152. "Until We Kneel at Our Savior's Feet"
It is August of 2020. We have entered into the sixth month of "lock-down", and prohibitions against church meetings may well continue into next year. Our Lord knew this would happen, and so He implemented the next phase of building up His Kingdom long before actual need arose, by means of "Home Centered, Church Supported" worship throughout the world. Neither praise nor piety is confined to an edifice (Alma 33:2-3) and God's people are not confined to a single location. (See Doc. & Cov. 97:21--"Therefore, verily, thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, for this is a Zion--the pure in heart; therefore, let Zion rejoice, while all the wicked shall mourn.")
Ministers elsewhere filed lawsuits, conducted "unlawful" worship services; or "met, but under strict conditions of 'social distancing' and 'without engaging in singing!" Responses from both "COVID19 citizen enforcers" and "local law enforcement" were frequently hostile. One enterprising Southern pastor rented an outdoor movie theater and conducted a radio based service--"worship the Lord in your car". Although ALL "SOCIAL DISTANCING RULES" WERE FOLLOWED, the local sheriff gave $500 tickets to every parishioner who dared drive in and park their car at least 20 feet away from their nearest neighbor! [Variations on that theme were attempted, and attacked, elsewhere.]
Modern day Gadiantons were inspired by Satan to attack morality, law, and religion. "Civil unrest" in the "public square" was shown every night. But not shown on "main stream media" were physical assaults upon diverse synagogues, monasteries, chapels, etc. and the priests and attendees thereof. These included: firebombing; battery; arson; murder of congregants; and more. State and local governments repudiated the First Amendment, using the excuse of "COVID19", and then freed thousands of convicted felons from prison (same excuse), so they could join mobs to roam wild and attack innocents and churches. Future readers who were not alive during these insane days will likely dismiss such reports as base fiction. While "nightly news" rarely covered these attacks, competent evidence from reliable sources in alternative media publications exists.
Our Relief Society President (Yes, that one, see No. 139, "God Looketh On the Heart", asked me to respond with prose or poetry to a fervent prompting she had repeatedly felt to encourage the Sisters to involve themselves in each other's lives more, despite "social distancing/masking" limitations.
I was challenged. Despite prayer and study, at first I felt nothing--no "hook", no key", no phrase nor theme upon which a suitable piece could be built. Just before I decided to abandon the project and admit defeat, I sat down before the computer and "just played around" with phrases and concepts. Surprisingly, the following quickly followed--I had to "show up"; I had to "try"; I had to demonstrate a humble and sincere desire to fulfill a call for aid. [First the test, then the blessing.]
152. "Until We Kneel at Our Savior's Feet"
(Memories and Motivations for the Sisters of the Relief Society)
We Lament the Passing of Imperfect Yet Largely Content Lives
Was it just last year when we were one?
Less than one small turn around our Sun?
And now, some might well ask: “What of me?” (1)
“Is there still a bright future to see?”
We rejoiced in our closeness, our bond,
For the Spirit’s warm strength we had longed.
Trusting that just as we then knew good, (2)
Such good lives would endure “as they should”.
For we were sisters, consecrated to God. (3)
We praised His name, and we were awed
By how He loved us, and joined our souls
By worship; service; socials that made us whole.
Our lives revolved around our faith.
Trusting that we would always be safe.
And each Sabbath, we sang and prayed,
Expecting that we would all our days.
The children were content with their friends.
Quite sure their kind lives would not end.
And husbands or ministers stayed close,
To call Priesthood power when needed most.
Grievous Evil Arose, Unforeseen by Us, Yet Prepared for by Deity
We were caught unawares by new crimes,
And great evil rising boldly in our time.
We forgot lessons from ages past,
That warned how danger can come fast.
But Father, Son, and Spirit had known,
Gadiantons had great evil sown. (4)
To crush both our liberty and faith,
They planned to make no chapel safe.
Led by their foul, unseen Serpent King (5)
Contagion; chaos; fire and murder they would bring--
Helped by faithless “leaders” and aids
Who forswore every oath they had made.
With wisdom greater than their cunning, (6)
God had already given stunning,
Plans and programs all so well inspired
That sinners could not set their fires.
But the “effectual struggle” continues still, (7)
Until all prophecies are fulfilled.
For Messiah shall not return in glory,
Until every nation hears His story. (8)
How dare we fear we are abandoned,
When for each law our Lord commanded,
He has provided ways and means Divine,
That we commune with God and His light shine. (9)
A Call to Continued, Creative, Worship and Service
Have we, like Zoram’s former fools, lost sight (10)
Of words etched in gold, which show God’s might? (11)
Will we ignore the wonders of this day,
Which provide new ways to serve and pray?
We are heirs of heroines; daughters of God.
In the footsteps of the faithful we have trod,
And in that day of Glory, Christ shall say
“Enter into My Rest; n’ere go away.” (12)
Can we, then, fail to seek and find
Those needy of our care, and love, and time?
Our Lord, has for this time deployed
Myriad new tools to help bring joy.
And, even if, at sisters’ doors we halt,
We can yet give blessings without fault.
The gifts or tokens of our honest care,
Will prove our love abides with all those there.
