Friday, January 31, 2020

To the temple

Scott is 11 and transitioned from Primary (children) to the Young Men's (teens) program in our church.  This also meant that he could also serve in the temple as of January 1st.   But the temple was not open on new years day.

We went to the temple as a family on January 2nd.  Eric, myself, Amelia, Elanor, and Scott in the temple, and Seth and Naomi in the waiting room.  It was such a joyous moment for me to have all of my children IN the temple.

The church website said the temple would be open for baptisms at 4:30pm.  It was wrong.  Oops!  However, there was another family of 7 with an 11 year old girl waiting to go in as well.  So the temple presidency came into the baptistry.  One of them talked to Scott and the girl about it being their 1st time in the temple and the significance of temple work.  It was very special.

We also returned to the temple the following morning.  Eric and I did sealings: where we act as proxy for couples and children to be sealed for time and eternity to their families.  My great grandparents were sealed together and then my grandmother was sealed to them.  Such a sweet experience.

I found myself reflecting on our temple experience.   I delved into a study of sorts about the significance of temples.

Temple worship is not a new concept. Temples were part of life in the old Testament. David says in Psalms:

          "One thing have I desired of the Lord…that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of 
          my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple."
          —Psalms 27:4

Temple worship continued after Christ's life and ministry:
          "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ."
          —Acts 5:42

But what was and is the purpose of temples?

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a church leader, addressed this in the October 2017 General Conference.  He began by sharing an extraordinary story of a dog lost on vacation in Indiana that showed up on their doorstep 6 months later.  They lived in Oregon, over 2,000 miles away.
          "When I read of this powerful instinct in animals, I can’t help but wonder, “Is it possible that 
          human beings have a similar yearning—an inner guidance system, if you will—that draws them 
          to their heavenly home?”

          "I believe that every man, woman, and child has felt the call of heaven at some point in his or 
          her life. Deep within us is a longing to somehow reach past the veil and embrace Heavenly 
          Parents we once knew and cherished.

I think this also applies to loved ones that have passed, issuing the call of "home."
I have associated with and dearly love many people who are not of my faith, and even profess to be of no faith.  Yet several refer to their loved ones that have passed on as if they are still alive, somehow, in a different realm.  This is all very real.  

The temples of old were places of learning and of animal sacrifice.  Sacrifice - to remind and keep ever present in mind that the Messiah would come and provide the ultimate sacrifice for all.  Our Savior would atone for our sins, sorrows, hurts, injustices.  He would make it possible for every person who ever lived, and who ever will live to return to our heavenly home.

Christ came to earth.  He lived a perfect life, setting the perfect example for each of us to follow if we choose to.  He atoned for us, died on the cross, and was resurrected.  He made it possible for all to be forgiven of our sins and to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father.  He fulfilled all that was prophesied.  Before his death, he ordained His Apostles and established His church on the earth.

There is no magic.  Just the gospel.  And our choice to live it or not.  
We lived in heaven before this life.  We are alive on earth.  That is proof that we chose God's plan before!  Now we are here to use our agency to choose good in thought and in deed, which requires action on our part.

          Abraham 3:25 (scripture in the Pearl of Great Price, not in the bible)
          25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their
          God shall command them;

In James, we read:
          James 2:14 - 26
          14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? 
          can faith save him?
          20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
          24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
          26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

We learn from this and other scriptures that it is not enough alone to believe.  We have to act on our belief.

          "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be
          established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall
          flow unto it."  —Isaiah 2:2

When the gospel was restored, Joseph Smith was directed to build temples.  The ordinances that are performed in the temple unite families and connect generations.  It is performing the ordinances of baptism, endowment, sealing first for ourselves and then for our dead who did not and cannot do it for themselves.

          “Here and now then, we move to accomplish the work to which we are assigned. . . . We gather
          the records of our kindred dead, indeed, the records of the entire human family; and in sacred
          temples in baptismal fonts designed as those were anciently, we perform these sacred
          ordinances.”  (Boyd K. Packer | “The Redemption of the Dead,” Ensign, November 1975, 99)

          "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they
          then baptized for the dead?"  —1 Corinthians 15:29

The work of remembering one who is dead is a work of the utmost unselfish love. If one wants to make sure that love is completely unselfish, he eliminates every possibility of repayment.
Soren Kierkegaard

          "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of 
          the Lord:
          And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their 
          fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.   --Malachi 4:5-6

          Matthew 16:19. “Whatsoever Thou Shalt Bind on Earth Shall Be Bound in Heaven” 
          (see also Matthew 18:18John 20:23)

          "Peter and the other Apostles received priesthood keys that made their actions and decisions 
          binding both on earth and in eternity. President Russell M. Nelson explained that the keys 
          promised to Peter in Matthew 16:19 included the sealing authority exercised in our temples today, 
          that makes it possible for families to be bound together for eternity: “We should understand the 
          sealing authority of the priesthood. Jesus referred to this authority long ago when He taught His 
          Apostles, ‘Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven’ [Matthew 16:19]. That
          same authority has been restored in these latter days. Just as priesthood is eternal—without 
          beginning or end—so is the effect of priesthood ordinances that bind families together forever” 
          (“Personal Preparation for Temple Blessings,” Ensign, May 2001, 33).

As we search to connect out ancestors and help others to do so, we receive blessings of power from on high.  One church leader issued an invitation and promise.  Oh, how I cling to this promise!

          "I invite the young people of the Church to learn about and experience the Spirit of Elijah.
          I encourage you to study, to search out your ancestors, and to prepare yourselves to perform
          proxy baptisms in the house of the Lord for your kindred dead (see D&C 124:28–36). And I
          urge you to help other people identify their family histories.

          "I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you
          participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout
          your lives."  (Bednar Ensign, November, 2011)

I think I have adequately expressed myself.  Yet, there is so much more I could say.  Below are a few more quotes that I wanted to include, but will have stand alone.

"There exists a righteous unity between the temple and the home. Understanding the eternal nature of the temple will draw you to your family; understanding the eternal nature of the family will draw you to the temple."
Gary E. Stevenson

“Whereby all his children, be they alive or dead, might have the privilege of accepting or rejecting the gospel of his beloved Son.”
Joseph B. Wirthlin | Conference Report, April 1945,

“Temple ordinances, covenants, endowments, and sealings
enable…families to be sealed beyond the veil of death.”
Russell M. Nelson

“Because the temple is the house of the Lord, standards for admission are set by Him. One enters as His guest. To hold a temple recommend is a priceless privilege and a tangible sign of obedience to God and His prophets.”
Russell M. Nelson

“Each holy temple stands as a symbol of our membership in the Church, as a sign of our faith in life after death, and as a sacred step toward eternal glory for us and our families.”
Russell M. Nelson

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