Sermoncitos, a family tradition
I am a Child of God
“For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device” (Acts 17: 28, 29). Christ claimed that he was the son of God (Hebrews 1:5,6). He taught us to call upon our Father (John 14:12, 13). My father wrote “...you came into this world from Heavenly Father, you can live always with our Heavenly Father”. Prophets, preachers, and parents may tell us; the Light of Christ within us may help us recognize the truth (John 1:4-9); but only by being in tune with the Holy Ghost can we know for ourselves if it is true that we are children of God (Moroni 10:5).
The prophets declare that we are children of a Heavenly Father (Hebrews 12:9). “All men and women are... literally the sons and daughters of Deity... Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal body” (Joseph F. Smith, Improvement Era, Nov. 1909). Christ declares that we are children of the Father. “And now, verily I say unto you, I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn. Ye were also in the beginning with the Father...” (D&C 93: 21, 23).
Every person who was ever born on earth was our spirit brother or sister in heaven (Ephesians 3:14, 15). When we call each other “brother” or “sister”, we are recognizing this truth. Now we see truths such as this “as through a glass, darkly”, but we will return to the place we came from and will know our parents, brothers, and sisters again (1 Corinthians 13:12). When the veil is taken from our eyes, we will remember what we knew in the presence of the creator (Ether 3:19).
In our life before birth, we were raised by loving parents while surrounded by siblings, and developed knowledge, skills, talents, and personality. We received blessings and promises about our life on earth (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 51). We gain insight into the callings we may have received by way of a Patriarchal Blessing (Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places, p. 117). The time and place we were born was chosen to give us the most opportunity to do good with our particular talents and personalities. The veil over our memory permits the principle of “agency”. We are free to choose to follow light or darkness, good or evil, for we are free to act for ourselves (Helaman 14: 30, 31).
When come to earth, our spirit body enters a mortal body. Thus each of us is a dual being: an immortal spirit body, clothed with a body of flesh and bone. As defined in scripture, the spirit and the body constitute the mortal soul (D&C 88: 15; Gen. 2: 7; Moses 3: 7-9; Abr. 5: 7). A spirit can live independent of a body, but the body cannot live without the spirit (James 2: 26). ”Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews 12:9).
In the Grand Council in Heaven, we learned about how earth life is one step in an eternal plan (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 348, 349, 365). We learned that everyone would have sufferings and temptations to teach us endurance, patience, and charity, so that we could learn to become more like our heavenly parents. May you be open to the Gift of the Holy Ghost to confirm the truth of this plan of happiness that leads you to your Heavenly Father. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
The trouble with raising children is by the time they have left your home and you know everything about parenting, you are unemployed. That is not really true because the Proclamation to the World tells us that families are eternal.
"Children are an heritage of the Lord. Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizen wherever they live."
We are greatly blessed by the clear statements of principle in the Proclamation on the family. Those declarations, together with the teachings of scripture and prophets, allow us to sort through the numerous discoveries and theories of family scholars in order to arrive at answers to the challenges of family life. In the latter-days the Lord has (D&C 121:33) "poured down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-Day Saints". That knowledge can help us to be the kind of parents He would have us be.
An eternal perspective can make an eternal difference in family relationships. Elder Boyd K Packer has taught that "true doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines will improve behavior...that is why we stress so forcefully the study of
the doctrines of the gospel. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ."
The Latter Day prophets have suggested an enviornment in which spiritual experiences can bless our families.
1) To have family prayer everyday. Elder Joe J Christensen has said
"Sending children out of our home without the spiritual protection of
prayer is like sending them out into a blizzard without sufficient
2) Hold Family Home Evening every week without fail. This is a time to share your testimony with your children. It also gives them an
opportunity to share their feelings about the gospel. It creates an island of refuge and security within our homes.
3) Read the scriptures daily as a family. President Benson has said, "May I admonish you to participate in a program of daily reading and pondering of the scriptures. The Book of Mormon will change your life. It will fortify you against the evils of our day. It will bring a spirituality
into your life that no other book will."
4) Follow the counsel of the prophets. President Harold B Lee said this concerning listen to the prophet: "We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through his prophet."
May I suggest six best things parents can do for their children:
1) Be prepared to teach gospel principles more than you punish.
2) Communicate more than you control
3) Encourage more than you criticize
4) Involve and individualize
5) Love more than you isolate
6) Love enough to limit
Quoting President Hinckley:
"To any who have sons and daughters who stray, may I suggest that you never quit trying. They are never lost until you have given up. Remember
that is is love, more than any other thing that will bring them back."
