Sermoncitos, a family tradition
As branch president, it is my job to teach the Gospel today, to bring you the glad tidings. I started writing this message on Eternal Life, last week when I heard that Pauline had past into eternal life. As I prepared, I thought about her 15 children and their spouses; her 128 grandchildren and their children of the fourth generation. I thought about the influence she has on all of them, and her descendants to the 7th generation. I want to talk about life here on earth, and the eternal life we have before and after this life.
Before we came to earth we lived with our Father in Heaven. The trials and temptations we suffer on earth are provided for our benefit that we might remember that we need God, and learn to turn to Him. “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. ” (James 1:3-7).
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah recognized our life of sorrow that leads to dependence upon God: “...I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro... Behold, I was left alone...” 1 Nephi 21:21. Yet he saw the past and future too: “Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth... for they shall be smitten no more; for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.” 1 Nephi 21:13.
Six hundred years before Christ broke the bonds of death, the Prophet Lehi wrote of the miseries of man on the earth; “but behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of Him who knoweth all things” (2 Nephi 2:24).
After suffering long enough, Pauline is free now and would want her children to have hope. When Lehi knew he was at the end of his time on earth, he gathered his children and grandchildren around him and gave these words of hope: “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 25).
The prophet of our day, Gordon B. Hinckley (who died last night at age 97), shows us how to follow this plan of happiness, by setting our priorities here on earth. “The only things you will take with you, when all is said and done, are your family relationships... God bless us to be good fathers,... good parents, and good husbands to our good wives, for we shall continue our relationships with them in the next life.” President Hinckley often spoke of missing his wife. He has now joined her on the other side of the veil. I think that Pauline had those same priorities. She loved her family and wants you to continue loving one another.
When Pauline chose to become a parent, she took upon herself a sacred role, a role we all learned in our life with Heavenly Father. We fulfill that role well when we strive to be like our Heavenly Father and teach our children about Him. Jesus often compared earthly parents with heavenly parents. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matthew 7:11). One of our most important roles as parents is to teach our children in a way that they might gain faith in their Heavenly Father. The most sure way to teach is by example. Joseph Smith said that he was prepared to ask of God because his parents read the scriptures and prayed together as a family every day. “What is the great strength of this Church? Gordon B. Hinckley said...it is the emphasis which we place on families.... We put great emphasis on the family. Keep your families close together and love and honor your children. Raise them in truth and faith to love the Lord” .
Lehi continues his advice to his children and grandchildren: “and now my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator; and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life...” 2 Nephi 2:28.
Eighty two years before Christ was born, the prophet Amulek clarified this truth about the resurrection of the dead: “And Amulek hath spoken plainly concerning death, and being raised from this mortality to a state of immortality... Alma 12:12.
“O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body..."
And because of the way of deliverance of our God, the Holy One of Israel, this death, of which I have spoken, which is the temporal, shall deliver up its dead; which death is the grave. 2 Nephi 9:10, 11.
When we pray we call upon our Eternal Father... because he lives eternally. We are His children just like the song suggests: God be’awee’ nishl•. The glad tidings, is that we live eternally, just like God. We lived with God before our birth, and return to his presence after our short life on earth. We are God’s people. This is a basic tenet of our religion, that we continue to know and love and be loved even after this earth life. Love is the greatest commandment, and the love we have for each other continues beyond the grave. Even in her old age Pauline cared for each of you. That continues to be her disposition, to love her family. She still loves each one of you and looks forward to seeing you again.
Jesus often prayed to his Father alone or with his friends. His example led many to seek the Father. We should also be good examples to our children and friends. “Jesus said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren , can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father? And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do. Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost” (2 Nephi 31: 10,12,17).
There is an order in the Church. Now that President Hinckley is with his wife, we look to President Thomas S. Monson for leadership. The same principle applies in the family. Now that Pauline is gone, the leadership of this family falls upon you. How you lead, and what you teach your children will affect the welfare of your descendants to the 7th generation, so teach your family correct principles by your good example. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me... (John 14: 6).
These things I have written to share the words of the prophets of God, Diyin God y¡ dahalne’ii bahane’. I also bear witness that I know these things to be true.
May God bless you with peace, a gift of the Holy Ghost, and a reminder, “for I the Lord have not forgotten my people... I leave this blessing upon you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.