Saturday, April 26, 2014

Christ the Redeemer/The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

I chose these talks for Easter weekend. It was a good reminder of the reason we celebrate Easter. 

 We had several opportunities to share with family and friends our traditions, or more especially the things we don't do and why. When our kids were small we would have a "spring egg hunt" on the Saturday before Easter Sunday. We never introduced the Easter Bunny or all the candy and baskets. That's not what we wanted our kids to remember about Easter. The reason we celebrate Easter is because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

Our family tradition begins with the observance of Passover. We don't celebrate it with the whole Seder dinner or prayers and rituals, but more of an acknowledgment and a reading of the story of Moses. We try to watch the movie "The Ten Commandments". Then we go through the scriptures of the last week of Christ's life, culminating with the resurrection and His visit to the American continent. Since our various trips to Jerusalem, we have actual photos to show the kids of the places in the scriptures and from the different events of the week. It's been a great tradition in our family and watching the kids each year come to understand the Atonement and learn to appreciate it more each year has been a joy!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Continually Holding Fast

This was a great talk!  I loved Elder Hamilton's reference to Lehi's dream of the people he saw along the path to the Tree of Life.
... the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi shared a vision with his family where he “saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which [he] stood.
“And … they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree.
“And … there arose a mist of darkness; … insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.”
Lehi then saw a second group that was “pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.” Unfortunately, “after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed” because of those in “a great and spacious building” that “were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come … and were partaking of the fruit.” These people then “fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.”2They were unable, or perhaps unwilling, to endure to the end.
There was, however, a third group that was not only successful in reaching the tree of life, but they afterward did not fall away. Of these, the scriptures say that they pressed “forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.”3 The rod of iron represented for this group of people the only safety and security that they could find, and they held fast continually; they refused to let go, even for something as simple as a Sunday afternoon ride in the country.
Elder Hamilton goes on to explain how we can be like that third group.
Continually holding fast to the rod means that whenever possible we attend our Sunday meetings: sacrament meeting, Sunday School, and priesthood or Relief Society meetings. Our children and youth attend their respective meetings in Primary, Young Men, and Young Women. We should never pick or choose which meetings we attend. We simply hold fast to the word of God by worshipping and attending our Sabbath meetings.Continually holding fast to the rod means that we strive to keep all of God’s commandments, to have daily personal and family prayer, and to study the scriptures daily.Continually holding fast is part of the doctrine of Christ as taught in the Book of Mormon. We exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent of our sins, change our hearts, and then follow Him down into the waters of baptism and receive the confirming gift of the Holy Ghost, which serves as a guide and comforter. And then, as Nephi taught, we “press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ” until the very end of our lives.

It has always been impressed upon us as a family.  While living in Baltimore we were richly instructed by a spiritual giant of a Stake President.  He stressed to the members that we (even the Bishopric members) should attend all our meetings on Sunday.  It is a question asked of us in the temple recommend interview.  

It is easy I suppose to sit in the foyer of church and catch up with friends and family, to try and have a quick presidency meeting or to gather last minute preparations for our lessons during Sunday School. I've seen this in the many wards and branches we've attended through the years.  Its sad really.  There is so much to learn and share in Sunday School!

Sacrament Meeting for our family has been easy in some places to attend and in others a little more difficult depending on the ages and dispositions of our children.  But we've made sure that even during those difficult times, that our children know how important Sacrament Meeting is to us.  Even if we're sitting in the foyer so our disruptive children don't disrupt others, they know that just because we're sitting out doesn't mean we don't whisper and sit reverently.  And that training was so hard to do while they were young, but it has totally paid off!!