Through calls, and messages of diverse means,
We shall learn of needs and concerns unseen.
We shall befriend all we know or meet,
Until we kneel at Our Savior's feet.
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- An earlier poem addressed concerns expressed by Sisters of our Ward, and beyond. See: No. 140 “What of Me”.
- See Alma 36:26--26 “For because of the word which he has imparted unto me, behold, many have been born of God, and have tasted as I have tasted, and have seen eye to eye as I have seen; therefore they do know of these things of which I have spoken, as I do know; and the knowledge which I have is of God.”
- This theme is treated, albeit imperfectly, in the poem “The Daughters of the Lord”, Number 122. See also: LATTER-DAY SAINTS' MILLENNIAL STAR , December 11, 1941: “Men of this Church, who are true to the covenant and magnify their Priesthood, are called the Sons of God. Those outside the Church, who do not hearken to the voice of the Lord, are called the sons of men. Similarly, Sisters of the covenant, are the daughters of God; others, the daughters of men. In the days of Noah, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the fair daughters of the sons of Noah because these daughters married the sons of men.” [Emphasis supplied.]
- In Book of Mormon times, secret combinations of robbers and killers arose, fell, and arose again, which came to be known as the “Gadiantons”. References as to their secret works; their destruction of the Jaredite Nation; and their eventual conquest of the Nephites are found compiled in the Book of Mormon index. See e.g. Helaman 6:18 “And now behold, those murderers and plunderers were a band who had been formed by Kishkumen and Gadianton. And now it had come to pass that there were many, even among the Nephites, of Gadianton’s band. But behold, they were more numerous among the more wicked part of the Lamanites. And they were called Gadianton’s robbers and murderers.” They thrive throughout the world now.
- Revelations 12: 9 “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
- Doctrine and Covenants 10:43 “I will not suffer that they shall destroy my work; yea, I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.”
- Mosiah 7:18 “And it came to pass that when they had gathered themselves together that he spake unto them in this wise, saying: O ye, my people, lift up your heads and be comforted; for behold, the time is at hand, or is not far distant, when we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies, notwithstanding our many strugglings, which have been in vain; yet I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made.”
- Hundreds of years before Jehovah was made flesh, an angel from on high showed Nephi world conditions just before Messiah’s return: (1) His Saints were found in every nation; although they were few, and (2) there were only two churches: See, 1 Nephi 14:12 “And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw. “
- 3 Nephi 18:24 “Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do. Behold ye see that I have prayed unto the Father, and ye all have witnessed.”
- Alma 31 relates the mission of Alma and his sons to a band of “dissenters”, followers of Zoram, who had apostatized and perverted true worship into a vain and blasphemous exercise in vanity.
- Alma 33:2-14 “And Alma said unto them: Behold, ye have said that ye could not worship your God because ye are cast out of your synagogues. But behold, I say unto you, if ye suppose that ye cannot worship God, ye do greatly err, and ye ought to search the scriptures; if ye suppose that they have taught you this, ye do not understand them. Do ye remember to have read what Zenos, the prophet of old, has said concerning prayer or worship? For he said: Thou art merciful, O God, for thou hast heard my prayer, even when I was in the wilderness; yea, thou wast merciful when I prayed concerning those who were mine enemies, and thou didst turn them to me. Yea, O God, and thou wast merciful unto me when I did cry unto thee in my afield; when I did cry unto thee in my prayer, and thou didst hear me. And again, O God, when I did turn to my house thou didst hear me in my prayer.
- Matthew 25:21 “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” See also, Revelations 3:12 “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.”
AFTERWARD and INSIGHTS:
* I was led to believe that not only our Sisters, but all Members needed to "confront our grief". Our lives have changed dramatically and we are thrust into a life whose particulars we did not expect. We need to appreciate these harsh truths. In the early 1840s, Saints expelled from Nauvoo had to adjust to a "new normal" as well.
* I was led to believe that we needed to admit that our leaders, The Lord's Annointed, had, indeed, made preparations for this day. We had been warned for generations about preparedness; financial self-reliance; food storage; future adversity; and more, even though the "particulars" or "details" of our present self-isolation were not publicly revealed in advance. Then too, the "New Direction" [Home Centered-Church Supported] was, for those with eyes to see, a foreshadowing of our current "lock-down".
* I was led to believe that we (brothers and sisters) have been called upon to return to our spiritual, cultural, and even historical roots and meet the challenges of our day with enthusiasm, just as our physical or spiritual ancestors overcame their trials and challenges. to make the Utah desert "blossom as a rose".
* WE HAD BEEN ADVISED YEARS AGO TO EMBRACE THE NEW DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES--even if we had not been told how important they might become. I had to learn NEW THINGS. It took me a long time before I had mastered ZOOM well enough to participate, seamlessly, into our Ward's "online Sunday School classes". [I am an analogue man living in a digital world. Well and good. I am learning.]
BUT, exercising faith, and humbly asking for grace, I, and ALL OF US, can and will adapt and flourish despite the constraints of our days. This I know. This I will do. And if we will labor together in this new, and more hostile vineyard, we can, indeed expect the Lord's embrace and we shall weep to hear Him say: "Well done, my good and faithful servant".