Tag Archives: Missionary Work

wheat

Hymn #216: We Are Sowing

wheat

Behold, there went out a sower to sow:

And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up.

And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:

But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.

And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.

And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.

He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Mark 4:3-9)

The parable of the sower is an easy one to understand, even if only because the Savior himself laid the symbolism bare shortly after teaching it. The seed is the word of God, which is given to all of the world. Some do not receive it, others receive it but with no depth, and some receive it only to be overcome with adversity and difficulties. But others receive it gladly, and bring forth good works and faith. Simple enough.

Who is the sower?

It’s easy enough to think that the Savior Himself is the Sower, as He’s the One telling the story and is the source of the gospel light. But as we sing in this hymn, we are the sowers, called to spread the word daily to all we meet. “We are sowing, daily sowing countless seeds of good and ill,” we sing at the start of the hymn, and it’s worth considering that despite our intentions and our constant scattering of the seeds, not all of those seeds are good. We want to be good examples, and we want others to see us and be inspired to draw unto their Savior. The sad truth, though, is that all of our actions are seeds. We can just as easily sow a good seed with a kind deed as we can a bad one with an unkind deed. We are daily, hourly, and moment by moment sowing. If you’ve been baptized, you’ve taken upon yourself the name of Christ, and as such, you are always sowing seeds in His name.

That’s a lot to take in, once you think about it. Spreading His gospel in His name is a daunting task, especially when you consider the magnitude of that calling. All of the sheaves must be gathered in, not just the ones that are especially ripe or especially close to the silo. There’s an awful lot of work to do. Fortunately, we aren’t asked to do it alone. In fact, we’re only asked to do a relatively small portion of the work. If you read through the lyrics of this hymn, you’ll notice that while we do an awful lot of sowing, we don’t cultivate the crops, plow the fields, uproot the weeds, or gather in the sheaves. We just sow. Our job is to spread the seed far and wide, let it fall where it may. Stony ground? That’s fine. Amid thorns? Sure, sow away. Good ground? Of course, put it there, too. We are asked to cover the earth in seed. The Savior will take responsibility for nurturing those tender plants, helping them to grow in whatsoever ground they may find themselves. We are to sow, and we do not do so alone. We have the companionship of “[He] who knowest all our weakness.” He walks the fields with us, helping us to scatter seed far and wide, until the whole earth is “filled with mellow, ripened ears, filled with fruit of life eternal.” We don’t judge any plot of land to be better or worse. We don’t tell our Gardener where He should plant His crops. We simply sow them, far and wide, here and there, as He asks us, and we leave the cultivation of the crops in His hands.

Image credit: “Wheat field / Weizenfeld II,” flickr user Christian Schnettelker (http://manoftaste.de)

Hymn #262: Go, Ye Messengers of Glory

Go, ye messengers of glory;
Run, ye legates of the skies.
Go and tell the pleasing story
That a glorious angel flies,
Great and mighty, great and mighty,
With a message from the skies.

This is another hymn of the restoration and the gospel coming forth, but it’s interesting to note that the lyrics were penned by, yes, that John Taylor, third president of the Church. This is a man who was present for many of the key events of the restoration, and who heard the prophet Joseph Smith relate his experiences firsthand. He didn’t personally see the angel Moroni (that I’m aware of), but he heard Joseph tell what it was like to see that mighty angel fly. He heard or saw it all unfold, and as an Apostle, it was his mission to spread that message throughout the world.

As I’ve written in this space before, that’s our mission, too. We are the messengers of glory. Certainly angels are going abroad and spreading the “pleasing story” of the restoration, but the lion’s share of that task falls to us. We share the gospel story with our friends, our family, our neighbors, our co-workers, and everyone else we come in contact with. “Go to ev’ry tribe and nation,” President Taylor urges us, “visit ev’ry land and clime.” That’s not to say that each of us is tasked with visiting every nation and calling every single person to repentance, but it is to say that every single person needs to hear the good news. I don’t have the means to reach every single person in the world. I don’t even have the means to reach every single person in my hometown, and there’s only 11,000 of us here. But I do have the means to reach people that you don’t have access to, and you have the means to reach people I can’t. Together, we can bridge that gap.

“Let the joyful news abound… till ev’ry nation hear you,” we sing, and that’s a testament to both the magnitude of our task and the time that it will take to achieve it. We probably won’t be able to reach everyone the first time we share the news. We probably won’t be able to reach everyone the fiftieth time we share the news. That’s true no matter how many people are telling the gospel story at the same time. But we keep sharing, we keep telling everyone who will listen, and someday, we will have shared the message enough times and through enough people that every nation and every citizen will have heard the good news. That’s not to say that every single person who hears it will accept it. That’s not for us to decide. Our job is to share the glad tidings, let others decide what they may.

“Go! Jehovah will support you,” we are reminded in the fourth verse. “Gather all the sheaves of worth. Then with Jesus reign in glory on the earth.” We know the end goal of our work. We know that the Lord will support us in His mission. He wants every single person to come unto Him, and He wants us to help bring everyone to Him. We cast in our nets, we spread the seed far and wide, and we trust that He will bless our efforts and help us bring in souls. And we know that as we do so, we bring ourselves nearer to Him, and know that we can have a place in His kingdom in the end. We are the messengers of glory we sing about. There’s a great work to do, but there’s Someone great supporting us in that work, and there’s a great reward in store if we put our whole souls into it.

Hymn #18: The Voice of God Again is Heard

Those who have lived their lives in the Church have heard the story over and over, and those who aren’t may have heard it from someone who is a time or two. Joseph Smith, wondering which church he should join, went to the woods to pray and saw the Father and the Son, who told him that he should join none of them. They had a work for him to do, and through him, the gospel was restored in its fullness in our day.

And so it is. The voice of God, as we sing in this hymn, has been heard again in our day. He lives, and He has given His truth to us again. And now that we have it, it’s our duty to aid in the spread of that gospel by sharing it with not just some people, not just many people, but all people.

Rejoice, ye living and ye dead!
Rejoice, for your salvation
Begins anew this happy morn
Of final dispensation.

