SPIRIT OF ELIJAH
STERLING PARK WARD
WARRENTON, VA STAKE
Good morning, brothers and sisters. The Stake President has assigned me to speak to you today in my the capacity as a member of the High Council. The Stake President loves this ward and its members. He has great regard for the leaders of this ward. He knows that good things are happening here in Sterling Park. I commend you for your activity and acts of service to one another.
Is anybody here in the third grade? Raise your hands. Thank you. When our son, Ryan, was in the third grade, his teacher had the members of the class keep a personal journal. I would like to read to you some of the entries that Ryan put into his journal.
5 September 1991 - My best friend is David Smith. He's nice, a little crabby, but he is very friendly. He is eight. He is a cub scout in my den. That is how I met him.
15 October 1991 - I think the fastest way to clean my room is to dump everything in my closet. That way, I don't have to think about putting things away. I also stuff things behind the computer desk.
November 1991 - My grandfather taught me how to play chess. He taught me how a knight moves. He taught me how a king moves. He taught me how a queen moves. He taught me how a pawn moves. He is a really good chess teacher.
So what does a parent feel when he or she reads these kinds of things? Does a parent get angry because 8 years ago their child hid stuff behind the computer desk? Of course not. A parent's heart is filled with love for their child. A parent hopes that they and their child will be a family forever. There is something very real about the feelings that are generated in reading a child's journal. A journal is a tie that binds people across generations.
On the evening of 21 September 1823 the Angel Moroni visited Joseph Smith. Joseph would have been a senior in high school, if he'd lived in our day. Do we have any high school seniors here? The Angel Moroni said many things to Joseph. Of all the things Moroni talked about, Joseph extracted 69 words and made them the first of a collection of revelations. That collection had a preface added in 1831 and eventually became known as the Doctrine and Covenants. Please turn with me to D&C Section 2. This is Moroni 's quotation of the Old Testament prophet Malachi.
D&C 2:1-3 - Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at His coming.
You know the story. After Moroni said these things he left, and then came again, and repeated the message again. Shall we read D&C 2 again?
Then Moroni left, and then came back a third time, and repeated the message again. Shall we read D&C 2 a third time? The next day Moroni visited Joseph a fourth time. He gave Joseph the message a 4th time. Shall we read D&C 2 a fourth time? Moroni wanted to be sure Joseph got the point. By the way, this is one of the few passages of scripture that appear in all four standard works--the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. The Lord wanted to be sure we got the point.
And what is the point? The whole earth would be utterly wasted unless Elijah came. Think about the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. It would be wasted. Think about the city of Florence, Italy. It would be wasted. Think of the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China. They would be wasted. Think about New York City. It would be wasted. Think about Sterling Park. It would be wasted. Think about all the effort the billions of people have put into making this earth what it is. All that would be wasted. Think about all the effort individuals have made to make themselves better people. That would be wasted. Think about all the time you spend in school, and at work, and at church, and at continuous education. All that would be wasted.
Let me tell you, I have spent too much time, felt too much pain, worked too hard, pulled too many weeds, struggled with too many teenagers, repented too much, and spent too much time updating my web site to have someone tell me it was all just a waste.
The whole point of creating the earth in the first place, according to Moses, was "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39) The earth cannot do that job without having the generations tied together. Moroni told Joseph Smith that Elijah must restore the priesthood keys that allow us to tie our generations together. That is the point--we must bind our generations together to obtain Eternal Life. And unless we do that, the world would be a waste.
We know that Elijah did come. He came to the Kirtland Temple. He came during Passover in April 1836. He restored the Priesthood keys that can bind the generations together. We know the whole earth will not be wasted. The question is whether our individual lives will be wasted. The Spirit of Elijah leads u to engage in activities that bind people together across generations.
The Old Testament prophet Abraham and his wife Sarah had a son named Isaac. Isaac married a woman named Rebekah. Isaac and Rebekah had twin sons, Esau and Jacob. Esau married two of the daughters of Heth. This upset Rebekah because the daughters of Heth were not part of the Abrahamic covenant. Let's read what she had to say about this situation in Genesis 27:46:
Genesis 27:46 - And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these [which are] of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?
