Sermoncitos, a family tradition
This weekend we attended a funeral for a helicopter pilot. A soldier friend said he had volunteered unselfishly in Iraq in defense of freedom for all of us. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13). Our attendance at the funeral was greatly appreciated by his mother as an act of love from us to her that she needed at a time of grief. We too, have been blessed by charitable acts of others recently. A simple meal or forgiveness, or even a compliment for a job well done is a great blessing when given from the heart. Charitable acts can soften hearts and change lives. “Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail - but charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever” (Moroni 7:46-47).
When I read the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), I recall running out of gas one day. I was 10 miles from Silver City. I stood by the car with a gas can looking helpless and forlorn. The man who rescued me would not accept payment except a promise that I would help someone else. Since then I have passed up more hitchhikers than I picked up, but I do help strangers from time to time, sometimes giving whatever cash I happen to have, or snacks and water I carry in the truck. I try not to judge whether someone really deserves help (Mosiah 4:16-24), whether a stranger or a brother. “But whoso... shutteth up his bowels of compassion from [his brother], how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (1 John 3:17).
A true measure of charity is being able to forgive others like Jesus did (Luke 23:34). “I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). It is not easy or natural to exercise godlike charity. In order to be Christlike in how you react to others, you must “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ” (Moroni 7:48). This love must be applied to our wayward children (Luke 15:32) and our brothers who offend us (Matthew 19:21,22). If we truly have charity, then we “fear not what man can do, for perfect love casteth out all fear” (Moroni 8:16). Giving and even accepting this kind of love requires a deep humility. I experienced this for a few weeks when I was humbled by appendicitis. I was so touched that people would come visit me, that I could hardly talk to them, I was so overwhelmed with emotion.
This world needs less condemnation and more acceptance, in other words, this world needs those who would reach out in kindness and love; in other words, we need to be friends. Today we congratulated Heather on her 36th birthday, but she couldn't talk long, she has to be to church on time, as the love in her heart uniquely qualifies her as the ward greeter. She makes everyone feel loved. “Charity suffereth long and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in inquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things...for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail - but charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever, and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. Wherefore, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ, that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear ye shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen” (Moroni 7:45-48).
This week is a reminder that every day should be our sweetheart day. My Dad never did like such holidays because he figured it was a way to make the card and flower and candy makers rich...but he never failed to show love and affection to Mom and didn't need the calendar to tell him it was time to do so.
"Love is like a flower, and, like the body it needs constant feeding. The mortal body would soon be emaciated and die if there were not frequent feedings. The tender flower would wither and die without food and water. And so love, also, cannot be expected to last forever unless it is continually fed with portions of love, the manifestation of esteem and admiration, the expressions of gratitude, and the consideration of unselfishness."
How do you keep your marriage blooming? Just like a flower we all radiate electromagnetic energy as well as recieving it from others. If our spouse has had a tough day at home or at the office and our stress levels are high, our partner and family members can sense the negative vibs, without us even saying a word. Have a worry tree in your front yard to de-stress before entering the house. Better yet sing a favorite hymn, say a prayer, turn off the TV, radio and cell phone before greeting each other. Smiles and laughter are great forms of communication and always generate positive energy and love.
When you are together, look each other in the eye and listen intently. JoAnn and I recently had a miscommunication that actually turned out with a positive end. We laughed, but later agreed that we need to work harder at listening to each other.
I admit, I was paying attention to a game on TV more than listening to JoAnn...I thought she said, "I'm going downstairs for a while to exercise...how about polatti for dinner."
I said to myself... well... Italian food sounds good to me too... so I got up at half time and went to the kitchen. I couldn't find any polatti, so I did spaggetti. I added french bread and a veggi tray and lit a candle. She laughed all through dinner, but seemed to love every bite. She explained later all about pilates and said, "besides, it's french." "If we really try, our home can be a bit of heaven here on earth. The thoughts we think, the deeds we do, the lives we live infuence not only the success of our earthly journey; they mark the way to our eternal goals." Thomas S. Monson
Nathan L. Howard