Sunday, October 20, 2013

Forever Families

This weekend I have been attending a family reunion for my mother’s family. She has three sisters and two brothers. Three of the sisters are celebrating birthdays this month. One is 90, another 85 and the third is 75. My mother is the second oldest of the sisters at 87 and her brothers are 78 and 73. There were about 60 people at the family dinner that covered 4 generations. What a blessing it was to be a part of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that honored five children of Ray and Constance Strong. The Psalmist has said:

Lo, achildren are an bheritage of he Lordand the  fruit of the womb is his creward.
My mother and her brothers and sisters are descendants of Elder John Strong who came to the Americas in 1630 seeking the freedom to worship God as they felt they had the right to worship. They and the others that came with them wanted the best for their families and worked hard to provide a life that for their children that has become the symbol of freedom to all the world. We are the beneficiaries of that legacy and are now responsible for passing that legacy on to our children and the others that will follow.
The time we spent together this weekend was a great opportunity to renew the bonds that families share and meet cousins and other relatives that we met for the first time. It was a wonderful day full of fun, food and family and I did not want the day to end. Then I thought that while this reunion may end families can be forever if we follow the commandments and receive the sealing ordinances of the temple. In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” it says:

IN THE PREMORTAL REALM, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.

What a blessing to know that families do not end at death. I cannot imagine heaven without my wife and children and my parents and siblings. I know that Heavenly Father’s plan is for us to be together as families and I am grateful for the blessings of the temple ordinances that provide the sealing powers that endure beyond the grave. This group and the group that celebrated the sister’s birthdays are only a small part of the family. There are more that have passed from this mortal life to the life beyond the grave. They are now there waiting for us and are able to watch over us and help us as we search them out and go to the house of the Lord to perform the ordinances that will bind us together as a family.

One of the things that a few of us did while we were at the reunion is visit the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. What a beautiful sight it was.

The picture below of the bridge symbolized to me the bridge between our world and the eternal world beyond this life. On top right is a fog that I believe represents two things. One is the veil that separates us from the spirit world. In this life, living by faith is part of Heavenly Father’s plan. The second thing the fog could represent is the world that is blinded from the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ due to the traditions of men. The bridge represents the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the sealing powers that will bind families together forever.

Another statement in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” says:

Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. 
It was a blessing to be with family this weekend, but it is truly a blessing to know that families will endure beyond the grave and for the eternities. I am grateful to my mother and her siblings for the legacy that they have given to us and more than that I am grateful to Heavenly Father for his gospel and the blessings that come from it because families are forever.

Your questions and comments are welcome. 

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