Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mormon Temple Tour: A Covenant People

Upon almost all temples, save a few, stands the statue of a wingless angel blowing a trumpet. Some have mistook it to be the Angel Gabriel who had visited Daniel to interpret dreams and later to others announcing the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ as a heavenly messenger. Functioning in similar capacity, the figure is of the Angel Moroni. Mormons believe he gave directions where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint's founding prophet Joseph Smith could recover golden plates to translate by the power of God. From this translation came The Book of Mormon scripture where Mormons get their nickname.

He also represents the restoration of the Gospel in these the latter days. In him is often interpreted the angel in Revelations 14:1-6 who was seen to, "fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters."

The angel is calling out all of the House of Israel and an ensign to the nations to come together.  Temples are gathering place where the work of the Lord  can bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children. Those who enter are stepping inside holy ground where covenants are made and endowments bestowed between mortals and God. President Thomas S. Monson said, "temples are more than stone and mortar. They are filled with faith and fasting. They are built of trials and testimonies. They are sanctified by sacrifice and service."  Those who enter must do so with reverence for the holy and sacred.

After establishing the church, Joseph Smith was instructed by revelation to prepare to build a temple. He was told, "Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God; That your incomings may be in the name of the Lord; that your outgoings may be in the name of the Lord; that all your salutations may be in the name of the Lord, with uplifted hands unto the Most High." (D&C 88: 119-120.) All activity is centered on the Atonement and saving Grace of Jesus Christ who alone makes any work of use to salvation.
Vancouver British Columbia Temple- Instruction Room

Kansas City Missouri Temple - Instruction Room

Quorum of the Twelve President Boyd K. Packer explains:
In the temples, members of the Church who make themselves eligible can participate in the most exalted of the redeeming ordinances that have been revealed to mankind. There, in a sacred ceremony, an individual may be washed and anointed and instructed and endowed and sealed. And when we have received these blessings for ourselves, we may officiate for those who have died without having had the same opportunity. In the temples sacred ordinances are performed for the living and for the dead alike.
 He goes on to say:
Before going to the temple for the first time, or even after many times, it may help you to realize that the teaching in the temples is done in symbolic fashion. The Lord, the Master Teacher, gave much of His instruction in this way . . .
The temple is a great school. It is a house of learning. In the temples the atmosphere is maintained so that it is ideal for instruction on matters that are deeply spiritual . . .
If you will go to the temple and remember that the teaching is symbolic, you will never go in the proper spirit without coming away with your vision extended, feeling a little more exalted, with your knowledge increased as to things that are spiritual. The teaching plan is superb. It is inspired. The Lord Himself, the Master Teacher, taught His disciples constantly in parables—a verbal way to represent symbolically things that might otherwise be difficult to understand.
The temple itself becomes a symbol . . .of the power and the inspiration of the gospel of Jesus Christ standing as a beacon in a world that sinks ever further into spiritual darkness.
Those who attend are once again taught what is called "The Plan of Salvation" with symbol and presentations. "In ordinance rooms an overview is given of God’s plan for His children. Latter-day Saints learn of their premortal and mortal lives, the creation of the world and the Fall of man, the central role of Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of all God’s children, and the blessings they can receive in the next life." ("Things Pertaining to This House", Ensign, Oct. 2010, 60–67.) The endowment received by temple ordinances is a gift given to those who covenant with the Lord in faith. Mormons first receive these ordinances when they are going on a proselytizing mission, getting married, or become an adult and feel prepared spiritually.

San Salvador El Salvador Temple - Instruction Room
Latter-day Saints are a covenant people. Baptism is the first sign of our willingness to do what the Lord asks of us, and weekly Sacrament (or Communion) is a renewal of the sacred duty to repent and follow the example and teachings of Jesus Christ. Those who go to the temple make covenants or promises that they will continue to obey the commandments and help build the Kingdom of God. Sister Silvia H. Allred of the Relief Society General Presidency stated, "The covenants we make with the associated ordinances we receive in the temple become our credentials for admission into God’s presence. These covenants elevate us beyond the limits of our own power and perspective. We make covenants to show our devotion to build up the kingdom. We become covenant people as we are placed under covenant to God. All the promised blessings are ours through our faithfulness to these covenants."

Brigham Young once explained:

“Let me give you a definition in brief. Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell.” (Discourses of Brigham Young [Deseret Book Co., 1941], p. 416.)
Part III will continue with a discussion of the sacred and connection to the Holy.

1 comment:

Jettboy said...

I had a few questions given to me about Temples, and so will post them with the answers here.

"When President Monson mentioned 'trials and testimonie' was he referring to the building of the temples?"

I think this was two fold about building the structures and personal lives of those who enter. Compared to the earliest years, temple construction is relatively easy. The biggest trials are often getting city council approval and individual Saints paying the tithing that helps pay for the structures and prepare themselves spiritually to enter. It used to be not too long ago that any temple built seemed to bring about hostility and physical violence. The Saints were often poor and used whatever resources of labor and material they could, such as fine china ware. When Brigham Young proposed building the first temples out west, he was told by someone they didn't want one because the moment the work began the bells of hell would start sounding. He defiantly responded, "let them ring."

"Are there prayer rooms in the temples where people can come to pray any time of the day? Are there people who specialize in prayer, who make it a discipline to pray regularly and at length for the activities in the temples? Is there a healing room, where sick people go to have ministers with the gift of healing lay hands on them for healing?"

Prayer for Latter-day Saints can be at any time, anywhere, by anyone, and for any purpose. For situations where any special prayer might be required, male members of the church are given the Priesthood during teenage years and beyond. It can be used to lay hands on a person's head, sometimes annointed with oil, and pray for comfort, healing, and a Father's blessing.

There are no special rooms specifically for prayer, but a person can pray and contemplate in any rooms. For special problems in life, it is often strongly suggested that a person go to the Temple with a prayer in their heart to take to the Lord. In the Temple a person's name can be presented for a sacred prayer circle. The prayer itself can be a mixture of generalities and specifics. As explained by the Encyclopidia of Mormonism, an unofficial series that was approved by LDS leadership:

"The prayer circle is a part of Latter-day Saint temple worship, usually associated with the Endowment ceremony . . .

The circle is an ancient and universal symbol of perfection. In a public discourse, Joseph Smith once used a ring as an image of eternity, "one eternal round," without beginning or end (TPJS, p. 354). The formation of the prayer circle suggests wholeness and eternity, and the participants, having affirmed that they bear no negative feelings toward other members of the circle (cf. Matt. 5:23-24), evoke communal harmony in collective prayer-a harmony underscored by the linked formation, uniformity of dress, and the unison repetition of the words of the leader. The prayer has no set text, but is, among other things, an occasion for seeking the Lord's blessing upon those with particular needs whose names have been submitted for collective entreaty." (