Rebekah was convinced that if her other son, Jacob, also married outside the covenant, her life would be no good, or in other words, wasted. Rebekah clearly understood the importance to her own exaltation of being sealed to both her ancestors and her descendants.
V. BEYOND SEALING
We can be sealed to our parents, to our spouses, and to our children, by becoming worthy and paying a visit to the temple. There, the sealing power that Elijah restored to Joseph Smith can be used in a Priesthood ordinance, to help make sure our lives are not a waste.
I want to suggest today, however, that the act of being sealed to our parents, our spouses, and our children is not enough. We have to make these person-to-person relationships real. Let me explain what I mean by that.
One of the mission rules in my mission was to write my parents once a week. When I was released from my mission, I believed I was released from that rule as well. For a number of years after I left home, I did not write my parents or my grandmother either. I had missed the point of the mission rule. The point was that if I wanted my sealing to have meaning I had to make real the relationship between me and those to whom I had been sealed. I do this by making these people a part of my life. Writing letters is one such way. Fortunately for me, email was invented. I now try to email my parents once a week, which means I actually email them about twice a month. The Spirit of Elijah is manifested in my life through email. Now you know why email was invented. So the earth would not be wasted at the Second Coming.
Remember Ryan's journal entries I read at the beginning of my talk? We discovered that journal over Christmas vacation. Our kids must spend at least one half day working on their scrapbooks over the Christmas holiday. I help them. (Good morning children. This is your father. I am here to help!) Not only is my heart turned to my children because of the scrapbooks, someday their children will turn their hearts toward their parents through these scrapbooks. The Spirit of Elijah is manifested in my life through scrapbooks. Now you know why scrapbooks were invented. So the earth would not be be wasted at the Second Coming.
Let me tell you about one of my ancestors. His name was Joshua Terry. He was a mountain man in the 1850's. He worked for Jim Bridger in Wyoming. One day, while Joshua was hunting horses, he strayed pretty far from the fort. He rode to the top of a hill to scan for wild horses. In an instant he was taken prisoner by a band of Indian warriors. They took him to their camp where they decided to scalp him and then burn him at the stake. After tying him to a tree and laying the wood for a fire around his feet, they danced around him. They yelled in his face. They threw hatchets at him. Just as they were about to scalp him, a competing band of Indian warriors rode into camp, and a fight ensued. Joshua was a friend to the leader of the second band and was freed.
I know this story because someone kept a journal. I feel closer to my ancestors when I know about them. Our descendants will feel closer to us, if they know about us. I don't have time to keep a journal. But I do have time to print off copies of my emails and put them in a three-ring binder. I do have time to print a copy of this talk and put it into a three-ring binder. I do have time to put the program from Chelsea's baptism in a three-ring binder. The Spirit of Elijah is manifested in my life through a three-ring binder. Now you know why they were invented. So the earth would not be wasted at the Second Coming.
If you have never had a miracle in your life, and would like to have one, I suggest you do some genealogical research into your family. The Spirit of Elijah is there also. We have a PC and a stack of CD-ROMs just down the hall from this chapel. I have spent some time on that PC and discovered that I am related to myself--I am my own 8th cousin. Not only that, I am my mother's uncle. Now that's a miracle. (If you don't believe me, I have documented it on my website.) The Spirit of Elijah is manifest in my life through a PC and CD-ROMs. Now you know why they were invented. So the earth would not be wasted at the Second Coming.
I have suggested a few ways in which we can bring the Spirit of Elijah into our lives. Let me suggest a couple more. In our family prayers we can ask for the Spirit of Elijah to be in our homes. We can devote family home evenings to reading stories about our ancestors. We can help do a family reunion or a family newsletter.
Finally, let me bear you my testimony. I have felt the Spirit of Elijah in my life. I feel it when I write letters to my grandmother, when I help my kids do their scrapbooks, when I read histories of my ancestors, and when I fiddle with the genealogy disks. I have felt it at family reunions and in the Temple. The work is important to me. It helps make sure my life will not be wasted. May we all spend some time bringing the Spirit of Elijah into our homes.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.