Music Department Chair
Bryce Mecham received a bachelor’s degree in trombone performance and pedagogy from BYU, a master’s degree in trombone performance from Northwestern University, and a doctoral degree in education from Idaho State University.
Prior to coming to BYU-Idaho in 2002, Brother Mecham worked as a performing musician in the recording industry on film and television soundtracks, with Broadway touring companies, and as a backup musician with many well-known artists. He has also performed with the Utah Symphony, Utah Opera, Ballet West, Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra, and the Orchestra at Temple Square. He taught at The Waterford School, Weber State, and Utah State universities. He is a professor of trombone here at BYU-Idaho and is currently the Music Department Chair.
Brother Mecham served in the Japan Sapporo Mission, as a young men president, elder’s quorum president, bishop, ward choir director, and nursery teacher.
He and his wife, Jessica, have four children and will be celebrating 29 years of marriage in August.
Please read the following scriptures and respond to the following questions on the devotional discussion board:
Who were the Samaritans, centurions, and publicans and what was their relation to the Children of Israel to whom the Lord was preaching?
Why do you think the Lord chose to hold these people up as examples?
What is the application to you?
My brothers and sisters, I am very
I would like to talk to you about something I have been learning about my whole life. I am still learning about it. My topic today is developing charity for the other.
What do I mean by the other? The other is anyone who is different than you. The term refers to any individual or group that you differentiate from yourself or your
It is perfectly natural that, as we grow, we develop a sense of individuality, we recognize characteristics that differentiate us from others, and that we recognize the differences between the groups we are members of and other groups of people. But it is an unfortunate aspect of human nature that we tend to start to use this recognition of otherness in negative ways, to emphasize differences to negative effect, to discriminate, to belittle, and even sometimes to dehumanize.
I became aware at a young age of this concept of otherness, in part because of my early experiences in music. When I was very young, just four or five years old, I sang in a barbershop vocal group with my sisters—not a quartet but a quartet plus one, because I have four sisters. Even in this blurry and faded
As my personal interests in music moved me away from the sports-focused lives of most of my childhood friends, I again felt a sometimes very keen sense of being different. As a college student at BYU, I again felt a sense of otherness as I interacted with students of various ages who came from many different places. But I began to sense in my music studies that otherness is not necessarily negative. Joining musicians on different instruments, from different backgrounds, together in making music can yield wonderful results. As I finished college and moved into the professional performing world, I found myself working with an amazing variety of people from different regions of the country and from foreign countries. They spoke with various accents, dressed differently, had different religions or no religion at all, and had many other differences that I don’t have time to mention.
Fortunately for me, I was somehow able to focus first on what I had in common with my new colleagues: that we all wanted to make great music together and that we all had
I think Elder Joseph B.
The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father’s children are different
In my study of the scriptures over many years, I have noted again and again how much time Jesus spends teaching us how we should treat the other. Even a quick perusal of just the Gospel of Matthew teaches us that we should be good examples, forgive men their trespasses, forgive our debtors, not steal, not bear false witness, give meat to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, take in the stranger, give to the poor, love our neighbor as ourselves, be ministers, be servants. And all of this makes perfect sense because He teaches us that “all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them. . . .” 
But Jesus sets an even higher standard for us. He pushes us beyond the realm of kindness to those less fortunate than us, and beyond the realm of enlightened self-interest and good citizenship when he says:
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy
This presents a much greater challenge. The otherness of our enemies, those that curse and hate us and despitefully use us, is much more apparent and much more difficult to deal with than the otherness of siblings, classmates, or coworkers. This commandment from the Lord seems very difficult, if not impossible, to obey. How can we love, bless, and pray for those who curse, hate, and use us and who, in many cases, would seek to destroy us? I think that Jesus taught us how we could learn to obey this commandment in several instances in his ministry recorded in the New Testament. To understand what and how he is teaching, we have to have at least a basic understanding of the social and political setting of his ministry.
