1. For all the Saints who from their labors rest,
Who thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.
I had never heard this hymn before, but it seems ideal for Conference weekend. The week over, we have a chance to take a break from our usual struggles, and recognize how much we are indebted to Christ.
2. Oh, may thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold,
Fight as the Saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
As thousands of LDS people converge on the Conference Center in Salt Lake, and many more thousands watch in their homes or local church buildings, I find it easier to think of us as unified organization. Of course, the battles our army fights are not really against other people: they are more against our own inner demons. But as we win those fights–and I believe that on the whole, we ARE winning–we become better people, more worthy of term like “faithful,” “true,” and “bold.” And while I’m not too anxious to get a gold crown, I would like to be counted with my honorable predecessors.
3. Thou art our rock, our fortress, and our might;
Thou, Lord, our captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, our one true light.
We don’t achieve all that on our own, though, through the strength of our numbers or our own moral superiority. We are a mighty army because we are based on Christ–he is the real power behind any accomplishments we may claim. That mass of humanity doesn’t attend Conference because they’re good people. They go because they base their lives on Christ, and he organizes them into something greater.
4. And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
Not everyone at Conference is equally motivated or powerful in their life battles. Life is exhausting, and different points of doctrine and policy are confusing, and sometimes it’s hard to want to continue. But the words of God through his prophets are not only (or even mainly) for those who have it all together and never feel tired or doubtful. When the more downtrodden and disheartened members of the church hear Conference, we are strengthened and empowered and ready to start working hard again.
5. From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
This friendly, brave, refreshed army of humanity isn’t just destined for the Conference Center twice a year: it has a greater purpose. Ultimately, we hope to find ourselves in heaven. I know that not everyone will have the ability or desire to live in heaven, but the number that will, will be staggering. We will come from all over the globe, speaking different languages, familiar with different cultures, perhaps having practiced different religions in life, but we will be unified in our love for our God and our consistent efforts to do what is right. And as we filter in the gates, it will be like the happy crowds crossing the road to the Conference Center, except on a much grander and more glorious scale.
There’s something about that fellowship, something about a huge group of people who are trying their best and glad to be together. Sometimes I start to feel isolated at church, like my little unorthodoxies or questions or imperfections make me an imposter. But (most of) the talks Conference remind me that I am not an imposter–I am a work in progress, as are all the other people at church. But together, with our good intentions and continued efforts, we are a force to be reckoned with. For all the Saints, this is an important reminder, and a joyous one.