What and where are these holy places? Where can we find them and Him? Although in some respect places are made holy by those who occupy them, there are three specific places that jump to my mind as ‘holy places’. These are or should be: The first; our homes, the places we live day to day, and where we hold our Monday night Family Home Evenings, the second; our chapels (here in the ‘Lord’s House’) where we meet each week on the Sabbath to participate in the Sacrament, and the third; in our temples (also known as ‘The House of the Lord’) where with the appropriate recommend we can obtain our own endowments and then later return through out the week to act as proxy for others no longer with us (interestingly, on all other days except Mondays (the night when we hold our Family Home Evening’s) and Sundays (the day we are to attend our home ward and partake of the Sacrament with our fellow saints).
President Uchdorf said (in Feb 2014): “A temple is literally a house of the Lord. A place where the Lord may come, it is the most holy of any place of worship on the earth. Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.”
Elder Oaks taught (Oct 2008): “The ordinance of the sacrament makes the sacrament meeting the most sacred and important meeting in the Church. It is the only Sabbath meeting the entire family can attend together. Its content in addition to the sacrament should always be planned and presented to focus our attention on the Atonement and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Elder Packer (in Apr 1993) included this in his address: “Say the word temple. Say it quietly and reverently. Say it over and over again. Temple. Temple. Temple. Add the word holy. Holy Temple. Say it as though it were capitalized, no matter where it appears in the sentence. Temple. One other word is equal in importance to a Latter-day Saint. Home. Put the words holy temple and home together, and you have described the house of the Lord!”
The inter-relationship between these three sacred places makes descriptions of one applicable to each. For example, in the dedicatory prayer offered at the dedication of the temple at Kirtland, Ohio, March 27, 1836 given to the Prophet Joseph Smith by revelation it commands: “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God; That your incomings may be in the name of the Lord, that your outgoings may be in the name of the Lord, that all your salutations may be in the name of the Lord [..]” (D&C 109.8-9)
We are commanded to establish houses, of our own, to build his house in our communities – in our wards and branches together with friends and neighbors, and in his holy temple – where he can bless us joining families here and past together. Temples, and chapels, are dedicated after completion before being used as ‘a house of the Lord’. We can also dedicate our homes to a similar purpose. Within our homes we work to bless and protect our families with daily family prayers, scripture, and learning. In weekly sacrament meetings we repent and renew covenants already made and prepare for additional blessings and covenants in the temple. At the temple receive our own temple blessings and then return and work to provide those same blessings to others. In the temple families are joined together eternally. Worthy temple attending members then return to their home wards and branches and to their own homes with increased spiritual power and capacity and guidance to go forth in all their daily activities. Home and Church lead to the Temple. In the Temple saints are joined back together into eternal families, leading back to Homes – with the promise of one day ending up with Him in His home. “Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.” (D&C 132:8) There is order and purpose in all that the Lord does for us.
Today is my grandson Brigham’s 7th birthday. Yesterday we held a special family get together to celebrate that milestone with him. We gave him gifts, we sang a song, we had a special cake with candles and ice cream. We did not eat the candles. We did eat the cake and ice cream. It was his day to be remembered.
Heavenly Father has commanded that we remember Him as well each week. On His day we attend Sacrament meeting, sing songs, partake of special emblems – the bread and the water. This is His day to be remembered. In fact, each week we covenant to ‘always remember Him’.
Hymns, Sabbath Day, no. 148 “1. In sweet remembrance of thy Son, We gather in thy house as one To join in prayer, to sing thy praise, To worship thee and learn thy ways. 2. And may our thoughts still turn to thee, With loved ones, friends, and family. In all we do till day is gone, May worship still continue on. 3. Help each to seek a quiet hour To read thy word and feel thy pow'r, To hear thy voice, though small and still, Renew our strength to do thy will. Chorus: Father, on this the Sabbath day, Be with us in our hearts, we pray.”
“If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord [..]” (Isaiah 58:13).
The Sabbath is the day we honor and ‘remember Him’, His special day. We do things that we believe He would have us do. But it is not only ‘for Him’. He has established the Sabbath for us. As Christ said: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27)
Can you imagine what our life might be like without the Sabbath? Without a break. Without stop. What if there were no seventh day of rest but only day after day of work. Think: How long can you stay up with no sleep without eventually breaking down? After a certain number of hours we just physically break down. The Sabbath is actually a gift from Him to us .. to help us remember who we are, to help us find ways to feel the Spirit, to return to Him and to find Eternal life through His grace.