At the time of the New Testament, the land of Israel was under the control of the Roman Empire. They were ruled over by officials selected by the Romans, and societal order was enforced by Roman troops. The Jews even had the privilege of paying taxes to support this occupying force. Centurions were the military officers of this occupying force and publicans were its tax collectors. Both groups were intensely despised by the Jews.
At the same
In each of the following scriptures, Jesus holds up as an example of someone who would have been considered the other, an undesirable, and even an enemy. Furthermore, he juxtaposes the example of this other against a
In Luke 18 we read,
And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. 
The explicit lesson of this parable is quite clear: don’t be prideful; don’t condemn others; be humble. But I believe there is a very powerful implicit message as well in the juxtaposition of the believing and socially accepted Pharisee against the despised publican. Christ is teaching us that those we see as the other can also be examples to us and teach us. Christ seems to have forgivingly looked past any possible shortcomings of the publican, as well as the fact that he was the tax collector for a foreign occupying force, and used him as an example of humble prayer and seeking forgiveness and mercy. This must have been a difficult parable for the Pharisees!
The next example is in Mathew 8:
And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
When Jesus heard it, he
And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour. 
Again, the explicit message is clear: have faith in the healing, atoning power of our Lord. The implicit message is more difficult to take. The Lord declares that the greatest faith he has found is not among the chosen Children of Israel but is in the officer of a conquering and occupying army, the centurion. This is again a very stark juxtaposition of the believers versus an outsider with the outsider being held up as the example.
The last example I will use is perhaps the most difficult. In Luke 10 we read,
A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was
Why do I consider this the most difficult example? Christ here juxtaposes the actions of the Samaritan, a member of a group despised as apostates, with the actions of not just believers but of those who held positions of religious responsibility and authority: a priest and a Levite. He seems to be asking us to seriously consider the possibility that despite our dearly held beliefs and our best efforts, sometimes we are not the best examples of believers. In fact, in some
In each of these examples, the Lord has held up as examples those who were likely not what we would now call “members of the Church” and who were furthermore members of groups that would have been specifically despised and considered the other. My contemplation of these examples and parables over the years, along with some other experiences,
Last fall I had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., to represent the department of music and the university at an event there and perform in a recital at the Washington Temple Visitors’ Center. On Sunday morning I attended the Capitol Hill Ward. The Sunday School lesson was on the importance of missionary work. It was a fairly typical lesson for the first five minutes or so, and then it took a completely different turn than I had ever experienced in my 52 years as a member of the Church. The instructor shared a quote from President Spencer W. Kimball that said, “If there were no converts, the Church would shrivel and die on the vine.”  I had heard this statement before and always took it to mean that the Church would wither because it would not be fulfilling its duty to spread the gospel. But a very thoughtful sister made a comment that really struck me. She said that she thought that it meant that without the life, enthusiasm, truth, and experience that new converts bring into the Church, it would “shrivel and die on the vine.” I felt at once chastened and blessed to have my paradigm of converts to the Church changed.
This idea of truth coming to us from outside the church is not new. Brigham Young taught in his typically bold fashion:
It is our duty and calling, as ministers of the same salvation and Gospel, to gather every item of truth and reject every error. Whether a truth be found with professed infidels, or with the Universalists, or the Church of Rome, or the Methodists, the Church of England, the Presbyterians, the Baptists, the Quakers, the Shakers, or any other of the various and numerous different sects and parties, all of whom have more or less truth, it is the business of the Elders of this Church (Jesus, their Elder Brother, being at their head) to gather up all the truths in the world pertaining to life and salvation, to the Gospel we preach, . . .to the sciences, and to philosophy, wherever it may be found in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and bring it to Zion. 
