Over the last few weeks I’ve sat on the sidelines watching the rhetoric escalate regarding the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Gardner at the hands of police. I just want to scream to everyone, “STOP IT!” It is Christmas, and the fighting back and forth is not helping anyone. That said, I’m not here to blame the men who died or the police – I don’t know enough about either situation to comment on blame, nor is this post about blame, or actually these very tragic situations.
Both of these situations, however, have prompted me to think a little deeper about life and the worth of the soul. In both cases protesters have chanted the phrase, “Black lives matter”, over and over again – to the point of being ridiculous.
The Lord has taught us, to “remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God” (see Doctrine & Covenants 18:10). Yes black lives do matter. But white, yellow, and red lives also matter. Every life matters to our Father in Heaven. And I have been particularly impressed with this thought as Christmas has approached.
All lives matter. All of them.
We know that all lives matter, because of the Plan of Salvation and the role that Jesus Christ played in that plan. The scriptures provide more insight into this. The book of Abraham tells us about the great council in heaven before the world was. We were there and the Lord knew us.
“Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good” (see Abraham 3: 22-23).
I got a cute e-mail from Family Search this morning. Did I know, they asked, that one of my ancestors is mentioned in the Joseph Smith Papers?
Before opening the e-mail, I considered who they might be talking about. Perhaps it was Jonathan Holmes, who helped secretly bury Joseph’s remains after his death, then helped Emma bury Joseph’s body in February 1845. It could have been Elvira Annie Cowles [Holmes], who was governess in the Smith household, treasurer of the Relief Society, and eventually one of Joseph’s plural wives. Joseph Leland Heywood, a successful merchant from Quincy Illinois, spent one day with Joseph Smith in December 1842, agreeing to be baptized in the frozen river that very night. Or it could have talked about the Bells, Scottish converts who helped build the temple, or the DeLongs, converts who arrived in Nauvoo the day the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum were returned from Carthage. Or it could have mentioned John Taylor, who was shot at Carthage jail along with Joseph and Hyrum.
But no. Continue reading
Advent is a time of preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ and the celebration of Christmas. This year my family and I have been celebrating the Festival of Advent with devotionals each Sunday night. Find our FIRST, SECOND and THIRD weeks devotionals by clicking the links.
One Christmas tradition we do in our family is to open a book each night in December and read it. It’s a good thing for me, because it’s the only time I am consistent about reading to my children. Although I will admit this week we’ve missed more than a few nights. Over time it’s my goal to replace the five copies of Clement Clarke Moore’s “Night Before Christmas” with books that center more on Jesus Christ and the events of His birth in Bethlehem.
Two books that we enjoy are The Animals’ Christmas Eve by Gail Wiersum and In The Dark Streets Shineth by David McCullough. Continue reading
The Church, so far, only has a PDF version of the new PH/RS manual for 2015. It works great on large screens, but a 7″ tablet isn’t a large screen. So, I’ve converted it over to Kindle MOBI format for anyone wanting it for their personal use.
It is available here: Pres Benson Manual
Also, I have the 2014 Oct General Conference in a PRC format (early MOBI format) available here: Oct 2014 General Conference.
The Church has very quietly been growing in Communist Cuba. There are now two branches in the capital, Havana. Elder Bednar dedicated the country for preaching the Gospel in February 2012, and Elder Holland visited again this summer. The Church News quoted Elder Holland as saying: “Although we are small in number, each member is precious to us, and Cuba is precious to us.”
Elder Holland visited the site of Elder Bednar’s dedication, which overlooks Havana, and said, “the promises of the dedicatory blessing are unfolding.”
President Obama’s announcement Wednesday that he would seek the normalization of relations with Cuba seems to be coming right on schedule. It is easy to imagine that increased travel and trade with the United States would very soon lead to missionaries and strong growth of the Church in the coming years.
This story from the Deseret News has some interesting tidbits.
Though it is not registered, the Cuban department of religious affairs welcomed the church in 2004, when the first branch was established, and it and other faiths have helped the church find locations for worship.
Elder Holland also met with government officials in June.
That doesn’t mean missionary work is likely to happen quickly, Martinich added. In recent decades, the church generally has moved meticulously before opening a mission in a country where it hasn’t had one before.
“I wouldn’t imagine a mission there for a few years,” Martinich said. “What’s more likely to happen is that, when and if Cuba gives the church official recognition, missionaries would be reassigned from another mission,” such as one in the Dominican Republic.
One first already happened three years ago: A Cuban native from the Havana Branch served an LDS mission in the United States beginning in 2011.