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Christ taught the importance of both faith and works
I was very blessed to have been born into a Christian family. My parents never wavered in their testimonies or Church attendance, and I grew up learning from them the importance of it.
I’m not sure at what point I began to understand the difference between the Church and the gospel – the earthly (though divinely mandate and approved) organisation through which gospel ordinances are performed in our day, versus the eternal principles by which our future happiness is governed.
At some point I did, though. And at about the same time, I also began to notice other principles we often conflate within the Church. Believing versus faith. Doing versus becoming. Reading – or even studying – versus feasting.
Whichever set of words you look at, they’re both necessary: essential even. But our ultimate aim is always the second. We strengthen our belief until it grows into faith. We study the scriptures until we come to a point where we love them: our soul “hungers”, as Enos put it, and we desire to feast (see Enos 1:4). We do the things the Lord commands until we become a people who would naturally choose those things anyway – even without commandments, and without thinking about it.
It wasn’t until my darkest time of despair, however, that I realised my understanding of these things was intellectual only, a mere grasp of the theory. Continue reading →
Original photo ‘Bread and Wine’, copyright ingridhs
On His final mortal night with His specially chosen disciples, Jesus shared a Passover meal; introducing a new rite with bread and wine. The event itself has become known as the Last Supper. The new ordinance Christ introduced that night continues in most Christian churches today, and is usually called Communion, or the Eucharist. Within the LDS tradition, it is called the Sacrament.
A few months ago I posted a short poem about the Sacrament, but I’d like to spend a little more time sharing more of my thoughts and feelings on this beautiful ordinance, looking more broadly at the ordinance’s introduction before specifically looking at some of the symbolism used. I will specifically be looking at the LDS ‘version’ of the Sacrament, but I think many of the principles could have application in other faiths, too. If you’re not LDS and have questions about any differences, please feel free to send me a message or add a comment and I’ll be happy to reply.
The New Testament account of the introduction of the Sacrament shows us how the Saviour adapted it from the Passover meal, linking so beautifully the old law with the new. Jesus didn’t destroy the Law of Moses when He came. Rather, He brought with Him new light; new understanding; more blessings. It was a transition from one true gospel to a higher version of the same. His teachings of the Sacrament to His disciples were amongst the last He gave. It’s worth thinking about that. He had spent three years ministering, teaching and healing. Over that time He had carefully expanded the spiritual horizons of his chosen Apostles; giving them line upon line. And at the end of that time, when the Atonement itself lay immediately before Him and He would soon depart mortality, He taught them of the Sacrament. Continue reading →
This is a lovely bit of software that has enabled me to put together this slide show from a poem I wrote at Easter 2014. If you like it, please share.
Click here for the slide show.
Over the years, I’ve learned loads of things at Church. In my adult years, though – like many life-long members of the LDS Church I’m sure – very little has come from the actual words spoken in meetings and lessons. Because those who speak to, or teach us, in Church have to cater for a wide range of gospel understanding, our lessons and sermons tend to be fairly basic in content; with lessons getting recycled every four years.
I still enjoy them, though, for a couple of reasons. First, on odd occasions I’m able to make a contribution to a topic which I hope others find helpful (certainly others make contributions which I find helpful). Second – and relevant for this post – the things I learn are most often from words that are not audible. They are from the words and feelings that come directly into my mind.
That was the case today. The sermons in our main worship meeting were on the subject of prayer and while what the speakers had to say was good, there was something else I learned on the subject; something they didn’t talk about. A phrase came directly to my mind which cause me to ponder quite deeply; to examine myself and my approach to prayer. It is something which will change the way I approach my Heavenly Father when I kneel before him in my solitude. It affects the power of my prayers. Continue reading →
This post is a little more rambling than usual, so I apologise for that. Hopefully I’ll still be able to make the point I want to.
I often think that when we get to the next life and see things as they really are; when the scales of our mortal blindness fall from our eyes, that we will be surprised with both how much simpler things were than we thought, as well as how much more complex. If that sounds contradictory, let me explain.