The word “final” is not idly chosen. This is it. There isn’t a fallback dispensation that we can rely on if we miss someone. We can’t lean back and take it easy, counting on someone else to pick up the slack. This is the last hurrah before the Lord’s second coming. When He comes, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is the Christ, but that’s no reason for us not to tell everyone beforehand. We want (and He wants) for His coming to be a joyful event, not a fearful one. We want everyone to bow and confess His name when He comes again because they were expecting Him. They knew He would come, and they knew who He was before He came.

O messengers of truth, go forth,
Proclaim the gospel story,
Go forth the nations to prepare
To greet the King of Glory.

There are full-time missionaries out there (many of them), and they do an outstanding job of proclaiming the gospel message. As the dispensation moves on and the second coming draws closer, those missionary efforts are intensified. There were just under 60,000 missionaries serving a few years ago; there are closer to 90,000 of them now. That’s a lot of messengers of truth. It’s even more when you consider that there are over 15 million members of the LDS Church out there with, ostensibly, the same mandate to proclaim the gospel, even if not in the same full-time sense. We share it with those we meet, glad tidings from Cumorah, a book to be revealed, the voices of Peter, James, and John, and so much more.

It’s an exciting time to be alive, and an exciting message to share. It’s one of joy, not one of fear. Redemption, restoration, and eternal life–that’s something that’s worth sharing with others. It’s something that’s worth shouting, too. Listen to how this hymn ends:

We shout hosanna, shout again
Till all creation blending
Shall join in one great, grand amen
Of anthems never ending.

The goal is to bring everyone back home. Everyone. And the goal is to have everyone participating in that last, great, grand choir singing praises to our Lord and King. Everyone. This is our last chance. There’s no failsafe dispensation following us. This is it. The voice of God again is heard, and it’s up to us to make sure that everyone hears it.

Hymn #265: Arise, O God, and Shine

Arise, O God, and shine
In all thy saving might,
And prosper each design
To spread thy glorious light;
Let healing streams of mercy flow,
That all the earth thy truth may know.

We ask the Lord in this hymn, and in fact, through much of our lives, to arise and spread His saving grace through the world. We know that He is capable of redeeming us. We know that He can, and is eager to, bring us home. He can comfort us, heal us, and bring us joy. We know that He can do this, and we know that He wants to.

So why do we have to ask?

Saving each of us on an individual level and helping us to reach our potential as immortal beings is nothing short of the Father’s stated goal for His interaction with the human race. “For behold,” He said, “this is my work and my glory–to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” This is what He wants of us. He wants us to return to His presence and live as He does. He doesn’t want a single one of us, His children, to be left behind. He wants us to be like Him. So why do we need to invite Him to do so? What is He waiting for? Surely He doesn’t need an invitation from us to do what He intends to do anyway?

Well, in a way, He does. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock,” He told us. “If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” He won’t knock down the door, order us to let Him in, or make any demands of us. He will simply knock, giving us the chance to choose for ourselves. We may choose to let Him enter, and we may not. The important thing is that we are the ones doing the choosing. No one forces us.

The Lord’s promised blessings are made conditional on our asking for them. He stands at the door, eager and waiting for us to open to give them to us, but He can’t and won’t do so until we choose to let Him in. And it’s often not enough for us to ask casually or in passing for those blessings. If we want to be blessed richly, we need to ask with fervor and feeling. The Book of Mormon prophet Enos said that his soul “hungered,” and he described his ensuing prayer as a “wrestle… before God.” And after he struggled, a voice came to him saying that his sins were forgiven. No small effort for no small blessing. Joseph Smith, during his imprisonment in Liberty Jail and during one of the darkest periods of his life, cried out in anguish, “O God, where art thou? … How long shall thy hand be stayed… and thine ear be penetrated with [thy saints'] cries?” He poured his soul out to God, and as an answer, was told that he would be “[exalted]… on high.” Again, no small effort for no small reward.

So should it be any wonder that if we want the Lord to “put forth [His] glorious pow’r that Gentiles all may see,” or to “fill the world with righteousness,” that we would need to put forth effort on our part? He is willing, so, so willing, to deliver these blessings. He promised to do so, and He has not forgotten. But it’s incumbent on us to fulfill the terms of that promise by pleading with Him to do so. He stands knocking at the door, waiting for us to act so that He can arise and shine. Let’s not wait, but instead open the door to Him, allowing Him to spread His glorious light over all the world.

warriors

Hymn #84: Faith of our Fathers

warriors 

Faith of our fathers, holy faith,
We will be true to thee till death!

The word “fathers” is mentioned three times in this hymn (and once in each chorus), while “God,” “Jesus,” “Lord,” the presumptive objects of our faith, and so on appear a grand total of once (“thru the truth that comes from God mankind shall then be truly free”). It might seem like the hymn is buriyng the lede a little, then. Shouldn’t we focus more on the Lord, who is the author and finisher of our faith, rather than those who taught us to love and follow Him? Aren’t we confusing the message with the messenger?

Perhaps, but for many of us, this is where we get our start. Whether we have the gospel taught to us from birth or later in life, at some point we found ourselves novices to the teachings of the Savior. Someone had to show us the way. That might have been a friend who wanted to share something with us that brought them joy, or a missionary spending years in the service of the Lord, or yes, a parent trying to raise their child in the gospel. We sit at their knee, whether literally or figuratively, learning precious truths line upon line. It’s only natural that in our formative phases, our understanding of the truth of the gospel is less an intrinsic one and more a reliance on our mentor. “I know God lives because my mom told me so,” we might say, and at first, that’s enough.  In time, we will develop our own convictions as we draw nearer to the Savior, and as He draws nearer to us in turn.

There’s nothing wrong with that reliance. Sometimes our faith is shaky, and it’s good for us to have someone else’s faith to fall back on. One of the more famous stories from the Book of Mormon is that of the 2,000 stripling warriors, who, though young, marched into battle secure in the knowledge that the Lord would protect them if they remained true to Him. Listen to Helaman, their prophet and commander, describe their faith:

Now they had never before fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.

