Sunday, January 25, 2009

Family Keepsake

This morning’s lessons at church had to do with the sacred nature of the Sacrament and what it means in our lives. Reference was tied to a talk given by Dalen H. Oaks during last October’s General Conference, Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament .

“In his writings on the doctrines of salvation, President Joseph Fielding Smith teaches that we partake of the sacrament as our part of commemorating the Savior’s death and sufferings for the redemption of the world. This ordinance was introduced so that we can renew our covenants to serve Him, to obey Him, and to always remember Him.”

Here is the Sacrament Prayer offered before the bread is passed to the congregation as found in the Doctrine and Covenants; the prayer for the water is found two verses later.

“O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.”

There is heavy emphasis on taking the name of Jesus Christ and remembering Him. We take on the name of Jesus Christ upon entering the waters of baptism and remembering Him is something of a personal issue, a moment by moment task of doing what we know to be right and resisting that which we know to be wrong.

When I was growing up my folks would take extra care to remind us how important it was to act in such a way as to never bring shame to our family name. As we left the house there would be a moment taken, eye to eye contact to make sure we were paying attention, “Remember who you are.” At the time the information related to only our direct family, extending perhaps as far as my grandparents; however, in the larger meaning of the words, “Remember who you are”, the entire Plan of Salvation comes into play.

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Genesis 1:26,27

Primary children sing a simple song which reminds us who we are, I am a child of God. The importance of knowing who you are, where you came from and where you want to go all depend on accepting your birthright.

I am a child of God,

And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.

Lead me, guide me,
walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday. (“I Am a Child of God,” Hymns, no. 301.)

The blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant were explained by Elder Russell M. Nelson in his talk, Children of the Covenant , printed in the Ensign May, 1995.

“We are also children of the covenant. We have received, as did they of old, the holy priesthood and the everlasting gospel. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are our ancestors. We are of Israel. We have the right to receive the gospel, blessings of the priesthood, and eternal life. Nations of the earth will be blessed by our efforts and by the labors of our posterity. The literal seed of Abraham and those who are gathered into his family by adoption receive these promised blessings—predicated upon acceptance of the Lord and obedience to his commandments.”

This is a reminder that we are eternal in nature, that we have the opportunity to enjoy the blessings poured out by our Father in Heaven if only we acknowledge and keep the commandments; we literally are children of our Father in Heaven and are expected to return with honor.

One of the questions asked today had to do with keepsakes, items of personal value which go far beyond any monetary assessment. Hands went up and examples were given, all relevant to the topic; a set of scriptures which had been used by a grandmother, a flag which once owned by family member and so on. I withheld my answer, not wishing to distract from the lesson being given, mostly as I’d not yet put my thoughts together as to how I would present them without sounding flippant.

My most important keepsake would have to be my name. “Remember who you are”, being engrained into my head as my parents tried to teach the same lesson Polonius left with his son Laertes in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “This above all: to thine own self be true”.

I’ve mentioned in other writings that my folks are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; never the less, and with a certain amount of pride, I can relate to the opening line given by Nephi in the Book of Mormon, “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents…” I’ve no family records to indicate how a great ancestor of mine crossed the Great Plains in a covered wagon with the Saints, no Martin Handcart saga of heroism or extreme personal suffering at the hands of the Missouri Mob. I’m one of those “converts”, adopted into the Abrahamic Covenant.

I do have an active imagination and a flare for writing, or so I’ve been told on occasion. I created, for myself, a piece of history that ties me to the Book of Mormon, something which would make the rest of my friends more than a little envious, even if it’s a figment of my imagination . It’s a plain blue marble, what kids from an era gone by would call a Shooter, larger than average and quite beautiful to look at.

I said it was a plain blue marble; what I neglected to mention was that it’s one of the pieces of stone which the Brother of Jared presented to the Lord to touch so his family could cross the great sea with a form of safe illumination.

“And I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man; therefore touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness; and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea.”

Once you’ve figured out who you are, where you came from and where you are going; what kind of effort are you willing to put forth in order to gain the blessings of the Lord? Each time I take the Sacrament the eternal nature of my being tells me, in the most simple of terms, how I’ve taken upon myself the name of Jesus Christ and that I can return to my Father in Heaven because of the Atonement. That, my friends, is reason enough to attend church on Sunday.

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