Sunday, March 27, 2016
Today is Easter and Michelle and I get the opportunity to speak in our Sacrament Meeting. Sunday, April 10, the day we thought we would speak, is Fast and testimony Meeting since next week is general conference. But it is always a good day when we can talk about the Savior, and his atonement. We had wonderful support from family and friends. Those who came included Jim and Carol, Cheri and Clinton, Malia Peck who just returned from her mission in Thailand, Becky, Kanika, Corgan and Meena, Mike and Bonnie Meyerson, Rob and Teresa Cruz (from work), the Wheats, Petersons and grandpa Thomas. President Allen and President Jensen, those who I served in the Harrisville Stake Presidency were also there. Brad Allen had just had surgery on Thursday. He was hurting terribly and made it through the meeting, at least until I was done with my talk. Then slowly went home.
Elder BruceE McConkie in 1984
Two thousand years ago, outside Jerusalem’s walls, there was a pleasant garden spot, Gethsemane by name, where Jesus and his intimate friends were wont to retire for pondering and prayer.
There Jesus taught his disciples the doctrines of the kingdom, and all of them communed with Him who is the Father of us all, in whose ministry they were engaged, and on whose errand they served.
This sacred spot, this holy ground is where the Sinless Son of the Everlasting Father took upon himself the sins of all men on condition of repentance.
We do not know, we cannot tell, no mortal mind can conceive the full import of what Christ did in Gethsemane.
We know he sweat great drops of blood from every pore as he drained the dregs of that bitter cup his Father had given him.
We know he suffered, both body and spirit, more than it is possible for man to suffer, except it be unto death.
We know that in some way, incomprehensible to us, his suffering satisfied the demands of justice, ransomed penitent souls from the pains and penalties of sin, and made mercy available to those who believe in his holy name.
We know that he lay prostrate upon the ground as the pains and agonies of an infinite burden caused him to tremble and would that he might not drink the bitter cup.
We know that an angel came from the courts of glory to strengthen him in his ordeal, and we suppose it was mighty Michael, who foremost fell that mortal man might be.
As near as we can judge, these infinite agonies—this suffering beyond compare—continued for some three or four hours.
15 Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.
16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.
Experience in Denver. Scott and I were out for a walk in the early morning. It was cold, cold enough to see our breath in the air. We started down in a valley in the shadow of a hill. As we climbed up the hill, the sun came up over the horizon. As the rays of the sun touched us, the warmth spread over our bodies. I likened this to the light that can come into our lives through repentence. The lower ground with the frost, darkness and cold is like our lives before we repent. As we climb higher and take advantage of the Savior’s atonement, we are warmed by his redeeming love and we have the joy that comes after changing our lives. It is like the journey from a sinful life to a life with Christ.
7 Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them.
9 And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? I say unto you, Yea, they were loosed, and their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved.
I love the Spanish language. I would like to share with you some things that I have learned about Spanish and apply these thoughts to the Savior’s gift of atonement to each of us. The expression “dar a luz” in Spanish means to give birth. It is my favorite Spanish phrase. It literally means to give a light. When we are baptized, we are born again. Every time we take the sacrament we celebrate anew that birth and every time we repent, we can literally become a new person.
Alma the Younger talked about this change in his father Alma when he heard the words of Alma.
14 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?
The verb arrepentirse – means to repent and it is a reflexive verb which means you do it for or to yourself. This verb is always used in the reflexive. No one else can repent for you. The Savior opened the gate to repentance through his suffering, but we must do the work ourselves. We must feel sorrow and change our hearts and our actions. We can do this and only through the gift of the atonement will we be forgiven by our Heavenly Father.
This applies to everyone.
. . . though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
The blessings of the atonement are what we need to tell the world about.
D & C 18: 10-16
11 For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.
12 And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance.
15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
16 And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!
Testimony in Spanish.
Hermanos y Hermanos. Yo quiero compartir mi testimonio. Quiero testificar que La Eglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días es la iglesia verdadera de Cristo. He leído el Libro de Mormon y sé que por el Espíritu Santo que el libro es verdadero y es las palabras de Dios. Sé que José Smith fue un profeta de Dios. Thomas S. Monson es el profeta hoy in día. Amo a mi Padre Celestial, sé que Él vive y nos ama. Sé que he sido llamado por Dios para servir como misionera con mi esposo en Nicaragua. Amo a mi Salvador Jesucristo; sé que él murió por nosotros pero hoy vive. Gracias a él, nosotros podemos vivir eternamente con Dios si seguimos al Salvador y Sus profetas vivientes.
Amo a mi familia. Amo a mi padre. Él está aquí hoy. Tiene noventa y uno años. Estoy agradecido por su enseñando y su amo. Estoy agradecido por nuestra familia del barrio. Les extrañaremos. Digo estas cosas, en el nombre de Jesucristo. Amen
I talked about the Resurrection. I started by expressing my love for family, our ward and Stake families, especially those who I have served with. I read Luke 24: 1-6
Now upon the first of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain with them.
And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
And as they were afraid, and bowed down faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
I then quoted President Thomas S. Monson, ““No words in Christendom mean more to me than those spoken by the angel to the weeping Mary Magdalene and the other Mary when, on the first day of the week, they approached the tomb to care for the body of their Lord. Spoke the angel:
“Why seek ye the living among the dead?
“He is not here, but is risen.”12
Our Savior lived again. The most glorious, comforting, and reassuring of all events of human history had taken place—the victory over death. The pain and agony of Gethsemane and Calvary had been wiped away. The salvation of mankind had been secured. The Fall of Adam had been reclaimed.”
I then bore my testimony of the Savior and expressed my love for him. I quoted President David O McKay who said “the gospel makes bad men good and good men better.” I explained that the redeeming portion of the atonement makes bad men good and the enabling power of the atonement makes good men better (referring to Elder Bednar’s talk). I outlined the plan of salvation and discussed how the atonement, including that which occurred in Gethsemane, on Golgotha and at the garden tomb, overcomes both spiritual death and physical death. I read Alma 11: 42-44 and bore testimony that our immortal bodies will be perfect, free from physical, emotional, mental ailments. I explained that although I have not seen a resurrected being, I knew these truths are true because I have had witnesses that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that he saw the resurrection Christ, Heavenly Father and many resurrected beings. I also know the Book of Mormon to be true because the Holy Ghost has testified that to me and the Book of Mormon teaches us that the resurrection happened. I also have received spiritual witnesses of modern prophets and they teach us about the resurrection. I then said: “Yo sé que estas cosas son verdaderas, en el nombre de Jesús Cristo, amen”.