And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it. (Alma 56:47-48)

These young men surely had their own witness of the Lord, but here they tell us that they were willing to march into battle and face death because of the sureness of the knowledge of their mothers. Their mothers told them that God would protect them if they had faith. I imagine they also taught that even if they were to be taken by death, that was not the end, and that they could be reunited someday, if they would not doubt. And they did not doubt, and the Lord saw them through their war without a single one of them falling in battle.

They did not doubt their mothers knew it, and neither do we. Our mothers know it, as do our fathers, our friends, our missionaries, our church teachers and leaders, and anyone else on whom we rely for a more unshakable witness when ours is not so stable. Our faith is centered in our Lord and Savior, but it is held up by those who helped us to shape and build it. So it’s not that strange that we should sing about the faith of our fathers, nor that we should sing that “in spite of dungeon, fire, and sword… our hearts [will] beat high with joy whene’er we hear that glorious word.” The word is “faith,” but the word is just as much “fathers” that causes our hearts to beat with joy.

Hymn #319: Ye Elders of Israel

It’s kind of a shame that this hymn was pigeonholed in the “Men” section of the hymnbook. It’s understandable, of course, given that it’s addressed to the “elders of Israel”, which could very easily mean “the men of the church”. But it’s such a marvelous missionary anthem, on par with “Called to Serve” I think, and much has changed since Cyrus Wheelock wrote it nearly 200 years ago.

There are now over 80,000 missionaries serving worldwide, with young women now making up about 25% of that number.¹ In order to better accommodate the growing number of sister missionaries, meet their needs, and take advantage of their unique perspective, the mission structure has changed to include a mission leadership council consisting of both Elders and Sisters.²

For the purposes of this post, and given the current demographic of missionaries in the field, I’m going to insert “and sisters” into the first line of this hymn like so:

Ye elders and sisters of Israel, come join now with me
And seek out the righteous, where’er they may be—
In desert, on mountain, on land, or on sea—
And bring them to Zion, the pure and the free.

Yes, it messes with the rhythm of things a bit, but I want to be clear that the exhortations in this hymn are not just for the boys.

Brother Wheelock served five missions of his own, including acting as a mission president of the Northern States Mission.³ Missionary work was undoubtedly a large part of his identity and a cause close to his heart. Not everyone feels a strong urge to spread the gospel message, though. I, for one, struggle to share my testimony and invite friends to church. Fortunately we’ve got Brother Wheelock to encourage us.

The harvest is great, and the lab’rers are few;
But if we’re united, we all things can do.
We’ll gather the wheat from the midst of the tares
And bring them from bondage, from sorrows and snares.

Sure, the harvest is overwhelmingly great, and the laborers are indeed few in comparison, but we aren’t asked to “seek out the righteous where’er they may be” by ourselves.

Members are invited to share the gospel with friends. Full-time missionaries teach and prepare these people for baptism. Ward mission leaders and ward missionaries provide support and help fellowship potential and new members. Ward leaders find callings for new members to help them feel welcome and needed. Home and visiting teachers check in with members at least monthly to ensure that their spiritual and temporal needs are being met. Helping one person become an active, participating, faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a massive group undertaking.

And so it is for all members, not just new ones. A united ward and stake should provide support for every member, new and old, young and not-so-young, single and married, parents and child-free. We ought to be united in helping one another learn about and use the Atonement so that none of us remains in bondage. We ought to “mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of being comforted” (Mosiah 18:9).

We’ll go to the poor, like our Captain of old,
And visit the weary, the hungry, and cold;
We’ll cheer up their hearts with the news that he bore
And point them to Zion and life evermore.

Once we join God’s kingdom, we are committed to strengthening it and helping it grow. Whether that means serving a full-time mission or providing service for those in need, our goal is to be “like our Captain of old”: our Savior, Jesus Christ.

O Babylon, O Babylon, we bid thee farewell;
We’re going to the mountains of Ephraim to dwell.

Let us, like the Elders and Sisters serving in Israel, rise above the world around us and commit ourselves to a higher standard. Let us turn our hearts and minds to the needs of our brothers and sisters. Let us seek out the “mountains of Ephraim”–whether they be temples, church meetinghouses, or the homes of the righteous–and dwell therein.

Ye readers in Israel, come join now with me!

 

Sources: 1, 2, 3

Hymn #152: God Be with You Till We Meet Again

This is a hymn we most commonly associate with closing and goodbyes. We may sing it at the end of a meeting, at the end of a relationship with a friend, or any other time something in our lives comes to a close. When my family was about to move to a new state when I was in high school, my sister sang this hymn for our congregation, and I imagine everyone present understood it as her way of saying a tearful goodbye.

Considering the fact that we’ve never been back, it was an appropriate choice. We often sing this hymn knowing that we will actually see each other soon. It’s often the closing hymn of the final session of General Conference every six months. And yet, if we listen to the words of the chorus, it seems clear enough that the goodbyes we sing aren’t intended to be temporary ones:

Till we meet, till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus’s feet,
Till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

We don’t pray that God will be with those we love until we see them next week at church, or a few days later at the grocery store. The goodbyes we sing are long-lasting. We expect to see each other next at the Savior’s second coming, and while no one knows precisely when that will be, we can expect that it probably won’t be tomorrow, or even the day after. Since these goodbyes will be so long, we naturally want to take the opportunity to say something important. What would be the most important thing you could say to someone, knowing you wouldn’t see them again for a long, long time?

God be with you till we meet again;
By his counsels guide, uphold you;
With his sheep securely fold you.
God be with you till we meet again.

We start by invoking the Lord’s protection on our loved ones. This isn’t to say that the Lord wouldn’t be willing to protect and watch over them if we didn’t ask, of course. He loves each of us dearly, without exception. Rather, His blessings are often made conditional on our asking for them. “Seek, and ye shall find,” we are taught, “knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” So we ask the Lord to watch over our friends, knowing that He will. He will lead them in righteousness and protect them as one of His fold.

God be with you till we meet again;
When life’s perils thick confound you,
Put his arms unfailing round you.
God be with you till we meet again.