The Sabbath is the Lord's day, set apart each week for rest and worship. In Old Testament times, God's covenant people observed the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week because God rested on the seventh day when He had created the earth (see Genesis 2:2). After the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which occurred on the first day of the week (see Mark 16:2), the Lord's disciples began observing the Sabbath on the first day of the week, Sunday (see Acts 20:7).
The Lord emphasized the importance of our Sabbath observance in the Ten Commandments when He said, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (see Exodus 20:8–11). The Savior Himself kept the Sabbath day holy during his mortal life (see Matthew 12:9–13; Luke 4:16; John 5:9).
The Lord told Moses that Sabbath observance was a sign of the covenant between Him and His people and that if they would keep it holy they[/we] would know Him as their Lord and God (see Exodus 31:13; see also Ezekiel 20:20). I noted while reading and reviewing this scripture that it specifically states that the sign is there so that WE come to know that He is our Lord and our God, not that HE will know. It is given to remind US so that WE will know .. he already knows all. We are the ones who need to find that out for ourselves.
In a revelation given to Joseph Smith in 1831, the Lord commanded: “That thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day; for verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High” (D&C 59:9–10).
In harmony with this revelation, Church members seek to keep the Sabbath day holy at church and at home. I enjoy a play on words: by adding the ‘w’ to holy we start keeping the Sabbath day ‘wholy/completely’. How long does the Sabbath day last? Until the end of your meetings? Until the end of your evening meal? Just as we say: the Sabbath DAY, His day of rest (not just His hour or three hours or something else). We are left to decide for ourselves, but I submit that the Sabbath Day should be a bit longer that just a few hours. The ‘delight’ should last all day long.
“At church, members participate in the sacred ordinance of the sacrament, which Jesus Christ instituted at the Last Supper and when He visited the Nephites (see Matthew 26:26–28; Luke 22:19–20; 3 Nephi 18:1–12). At home, members participate in uplifting activities that help them learn the gospel, strengthen faith in Jesus Christ, build family relations, and provide service. By participating in these activities at church and at home, members can establish family traditions that will help nurture multigenerational families who are faithful to the Lord and who call the Sabbath a delight (see Isaiah 58:13-14).
What should we do and or not do on the Sabbath? President Nelson taught: “I learned from the scriptures that my conduct and my attitude on the Sabbath constituted a sign between me and my Heavenly Father. With that understanding, I no longer needed lists of dos and don’ts. When I had to make a decision whether or not an activity was appropriate for the Sabbath, I simply asked myself, ‘What sign do I want to give to God?’ That question made my choices about the Sabbath day crystal clear” (Apr 2015). We are left to decide for ourselves what we should do and not do to on His day. Today we strive to live the ‘higher’ law and live our lives in harmony with the commandment.
Can we perfect ourselves without the church, without the temple, or without our family? I think not. We do not remove ourselves from the world to seek enlightenment in monasteries, in caves or on mountain tops, except I suppose for but brief periods of time. Under His plan, we only can do it individually in our homes, line upon line, through daily personal and family scripture study and prayer, living and learning precept upon precept. The scriptures, words of prophets past and present have been divinely provided to guide us. In this, again, we need not attempt enlightenment alone, for in reading their words we learn and feel the spirit guiding us. We are commanded to teach our families in our homes, in our family home evenings. We are commanded to meet together weekly in our home ward or branch to sing, pray, preach and teach each other and to partake in the sacrament together. Here I note another play on word: we attend ‘weakly’ every week to strengthen our testimonies through repentance and partaking of the sacrament. I note as well that we cannot give ourselves the sacrament, as it is only available under direction of the priesthood to the benefit of each other. We cannot give ourselves the priesthood or temple blessings, these are also only available in the proper place and manner under proper priesthood authority. Although we are individually responsible for our own testimonies and actions, we only really progress in His church in His way, with our family and in assisting others through faithful service in his Church.
So, we perfect ourselves starting in our own homes growing by serving each other and our families, by faithful service in callings within our home wards and branches serving each other and other families, by becoming worthy to obtain a temple recommend and attending therein for ourselves to be endowed and sealed as families eternally and not just ‘till death do we part’. Thus the home and church lead to the temple and the temple leads us as a church back to our eternal home in one great circle, one ‘eternal round’. As the scriptures say: “For God doth not walk in crooked paths, neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left, neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round.” (D&C 3:2) Proper Sabbath day observance is a part, an important part of this process of perfection. it is an important part of “turn[ing] the heart[s] of the fathers to the children, and the heart[s] of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” This turning is done at home, at church, and in the temple where we learn to “organize [our]selves; [to] prepare every needful thing, and [to] establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God..” (D&C 109.8-9)
This I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.