Last night the Kansas City Chiefs won the 57th Super Bowl. I can’t claim glory by association since I’m not really a football fan and we just recently moved to the area. I’ve also never met Coach Reid although he lives about 7 miles from me. He is active in my church but is in a different ward (congregation.) I did think his response was funny the press asked him how he takes his coffee.
The majority of the members of my ward are true Chiefs fans. They also happen to be very talented singers. I teach Gospel Doctrine and direct the ward choir. I use lots of tactics to try to get more choir participation since it’s pretty hit and miss. After sacrament meeting yesterday, Bishop Carter played along. He announced that while he wasn’t prophesying anything, he had it on good authority that the Chiefs would only win if people showed up for choir practice. We had a good laugh and a good turnout.
At the end of choir practice I asked the choir if they had thought about the names of the sports teams in our area. We have the Chiefs, Royals, Real (Spanish for Royal) Salt Lake, (former) Kings, Monarchs, etc. The theme seems to be royalty. A chief is a tribal leader and we are at one of two center places on earth designated for the gathering of the tribes of Israel for the return of our Leader. He will rein during the millennium from Jerusalem and Independence, Missouri so it’s interesting to me that our sports teams have royal names.
Yesterday our bishop spoke of oblations and about how the Sabbath is a day to rest from worldly cares, worship God, partake of the sacrament of Christ, and give oblations. He explained that oblations are sacrifices of our time and talents to serve and praise the Lord. I’ve never been in a ward with so many talented singers, but I’ve also never experienced so much inconsistency with choir attendance. When they show up, the music is magical but when they don’t, it’s pretty sad.
Part of my inspiration to come here was a hymn in our church that speaks of singing praises in Zion. Michael’s sweet parents just moved here so quickly because they were smacked in the face by the Spirit when they heard the congregation singing “The Spirit of God” during a visit a little while ago. I’m not sure the people here realize how much power their unique voices have at inviting angels into the room. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced and I’ve been in some amazing choirs.
How do you help people realize their worth and that their talents are gifts that the Lord has given hoping they will be used to build His kingdom? That they might be the Mahomes of the choir of Zion without even knowing it?
Many years ago in Arizona I belonged to my stake choir (a stake is made up of several wards.) We had been having practices for a few months with only a handful of people. Then it was announced that Elder Eyring would be coming to our stake conference and that only the families of stake and ward leaders and choir members would be able to fit in the building. The rest of the stake members would watch the conference remotely from other buildings in the stake.
You can imagine how many people showed up for choir the following week. We had extra chairs spilling off the podium. The people who had been faithfully coming to choir were finding themselves without seats at all. While we were happy for the reinforcements and the beautiful, full sound, something was sad about it. We tried not to judge but it was difficult to know that those people wouldn’t have otherwise given their oblations to our choir if an apostle had not been coming.
Perhaps we all live that way sometimes – just hanging out on the bench, reserving our efforts for when things seem really important or the use of our talents will truly be recognized by someone important.
After my 13 year old was a finalist on America’s Got Talent, I remember someone asking her how it feels to be so completely publicly and undeniably validated. I realized that there was something to that. No one could take away the fact that Simon Cowell, the epitome of talent scouts, along with the other judges marveled at her specific talents and although her time in the spotlight could fade, that validation could never be taken away.
Maybe people yearn for that validation and perhaps singing for an apostle was on the list of experiences that could provide that or perhaps their love and respect for Elder Eyring is just something they wanted to experience in person. I’m not going to judge their motives but I want all of us to see how this plays out because I have a feeling we will have visitors even more validating than Simon Cowell or even Elder Eyring in Independence, Missouri one of these days and I promise something to my musically talented ward members. It will feel amazing to know you are participating consistently now for the right reasons. You will be able to claim that glory like the Chiefs did last night because we knew you were always a fan. You had those flags on your car even when they didn’t make the playoffs.
You learned in my Gospel Doctrine class last week that Jesus Christ doesn’t fail. All the other kings of Israel gave into temptations, but He didn’t. He is the King of kings for a reason and He is the only source of validation we need. He won and we all get the privilege to be His fans, to make covenants with Him and to keep them. To consistently give our oblations even when He gave us our talents to begin with and we are just using our other gift of free will to return a small part of it to Him by diligently serving in His church and keeping our covenants.