The door swings both ways, though. It’s one thing to ask for the Lord’s aid, but it’s quite another to be willing to accept it. And so we pray that the Lord will protect our loved ones, but we also counsel them to allow Him to protect them. His arms are eternally stretched out to us, but as we sing, it’s up to us to put those arms around us. We welcome Him into our lives by following His teachings and keeping His commandments. We make and uphold covenants, and we do our best to remain worthy to keep the Holy Ghost with us. We try very hard to be like Him, and when we fall short (and we do often), we repent and try again.

That’s a daunting enough task in the best of times, but when things aren’t going our way, it’s even more difficult to turn to Him. This is why, when presented with an opportunity to tell our friends and loved ones from whom we will soon be separated something of surpassing importance, we choose to remind them to endure to the end. We remind them that “press[ing] forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope” is the only way toward eternal life, and it’s a long road. It’s not enough to make covenants and changes in your life and fail to keep them. We must choose to uphold those choices every day to stay in the path.

So, when given the chance to share one last message with our friends and loved ones before we part ways, we ask the Lord to reach out His hand to them. We also ask our friends to take that hand, so that they can walk together down the strait and narrow path toward eternal life. We hope to meet them there someday.

Hymn #39: O Saints of Zion

O Saints of Zion, hear the voice
Of Him from courts on high.
Prepare the pathway of the Lord;
His reign on earth is nigh.
(O Saints of Zion, verse 1)

When Joseph Smith was guided to restore the true church of Christ, he needed to know what it should be called. By revelation, the church received this name: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is indeed the Church of Jesus Christ, and we are indeed in the latter days, the last days before the second coming of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

However, many of us don’t really pay any attention to that. We certainly recognize how the Gospel makes our own lives better, and we express appropriate gratitude for those blessings. But the mission of the church is not simply to bless the lives of its members—the Church exists to prepare the whole world for his coming. When we read the revelations, that mission is undeniable. (See D&C 65)

Of course, the work of preparing the world does not just fall upon the church collectively—it falls upon us individually. Along with the Gifts of the Spirit and the Priesthood blessings we receive are covenants we have made; covenants to be witnesses of Christ at all times, in all things, and in all places that we may be in. Covenants to make known His works and His words. We are active participants in this preparatory work—or at least we should be. We have been called to “make straight the way of the Lord.”

Sometimes it’s easy to just ignore all that, and focus living the Gospel privately. Yes, we do believe in doing good for the sake of good without any need for public recognition. Christ chastised the Pharisees for making obedience a spectator event, after all. But while our obedience to God’s commandments is a personal matter, His call to obey is for the entire world.

It’s hard to look at the world around us and see how it could ever be prepared to receive the Lord. There are many wonderful people here, of course, but there is also so much hatred and bitterness and simple spiritual apathy. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed at the enormous task before us. And yet, God has prepared us for this very task. The Book of Mormon tells of the sons of Mosiah who went among the Lamanites, a people who had rejected every previous invitation to come unto Christ. Through their prayers, fasting, service, faith, and diligence, many of the Lamanites were brought unto Christ—including their king himself!

The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored. Priesthood authority is spreading throughout the world as it never has before. The Gift of the Holy Ghost, the very Comforter that Christ promised to send, is available to more and more people every day. The mighty blessings of the temple roll forth throughout the world, touching hearts and guiding minds in preparation for the return of the Lord himself. There has never been a better time for inviting the world to come unto Christ!

Prepare the supper of the Lamb;
Invite the world to dine.
Behold, the mighty Bridegroom comes
In majesty divine.

Hymn #325: See the Mighty Priesthood Gathered

This is a great hymn. It has a regal tune and a great message. I hope you’ll take time to listen to it.

Every six months at the General Conference priesthood session, someone will note that this meeting likely represents the largest gathering of priesthood holders in the history of the world. This is significant, but not just for the obvious reasons.

Most simply, the growth of the priesthood parallels the growth of the Church as a whole, so a larger priesthood body implies a larger body of Latter-Day Saints as a whole. As the truths and covenants of the Gospel are necessary for all mankind, the growth of the priesthood body is a welcome indication that more of God’s children are finding the peace and understanding that the Gospel brings.

However, the growth of the priesthood is also meaningful in its own right. We are engaged in God’s work, and it is directed through his Priesthood. Our purpose is not merely to teach everyone about the restoration of the gospel—we also seek to make its accompanying ordinances and covenants available to all mankind. While in past dispensations the covenants of salvation have been available only to a few select nations, in these latter days God has made them available to all. The mission of the priesthood is to bring these ordinances and covenants to all the world.

This is no small undertaking. It involves planning for entire nations and concern for individual families. It’s no wonder that the priesthood body is often described in military terms—there’s organization and structure needed to effectively span the world.

Of course, when we talk about the spread of the gospel, we often talk about missionary work. And yes, missionary work is important. But the work of the priesthood is the duty of every ordained priesthood holder, not just those called on full-time missions. We are to spread the Kingdom of God to new lands, but also to establish it, to make it stable and secure.

So let’s look at some of the lyrics. The song opens with this phrase:

See the mighty priesthood gathered;
Firm in serried ranks they stand–
Son and father jointly serving,
Gathered in from ev’ry land.

The work of the priesthood is not just for 19-year-old missionaries, or just for bishops. It spans generations; fathers and sons serve together. In fact, fathers have a sacred duty to train their sons in this calling, to teach them the ways of the Lord.

Line on line, truth is revealed,
Till all darkness flees away
In the face of perfect knowledge,
Where celestial laws hold sway.

As we listen to our prophetic leaders, truth empowers us. We are better able to withstand the darkness of this world and the chaos it brings with it. Truth brings peace and order, and as the priesthood is strengthened throughout the world, peace and order will prevail.

Come, ye sons, and walk uprightly,
As your noble fathers trod

“Walk in the faith of your fathers.” Isn’t this same message repeated over and over throughout the scriptures? The prophets of ancient Israel taught it over and over. Nephite prophets taught the same. After all, sons and fathers can hardly serve together if the sons abandon the faith of their fathers. How great the importance, then, to teach our children, to guide them to a personal relationship with God.

Till Satan’s pow’rs are vanquished,
Bound in chains he conquered lies,
And our glorious hallelujahs
Loudly sound across the skies,

This is our goal: to vanquish Satan’s powers, and to bring praise of God throughout the world. Christ will come again, to reign personally upon the earth. Every six months as priesthood bearers throughout the world gather, we are reminded of this noble and holy purpose.

