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My Mormon Easter

Easter is coming and I’m almost as excited as when I’m waiting for Christmas.

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I have family coming (Annie and Josh and their friends) for Easter weekend, which is, in itself, something to celebrate because our families are spread across the country these days.

AND, it’s General Conference weekend.

For those of you who don’t know about Conference Weekend, it’s going to sound dreadful, but trust me, for Mormons, it’s one of the best weekends of the year.

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Conference weekend is when our Church broadcasts HOURS of meetings featuring talks from our Church leaders.

And, believe me, it’s an event. It happens at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, which is a 1.4 million square foot building that will seat 21,000 guests.

The five conference sessions this weekend will be broadcast live around the world. (You can watch it here and here.)

I’m already wondering what we’re going to learn.

Mostly, I’m excited about the warm, beautiful spirit of Jesus Christ that will fill my house during Easter weekend.

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That spirit begins to seep in as soon as I hear the organ music coming from the colossal 7,667-pipe organ at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.

This is no ordinary organ. It’s a pipe organ with 160 stops spread over five manuals and pedals.

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And since I don’t have a clue what any of that means, I had to look it up.

I learned a “manual” is basically a keyboard and the pedals are keyboards for your feet. The stops control the pipes 7,000-plus pipes.

All this together makes for some amazing sounds.

Add 360 singers to that from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and it’s quite a musical experience.

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And then there are the speakers – about 30 of them spread out over five two-hour sessions.

(In case you’re worried that all those speakers might be a bit much, we’re heavily into beautiful music too so there are a lot of lovely songs between all those speakers. AND, you get to see some gorgeous displays of spring flowers, a few videos, and even hear some pretty good jokes sometimes.)

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I know, I know. It sounds long and boring — sitting for hours and listening to one Church speaker after another.

But I love listening to words on hope, faith, light and truth, parenting, building strong families and improving marriages, making wise choices, receiving personal revelation, sharing the light of Christ, and becoming a better person.

“Conference,” as we call it, is a uniquely Mormon experience, and being the odd bunch that we are, we relish every moment of it.

When it’s over, we feel some mixed emotions — buoyed up because we’ve been given a heavy dose of counsel and encouragement and spiritual rejuvenation, but sad because we have to turn off our TVs and move out of the warmth of our conference bubble and get back to real life.

While most Christians will be attending Easter services on Sunday, Mormons will be home watching television.

Something about that doesn’t seem right, but for us, it’s a form of united devotion. It happens the first weekends of October and April every year.

This year, it happens to fall on Easter Sunday.

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While it might seem wrong that our chapels will be closed on Easter Sunday this year, we will be tucked into our cozy nests listening to every word from our leaders—all of which will testify of our love and devotion of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer.

In a way, we will get to enjoy the most intimate kind of Easter worship of all – surrounded by our families in the warmth of our homes.

We might not be in our Easter dresses, bonnets and white gloves this Sunday, but you can be sure we will be honoring our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and loving every minute of it.

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Happy Easter.

Religion

Ready for a Sweet Weekend

 

 

Imagine spending eight to 10 hours of this beautiful spring weekend parked on the couch listening to about 30 religious speeches.

 

 

 

That’s how millions of Mormons will be spending this April weekend – glued to the television, listening to the radio or taking advantage of satellite and Internet broadcasts from Salt Lake City where more than 100,000 people will be watching it live.

 

 

 

 

 

 

View of Conference Center spire taken from sou...
View of Conference Center spire taken from south of the Center on North Temple St., Salt Lake City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

We call this General Conference. And, we’ve been doing this twice a year since 1831 – every October and every April for all those years.

 

 

 

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It’s a Mormon ritual and we love it. We happily, even excitedly, tune in to be taught and uplifted by the leaders of our church.

 

 

 

While growing up in Utah, I remember listening to General Conference on the car radio or watching it on our local CBS News affiliate station.

 

 

 

It sounds like drudgery, doesn’t it? Listening to one speaker after another for hours on end during two of the most beautiful weekends of the year?

 

 

 

Typically, the first weekends of October and April are beautiful, and most people want to be outside enjoying the weather.

 

 

 

Not us Mormons.

 

 

 

No, we turn on our televisions, set the DVR in case we miss something, pull out journals, pens and paper for serious note taking, settle in for each two-hour session, and soak it up like other people who are outside soaking up the bright spring sun.

 

 

 

It’s crazy, isn’t it? But, General Conference is a staple in our religious culture.

 

 

 

Silly fools that we are, we live for it. I think we spiritually thirst for it like nomads thirsty for water in the desert.

 

 

 

But, why, what do we get out of it?

 

 

 

For starters, spiritual sustenance and manna, hope, courage, strength, faith, knowledge, revelation, wisdom, peace, comfort, insight, love, compassion, understanding, a sense of belonging and well-being, and motivation.

 

 

 

What I like most is the feeling that pours into our homes as we watch it.  I imagine it’s how an infant feels while being cradled by a loving parent singing a soft, melodic lullaby – safe, protected, and nurtured.

 

 

 

So, while it sounds crazy, we love conference weekends. It’s like church, but better because we can wear pajamas if we want.

 

 

 

Although I rarely do because my Great Aunt Anna would scold me good for being so slovenly during Conference. She sat up straight in her old rocking chair, dressed in her finest Sunday clothing and didn’t miss a word that was spoken. She loved and reverenced those prophets and apostles so much that she wouldn’t even consider not wearing her finest clothes around them, even if they were just on TV.

 

 

 

While I won’t be dressed in my finest clothes, I will be taking in every word, just like my sweet Aunt Anna. And you know what? I’ll be sad when it’s over. When the Tabernacle Choir sings the last hymn and the closing prayer is said on Sunday evening, I’ll feel like it all went by too fast, and I’ll want to run around my house and gather up all the sweetness that distilled on my home over the weekend and savor it until October when I can experience it all over again.