Happy Birthday, Relief Society! Today is your 178th birthday. I’ve been trying to think about what I can do to celebrate your special day. This year is a little bit different than the others. There won’t be a Relief Society activity tonight. There won’t be a beautiful cake that tastes even better than it looks. There won’t be an inspiring take-home handout to keep on my mirror and remind me of a wonderful night shared with my sisters. There won’t be any type of in-person gathering, but I think I have an idea for how to celebrate your birthday.
I have seen a lot of posts on social media over the past few days that truly are inspiring as we look back and see how the Lord has prepared us "for such a time as this" (Esther 4:14). It is amazing that home-centered worship was already becoming part of our lives with the Come, Follow Me curriculum before we ever knew we might have to spend weeks out of our meetinghouses. Just under a month ago, Church leaders felt inspired to release nine new chapters of the handbook instead of waiting for all of the chapters to be updated. One of those updated chapters contains precious direction so needed right now on how to administer the sacrament. President Nelson has also given specific direction for study topics before April general conference, including the restoration and for women, priesthood power.
Another way we were perfectly prepared for this time is the announcement of ministering that happened in April 2018. Ministering gave us a new idea for how to support each other. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said in conference, “Much of our ministering effort will be in settings other than the home. . . . The primary purpose in this ministering idea will be, as was said of the people in Alma’s day, to ‘watch over their people, and … nourish them with things pertaining to righteousness’ (Mosiah 23:18)."
I think about the women and the people I know in my life. Some of them are afraid. Some of them have preexisting medical conditions that make them susceptible to the illness. Some of them are in dangerous age brackets.
Some of them are lonely. Some of them count on their Sunday social interactions. Some of them may find they don’t feel as spiritually nourished without those lessons.
During these times we need each other, and perhaps we need each other in ways we haven’t before. In October 2018 general conference, President Russell M. Nelson said, “My dear sisters, we need you! We need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices. We simply cannot gather Israel without you.”
We need strength. We need love. We need protection.
President Nelson has also said, “Effective ministering efforts are enabled by the innate gifts of the sisters and by the incomparable power of the priesthood. We all need such protection from the cunning wiles of the adversary.”
We need this protection right now.
So how am I going to celebrate your birthday, Relief Society? I’m going to make sure to contact my ministering sisters. I’m going to make sure they are watched over and nourished, even if it isn’t in-person.
Happy Birthday to you, Relief Society!