By Study and Also By Faith

An LDS (Mormon) blog representing a search for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Reverence for the Sacred

In a 7 November 2004 CES fireside, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Presidency of the Seventy, gave a talk called "A Sense of the Sacred". I have linked to it so you can read it in its entirety, but I will highlight a few of Elder Christofferson's comments.

We are becoming more and more casual in our modern life. People seldom dress up much, if any, for anything anymore. Jeans and t-shirts, sneakers or flip-flops, are the order of the day. Speech has also become very casual and full of catch phrases from movies or pop songs. Conversation is often about sports or celebrities or other casual events.

I grew up in a much different world, where people dressed up for church and for special events of various kinds, such as weddings and graduations. Now it is not uncommon to see people in t-shirts for such events. People like to be comfortable, I know. I do, too. But there is a time and a place for everything, and I believe that we should show our respect for important and/or sacred occasions. I believe we should speak quietly and intelligently on such occasions and also act accordingly. Our behavior shows what we think of these special occasions.

Elder Christofferson said, early in his talk, that:

The importance of having a sense of the sacred is simply this—if one does not appreciate holy things, he will lose them. Absent a feeling of reverence, he will grow increasingly casual in attitude and lax in conduct. He will drift from the moorings that his covenants with God could provide. His feeling of accountability to God will diminish and then be forgotten. Thereafter, he will care only about his own comfort and satisfying his uncontrolled appetites. Finally, he will come to despise sacred things, even God, and then he will despise himself.

On the other hand, with a sense of the sacred, one grows in understanding and truth. The Holy Spirit becomes his frequent and then constant companion. More and more he will stand in holy places and be entrusted with holy things. Just the opposite of cynicism and despair, his end is eternal life.

Paradoxically, much of what I want to convey cannot really be passed from one person to another. It must grow from within. But if I can help you think about some things in a contemplative way, then the Spirit may work in you so that you will not need me or anyone else to tell you what is sacred or how to respond—you will feel it for yourself. It will be part of your nature; indeed, much of it already is.
That is a good summary of the importance of holding sacred things sacred. He touches on many of the topics I touched on in my opening paragraphs above, but his emphasis is on that which is sacred. Regarding prophets and scripture, he says:

Consider first the matter of prophets and scripture. One thing we see around us, and sometimes even in ourselves, is a tendency to treat lightly the messengers of God and their messages. This is not new. Since Adam’s time many have ignored and even attacked those the Lord has sent in His name....It was the ultimate sacrilege that Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, was rejected and even put to death. And it continues. In many parts of the world today we see a growing rejection of the Son of God. His divinity is questioned. His gospel is deemed irrelevant. In day-to-day life, His teachings are ignored. Those who legitimately speak in His name find little respect in secular society.
Elder Christofferson has a suggestion:

You might ask yourself, “Do I see the calling of the prophets and apostles as sacred? Do I treat their counsel seriously, or is it a light thing with me?” President Gordon B. Hinckley, for instance, has counseled us to pursue education and vocational training; to avoid pornography as a plague; to respect women; to eliminate consumer debt; to be grateful, smart, clean, true, humble, and prayerful; and to do our best, our very best.

Do your actions show that you want to know and do what he teaches? Do you actively study his words and the statements of the Brethren? Is this something you hunger and thirst for? If so, you have a sense of the sacredness of the calling of prophets as the witnesses and messengers of the Son of God.
Regarding scripture, he has this though-provoking comment:

We hold in our hands a considerable volume of scripture. The records stretch back to the early patriarchs and forward to our own lifetimes. I suppose this is more scripture than has ever been had by a people in history, and certainly it is more widely available than ever scripture was in the past. I am sure that if you or I held in our hands the original scrolls that Moses wrote upon or the very metal plates that Mormon had inscribed, we would feel a deep sense of reverence and awe and would treat those objects with great care. And so we should, because they are sacred objects, made so in part by the labor and sacrifice of the holy prophets who so painstakingly prepared them.

But the greatest value of such scrolls or plates is not in the objects themselves but in the words they contain. They are sacred because they are the words of God, and while we may not hold the original documents, we do hold the words. Therefore, what we have is holy—holy writ.

Having been granted possession of the recorded words of God, we should ask ourselves if we are respecting the sacred nature of this record. Some have violated the sacredness of the scriptures by ridiculing or denying their validity. That, of course, is a very serious matter.

But for most of us, who readily acknowledge the truthfulness of the standard works, if we are ever guilty of disrespecting the sacred nature of scriptures, it is by neglect. The risk we must guard against day to day is the tendency to treat lightly, or even ignore, the sacred word.
I think we all take our prophets and our scriptures for granted at times. It would be good if we would stop and think about the great value these things have for us and the remarkable gifts from God that they are.

In his talk, Elder Christofferson covers other areas where our respect and reverence and appreciation can and should be improved. I hope that you will read it and give it some thought. It's not just for the young people, although it can help them also.

We are all about independent thought and action--surely we won't mind showing respect and reverence, even if those around us do not.

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Anonymous Barb said...

I worry about that which can dull the sacred places in the heart. This talk was a good reminder. I think people often want to be "cool" or funny and in doing so will speak in a too casual way about things of God. Some of this people have deep faith, but their speech is detracting.

I also think that people can be too critical of things in a way that can be dangerous.

It is not smart to pull things apart if you dull what you hold sacred in your heart.

2:40 PM  
Blogger Mary A said...

Good points, Barb. I think we have to make an effort to hold the sacred as sacred. It seems like it is easy to let that reverence and respect slip away if we don't choose to exercise it.

1:07 PM  

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