Thoughts

Temples and Missionary Work

Just finished another General Conference. As usual, it was full of gems and I enjoyed it very much. As usual, my social media feeds bloomed with quotes, notes, and photos from the conference experiences of my friends. Nestled in those quotes, notes, and photos—and looking quite comfortable among them, I might add—was this status:

Anon temple
This was posted by a high school friend of mine, not a member of the Church. The verse caught my attention because it seemed so out of place, and yet, at the same time, so in-line with everything else on my feed. I could feel my friend’s sincerity, and the scripture resonated with my own desires. At that moment I wanted nothing else than to say, “HEY! I FOUND IT! YOU CAN DO THIS! YOU REALLY CAN!” Don’t worry, it came out calmer:

Hey Jane*,

So, I saw your post from earlier today—the one from Psalms—and I had a few very immediate thoughts. The first was, “Gosh I love that scripture; it’s really a good one!” The second was, “I know the feeling, exactly; I’m glad Jane’s felt it, too.”

Those two thoughts alone probably would merit a “like” or maybe a comment, at best (I’m a pretty passive Facebook user), but my third thought is the reason I’m messaging you.

Jane, I’ve always recognized you as a woman of faith, an inherently good person with righteous desires. That’s one of the reasons I enjoyed hanging out with you, Bob*, Ellen*, and Carl* back in the day. I have nothing but happy memories of you all, so, naturally, I want to share good things with you.

You might remember that I’m a Mormon (a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Or maybe not—I honestly can’t remember if that ever came up :) Anyway, I don’t know how much you know about the Church, but temples hold a special place in our faith and hearts. In my faith and heart.

In the past, temples were sacred places of worship where holy ordinances were performed. They were places of instruction and learning, where the faithful were taught about the purpose of life on earth and God’s plan in the eternities. The temple remained a central feature of God’s people throughout the New Testament, but with the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and the scattering of the early Christian church, temple worship and ordinances gradually faded and eventually disappeared.

You’re probably familiar with all that, though. Still, it’s important to remember all that, when I share with you this next bit: temples and temple ordinances have been restored. God has re-instituted them in our day, as in times past. The peace and holiness that David sought in the temple can be found in modern temples. I’ve felt it as I’ve attended these temples and participated in their ordinances. I feel God’s love; my mind is illuminated; my soul expands.

If you’ve made it this far in this (rather long) message, you’re a good Christian, Jane, and thank you for that. I’ve known many people who would zone out as soon as a Mormon starts to share something of his religion with them. I don’t blame anyone for it, but I love sharing what makes me happy, you know?

If it truly is your one desire to dwell in the house of the Lord, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord, and to seek him in his temple, I’d encourage you to investigate the temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I can answer just about any question you might have, recommend some good information, or connect you with people who can tell you more.

That’s all. Looking back, this is a pretty long message isn’t it? I’ve always been a long-winded writer, though. I blame my dad.

Hope all is well for you and Bob over there in the Valley of the Sun!

Aaron

P.S. This is a good primer on modern temples: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-x_-TQivCx8

P.P.S. Incidentally, a temple is currently under construction just off of Pinnacle Peak (near our old neighborhood). 5220 W. Pinnacle Peak Rd, across from Thunderbird Mountain. It will be completed later this year. You might be able to get a tour of it, or walk through an open house before it is dedicated.

I can see that the message has been read, but I haven’t yet received a response from Jane. I really hope it was received in the spirit in which it was written. On second thought, maybe I should’ve given her the excited version…

*names have been dramatically changed


UPDATE:

I just received a response back from my friend. She’s so awesome. Here’s her message (I’ve removed any parts that might disclose her identity):

Dear Aaron,

I hope you and your family enjoyed a very happy Easter together! Apologies for taking so long to write you back, I haven’t forgotten about your message. I wanted to thank you for taking the time to respond with such passion and expression to the scripture I posted a few weeks ago. I’m glad it is also one that sticks out to you; David sure has a way with words. I’m not sure if I ever brought up my religious up-bringing or not, although I’m sure we talked about the Bible. I was raised in the Church of Christ, which has been such a great blessing to me and my family. Our church worship follows the example of the early church established in Acts. We worship in the same manner as Jesus’ disciples did each first day of the week and follow the Bible as God’s instruction for salvation and daily living. Here is a better description than I can give in my own words: http://www.thevalleychurchofchrist.com (we attended here before the congregation we attend now, their website is a little better developed). Are there scriptures in the New Testament that you use as reference for the establishment of your temple ordinances? If so, I wouldn’t mind reviewing them. I truly appreciate your reaching out to me, which has been such an encouragement, although our faiths differ in some regards. I admire your fervor for sharing your beliefs, a quality which I wish came a little easier to me! Thanks again, Aaron!

Pretty great, huh?

Here’s the message I sent back:

Hey Jane,

We had an awesome Easter, thanks! Spent it in the forest hills of western Carolina with my cousins. 

Okay, Church of Christ. I dove into the site you referred, and I’ll tell you what—I love your faith’s devotion to scripture. I love the Bible so much; it was difficult when, while on my mission, people would accuse me of ignoring—or worse, attempting to tear down—the Bible. I love the Book of Mormon, too, for all that it testifies of Christ, but the fact remains that there was only one manger in Bethlehem, one Garden of Gethsemane, and one empty tomb. The New Testament is the only record of Christ’s mortal ministry, and that makes it precious to me. I’m grateful for fellow Christians’ defense of the Word throughout the ages and still today. I admire the Church of Christ for requiring its members to really study the scriptures. What was the phrase, “Speak where God speaks, and remain silent where God is silent,” right? I think that’s an excellent policy!

Now, you asked about New Testament scriptures regarding temple ordinances. In true New Testament style, let me start with a parable of my own invention.

There once were two musicians—a clarinetist, and a saxophonist. While in another ensemble, the saxophonist had discovered a beautiful piece from one of the greatest composers of all time. He wanted desperately to share it with all the instrumentalists he knew, including his friend the clarinetist, who he knew was an avid fan of the composer. One day, he gathered the courage to mention the piece to his clarinetist friend. The clarinetist was cordial and enthusiastic, of course, and agreed to listen to the piece, but on one condition—that she hear only the clarinet part. The saxophonist was happy to oblige, but knew that—regardless of whether the clarinet part had some really tasty licks or simply a subtle supporting role—the music would ultimately be incomplete without the context of the full band.

That being said, here’s my favorite New Testament scripture about temple ordinances. It comes from what is (very) arguably my favorite chapter in the New Testament, 1st Corinthians 15. Paul is writing to the saints in Corinth about the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In verse 22 he transitions seamlessly from the resurrection of Christ to the resurrection of all men after death. And in verse 29, Paul poses this curious question, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?” Baptism by proxy for those who are deceased is one of those temple ordinances that existed in ancient times and has been restored in our time. Paul’s reference tells us a number of things, but more particularly: 1. Baptism for the dead was not an uncommon practice, and 2. He has no problem with it. These special baptisms took place in a temple font, as described in the Old Testament.

Thanks for letting me share this with you, Jane. You say that you wish sharing your beliefs came a little easier—remember that you were the one who shared the psalm in the first place! The world needs more scriptures on Facebook walls. You’re awesome.

Yeah, I know. I can get long-winded. It’s just that I love sharing my beliefs, more than just about anything.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.