We find ourselves today in a hopefully temporary global pandemic currently making it impossible for us to meet together physically in extended family groups, nor in our church groups, at conferences, and even in our holy temples. Many have lost employment and entire industries are at a standstill. Governments are busy printing money to help us somehow weather the current storm. They urge us to ‘stay home’, to ‘self-isolate’ and ‘flatten the curve’. Health care and other essential workers are risking their own lives and bracing for the expected flood of newly afflicted. Hand sanitizers, medical masks, and gloves are unavailable for purchase. Shortages and cases of hoarding are not uncommon occurrences. We use words like; astonishing, unprecedented, unknowable to describe our predicament.
Yet, I propose that these events are not unknown nor unexpected to God nor to his ‘prophets, seers and revelator’s. Since I was a child (decades now) we have been counseled by church leaders to prepare: to obtain and maintain a food storage (and a good supply of toilet tissue), to avoid and get out of debt, to strengthen individuals and family organizations, and more recently to focus on ‘home centered, church supported’ study manuals. With 2020 hindsight, we now start to see just some of the reasons why.
In our Come Follow Me study this week we read of King Benjamin where he called the people together but that they could not all hear his words ..
5 And it came to pass that when they came up to the temple, they pitched their tents round about, every man according to his family, consisting of his wife, and his sons, and his daughters, and their sons, and their daughters, from the eldest down to the youngest, every family being separate one from another.
my 2020 version: And it came to pass that when it was time for conference, they were confined to their homes round about, every man according to his family, consisting of his wife, and his sons, and his daughters, and their sons, and their daughters, from the eldest down to the youngest, every family being separate one from another due to the greatness of the pandemic.
6 And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple, that thereby they might remain in their tents and hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them;
my 2020 version: And they tuned their devices toward the temple, every man having his screen thereof pointed towards the temple, that thereby they might remain in their homes and hear the words which the prophet should speak unto them;
7 For the multitude being so great that king Benjamin could not teach them all within the walls of the temple, therefore he caused a tower to be erected, that thereby his people might hear the words which he should speak unto them.
my 2020 version: For the pandemic being so great that the prophet could not teach them all within the walls of the temple nor in their churches nor stake centers nor places of assembly, therefore he had caused a communication tower to be erected, that thereby his people might hear the words which he should speak unto them.
8 And it came to pass that he began to speak to his people from the tower; and they could not all hear his words because of the greatness of the multitude; therefore he caused that the words which he spake should be written and sent forth among those that were not under the sound of his voice, that they might also receive his words.
my 2020 version: And it came to pass that when it was time to speak to his people from the conference center; and they could not all hear his words because of the greatness of the pandemic; therefore he caused that the words which he spake should be recorded and sent forth among those that were not under the sound of his voice, that they might also hear and see and receive his words.
In years past, prophets provided the written word for us to study and ponder. Only a small portion of all those writings have survived to our day. More recently we were able to both read and hear those messages. We have the text and audio versions of the standard works – the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price and modern church magazines. Today we can read, hear, and also see again all these messages online on demand at any time over and over again – a marvelous work and a wonder available at the churchofjesuschrist.org website (and found on Google and YouTube and more).
Prophets, seers and revelators throughout all times from Adam to Enoch and Abraham and John, from Lehi and Nephi to Mormon and Moroni, and even today from Joseph Smith to President Nelson I believe, are shown what they need to know for their day and beyond. In fact, that is the definition of those words. In summary: A prophet is a teacher of known truth; a seer is a perceiver of hidden truth, a revelator is a bearer of new truth to bring us closer to God and Christ.
The rebellious children of Israel were led by Moses and given a lesser law to live (with the Aaronic priesthood and the Old Testament). Christ established a higher law in his church (with the Melchezidek priesthood and the New Testament). Today we have the Book of Mormon and living prophets. Under their direction, the traditional structure of the ‘The Church’ is undergoing a tender, careful redirection with renewed focus on individuals and families in a ’Home Centered, Church Supported’ organization. While we need the church and it’s priesthood organization to provide us sacred covenants and authorized ordinances, it’s function is to support rather than to replace the family as the key unit of the eternities. The church is here to bring individuals to Christ and to link their families together in this world and in the next. Wards and stakes are important but temporary, arbitrary, and changeable institutions. They can and have changed over time. Christ centered families linked forever within the holy temple are to bring us back to God and to our/His family. We are his children, he loves us unconditionally. We desired to grow and learn and to be like him and chose to come here as part of the plan to achieve that goal. But as ‘children’, we need to learn and grow and mature – through experience within our growing eternal family units. These units are inclusive rather than exclusive. We are all children of God and ‘the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children’ as re-emphasized in the The Proclamation on The Family (Sep 1995).
The function and purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ in relation to the family is further clarified in the new Bicentennial Proclamation to the World on The Restoration of the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Apr 2020). ‘God loves His children in every nation of the world. God the Father has given us the divine birth, the incomparable life, and the infinite atoning sacrifice of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.’ The family of God starts with the Family of Adam and continues through to each of our own. We need to bring souls to Christ, starting with our own and our own families, but also including all men in all ages. Hence the three-fold purpose of the Church to: 1. Proclaim the Gospel 2. Perfect the Saints and to 3. Redeem the Dead.
firstname.lastname@example.org (how I spent my Sunday on 12 Apr 2020)