Tuesday, December 02, 2008

the living Church

the loftiest tree in the forest has fallen, leaving us bereft of its shade.  a powerful voice, undiminished by the ravages of pernicious disease, has spoken its last great sermon, testifying one final unforgettable time of Jesus the Chrst.
an era of leadership under spencer w. kimball, n. eldon tanner, marion g. romney, and bruce r. mcconkie is fast drawing to a conclusion.  we are bereft of our great ones.
but hearken, and see--mighty leaders are among us and will rise; and lo.

so wrote elder john k. carmack of the seventy the day after the passing of elder bruce r. mcconkie (quoted from his talk given at a byu fireside may 5, 1985).
i thought of that when the first presidency was reorganized earlier this year.

from 1995 to 2004, the first presidency and quorum of the twelve were unchanged.  it was the era of president hinckley, the time when all of my friends and i were in high school and college.  those fifteen men guided us as we learned to step out of our nests and grow into our own.  for nine years, those names and  their order were so familiar: president gordon b. hinckley, president thomas s. monson, james e. faust.  boyd k. packer, l. tom perry, neal a. maxwell, david b. haight, russell m. nelson, dallin h. oaks, m. russell ballard, joseph b. wirthlin, richard g. scott, robert d. hales, jeffrey r. holland, and henry b. eyring.  they issued the proclamation on the family.  they signed their names to the testimony of the Living Christ.

i remember hearing that this was the longest time in the modern history of the Church that the leadership was unchanged.  then, one morning, i heard that elder maxwell had passed away, and jack wrote a small tribute to him on our apartment white board.  a week or so later, i woke up to find him writing about elder haight.
"did he pass away?" i asked, half jokingly.
it was pretty cool that they left so close together.

a few years later i was loading film in the dark room on a movie when mister west on 101.9 announced that james e. faust had passed away.  during the general conference a few months later, we were listening to elder wirthlin's talk on the radio in car ride home.  as we sat down in front of the tv, i remember the very powerful image of elder nelson standing silently and firmly behind him.  i didn't know what had happened, but elder wirthlin was giving his talk with all the energy and determination he had.  recently, elder holland said with such love, "within the ranks of the general authorities of the Church, there is no man more beloved than joseph bitner wirthlin."
four months later, our beloved president hinckley returned home to marjorie pay.
and, last night, elder wirthlin was called home, having been a good and faithful servant.

within four years, five of the fifteen apostles finished their work on the earth.

the first presidency is now thomas s. monson, henry b. eyring, and dieter f. uchtdorf, who wasn't even in the twelve five years ago.  we've come to know and love elder bednar, elder cook, and elder christofferson.  and we'll learn to love another new apostle in early april.

we are part of a living Church.  president monson and his counsellors and the twelve, down to elder d. todd christofferson (and whomever is next) will lead us and carry the Church forward in ways that president hinckley could not do, but will do so only because of the immense work that was performed before them.

"come what may, and love it."


Jack said...

sheep do indeed go to heaven. excellent tribute, manfriend. i'm almost wishing i had waited to post so my thoughts could be more collected. you expressed so eloquently and thoughtfully exactly what i'm feeling about this. cheers.

--jeff * said...

thanks, manfriend.

The Terrell Family said...

I didn't know about Elder Wirthlin until now. Thanks for what you wrote. Now I'm crying. Great.