This is no small work. Let us not be easily distracted. The Kingdom of God is rolling forward, and it is our opportunity to be a part of that great work.

Hymn #253: Like Ten Thousand Legions Marching

Here’s another hymn for you to add to your arsenal of hymns about missionary work! The title’s metaphorical “ten thousand legions marching” refers to “a mighty band of youth” who share the gospel, which is further described throughout the first three verses.

I find the metaphor of a legion surprisingly compelling. For instance, a “legion” refers to a military group of between 3,000 and 6,000 people. If this hymn is envisioning “ten thousand legions,” a conservative estimate of the total number of people involved here is 30 million! This is not a small work performed on the side of the Church, peripheral to other latter-day tasks. The missionary force is intended to be absolutely enormous, and absolutely central to building Zion.

Additionally, when I think of a military legion, I immediately think of order and discipline. A missionary needs remarkable dedication in order to endure such difficult work. But a “legion” is also an image of honor. Missionary work, although difficult, isn’t always drudgery. Just like a military legion raises images of national pride, missionary work is associated with joy that we are serving in behalf of a cause greater than ourselves.

And just as a military unit is led by a captain, our missionary force is led by Jesus Christ, who directs his followers on to victory and glory. Our service to the cause should be as devoted as an army following its captain.

It is with these metaphorical implications in mind that I read the second and third verses:

Out of ev’ry nation surging–
Sons of Joseph, Israel’s band–
Now they spread  salvation’s message
In the tongues of ev’ry land.

Far across the mighty waters,
Reaching ev’ry waiting shore,
Seed of Abraham and Jacob
Like a mighty lion roar.

As missionaries, we should be “surging” forth—moving forward and upward with so much force and power that we carry others with us and sweep them up in the momentum of our enthusiastic devotion. Our message should not be ashamed or timid, but like the “roar” of “a mighty lion.”

Listen. I struggle with missionary work just as much as the next person. It can be awkward. But this hymn inspires me to try harder. It reminds me that, although sharing the gospel has its fair share of discomfort, it is still a glorious and worthwhile cause. We really do have a “light” that can bring the nations “out of darkness,” and with the proper enthusiasm and devotion to that message and to the Savior who gave it to us, we will be able to take “to all people / Zion’s glorious song of truth.”

Hymn #219: Because I Have Been Given Much

Because I have been given much, I too must give;
Because of thy great bounty, Lord, each day I live
I shall divide my gifts from thee
With every brother that I see
Who has the need of help from me.

This is a beloved hymn in the LDS Church. If you’ve spent much time with us at all, chances are excellent you’ve heard it at least once, and if you’ve been a member for most of your life, chances are excellent you’ve sung it a couple hundred times. It’s the song about gratitude. I’m not going to try to be tricky here and argue that it’s secretly about something else (although take a look at those topics at the bottom; missionary work? reactivation? fasting? there’s more than meets the eye here), although I do want to explore the depth of the gratitude we express in this hymn. Let’s consider a few words from that first verse.

1. How much is “much?”

We sing that we have been given “much” from the Lord, but how much are we talking about? I think we all understand that He created the heavens and earth, as well as the animal and plant life thereon. Certainly we should be thankful for those gifts. But surely this doesn’t include things that man has created, right? We should be thankful for our lives, of course, but should we give thanks to the Lord for, say, television, or smartphones? Do I need to be grateful for the database that I built at work?

We have been given much, but a more accurate word might be “all.” The Lord has given us everything, from the earth we stand on and the air we breathe to our wit, intelligence, and creativity. If we build anything, it’s only because He gave us the ability to do so in the first place. King Benjamin, in his wonderful valedictory address to his people in the Book of Mormon, taught that even if we were to “render all the thanks and praise which [our] whole soul has power to possess,” we would yet be unprofitable servants. He has given us so much that we can never come out ahead, particularly since as we extend our gratitude to Him through our obedience, He gives us further blessings. There’s no way for us to catch up.

Fortunately, He doesn’t ask us to catch up. All He asks is that we keep His commandments, and one of those is to be grateful. So we offer our gratitude to Him for all that we have, and we certainly have much.

2. How many days is “each?”

We pledge in this hymn to express gratitude and share our gifts with others each day we live. That doesn’t mean that we do those things only on Sundays, or only when it’s convenient for us. It’s easy to be grateful and share at those times. We’re good at offering gratitude when we’re recognized for it, or when everyone else is also doing so. It’s a breeze to offer what we have to others when we’re confident they will be too polite to accept. But it’s something else when we see someone in need and we know it would cost us more than a trifle to stop and help. We may be driving somewhere and see someone stopped on the side of the road. We may justify not stopping because we’re in a rush, and think to ourselves, “Someone else will probably stop,” or, “I’m sure they’ll take care of it.” We may hear that an acquaintance needs help fixing their house, and think “I don’t know them that well,” or, “I just got home from work, and I’m too tired to go out.”

We’re good at finding ways to justify inaction and ingratitude, but the hymn makes it clear that we are to be grateful and giving each day we live. We don’t get days off. There aren’t times when it’s optional to give thanks or aid. We are to be grateful always, even (and perhaps especially) when it’s difficult. And in those times that it’s difficult to be grateful, we can take comfort in the fact that others have made the same pledge, and they will be there for us when we need help.

3. How many people is “every?”

We declare that we will share our blessings with “every” brother (or sister, of course) that we see. As we mentioned before, it’s very easy to share our blessings with friends and family. These are people that we know and love, and of course we would share with them. They would share with us. It’s less easy to offer our blessings to those we don’t know as well, or who don’t seem to be able (or willing) to repay us.

The commandment is simple: We are to share our bounty with everyone. We don’t distinguish based on intent, or appearance, or belief, or anything else. We have been blessed without reservation, and we spread those blessings similarly without reservation. The apostle John wrote that “we love [the Lord], because he first loved us.” We could just as well say that we love others because He first loved us, and we bless others’ lives because He first blessed ours.