We spend our lives running to and fro. We have gadgets that improve our efficiency, but the result is we feel pressure to get ever more done. Our children must be in after-school clubs. We must be available for our employers 24/7. Work is increasingly demanding, while so are the requirements to fit society’s standards of good parenting. And then we add church responsibilities, social activities, and so on, and so on. We spend so much time and effort on these things when our main purpose in life is really the much simpler “Come, follow me.” Not easy, for sure, but simple. I’m sure that when I kneel at a future day before my Saviour and look back at my mortal journey I will say some variation of “Oops”, as I recognise how much time and stress I wasted on things that really didn’t matter. Continue reading →
Thankfully the days of Teletubbies are long behind us. There was a time when I would wonder whether Tinky Winky or Po was my favourite; when I would hum the theme tune. Somehow, that sort of insanity is the only way to remain sane through those years (although some would argue I didn’t stay sane – if I ever was to start with…).
Many of the escapades of the four coloured friends are now (thankfully) long forgotten; buried deep within whatever part of my brain that seeks to hide such things. But there is one that I have always remembered. It is where Little Bo Beep comes along, singing with a high-pitched male falsetto searching for her lost charges. Then materialising from clouds are her wandering flock, singing in their deep bass tones, “We are the sheep”.
It was… surreal; and is perhaps the only time watching children’s television where I wondered whether the producers had hired Monty Python to work as consultants. For some strange reason, our family was reminded of this scene in the last week. Sheep seem to have been on my mind lately…. Continue reading →
A beautiful quote from President Boyd K Packer at the recent conference:
“Those who will repent and forsake sin will find that His merciful arm is outstretched still. Those who listen to and heed His words and the words of His chosen servants will find peace and understanding even in the midst of great heartache and sorrow…. The mercy and grace of Jesus Christ are not limited to those who commit sins either of commission or omission, but they encompass the promise of everlasting peace to all who will accept and follow Him and His teachings. His mercy is the mighty healer, even to the wounded innocent.”
As we approach the general sessions of another General Conference of the LDS Church next weekend, I reflect on my favourite quote from the last conference in April. This one from Elder D Todd Christofferson. His whole talk was a beautiful testimony of Christ, and I select below, just a portion.
“The Savior is not dependent on food or water or oxygen or any other substance or power or person for life. Both as Jehovah and Messiah, He is the great I Am, the self-existing God. He simply is and ever will be.
By His Atonement and Resurrection, Jesus Christ has overcome all aspects of the Fall. Physical death will be temporary, and even spiritual death has an end, in that all come back into the presence of God, at least temporarily, to be judged. We can have ultimate trust and confidence in His power to overcome all else and grant us everlasting life….
[T]he Savior makes all things right. No injustice in mortality is permanent, even death, for He restores life again. No injury, disability, betrayal, or abuse goes uncompensated in the end because of His ultimate justice and mercy…. Continue reading →
Many Christian religions have rituals that remind us of Christ: His life, teachings and atonement. Within the LDS Church, one of these is the Sacrament – a weekly partaking of bread and water, following the pattern of the Last Supper when He gave bread and wine to His disciples instructing them to remember Him. In other Christian religions a similar ritual may occur, perhaps called Holy Communion, or something similar. The Sacrament takes on such an important meaning for us that our main Sunday worship meeting is called “Sacrament Meeting”.
For many years, with a constant stream of small children on laps, at feet, and generally requiring attention, concentrating on the meaning and importance of the Sacrament during our Sunday worship meetings was something of an impossibility. But now they are older, it can once again (usually) have the attention it deserves.
An altar of wood,
Adorned with emblems
Clothed in white
Tokens of a sacrifice
Made long ago
And made anew
Continue reading →
Tree through the morning mists of County Durham
After an unusually warm July, August was cooler than usual this year, and as we have begun September, already the morning fog has begun. It’s usually not until October that the daily fog arrives, but it’s been with us for a week or so now.
As I was driving to work early last week, I crested a hill on a nearby country road and saw in the distance a large bank of fog. Its appearance was that of a sinister wall of confusion attempting to blanket the countryside – and at the very edge of the fog was a solitary tree, rising through the mist, seemingly resisting its advance. There were other trees on the hillside – but just the one was large enough to rise above the encroaching obscurity.
I have pondered on that tree a lot since that morning. Continue reading →