Sunday, March 27, 2016

He Is Risen

Today is Easter Sunday. I love reading the scriptures about our Savior’s last few days, how he suffered for our sins and was crucified. But most of all I rejoice in the scriptures that tell of his resurrection and the accounts of those that have witnessed his resurrection. I love the comfort that words of the Hymn “He Is Risen” give. The first verse says it all:

He is risen! He is risen!
Tell it out with joyful voice.
Let the whole wide earth rejoice.
Christ has won the victory.
(Hymn # 199)

I remember as a youth attending the Methodist Church, we would attend sunrise services on Easter morning and watch the sunrise as we read from the scriptures of that first Easter morning when Mary and the others came and saw the empty tomb. While the disciples ran to tell the others Mary stayed behind; it was then she saw the risen Lord for herself:

But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,

And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. (John 20:11-17)

What a wonderful witness for Mary, there was no doubt left for her. Later when the disciples were talking about how the resurrected Lord had appeared to the Apostles, Thomas said that the only way he could believe was if he could touch the nail prints in the Lord’s hands and thrust his hand into his side. The Lord suddenly appears again and speaks to Thomas:

Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. (John 20:27-29)

Many today, like Thomas, doubt that Christ lives and will only believe if they are able to handle him and see. But we live by faith and must rely on the Holy Ghost, which testifies of the Father and the Son. I am one who knows by the witness of the Holy Ghost that Jesus Christ does live today. He has overcome death and because he did, we will also. That is the promise that the scriptures give:

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.

For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:19-22)

Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Lord’s Prophet on the earth today, shares his testimony of that first Easter morning:

At the last moment, the Master could have turned back. But He did not. He passed beneath all things that He might save all things. His lifeless body was hurriedly but gently placed in a borrowed tomb.
No words in Christendom mean more to me than those spoken by the angel to the weeping Mary Magdalene and the other Mary when, on the first day of the week, they approached the tomb to care for the body of their Lord. Spoke the angel:
“Why seek ye the living among the dead?
“He is not here, but is risen.” 12
Our Savior lived again. The most glorious, comforting, and reassuring of all events of human history had taken place—the victory over death. The pain and agony of Gethsemane and Calvary had been wiped away. The salvation of mankind had been secured. The Fall of Adam had been reclaimed.
The empty tomb that first Easter morning was the answer to Job’s question, “If a man die, shall he live again?” To all within the sound of my voice, I declare, If a man die, he shall live again. We know, for we have the light of revealed truth.
“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” 13
I have read—and I believe—the testimonies of those who experienced the grief of Christ’s Crucifixion and the joy of His Resurrection. I have read—and I believe—the testimonies of those in the New World who were visited by the same risen Lord.
I believe the testimony of one who, in this dispensation, spoke with the Father and the Son in a grove now called sacred and who gave his life, sealing that testimony with his blood. Declared he:
“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father.” 
The darkness of death can always be dispelled by the light of revealed truth. “I am the resurrection, and the life,” spoke the Master. 15 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.” {“He Is Risen”, President Thomas S. Monson, General Conference April 2010).

I add my testimony that I know that Jesus Christ, our Savior, suffered for our sins was crucified, died and rose again after three days. I know that through his atonement we can be forgiven of our sins and be clean. I know that because Christ was resurrected all of Heavenly Father’s children will be resurrected. It is a free gift to all men, women and children. What a glorious message of hope Easter brings. I invite you to watch this 2-minute video of Easter and for those who would like a real spiritual experience watch the second video of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performing Handle’s Messiah this past Friday (2 hours and 36 minutes).

Your comments and questions are welcome

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Hosanna to God and the Lamb

Temple Dedication Tickets
Today we had the privilege of participating in the dedication of the Provo City Center Temple. All regular meetings for wards in Utah were cancelled and members were able to participate in the dedication by going to Stake Centers where the dedications were broadcast. It was a wonderful experience.

I have had the opportunity to witness several temple dedications. We were in the celestial room of the Seattle Temple when President Spencer W. Kimball dedicated that building. We also were able to be at the Portland Temple dedication when President Ezra T. Benson dedicated that one. We have participated in the broadcast of other temples as they were dedicated including the Bountiful Utah Temple, , Mt Timpanogos, Utah Temple, Palmyra New York Temple, the Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple, the Nauvoo Illinois Temple, Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple, Brigham City Temple, Ogden Temple (rededication), Each temple is dedicated to be The House of the Lord and is Holy.

The first LDS temple built was in Kirtland, Ohio in 1836 and there are now 150 dedicated temples around the worldwide, 15 temples currently under construction, and and another 17 temples that have been announced or publicly proposed (Temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

The Provo City Temple was built from what was left of the Provo Stake Tabernacle that was originally built in 1898 and was destroyed in a fire in 2010. David W. Madsen, Provo City Temple Presidency First Counselor compared our lives to the how the Provo City Temple was born of the ashes of the old Tabernacle. He said we all must rise out of the ashes of our old lives and become new by going to the House of the Lord and make covenants with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. It is in the Lord’s House that we learn what we need to do to return to live with them as eternal families.

At the end of the dedication everyone participated in the Hosanna Shout. The Hosanna Shout began with the Jewish Feast of the Tabernacles and was a part of the celebration remembering the 40 years that Israel wandered in the wilderness. Shouts of hosanna were given as the congregation waved palm branches. When the Savior entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the crowd waved palm branches and shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” (Matthew 21:9). Today is Palm Sunday when we remember his triumphal entry into Jerusalem prior to his suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, his crucifixion and eventual resurrection. What a beautiful way to celebrate Palm Sunday than to dedication a temple, the House of the Lord, and to participate in the Hosanna Shout. At the dedication of the new LDS conference center on October 2000, President Gordon B. Hinckley led the congregation gathered there in the Hosanna Shout. Before doing it he explained the purpose of it. He said:

“Now, my brothers and sisters, in a moment I shall offer the dedicatory prayer, in which all of you are invited to join. Immediately at the close of the dedicatory prayer, we invite each one of you who may wish to participate to stand and join with us in the Hosanna Shout. This sacred salute to the Father and the Son is given at the dedication of each of the temples. It has also been given on a few occasions of historic importance, such as the laying of the capstone on the Salt Lake Temple and the celebration of the centennial of the Church in the 1930 general conference.

“We feel it is appropriate to give the shout here, as we dedicate this great building, the likes of which we may never undertake again. Any mention of this by the media should recognize that for us this is a very sacred and personal thing. We request that it be treated with deference and respect.

“I will now demonstrate the shout. Each one takes a clean white handkerchief, holding it by one corner, and waves it while saying in unison, “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna to God and the Lamb,” repeated three times, followed by “Amen, Amen, and Amen.”

What a wonderful tribute to our Lord Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father? As we enter the Easter season and contemplate what our Lord Jesus Christ did for us by providing for us his infinite atonement and his resurrection from the dead my whole frame shouts with the heavenly hosts “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna to God and the Lamb, Amen, Amen, and Amen.