I think we readily understand the message that we are to be grateful because we have been so richly blessed, but we might be slower to understand the breadth of that gratitude.  Our gratitude isn’t expressed in passing. There’s nothing shallow about it. It should be all-encompassing, and we’re probably slow to admit that because we know how difficult a task it is.

Fortunately, He doesn’t ask us to do it all at once, or even to be able to do it all at once. He asks for our best effort, and as we give that, He blesses us more and more.

Hymn #270: I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go

david & camelIn 2002 my husband was called to serve in the Ivory Coast Abidjan mission. He packed his bags, got dozens of immunizations, and headed to the Missionary Training Center where he diligently began learning how to teach the gospel in French.

Not long after he entered the MTC, civil war broke out in Ivory Coast.

His parents frantically called the  mission office to find out whether he would actually be sent into a war zone. Members of his home ward wrote letters that said they were praying he wouldn’t have to go. Weeks went by, but since nobody could give them a definitive answer about what would happen, he and his fellow missionaries continued to study, attend the temple, and wait for the day they would ship out.

Faced with the very real possibility that he could die in the mission field, my husband experienced a deep crisis of faith during that time. Why had he been called to a place of such violence and unrest? Did he really believe that God had a plan for him? Did he believe that the gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was true? Did he believe that he was the right person to share that message with the people of Ivory Coast?

Most importantly, did he believe these things enough to risk his life for them?

*

My youngest brother was called to serve in the Utah Ogden mission. It was a far cry from the exotic calls some of his friends had received, and he was admittedly a little disappointed. Why should he be called to Utah–land of the Mormons–to preach the good word of Christ? Did he really believe that God had a plan for him? Did he believe that the gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was true? Did he believe that he was the right person to share that message with the people of Ogden?

Most importantly, did he believe these things enough to put his life on hold to go to a place that seemed not to need his service?

*

Sometimes we are called to the “mountain height,” or the “stormy sea,” or the “battle front”. Sometimes the Lord asks us to risk everything, give everything, to walk in “paths [we] do not know”. The way is “dark and rugged”, and we may wonder what we’ve gotten ourselves into.

Other times we are asked to labor in a more “lowly place”. Our calling is not prestigious or exotic or adventurous. It might be a blow to our ego that our talents are not being used to their fullest, or that our efforts go unnoticed because we are not in a high-profile position.

Either way, we must ask ourselves: do we believe?

And if we do, the answer is simple. “I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord. I’ll say what you want me to say. I’ll be what you want me to be.”

*

(Eventually my husband was reassigned to to the Kenya Nairobi mission where he served faithfully for the remainder of his two years. My brother also finished a faithful mission, eventually moving to the North Salt Lake mission when boundaries changed and more missionaries were needed. Both men developed strong testimonies of going wherever the Lord calls them, and I know the Lord is pleased with their efforts.)

Hymn #11: What Was Witnessed in the Heavens?

clouds

If you remember this hymn for anything, it’s probably for the opening bars. We have plenty of hymns in which the men drop out, leaving the women to carry the melody for a moment, but here, the opposite happens. The men are left alone for the first eight beats of each of the first two lines, and if your ward is anything like mine, there’s a strange sort of silence as the men try to figure out what it is they’re supposed to be doing.

It’s a shame when that happens, though, because we miss the call and response aspect of the beginning of the hymn. Listen to the first two lines:

What was witnessed in the heavens?
Why, an angel earthward bound.
Had he something with him bringing?
Yes, the gospel, joyful sound!

The angel we sing about was Moroni, as he appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, telling him the location of the Book of Mormon and teaching him about his role in the upcoming restoration of the gospel. The hymn is about the restoration, yes, but you’ll notice the tag “missionary work,” too. The men sing the part of someone who doesn’t know about the restoration, asking someone who does. That may not be apparent in the first verse, which feels more like exposition than genuine questioning, but it’s unmistakable in the second verse:

Had we not before the gospel?
Yes, it came of old to men.
Then what is this latter gospel?
‘Tis the first one come again.
This was preached by Paul and Peter
And by Jesus Christ, the Head.
This we latter Saints are preaching;
We their footsteps wish to tread.

It’s an honest enough question to ask. Don’t we already have the gospel? Isn’t the earth littered with Christian churches? What is this new gospel we’re talking about? It’s the same as we had before. It’s the same gospel we read about Paul and Peter preaching, and the same one we read about Moses and Abraham living as well. Jesus Christ stands at its head, and it was restored in its fullness to us today.

That’s an exciting prospect, if true. We claim a direct link to the church of Christ in His time. I remember learning about the Protestant Reformation in high school and talking about all of the branches of Christianity that came out of it. My teacher, knowing I was a Latter-day Saint, pulled me aside after class, showed me the chart with all the churches on it, and asked where mine fit. I drew a line off to the side from the top to the bottom and said, “This is our church. It’s the original church Jesus taught, restored in our day.” Nothing came of that conversation that I’m aware of, but the boldness of my claim has always remained with me.

It’s a bold claim that we make, and since it’s so bold, it’s our responsibility to make it often. And as we touched upon yesterday, we not only share the gospel with those we meet here, but those who have gone before without a chance to hear the gospel. “What became of those departed,” we ask, “knowing not the gospel plan?” The Lord extends an opportunity for them to hear and receive His teachings, too. The fullness of the gospel was gone from the earth for a long time (about 1700 years), so there’s a lot of catching up to do. We sing that as the angel said, the gospel is to go “to all men, all tongues and nations.” All doesn’t allow for much wiggle room. Everyone is entitled to know and share in those teachings. That’s a bold claim that we make, too.

Whether here on the earth or in the spirit world, everyone will have their chance to hear the gospel message and decide for themselves how they feel about it. “God is just to ev’ry man,” we sing, and it’s true.

Image credit: “Blue Sky and Clouds,” flickr user Sherrie Thai. CC BY-NC 2.0

Hymn #261: Thy Servants Are Prepared

Image Credit:  "Men Missionaries Mormon Man", More Good Foundation, 2007, via Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/moregoodfoundation/5135123539. CC BY-NC 2.0

Thy Servants Are Prepared is, at first glance, a hymn about young missionaries prepared to go forth and preach the Gospel to the world. Their preaching will fill the world with the light of truth, and build Zion both abroad and at home. It also speaks of the preparation these missionaries must have, for one cannot preach the truth unless he has first received and understood it himself.

