“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
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
Although there are still a few weeks until the season of autumn officially arrives, with the children going back to school this week, in practice summer is now drawing to its close. And as I think back over the summer months, and our daytrips out, there is one in particular that comes to mind.
For our wedding anniversary, my wife and I spent the day wandering a few villages and towns of Northumberland, an hour or two from home. We finished in the small town of Warkworth, just a few miles from the coast, where we went to the old castle up on the hill for an evening performance of Much Ado About Nothing.
We arrived in Warkworth early and strolled through the town and along the river, spending a little time in the Church of St Lawrence. It is a beautiful small church, and had a lovely feeling in it. Parts of the current building have been there for close to 1,000 years, with evidence of an earlier structure several hundred years before that.
As we walked through its old interior I couldn’t help but think of the many thousands, or even tens of thousands, of people who have worshipped in this building over a millennium. I could see no evidence of pretention: there was some beautiful stained glass showing scenes of the Saviour’s life, but otherwise everything was simple, and gave a sense that those who had come here had done so because of nothing more than their faith. It is a relatively small building, and I couldn’t help but feel that a thousand years of humble and genuine worship for our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ had sanctified the place, making the stones holy. Continue reading
I was asked to give a talk (sermon) in my local church today, and I’ve copied the text below. Some of the themes could be further developed, and I probably will do in future posts. I begin with a parable that in some ways reminds me of the famous lines from Alice in Wonderland:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
Only in this case, it really does matter which way we go…. Continue reading
“Sadly enough… it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.” (Elder Jeffrey R Holland, The Cost – and Blessings – of Discipleship)
This is the third (and final) post in a series on the Problem of Evil, specifically looking at three fallacies that are inherent within the problem (at least as it is usually described). Continue reading
Flash floods wreak havoc in a neighbourhood and a family’s home is made uninhabitable, with many precious items that hold priceless memories lost forever, and with months or even years of wrangling with insurers and living in inadequate temporary accommodation awaiting them. A young father, following years of depression and struggles with school, home and family, is diagnosed with a mental health disorder, shattering his hopes for a life being able to be the father he wishes to be. A child develops leukemia, and she and her parents face many years of expensive hospital visits and painful treatments until finally she passes from mortality, far too young. I could go on, and of course you could create your own list of tragedies that strike either in your own life, or in the lives of your family or friends.
Tragic? Yes, without any shadow of a doubt. Uncommon? No, not remotely. Pain and suffering are things we each experience during our mortal lives. And the questions that will touch each of us during such times will be variations on, “Why me?”, “How can I endure it?”, “Please, Heavenly Father, wilt thou take this pain away?”, and sometimes, “What am I supposed to learn from this?”
Ultimately, a question that touches most of us at some point will be, “What is the purpose of suffering?” Continue reading
I’ve started this post a couple of times, and then, unsatisfied with what I had written, discarded it. It’s been bobbling around in my head for several weeks now – hence no other recent posts as I’ve been thinking about how to write about something for which I don’t really have satisfactory answers.
A few months ago we had some young people from our local Church congregation come over to our home on a Sunday afternoon and we talked about science and religion. We had an enjoyable time, and we then asked them if they’d like to come back again, and if so what subject they’d like us to discuss. I’d prepared a few suggestions, and the very clear preferred topic was about the unfairness of life. This may go from the “everyday unfairnesses” of things we all experience, for example why maybe one person gets the job they love, and another doesn’t, or why one person gets serious illness and another doesn’t; through to the unfairnesses that appears so cruel: why do tsunami’s wreak such havoc and devastate countless innocent lives; why are some people born into kind and loving families, while others are born into horror? Continue reading