STERLING PARK WARD
ASHBURN, VA STAKE
Good Afternoon, brothers and sisters. The Spirit assigned me to talk today on the subject of Temple worship. I appreciate the remarks by Sister Gregory and Sister Jensen. They have inspired us with their words and testimonies.
II. AN OLD INVITATION
In December of 1984, Janet and I lived in South Arlington, which was in the Alexandria Ward and the Annandale Stake. About that time, the Stake President asked all of the High Priests in the Stake to do 60 temple sessions during the first 6 months of the year. This averaged to about 10 a month or 2.5 a week. I was the ward clerk at the time. I remember when the High Priest group leader extended the invitation to the assembled High Priests during our priesthood meeting. It was the general consensus among us that the Stake President was either caught in a warp in the space-time continuum, or that he was certifiably bonkers. Some of the high priests just sat there gasping for air.
Of course, we tried to make sense of such an invitation. Our first attempt was to make a list of all the reasons why no one could possibly fill this assignment. Our second attempt was to rationalize that even if the assignment could be done, that it would be bad to neglect all the other aspects of our lives. Our third attempt at trying to make sense of the invitation was to ask, "Why?" Now, finally, we were getting somewhere. The High Priest group leader explained that the Stake President sensed a general deficit in spirituality in the stake. He felt like the situation needed more than just small incremental improvements. The solution required a big leap. The Stake President felt that if the High Priests of the stake made a large, strenuous effort for relatively short period of time, the resulting increase in spirituality would then spread throughout the stake. Moreover, if he couldn't get the High Priests to make a big leap in their spirituality, he probably couldn't get anybody else to do it.
Our Bishop contacted the Stake President and asked if members of the Bishopric could satisfy the assignment by having a reduced goal. The Stake President make an allowance for the workload on the Bishopric and reduced their goal to 30 sessions in six months -- or five a month or about 1.25 a week. As the ward clerk, I was able to ride the coat tails of the Bishopric.
The High Priests group then set aside every Thursday evening to attend the temple as a group. I was able to catch a ride back and forth with a member of the group. We would try to do 2 sessions every Thursday evening, the 6 p.m. and the 8 p.m. sessions. We would get back on the road home about 10:30 in the evening.
During that time period, construction was being done at night on the American Legion Bridge across the Potomac River. In those days we called it the Cabin John bridge-and it only had two lanes in each direction. The construction was widening the bridge to four lanes. If we did not get out of the temple quickly enough, we would not get over before they closed the bridge for a couple of hours for construction. I remember just sitting on the beltway from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. waiting for the bridge to open. Even when they did not close all the lanes, they would close one of the lanes, and we would crawl in traffic on the Maryland side of the bridge for a long time.
I think most of our group fell somewhat short of the 60- or 30-session goal. All, however, for that period of time, greatly increased their temple attendance. I, for one, felt a great difference in my spiritual life. The stake president's instincts were correct. If he wanted to improve the spiritual life of the stake, he need to get people over to the temple. It was a great blessing individually and collectively. Worshiping at the temple improves our spirituality. It is a simple, yet profound truth.
And why is that? I believe that just as taking the sacrament renews our baptismal covenants, attending the temple renews our temple covenants. These covenants bind us to Heavenly Father. The more we renew these covenants, the stronger the bond between us and Heavenly Father. Attending the temple is a "super glue" that makes us stick to our Father in Heaven.
III. WARD SPONSORED ACTIVITIES
A couple of years ago, we focused our sacrament meeting topics on the thirteen Articles of Faith. I also invited all the ward members to memorize all of the Articles of Faith. This year, our ward will sponsor some activities that help us look to the temple as a place where we want to worship. After I introduce these activities, I will also offer some invitations to the members of our ward.
The bishopric has approved a year's worth of sacrament meeting topics that focus on temple worship. We will cover such topics as:
In addition to sacrament meeting,
Now, for the fun part. I would like the members of the congregation to consider the following invitations.
V. THE END
Let me conclude by reading two verses from the Doctrine and Covenants.
DC 84:19-20 - And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God. Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.When we say "ordinances thereof," the word "thereof" refers to the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood. Thus, the power of Godliness is made manifest in the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood. The ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood are found in the Temple. Therefore, the power of Godliness is manifested in our lives as we visit the temple. I think most of us could benefit from the power of Godliness in our lives.
[use this paragraph if only there is enough time] The Saints in Nauvoo, continued to work on the temple for two years after Joseph' death, even though it was increasing apparent they were not going to stay in Nauvoo. They continued to build because they knew they needed the power of Godliness in their lives for the big journey across the plains. Indeed, my sweet wife, knowing of the big journey before her she was about to marry me, decided she needed the power of Godliness in her life to sustain her in being my companion, and received her temple ordinances before marrying me.
Our individual and collective future is uncertain in the local sense. But in the global sense, we know this world will get worse before it gets better at the Second Coming. We all need the power of Godliness in our lives as we prepare for the big journey of these perilous times. The more we worship in the temple, the greater our spirituality and the stronger the bond becomes between us and our Father in Heaven. When we live the covenants we have made in the temple, the blessings we receive are amazing--some people experience improved relationships, others experience improved health, still others experience improved finances. As Isaiah says, we will run and not be weary, and we walk and not faint. In all cases, the Atonement becomes ever more entwined in the fabric of our lives.
As the Bishop of this ward, I call upon the Powers of Heaven to bless us and assist us as we strive to improve our temple worship.
To these things I bear my witness. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen.