Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Easy Church Audio

Someday I'm gonna own an iPod. And when I do, this site is going to be even cooler. When I saw the title, "IfYeArePrepared.org," I assumed it was a site selling emergency preparedness items, but I wasn't even close. It is another way to get audio of the latest content from the church website. They will send you the Sunday School lessons, the Ensign articles, and the Priesthood/Relief Society lessons. If you are looking for some talk that is more uplifting than talk radio, this might be the thing for you.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

A Joyful Easter Cantata

This is the 17th year that the Colorado Springs Stake/Colorado Springs North Stake has held an Easter cantata with music by Sally DeFord who lives there and orchestrates and conducts the affair.

After hearing about the event for a few years from Keryn's sister who has participated as a pianist and as a singer, we decided to make the journey from Utah to Colorado to hear the performance. We attended the performance last night. What a blessing it was!

Sister DeFord would probably want to deflect attention from herself in this matter and would prefer to focus the attention on the Savior, and that is appropriate. But I wanted to pause for a moment to publicly thank Sister DeFord for her generous contribution to the music of the church. She has a wonderful musical gift and she feels she is in a position to share that gift freely with the world. She makes her music available at no charge on her website. Not all artists have this luxury and we are blessed that Sister DeFord is in a position to do it.

The cantata that was performed was "Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee." This was the second time the work was performed, the first being two years ago in this same venue. The music for the entire program was written and arranged by Sally DeFord. All of the songs are original works except for the title song which is an arrangement of a well loved hymn.

The instrumentation is simple: piano, organ, violins, choir. The resulting music is swelling, powerful, and spirit-filled. What a powerful witness of the Savior and his divine mission! My favorite songs from the cantata was one about resurrection morning, "At the Rising of the Sun," one about the crucifixion, "They Know Not What They Do," and one about the healing power of the Savior, "The Mighty Wonder of His Love." (Sheet music for all songs in available from the cantata's homepage.)

CD's of the event may be made publicly available. I will update this post if that becomes true. If you are looking for some great Christ-centered music to use for solos or choral pieces in our own ward or stake, I highly recommend this work by Sister DeFord.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Greasemonkey script for LDS.org

A friend of mine is starting to tinker with some Greasemonkey scripts that will enhance the church Ward and Stake websites. You can see his post about it here. His first hack is to add links on the ward roster to a Google map for each ward member. Of course, this is probably considerably less useful in a ward that is geographically small.

If you aren't familiar with Greasemonkey, it is a Firefox browser extension that allows you to write little scripts that modify the look and function of websites you visit. In other words, it is a client-side way to solve problems with websites over which you have no control. Pretty cool concept, actually.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Our Personal Ministry

Bonnie Parkin spoke at the BYU Devotional on February 13, 2007. Her talk really touched me. She started with a story of a woman who lived in President Kimball's ward and decided to sew him a new tie when she saw him wearing a new suit. After she had made the tie and was about to deliver it, she got cold feet.

On her way to the front door, she suddenly stopped and thought, “Who am I to make a tie for the prophet? He probably has plenty of them.” Deciding she had made a mistake, she turned to leave.

Just then Sister Kimball opened the front door and said, “Oh, Susan!”

Stumbling all over herself, Susan said, “I saw President Kimball in his new suit on Sunday. Dad just brought me some silk from New York . . . and so I made him a tie.”

Before Susan could continue, Sister Kimball stopped her, took hold of her shoulders, and said: “Susan, never suppress a generous thought.”

I love the phrase, "Never suppress a generous thought." President Parkin immediate followed up that story with this one.

Some years ago, at the conclusion of a Utah Board of Higher Education meeting, Elder Neal Maxwell submitted his resignation. He said he needed to do so to make time for his personal ministry. Most of the board members assumed he was referring to his apostleship. However, he explained that his personal ministry was different than his apostleship. His personal ministry was to comfort fellow cancer patients.

It is hard to justify not taking the time to do something that even an apostle can make time to do. We each have a personal ministry to perform. We must seek to be the answers to someone else's prayers. One last story from Sister Parkin's talk. This one appears to have been taken from a BYU-I devotional from a few years ago.

The prayers of one missionary’s parents were answered by the personal ministry of another. A missionary arrived in a foreign mission and was struggling with discouragement. He said he couldn’t take it and wanted to come home. His parents and others tried to encourage him but to no avail. At a reception during a training session, this distraught father mentioned his son’s struggle to a priesthood leader.

The following week an envelope arrived at the parents’ home. Inside was a copy of a letter that had been sent to their son. The letter had been typed on a typewriter and very tenderly addressed to the discouraged elder. It was several pages long, full of encouragement and the writer’s own missionary experiences about faith and sticking to it. The letter was warm, loving, thoughtful, personal, and signed, “Sincerely, your brother, President Gordon B. Hinckley.” Shortly after this, the elder wrote his parents to say he was staying. He became a mighty power for good among the people of his mission.

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