Saturday, March 17, 2012

On a Golden Springtime

Wanted to share the talk I am giving tomorrow:(hopefully the structure is not too confusing)

Spring has always been a time of renewal. I want to begin today by reading the story of a Springtime long ago when a small group mourned the death of a brother, cousin, son, friend and Savior who had just been taken away and brutally hung from a cross. These mourners had then gently taken HIS body, lovingly washed and prepared it and sorrowfully sealed it in a borrowed tomb.

John 20
1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.

3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.

4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.

5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.

6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,

7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.

9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must arise again from the dead.

10 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.

11 ¶But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,

12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

There stood the resurrected Jesus Christ before Mary. A holy renewal of spirit to body had taken place and Mary was granted a new understanding of her Savior and His purpose in her life. She had experienced a renewal in her spirit and her relationship with the Savior. This renewal would spread throughout his disciples and the earth.

Another story of springtime renewal began centuries later:

14. . . “It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.
15 After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.
16 But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
17 It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”

Again the world was at the feet of our Savior in a renewal and new understanding of His true nature, brought there through the humility of a 14 year old boy who acted on the call to, …”ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not;”. . . That it should . . . be given him.

Then in a comparatively quick succession of Springtime renewals

*The priesthood was restored to the earth on May 15, 1829

*The church as it had existed in the time of Christ was restored on April 6, 1830

*On another Spring day Sacred Preisthood keys that had been gathered, and held, and prophesied of, by the prophets of old were renewed to the earth and would again renew man’s understanding of the true nature of our God and Christ’s role in helping us receive salvation:
In Malachi 3:1 we read one of these prophecies

1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple D&C 110

The day of the return of Elijah was a Sunday afternoon, April 3, 1836. A sacrament meeting had been held in the Kirtland Temple. The Prophet described that afternoon in these simple terms:

“In the afternoon, I assisted the other Presidents in distributing the Lord’s Supper to the Church, receiving it from the Twelve, whose privilege it was to officiate at the sacred desk this day. After having performed this service to my brethren, I retired to the pulpit, the veils being dropped, and bowed myself, with Oliver Cowdery, in solemn and silent prayer. After rising from prayer, the following vision was opened to both of us” (History of the Church, 2:435).

1 The veil was taken from our minds, and the eyes of our understanding were opened.

2 We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber.

3 His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:

4 I am the afirst and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father.

11 After this vision closed, the heavens were again opened unto us; and Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.

12 After this, Elias appeared, and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying that in us and our seed all generations after us should be blessed.

13 After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said:

14 Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—

15 To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse—

16 Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors.

Boyd K. Packer says of this event. “It had happened! This signal event went unheeded by the world, but it would influence the destiny of every soul who has ever lived or will live. Things began quietly to happen. The Church became a temple building church.”

A renewal of sacred keys and ordinances that teach and renew our understanding and relationship with Jesus Christ and God the Father again were given on a beautiful Spring day.

How symbolic is Spring when even the earth reminds us of our Savior and His promises as it renews what was lost. The grass, the leaves, the flowers are again born from the soil. The promise of restoration and resurrection are mirrored in the growth and these events of past Springtimes.

Here we are today on the cusp of another glorious Springtime and Easter Season when we have the opportunity to remember and reflect on our relationship with our Savior.

*We are blessed with Conference each spring when we can be reminded by our leaders to renew ourselves in our relationship with Christ.

*We are blessed each week, as we take the sacrament, with a renewal of our baptismal covenants with our Savior.

In the Sunday school lesson I taught last week a scripture stood out to me and has replayed itself in my mind over and over. I believe it applies to these scripture stories I have read today and the voices of our prophets:

Jacob 33:10 – And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ: and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ, And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me: and they teach all men that they should do good.

I bear witness to you today that our Savior rose. He atoned for our sins and died, that we might have a renewal into the presence of our God, and then HE rose. How grateful I am for these true Springtime stories that remind me of the importance of continually renewing my relationship with the Savior. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

1 comment:

Beth said...

This is a great talk.
Thanks for sharing.
Yeah for spring!