I gave this talk today and am now posting it for your enjoyment/disdain. Enjoy.
Brothers and Sisters good afternoon it is good to be with you. I hope that what has been said in Priesthood, Relief Society, and Sunday School has expanded your knowledge of the Gospel and renewed your commitment to the Savior Jesus Christ, and your determination to be examples of the believers in both word and deed.
While serving as Elders Quorum President I learned many things about the gospel. Perhaps the most important that I learned is the Lord has a pattern for how things are to be done not only in the Church but also in our lives. The pattern he has given is the commandments. I will not take the time to list them, but it is essential to know, that all commandments fall under the umbrella of the two great commandments being loving God, and loving our neighbors as our self. If you think about it, all that is required of us help individuals in keeping the two great commandments; the commandments that will determine our state after the resurrection.
Brother Klein asked me to speak about a commandment. That commandment is keeping the Sabbath day holy. This seemed like a topic that it was not require fifteen to twenty minutes of Sacrament meeting. Since studying for this talk, if we spent the whole time talking about the Sabbath, that would still prove insufficient. An explanation at length is not needed, but an explanation that is definitive, an explanation that captures and conveys the spirit of the Sabbath, and an explanation that provides us with a vision of what the Sabbath day could be to us is necessary regardless of how long it takes.
That was my hope when I prepared this, and hopefully my limited abilities will be up for the task.
Instead choosing a myriad of quotes and going on a chase through the scriptures, lets focus on some choice passages. Doctrine and Covenants section 59:9 through the first part of 16. These passages are in my opinion the definitive passages of what we should do on the Sabbath, and the spirit that we should have with us on the Lord’s Day.
D&C 59:9 And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;
The world that we live in is noisy, irreverent, fraught with sin, and a difficult place to live.
The poet Dante Alighieri captures how I often feel about the world in the opening canto of his work Inferno.
MIDWAY UPON THE ROAD of our life I found myself within a dark wood, for the right road had been [lost]. Ah! how hard a thing it is to tell what this wild and rough and dense wood was, which in thought renews the fear! So bitter is it that death is little more .
The world can be very much like a dark wood. There are many trees, all which seem similar if not the same, which distort our sense of direction, and many paths to choose which look as though they will lead out of the forest and back to our home with God.
In order to find our way, we need another perspective. We need to rise above the twisted tangled underbrush and rise above the forest in order gain a proper perception of where we are headed. If properly observed, the Sabbath will serve this purpose. We will find the right road, being the Gospel, will avoid being caught in tangled underbrush, being sin, and our fear will be turned to joy and confidence borne of knowing who we really are and which path we must tread.
Gaining the right perspective, and thus increasing our ability to reject evil, or being able to recognize that which would stain our souls with sin requires us to do things differently on the Sabbath then we would do the other days of the week. A Heavenly perspective can be had, if we go up to the Lord’s house and observe the day according to his pattern.
10 For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;
The Sabbath not only provides us with an opportunity to gain the proper perspective, but also an opportunity to rest and renew ours strength for the six other days of the week; ,the days when we must travel in the dark and dreary wood.
Our spiritual and physical strength is renewed as we rest from our temporal labors. If at all possible, and perhaps at all costs, we should do all we can find to employment that will not require work on Sunday. As part of seeking employment, we should ask God to help us, that we may find work that will allow Sabbath observance.
Not only is the Sabbath a day of rest, it is also a day of worship. By coming here to worship, and by worshipping throughout the day through prayer, scripture study and fulfilling our callings, we can renew our spiritual strength, and receive additional strength to face the challenges of the coming week and ultimately the challenges of life.
11 Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times;
The Lord not only wants us to remember and renew our covenants on Sunday, but that we should remember them at all times.
The Sacramental prayers do not state that we only remember Jesus Christ during the Sacrament, but that we should always remember him. By taking the Sacrament we promise that we will do this. We covenant to always remember him and be examples of the believers in both word and deed at all times in all things and in all places, even places beyond hallowed walls.
12 But remember that on this, the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord.
13 And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full.
Verse thirteen helps us understand what is appropriate for the Sabbath day.
President Spencer W. Kimball helps immensely when he said this about the Sabbath.
