We are just coming off two packed days of inspiring talks and sermons. I am so grateful for the opportunity to watch all of Conference and to soak in the rich spiritual bounty.
As a father of two young children, watched Conference is far less restive than it used to be. I have to accept the fact that I will simply not be able to fully take in some of the talks as I chase around a toddler. To demand perfect quiet would only lead to fighting and drive out the spirit I am trying to welcome.
Yet, I have found that the overall impact of conference is not just found in the particular talks. Instead, the overall experience has a cumulative impact that is more than simply the sum of the individual talks.
I love Conference because I love having my heart and spirit united with millions of Saints across the world. I love seeing tens of thousands of members cram into the conference center. I love singing a congregational hymn in sync with so many people across the world.
I also find the cumulative impact of the call to repent and to become better to be immense. During Conference I often think about how much better we all would be if we could just follow the teachings of the Prophets and Apostles which are the teachings of Christ. As individuals and as a community striving to be Zion, we badly need the collective instruction.
In another sense, the cumulative impact of Conference is also vital to ensure that we do not distort or take out of context the message of a single leader. The Apostles speak together to different needs and different individuals. The collective message is the will of God for the Church. If we pluck a favorite talk or two out of context, we risk putting a single principle or teaching above the collective whole.
I always am sad when I see people arguing that one of our leaders contradicted another in conference. Messages of love and also of the evil of sin are not mutually exclusive or contradictory. Instead, both the extremes of relativism and excessive pharisaicism are dangers that face the membership of the Church. Neither of those extremes is divinely inspired. Neither comes from God. The collective message of conference teaches us where and how to draw the line and balance mercy and justice.