The preparation and service of our young missionary force is an exciting and important topic, one that is more prominent than ever in context of the recent surge in departing missionaries. But this is not the topic I want to discuss here.

The truth is that 18- and 19-year old missionaries are not the only servants of God. We are all servants of God, all called from the moment of our baptism to carry forward his work and proclaim his Gospel. While we may not all be called to serve in foreign lands, the recent instructions to “Hasten the Work of Salvation” make it clear that we are all part of this work, whether called as full-time missionaries or not.

Just as full-time missionaries, we all must be prepared to share the Gospel. We should be studying the scriptures daily, “feasting upon the words of Christ.” We should be praying often. More importantly, we should be developing a real and meaningful relationship with our Heavenly Father, and should be growing ever more able to understand and act upon the promptings of the Spirit.

Preparation to share the Gospel of Christ is not completed simply by memorizing Joseph Smith’s account of the First Vision and a few Scripture Mastery scriptures. The Gospel is not simply about learning scriptural facts—in fact, Christ often rebuked the Pharisees and Scribes for doing just that. Rather, we must learn to listen to our Father directly, to follow the guidance he sends through the Holy Spirit.

We must learn to receive revelation.

This should not be a surprising statement. Missionaries invite people  in their very first meetings to pray about the Book of Mormon, to receive an answer from God himself whether it is true or not. When we are baptized we receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, a gift that does us no good unless we actually learn to listen to the Spirit. Prophets throughout the Book of Mormon taught this same lesson: we must learn to be guided by the Holy Spirit. Inasmuch as we preach that “God speaks, not spake,” we must learn to listen.

I believe we all understand this, and yet our day-to-day tasks can so easily distract us from this preparation. Learning to accurately recognize the Spirit is not a simple task; it takes practice and effort. When we brush aside frequent scripture study, or when our prayers start fading into rote repetitions, we lose the opportunity to commune with the Holy Spirit in the very settings most conducive to his presence.

Sharing the light of the Gospel with the world is God’s work. He can and will direct us as we carry it out, but only if we are capable of listening to his instructions and following his direction. As we do so, we will truly see “the darkness draw away from [His] revealing light.”

So when we sing “Thy Servants Are Prepared,” let’s remember that it’s us we’re singing about. Let’s make sure that we’re always ready.


Image Credit:
“Men Missionaries Mormon Man”, More Good Foundation, 2007, via Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/moregoodfoundation/5135123539. CC BY-NC 2.0

Hymn #40: Arise, O Glorious Zion

Like most of the hymns about Zion, this one is bright, strong, and uptempo. We sing brightly, and we sing with conviction. We sing with power, and it’s because when we sing about Zion, we sing about the kingdom of God. Other hymns focus on the God’s attributes, like His kindness and mercy, but this is less about Him and more about the organization of His kingdom. We’re singing less about the Master and more about the walls of His city.

It’s not surprising, then, that the hymn has a distinctly military feel to it. There’s a strong quarter time beat driving the melody, which moves quickly with cascading eighth notes. The soprano and tenor parts go all the way up to E, which is pretty high for a hymn intended for a mass audience. Those high notes give the hymn a soaring feeling, which adds to the sense of disciplined precision that comes with the quick pace. The tune is even titled “Victory.”

Military imagery abounds in this hymn. We begin by describing the Lord as our “sure defender.” He protects us from sin and death through His atonement, but here, the image is not so much a gentle shepherd as an armor-clad warrior. He is strong, and He is capable of beating back the forces of evil. He is our captain in the war against sin, and His victory (and ours, if we ally ourselves with Him) is sure.

We take part in the war too, of course. The victory is His, and it was hard-fought, but we have our skirmishes to come through as well. The third verse details our role in the struggle:

Thru painful tribulation
We walk the narrow road
And battle with temptation
To gain the blest abode.
But patient, firm endurance,
With glory in our view,
The Spirit’s bright assurance
Will bring us conq’rors through.

The gospel message of enduring to the end is just as apparent as is the imagery of military discipline. We are soldiers, trained in the duty of the Lord. Like soldiers, we are to give total loyalty and obedience to Him. We walk a narrow road, following our orders with exactness, turning neither to the right nor to the left. We do battle with temptation, and we do so not only because we have been so commanded, but because we know there is a reward in store. And as we follow those commands with “patient, firm endurance,” we help to earn the victory over evil. We don’t simply survive the struggle, as is often our sense of enduring to the end. This hymn tells us that we will be conquerors. We will be victorious, and just as there is no question who is the conqueror and who is the conquered in the aftermath of a war, there will be no question which side has won the victory in the end.

In the fourth verse, we return to the familiar theme of singing praise to our King. We join with the “hosts of heaven,” singing glory to our Redeemer. Having already sung three verses with military fervor, it’s not hard to imagine those hosts of heaven lined up in neat rows, standing at attention. We unite our voices in perfect unison, singing as one the “immortal theme” of praise.

This is the goal, and the end of our faith and devotion. We aim to arrive here, capable of making our hearts and voices one with the saints. Zion is the pure in heart. We give our hearts fully to the Lord and without reservation. That’s not to say that there’s no room for individualism in Zion, and it’s not to say that we’ll act as a hive mind, but it does imply to me that we will have purified ourselves (or, rather, have been purified through the cleansing power of the atonement) to the point where we can act and love as the Savior does. John told us that “when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” We will see Him through His own redeeming love. When we can do that, we will be numbered among the pure in heart.

That’s the end goal, anyway. It’s still a long way off, and we have a lot of steps yet to cover in that journey. But this fourth verse reminds us of the end we’re striving for, and gives us a glimpse of the time when we can join with the hosts of heaven and sing glory to him “whose blood did us redeem.”