We have become largely a world of Sabbath breakers. On the Sabbath the lakes are full of boats, the beaches are crowded, the shows have their best attendance, the golf links are dotted with players. The Sabbath is the preferred day for rodeos, conventions, family picnics; even ball games are played on the sacred day. “Business as usual” is the slogan for many, and our holy day has become a holiday. And because so many people treat the day as a holiday, numerous others cater to the wants of the fun-lovers and money-makers .
President Kimball not only offers counsel on what we should not do, but also advice that if followed with the right attitude, the Sabbath day will become a delight, something that we will look forward to and enjoy.
He went on further to say:
The Sabbath is not a day for indolent lounging about the house or puttering around in the garden, but is a day for consistent attendance at meetings for the worship of the Lord, learning and instruction, enjoying the family, and finding uplift in music and song.
The Sabbath is a holy day in which to do worthy and holy things. Abstinence from work and recreation is important, but insufficient. The Sabbath calls for constructive thoughts and acts, and if one merely lounges about doing nothing on the Sabbath, he is breaking it. To observe it, one will be on his knees in prayer, preparing lessons, studying the gospel, meditating, visiting the ill and distressed, writing letters to missionaries, taking a nap, reading wholesome material, and attending all the meetings of that day at which he is expected .
I also firmly believe that we will receive divine aid to keep the Sabbath day holy. For example last the right rear wheel, in a fashion that baffles all explanation, flew off of my car while going fifty miles per hour into the woods along Pinehurst road. I have concluded that I was blessed with an accident Saturday night so that I might keep the Sabbath day.
14 Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer.
15 And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance—
I want to key on a phrase in the preceding verses. That phrase is “not with much laughter”. The Lord is speaking of irreverence.
I enjoy coming to Church and seeing all of you, my friends. But that is not the reason that I regularly attend. I come because partaking of the Sacrament and participating in the classes lifts and renews my soul. I have left our worship services with a sense of renewal that is often found by those who attend the temple. There are times when I have left our worship services feeling the power of the Spirit. While we should meet, greet, and on the third Sunday eat, and catch up with each other, we should do so with reverence.
One of the reasons why the temple is sacred space is because it is treated as such. People are reverent while they attend to ordinance work and the operation of the temple. Just think about what would happen if people were loud in the hallways. If they went in and out of endowment and baptismal session as they pleased. The result would be a diminishing if not a complete loss of the Holy Ghost that should be there.
“Loud laughter” is synonymous with disrespect. Though we may not think so, we are being disrespectful when we arrive late, when at our own convenience we saunter into priesthood or relief society. This demonstrates disrespect.
I don’t think for a minute that anyone does this with mal-intent. This is most likely the result of setting our sites far to low. Many say, “Well at least I am here”. The Lord acknowledges your presence but never wants us to just simply be here. He knows that we are capable of so much more then just being here and is willing to bless us if we worship in both spirit and in truth. Instead of focusing merely on “just being here”, being a warm body filling both time and space, come to participate, to learn, and to worship.
Adjust your Sunday morning schedules such that you will be here on time. Do not think what time does church start? Instead think when do I have leave to get there on time. Church begins at 12:30pm. Be here by 12:15pm prepared to worship. If you are staying out so late that on Saturday night to point that it makes you rise so late in the morning that you are late, then come home early and go to bed so that you come alert, awake, and attentive.
In teaching Elders Quorum as an instructor and later as president, it was discouraging when at the beginning of the meeting our numbers were few, and then by the end they were swelling. Also the side conversations that took place were very distracting. Whether the same is true for relief society I don’t know. I have not been to relief society in over twenty years. The side conversations need to stop in all our classes. If you are discussing things related to the lesson, instead of directing your comments towards the persons next to you, direct them to the class via the instructor to participate. Class participation is what we are looking for and want and is part of being an active learner.
16 Verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this,
I would to close with a statement from Elder Eyring that helps clarify why we do what we do and why do things a certain way.
But remember: the things we do are the means, not the end we seek. What we do allows the Atonement of Jesus Christ to change us into what we must be. Our faith in Jesus Christ brings us to repentance and to keeping His commandments. We obey and we resist temptation by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost. In time our natures will change. We will become as a little child, obedient to God and more loving. That change, if we do all we must to keep it, will qualify us to enjoy the gifts which come through the Holy Ghost. Then we will be safe on the only sure rock .
