Sermoncitos, a family tradition
“Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven!” (“Praise to the Man,” Hymns, no. 27). I was impressed with the sacrifice shown by the new Vicar of the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church of Navajoland. He left his wife in California to sell the house, and is taking his assignment in Arizona seriously. He spends time with the people, and works for their well being. As part of his preparation to serve, he has spent his own time and money to study the Navajo language. I demonstrated my fluency by reading from his Navajo bible: “ShiTaa’ bighandi t’ºº ahayºigo dahooghan; doo ¢igi ¡hoot’¢¢gºº doo bee nihi¬ hweeshne’ da doo n¶t’¢¢. (In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.) Nihiba’ hasht’ehodeesh¬¶¶¬ biniy¢ ak≠≠ d¢y¡. (I go to prepare a place for you). ⁄ko ¡¡ n¶y¡ago nih¡ hasht’ehoosh¬aago, ¡¡d§§’ n¡¡deeshd¡¡¬, ¡¡dºº ¡k≠≠ n¡nihideesh’ishgo honish¬ºn¶di nih¶ a¬dº’ ¡adi dahonoh¬≠– doo. (And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also) (John 14:2,3).
He was impressed with the sacrifices I have made to attain even that amount of fluency, and invited me to attend his Sunday services. When I told him Sunday is a very busy day for me, he assumed that I meant that the performing arts center must be open with activities during the weekend. He was surprised that I actually close during the time when most people are looking for recreational outlets. I reminded him that the Lord rested on the seventh day. That is why we are so busy: somebody has to do His work. ”For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” ( Ex. 20: 11). I never thought that keeping the Sabbath Day should be on my list of “sacrifices”; it is just how we live.
The grandparents of my grandparents left that Anglican Church, left their homes and families, made many sacrifices to sail the dangerous Atlantic, were driven by force of arms across the continent, and built homes and farms in a land that nobody else wanted. They never thought that resting from their labors on Sunday was a sacrifice. It never occurred to them that teaching a Sunday class or visiting their neighbors was a special effort. They had made covenants in the temple to give their time, talents, energies, and all that the Lord blessed them with to building the Kingdom of God. To them, spending 10% of their youth on a full time mission was just part of life, and 10% of their income was an investment in blessings they could not pass up. Each act of sacrifice they made built faith. They believed the Prophet Joseph Smith who said that “a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation” (Lectures on Faith , 69). Their sacrifices built faith that has blessed their descendants to the seventh generation, as evidenced by the faith and sacrifice of my grandchildren.
Sacrifice is an ancient principle that brings blessings from Heaven: “And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me. And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth. Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore” (Moses 5:6-8). “...Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22). Your sacrifices to live the Gospel and serve others will qualify you for a place in the mansions on high.