Monday, February 14, 2011

Pioneer Trek

Yesterday I had the chance to speak in sacrament meeting and introduce the stake pioneer trek to the ward. I feel that my thoughts were a bit unorganized, so I thought it would be worthwhile to try to express them again here in writing.

My main idea is that there are four defining actions of pioneers both historical and contemporary, and that these four actions align with the purpose of the trek. these are conversion, sacrifice, consecration, and gathering.

As the first principle of the gospel is faith, it is here, by hearing and acting on the word of God, that the process begins. As we give place in our hearts for the gospel and find that it bears fruit, we gain a testimony. And as we act on that testimony, entering into a covenant, we begin the process of conversion.

This conversion requires sacrifices, whether through obvious things like crossing the plains or quitting a habit that violates the Word of Wisdom, or through smaller things like attending three hours of church every week or choosing to not watch certain movies or listen to certain songs. We give up some things to continue and deepen our conversion, and through sacrifice we are brought closer to God.

As we find ourselves coming to know the Lord, we desire to be more like Him, consecrating our lives to Him. For Latter-day Saints, an important part of this process is the building of and worship in holy temples. The temple ordinances bestow on us God's greatest blessings and a sense of our potential.

And by learning who we are as God's children and who we may become as His heirs, we desire to share that message. Early Saints would leave their homes and travel to distant and often unfriendly places to preach the gospel. Today we send our young men--barely out of high school--across the globe as official representatives of the Church, to share what they know to be true. In so doing, they gather Israel into wards and stakes.

The trek then is meant to replicate this process for our youth, to help them become more fully converted to the gospel, to give them the opportunity to sacrifice and find joy in that sacrifice, to consecrate themselves and thereby prepare for the blessings of the temple, and to gather together in preparation for full-time missionary work.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Humility and Other Stuff

I've blogged before about what I consider to be the main theme of the Book of Mormon, and it seems that every few pages there is something that hearkens back to the theme of deliverance as a result of faith. Two such passages caught my attention today.

The first came as I was looking over Alma 5, that opus of a chapter in which we learn of the conditions of salvation and conversion. In verses 10-13 Alma explains that the people who were baptized after hearing his father's preaching embodied this process, that their faith led to a change of heart, from which came humility. And due to this humility they were delivered. It's a tidy encapsulation of the process by which we can be freed of that which holds us in bondage.

A second reference came from our family scripture reading tonight. We were finishing Mosiah, and the discussion of installing judges to govern the people of Nephi. Here, in reference to the people under King Noah, Mosiah explains that they had fallen into iniquity and ultimately captivity.

Then in Mosiah 29:20 we read these words: "He did deliver them because they did humble themselves before him; and because they cried mightily unto him he did deliver them out of bondage; and thus doth the Lord work with his power in all cases among the children of men, extending the arm of mercy towards them that put their trust in him."

Again we find the same steps--faith leads to repentance, which leads to humility and then deliverance. I had not seen this third step before, and I am intrigued by the role humility plays in this process. The broken heart must preceed the freedom, the sorrow must anticipate the joy, much like Alma says to his sons later in his ministry, in speaking of his own deliverance from a life of rebelliousness and sin.