Hymn #257: Rejoice! A Glorious Sound Is Heard

shout, by Krista Baltroka

shout, by Krista Baltroka

I could probably count on one hand the number of times that I’ve sung this song in church. It’s not one that I’m very familiar with. Maybe you are. Whether you are or not, though, it’s a hymn that has a familiar feel to it. We’ve sung similar hymns with similar feelings. Some have a strong cadence to them, like the hymns of Zion. Others have soaring crescendos, like the hymns of praise. It’s the meter that makes this hymn feel so familiar. The meter is called Common Meter Doubled (CMD), and it falls into four neat couples of eight and six beats. You probably recognize it from many of the hymns you’re familiar with: it has mostly quarter notes, with the occasional syncopated eighth note thrown in here and there, and each couplet ends with a dotted half note held out to mark the end of a phrase. It’s simple, which is why it’s used frequently enough to be called common meter.

The simplicity of the hymn ties in well with the message. We sing praise to the Father, and we rejoice in His Son. We glory that His cause is found in triumph. We are glad to hear that Zion’s youth–our youth–go forth in “wondrous might” and are found “in league with truth.” These are simple things, though that’s not to say that we don’t find joy in things that are more complicated and nuanced as well. We glory in our Lord. We do as much at the end of the first verse when we sing these words:

Jehovah reigns! Lord God of Hosts,
All hail thee, King most high.

The message is simple when you get down to it. God lives, and we worship Him. The rest of the lyrics explain more about why we worship Him (His perfection, grace, and sacrifice of His Son), but the main thrust of the hymn is found in those two lines. God lives, and that’s a thing to shout about.

When compared to some other Christian churches, the music of the LDS Church is pretty tame. We don’t have robed choirs swaying and shimmying as they sing. We don’t have electric guitars or brass. In fact, we’re encouraged not to stray beyond the hymnal when performing in church. Our music is more reserved than one might expect out of gospel music. But that’s not to say that we don’t (or shouldn’t) shout with praise. Even if we don’t literally shout while singing this hymn, we are encouraged to sing vigorously, and there’s even an exclamation point in the title to give it a little extra oomph. When we sing this hymn, we are not simply to rejoice. We are to rejoice! The Lord has triumphed over sin and strife, and we will, with Him, in glory reign.

So give a shout today. As the third verse encourages us, arise and sing to His great name. Send forth a joyous strain. Feel the joy of the gospel, and let out that great exultant cry from the first verse: Jehovah reigns! Lord God of Hosts, all hail thee, king most high.

Hymn #249: Called to Serve

249-CalledToServe

Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.

Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.

Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work.

(Doctrine and Covenants 4:1-3)

When I read the opening verses of D&C 4, I am always drawn back to memories of my own missionary service. I remember the weeks in the Missionary Training Center, surrounded by thousands of missionaries all preparing to preach the Gospel and to enter a new culture, a new world. I remember teaching and loving the people of Spain, with all their endearing and maddening ways. I remember the missionaries I served with, Sunday meetings, training conferences, transfers, testifying, studying, praying, and working. I remember service projects, frustrations, long rainy days, rewarding lessons, and so many other things. It truly brings back a flood of memories.

And, I remember singing Called To Serve. If there’s an anthem for the church missionary effort, this is surely it. Missionaries around the world sing it in dozens of languages, all united by a desire and a call to serve Him, the Heavenly King of Glory. With an energetic tune and triumphant chorus, it invigorates us as we commit to “ever witness for His name.”

Far and wide, we tell the Father’s story. There are currently over 80,000 missionaries serving in 405 missions around the globe. They preach in over fifty languages, inviting all to learn of the Father’s plan of salvation and Christ’s Atonement. Ever since the church was organized, missionaries have been sent around the world to preach that truth and priesthood authority have been restored to the earth, inviting all to come and partake.

Far and wide, his love proclaim. The joyous news of the Gospel is not just that truth has been restored. It is that through the Gospel, we can live a better life. We can feel more joy, find more meaning, and share more love with our spiritual brothers and sisters all around us. Our Father loves all of his children, and he wants all of us to receive the blessings he is ready to give.

Onward, ever onward, as we glory in his name.
Onward, ever onward, as we glory in his name.
Forward, pressing forward, as a triumph song we sing.
God our strength will be; press forward ever,
Called to serve our King.

God our strength will be. The Book of Mormon teaches repeatedly that there is a special strength that comes from the Lord. Elder David A. Bednar spoke about this in his 2004 General Conference address. He said:

Can we sense the grace and strengthening power of Christ in the testimony of Ammon? “Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever” (Alma 26:12). Truly, brothers and sisters, in the strength of the Lord we can do and endure and overcome all things. (In the Strength of the Lord, October 2004)

The work of preaching the gospel is a glorious, happy work. It is work, have no doubt. It is hard work. Missionaries around the world will attest to that. But we do “glory in his name,” and a “triumph song” we do sing. We rejoice when someone finds their way to the understanding and joy that comes from the Gospel, when someone enters the waters of baptism and receives the Gift of the Holy Ghost. There is joy and happiness in this work.

Called to Serve, though, is not a song about missionaries. It is a song about missionary work. As we have been taught repeatedly, missionary work is not just for missionaries. It is not even mostly for missionaries. It is a work for every member of Christ’s living church. President David O. McKay urged “every member a missionary” in 1959. More recently, we’ve heard a lot about “Hastening the Work of Salvation,” encouraging all church members to join in this work, bringing the Gospel message to our Father’s children.

Indeed, let’s look at the second verse:

Called to know the richness of his blessing—
Sons and daughters, children of a King—
Glad of heart, his holy name confessing,
Praises unto him we bring.

Every member of his Church has cause to know the richness of his blessings. We are all children of a King. We don’t just sing Called to Serve in the MTC, or in missionary training meetings. We also sing it in our ordinary Sunday meetings in wards and branches around the world. The Gospel brings blessings of peace, understanding, joy, and purpose to all of us.

We are all called to serve him. Missionaries are called to do it full-time for a certain number of months and in a specific place, but we are all called to share the blessings we receive from our Father. However far and however wide we go, we are to tell the Father’s story. However far and wide we go, his love we are to proclaim. Whether that’s the school yard or the water cooler, Facebook or the grocery store, wherever we go we should be “standing as witnesses of God, at all times and in all things, and in all places.” (Mosiah 18:9)

“Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work.” Onward, ever onward!