Wednesday, July 1, 2015

"The Sacrament—a Renewal for the Soul", Cheryl A. Esplin, October 2014

Find this talk here.

  • Elder Holland's quote is interesting. Frankly I think all our experiences have the potential to be "truly spiritual", and we're invited to commune with God at any time -- we're even commanded to do it (D&C 10:5)
    • As to being a renewal of something, certainly we're renewing the covenants we made last time we took the sacrament; those covenants are spelled out in the sacrament prayer explicitly. We always say (though Sister Eplin doesn't repeat this) that the sacrament is a renewal of our baptismal covenants, but frankly I don't find scriptural support for this idea.
  • She's absolutely right in her description of taking Christ's name upon us. He must assuredly take first priority in our lives. This is a frightening proposition. It has gotten me personally into several difficult situations. But He promises if I'm faithful, He'll get me somewhere better.
    • As I've tried to give my life unreservedly to Christ, I've sometimes thought of what sacrifices He might ask of me in response. It's through that process that I was taught to anticipate giving up some of the friendships that I see disappearing now. Karlyn's friendship is one I would be hard-pressed to sacrifice. Fortunately I know Christ would turn even that sacrifice to my good (D&C 98:3, and several others).
      • The temple sealing, as with other temple ordinances, is a preparatory thing. We should not assume that once we're sealed, everything is taken care of. Section 132 tells us we need to be sealed by the "Holy Spirit of Promise", which D&C 88:3 tells us comes with having your calling and election made sure.
        • Section 132 is difficult to take at full face value, not as much because of the endorsement of plural marriage as because it directly contradicts the book of Jacob in its description of David and Solomon's righteousness. It's a fascinating history about which we don't have much detail, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was presented by Joseph as a test and that the people around him failed the test by not recognizing it contradicted existing scripture. There's also evidence that bits of it were "doctored" by advocates of Brigham Young style polygamy before it took on its modern form.
        • To be clear, I'm talking of section 132 being a test, not plural marriage being a test. Plural marriage is an entirely different and fascinating history, but I don't think it was simply a test and we were supposed to reject the idea. I do think we're supposed to notice that Joseph Smith left no written information about it other than section 132, that none of Joseph's plural wives bore him children, and that both Joseph's version of it and Brigham's failed to meet the conditions specified in section 132.
  • There's a lot about the sacrament as described in the scriptures that we ignore, such as that the administrator "shall kneel with the church" (D&C 20:76, Moroni 4:2) instead of kneeling in front of the church, and that it should actually be a meal where people are filled (3 Ne. 18:9). Elder Packer has expressed concern that the Church possesses the authority of the priesthood but not necessarily the power ("The Power of the Priesthood", April 2010). Perhaps we'd have more of that power if we quit defiling the earth by changing the ordinances  we've been given (Isa. 24:5)
  • The description of always remembering the Savior correctly refers to His "example and teachings", and "[H]is commandments". It would do well to mention that these commandments and example extend beyond those recorded in scripture to those He will manifest to you in the moment by the power of the Spirit.
  • I appreciate the reference to "Christ's enabling power" resolving someone's disobedience-induced guilt. To refer again to Elder Packer, “The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior." ("Little Children", Oct 1986). Study of the doctrines of the gospel will also reveal that "good behavior" isn't supposed to be our final goal, a point many of us tend to overlook. Our goal is to know God (John 17:3). As we seek to do that, He'll get rid of our weakness for us (Ether 12:27)

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