darkest hours. They have been an example to their family to Never give up. Never retreat.

Establishing reverent lives will bless a family.

Keep a sense of the sacred. Keep covenants, and establish a love for God the Eternal Father, and His Son, the great Jehovah. Understanding His plan, and his capacity to overcome the world.

He decended below all things… Making it possible that EVERY ONE of us will have full capacity to take upon themselves the ordinances and blessings.

May we each seek REVERANCE in our lives, and internalize it in our hearts.

________________________

Knowing, Doing, Being

Elder Hallstrom’s message deeply resonated with me and was a personal confirmation of my sabbath day plans after the church service.

Earlier this month I blogged about my spiritual experience marching in the Salt Lake City Pride parade with Mormons Building Bridges.

When I found out the Choir would be in San Francisco during its historic Pride parade, I knew it couldn’t just be a coincidence. This offered another amazing opportunity to build bridges!

I connected with the local Mormon group online who would be marching in the SF parade, and was warmly welcomed to join. Luckily, their assigned parade time was 1:00 PM which meant Mr. Mo and I could attend our Sacrament meeting and participate in the parade. The parade staging place for the group also happened to be just a short 15 minute walk away from our hotel.

The day before, I had a small adventure visiting three different stores to be able to gather all the materials I needed to make a poster, but I got them! I chose to reference the recent inspired words of our dear prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, spoken at this month’s Be One celebration.

“With passionate desire, build bridges of cooperation instead of walls of segregation.”

These words apply to ALL people of the earth, especially to those who are marginalized in our society.

Building Bridges

One of the best parts of my Pride parade experience in Salt Lake City was making so many new friends and associating with the diverse and beautiful souls present in our company. The same held true for our San Francisco experience. We had active church goers, and less active, straight and LGBTQ of all ages, but all are united in the common bond of being Mormons (or in a couple cases, married to a Mormon).

Click to enlarge.

In Salt lake City the reaction of the parade crowd was incredibly warm and appreciative. But, I wondered how it would be in San Francisco? In recent years there has been painful division between the Mormon and LGBTQ communities in California. Would there be resentment or anger toward us? My concerns were unfounded. Once again, I was overwhelmed with the kindness and gratitude we were shown. I think this parade extends for nearly three miles. The route was packed with spectators and at every turn we received continual cheers and enthusiastic shouts as we walked!

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The weather couldn’t have been more beautiful. Although it was very warm, there was a nice breeze. As we walked we shared meaningful conversations with other members of our group. They shared their stories, and life wisdom with me.

Afterward, we walked another half mile or so with the group to one of the couple’s homes for a lovely barbeque. How kind of them to include us! What a blessed experience!

We have made new friends who are absolutely priceless to us. As Sister Hallstrom taught, “Entrances to holiness are everywhere“. This was a holy day for us, and it will be a memory we will always treasure. – MoSop

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