Keeping the Sabbath according to God’s pattern will bring us to Christ. We will come unto Him, partake of his perfection, have our sins forgiven, and as stated above, be building on the sure foundation that will not be compromised.
I have a testimony of the Sabbath day. I know that it is a holy day. I know that making it a day of worship will bring great blessings into your lives as it has brought them into mine. I know that all of us can improve the way we observe the Sabbath day, especially our worship services.
President Weiler paid us a wonderful compliment when he, in effect said, the meat market has closed, and the chapel doors have been thrown wide, and the young saints have come to worship. Now instead of being comfortable with where we are, let us all go on to greater things.
This is my prayer.
1. Dante Aligheri, The Divine Comedy [Hell]. Translation: Charles Elliot Norton. Penn State electronic classics series publications
2. Spencer W. Kimball, First Presidency Message: The Sabbath- A Delight. The Liahona, July 1978.
4. Henry B. Eyring, As a Child. Ensign, May 2006 pgs 14-18.
A favorite hymn of mine is “Where Can I Turn For Peace”. The hymn consists of a series of questions and answers. The opening line, “where can I turn for peace, where is my solace?” is a question that many have asked and for good reason. We live in a troubled world. So long as anyone feels troubled, threatened, alone or in anguish there is a need for peace and peacemakers.
I find my peace through the Holy Ghost, through music, prayer, and scripture study. These three calm my soul not only when all seems hopeless but during those discouraging trying moments of life when the rudder is dashed and the sails are tattered. This was the case today.
Other times when I feel peace is during certain parts of films that I enjoy. I recommend that everyone watch “A Bridge To Far” which accounts a disastrous attempt by the allied forces in World War Two to secure bridges in Holland with the hope that they could march straight into Germany and end the war. It did not go according to plan and far too many men were killed or captured during one of the most infamous military operations in recent history.
At the end of the film, battered, bloody, and out of ammunition, a group of soldiers can only sit as German Soldiers approach to take them captive. They begin singing the hymn “Abide with Me”. A line from that hymn even now touches my heart as I think of these men alone, wounded, and far away from the lives, families, and other loved ones who are could not comfort them in this dark hour. “Help of the helpless Lord, abide with me”, was their plea.
Would God leave those forlorn, who call upon him as their last resort?
There are many pressures that all of us are under. Though German MG42 machine guns represent
a different kind of pressure that we do not face, the pressures of work, Church, school, and social life can seem just as frightening and distressing. They all add up and it seems as though a millstone of sorrow and distress rests heavily upon our shoulders. I knew that working out would not solve the problem today. I needed heaven’s help.
After work, I went up to my room, said a prayer, read some scriptures. I began to feel tired. I turned on some relaxing music and set my alarm for half an hour. After briefly resting physically, I returned to my reading of the scriptures and found solace of spirit and felt that things will be better. That not all is lost even though the way may not seem clear.
I know I can press forward and can do so with confidence.
At the least, my soul has been comforted, and in that I can rejoice.
It has been a long week.
As with most things that involve Government, they are always behind. Over the summer the county was supposed remodel our new room and have it ready for when we came back on Monday. Don’t hold your breath when you are relying on Big brother to do anything.
I have learned, as with most things involving Government, don’t expect them to meet any timetables they give you or have things ready when they say they say will. Some would put the blame on the construction company but that would be wrong. They can only work as quickly and as soon as they are given the “go-ahead”.
But complaining gets you nowhere, nor does it accomplish much if no one is listening or cares.
On a happier note The Frighteners was on television tonight. Ever since EFY I have been hesitant about renting movies that bare the forbidden rating for many Latter-day Saints. In fact I have not watched an R-rated movie in months, perhaps a year. To some this may sound silly, but I have noticed a difference in my life as result of my choices regarding media.
So I watched the Frighteners. While I have problems with content such as graphic depictions of sex and nudity and graphic violence, as long as offending content is removed, I have no problems with watching a movie over the air-waves when questionable material has been removed.
After finishing The Book Of Mormon, I am wondering about a different way to study the scriptures. I have not been much one for commentaries. The study guides that are available through institute are not much my speed although I might give them another chance. I think that a written journal of thoughts and impression that I get as the pages turn will be something that is more interesting.
I am resolved that I do not get into graduate school then I will return to school and get the degree in history that I always wanted and would still like to get someday. Might as well with no wife or kids.
Well that is it for today. Take care all.