Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Truth.

After an encounter with the living Son of the living God, nothing is ever again to be as it was before. The Crucifixion, Atonement, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ mark the beginning of a Christian life, not the end of it. It was this truth, this reality, that allowed a handful of Galilean fishermen-turned-again-Apostles without “a single synagogue or sword” to leave those nets a second time and go on to shape the history of the world in which we now live.
                                                                         Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
                                                                        The First Great Commandment

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday.

Perhaps one of my favorite testimonies of the Atonement
 and the Sacrament is from the recently returned
 and newly engaged Elder Backus (my nephew).
I have made it part of my sacrament preparation each week. 
On this Good Friday, it seems appropriate to share.

Like many of us, he had been struggling to find spiritual renewal in sacrament meeting amidst all of the distractions that can come in ward meetings. As a missionary, he had lots of concerns about how to overcome those distractions that were out of his control, and truly feel the peace that should come from taking the sacrament. In his personal studies he came to a powerful conclusion:

 “In the 27th chapter of Matthew, we read of two Jewish prisoners. The first, Barabbas, was guilty of sedition and murder, clear and severe offenses to the Jewish law. Under that same law, Barrabas' fate was set; he was to be put to death. The second prisoner, Jesus, had been accused of high treason, but after examination by both Herod Antipas and Pontius Pilate, had been found innocent of such a charge.

During the Feast of the Passover, it was customary for the governor, Pilate, to release one prisoner according to his wish. After comparing the two candidates, the answer was simple; Jesus Christ was undoubtedly innocent and therefore should be released. Beginning in verse 20, however, it says, “But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. Pilate, they all said unto him, let him be crucified. And the governor said “why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more saying, let him be crucified. Then released he Barrabas unto them and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Against all justice and logic, the guilty prisoner was set free and the innocent son of God was sent to die.

Amidst the noise of squirmy toddlers, cell phone distractions and perhaps even wandering thoughts, this account is replayed every week of our lives in our sacrament meetings. Each one of us, through the week, fall short of keeping all of the commandments. Each Sunday we are presented at the sacrament altar as the guilty prisoner in need of punishment. But each week, the Savior offers himself, in the form of bread and water and takes our place. We humbly promise to try to do better this next week and then we, like Barrabas, are set free.

He concludes by saying:

When we truly understand and look forward to the sacredness and importance of the sacrament, no matter what the circumstances are around us, we can guarantee ourselves a spiritually renewing experience at church.

May your Easter weekend be renewing and filled with the hope that comes from the Resurrection.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

I Love Jesus.

It's just one week until Easter Sunday 
and as I love to do this time of year, 
I am pouring through my my Jerusalem things- 
my study notes, my pictures, and my journals. 
I am in heaven.
This afternoon as I listened to Elder Holland's beautiful Easter talk None Were With Him, I sobbed openly (as I am known to do lately-I blame pre-menopause).
I love Jesus.
I do.
I would walk the roads of the Old City over and over again if I could, trying to feel and know the love He had for that Holy land and its people.
I would take my journal back down to Gethsemane and sit for a few hours, trying to imagine the agony and  heartbreak of the greatest moment ever in the history of eternity. 
And then I would sob as I felt just a tiny fraction of the love that motivated that kind of pain.
And finally, I would sit beside that beautiful garden tomb.
The one where latter-day prophets have felt was actually THE tomb.
I would just ponder it's emptiness.
And I would probably sob once again.
Because that's what I do when it comes to Jesus.
Last week in the temple, I had such a beautiful moment of clarity as I witnessed the atonement repair and heal a broken family.
That's what it does. 
That's why He did it.
It filled me with such hope and peace.
And that's why I love Him so much.
Jesus saves--He saves me over and over and over.

May this Holy week be filled with His love.

Shabbat Shalom.