You are never unemployed as a parent. Families are forever and so is Parenthood. It is never to late to become a better parent.
Children in the Church
During the first two months of Annie’s life, Carlene worried day and night about her health and welfare. She fretted over her breathing, eating, and everything she did or did not do, wondering if she could ever survive. Well, at 8 weeks the doctor measured and weighed her and declared her to be in the 90th percentile. That means that Carlene’s efforts in nutrition and nurturing have produced a child who is bigger than 90 percent of 2 month old American girls. I am sure she is receiving better care and protection than my great great grandparents could give their children as they sailed the Atlantic and crossed the Great Plains as they were driven from their homes into the barren wilderness of the Great Salt Lake. Yet there is something that is the same; the blessings and advantages of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their home.
The first advantage is the perspective that the Gospel teachings give of the eternal nature of the children who come to our homes. Each of us is a child of God. Heavenly Father commanded Adam and Eve to have children (Genesis 1:28). He revealed that one of the purposes of marriage is to provide mortal bodies for spirit children. Parents are partners with our Heavenly Father. He wants each of his children to receive a physical body and to experience earth life. When a man and a woman bring children into this world, they help our Heavenly Father carry out his plan. Seven generations later, our family continues in these beliefs. Seven generations from now, Annie’s descendants will be blessed as a result of this tradition.
Another advantage is the priesthood. “And they brought young children to Jesus that he should touch them...and he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:13-16). Today Annie was brought before the church, held by the assembled priesthood brethren and blessed by her father. This naming ceremony is more than a ritual, it is an opportunity to have an intervention from God, as the power of the priesthood is exercised on her behalf. Her health and welfare and education and career will all be enhanced as a result.
Eight years from now she will have another advantage of the Gospel. Now she does not need baptism, as “little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world” (Moroni 8:12). The Atonement of Christ makes possible “repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children” (Moroni 8:10). Carlene describes her eight year old nephew as bigger, more mature, serious and wise for his years that she expected. Christopher describes himself as ready to make the commitments of baptism with “hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised into life eternal, and this because of his faith in Him, according to the promise” (Moroni 7:41).
Yesterday Christopher accepted the ordinance of baptism, and received the Gift of the Holy Ghost, one of God’s greatest gifts to us. Through the Gift of the Holy Ghost he may know that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that his Church has been restored to the earth. He may have the promptings of the Holy Ghost to tell him all the things he should do (2 Nephi 32:5). The Holy Ghost sanctifies him to prepare him for God’s presence. He may enjoy the gifts of the Spirit and have peace in his heart and an understanding of the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:9-12).
May we all bless our children for seven generations to come with Gospel teachings about the Atonement of Christ, and provide them the blessings and ordinances of the priesthood.
Becoming like Annie
We all rejoice at the birth of a child. When Jesus was born, “suddenly there was a...multitude of the heavenly host praising God”. People “came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger” (Luke 2:13,16). When they took the baby to the temple to offer the required sacrifice, Simeon took him up in his arms; and blessed God...” (Luke 2:28). When Annie was born there were lots of phone calls, emails, and digital photos shared. Indeed, all rejoice at the birth of a baby (Luke 1:14).
“And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:2,3).
We are to become as little children, so I am studying my one month old grand daughter, the only daughter of a daughter I have. So far I have seen her eat, sleep, cry and need constant attention. Are we to become like Annie?
Eating. We could be like Annie and Elijah. He did not hear the still, small voice until he was weakened by his fasting “and an angel touched him, and said unto him, arise and eat” (1 Kings 19:4,5). Those who accepted food from Jesus were filled (Matthew 14:20).
Sleeping. Everyone needs sleep, like “the sleep of a laboring man is sweet whether he eat little or much” (Ecclesiastes 5:12). We should be like Annie and sleep when we need it, and sleep as long as we need to.
Crying. When King David cried unto God, “his voice was heard and the Lord thundered from heaven and the Most High uttered His voice...and delivered me from my strong enemy” (2 Samuel 22:7,14). When Annie cries, her mother comes to solve her problems. We should cry for help as well. “The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles” (Psalms 34:17).
Needing attention. Like Annie, we all have problems. “The whole creation groaneth and trembleth in pain together...likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26). Like Annie, we don’t always know what we need, but there is one who does.
Jesus said, “suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 19:14). May we study little children to become like them, for we must be like Annie to have God with us.