Later in this dispensation, Hugh B. Brown of the First Presidency said:
We have been blessed with much knowledge by revelation from God which, in some part, the world lacks. But there is an incomprehensibly greater part of truth which we must yet discover. Our revealed truth should leave us stricken with the knowledge of how little we really know. It should never lead to an emotional arrogance based upon a false assumption that we somehow have all the answers—that we
The principles in these statements have been made very clear to me in some of my own experiences with others as I have learned important lessons about my own beliefs from those
In 2012 I traveled to India for some curriculum-development-related research. It was a life-changing experience in so many ways! I think that there may never have been a time in my life when I felt so keenly the sense of being the other, a foreigner,
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught,
There is too much intolerance in the world. There is too much of it in our own society.
I listened to a beautiful prayer the other evening, offered by a Greek-American in the manner in which he had been taught to pray. It was an expression of gratitude to the Almighty and a plea for his favor. It was concluded in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. His phrasing was not as my phrasing might have been, but I recognized his sincerity and told him of my appreciation.
I sat one evening at the table of a Jewish friend. The prayer he uttered upon his guests and upon the table at which we sat was beautiful and moving. I was grateful for what I heard.
We can be appreciative in a very sincere way. We must not only be tolerant, but we must cultivate a spirit of affirmative gratitude for those who do not see things quite as we see them. We do not in any way have to compromise our theology, our convictions, our knowledge of
The strength of our position as we understand it will become clearer and more precious as we allow others the same privilege of conscience that we so highly prize. We must learn to accord appreciation and respect for others who are as sincere in their beliefs and practices as are we. 
As a result of these scriptures, teachings of modern prophets and apostles, and my own experiences, I have come to regularly ask myself, “Who is my publican, my centurion, my Samaritan?” Is it a difficult family member or colleague? Is it someone with opposing political views? Is it someone from a different country or culture? A student, a professor, a faculty member, an administrator, a ward member, a difficult roommate, someone with different moral standards, different lifestyle choices, different religious beliefs? I would like to have you ask yourself the same question and take out a notebook or an electronic device and record your response. I will give you a minute or so to respond to that question.
Now I would like to ask you to consider how we can develop
Here are the ways I have been learning: First, recognize not what is different between you and the other; recognize what we all have in common—that we are all children of our Heavenly Father. Second, look for what is good and what is true in others, and most often that is what you will find. Third, seek to develop charity for all men. Jesus taught us “That ye love one another; as I have loved you. . . .”  How has He loved us? With great mercy and forgiveness! That is how we should love all men!
And finally, learn to be meek and humble, always ready and willing to learn
Whereas humility generally denotes dependence upon God and the constant need for His guidance and support, a distinguishing characteristic of meekness is a particular spiritual receptivity to learning both from the Holy Ghost and from people who may seem less capable, experienced, or educated, who may not hold important positions, or who otherwise may not appear to have much to contribute. 
My challenge to you is this: I invite you to look at your list of publicans, your centurions, your Samaritans, and start this week to learn how to love them and learn from them. For me, taking on this challenge over many years has yielded wonderful blessings of learning, understanding, acceptance, and love. It has strengthened my faith and my testimony. It has helped me to emulate the example of my Savior a little more.
May we strive to develop charity for all men, even our Samaritans. And may we remember that “[c]harity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 Doctrine and Covenants 50:22.
 Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Concern for the One,” Ensign, May 2008; lds.org.
 Matthew 7:12.
 Matthew 5:43-44.
 Bible Dictionary, “Pharisees.”
 Luke 18:9-14.
 Matthew 8:5-13, emphasis added.
 Luke 10:30-37.
 Spencer W. Kimball, “When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, Oct. 1974; lds.org.
Discourses of Brigham Young, 248.
 Hugh B. Brown, “An Eternal Quest--Freedom of the Mind ,” Brigham Young University devotional, May 13, 1969; speeches.byu.edu.
 Gordon B. Hinckley, “Out of Your Experience Here,” Brigham Young University devotional, Oct. 16, 1990; speeches.byu.edu.
 John 13:34.
 David A. Bednar, “Meek and Lowly of Heart,” Ensign, May 2018; lds.org.
 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.