Thursday, August 23, 2012

Apostasy

God's work never ceases among us, even if institutions come and go.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Prodigal Son


PARABLE OF THE LOST SON
11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: "A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, 'I want my share of your estate now before you die.' So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
  13 "A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, separating himself from his father, an equivalent of sin, or death and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. We all suffer the consequences of sin - alienation, broken relationships, physical and emotional harm 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. When we suffer these consequences our first action is to try to fix it ourselves - we take it all on alone and make our own plans to repair the effects of sin 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. no one else can save us, only Christ. We cannot save ourselves, and no one but He can save us - it is all about relationships.
  17 "When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, 'At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! At some point, perhaps we may hear the call, we may remember lessons learned, we may discover that we have Parents who love us 18 I will go home to my father and say, "Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant."' And we still don't get it. we come up with a plan, we work out what to say, and we remain bogged down in our ideas that we need to earn grace, we need to earn salvation, that our works will make a difference in how our Father loves us, that rejection is going to come from God and Goddess because of what we have done, because that is how we think, we are not naturally forgiving.
  20 "So he returned home to his father. As we undertake the journey, as we start out, this is what happens: And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. The father is looking, a long way off, the son's return has been hoped for, desired, wanted. Goddess and God want us to come home to Them. They meet us not half way, not at all, but the instant They see us moving in Their direction, they start running towards us, not walking, but running, as fast as they can. When They arrive there are no words of condemnation, no accusation of unworthiness or impurity, but They fall on us and embrace us as sons and daughters, without even a shadow of hesitation. 21 His son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.*' And we STILL don't get it. we rehearse our speech, because we haven't yet realized the significance of Their welcome. we still think that we need to work off our debt, that our plan is what will save us, that WE have anything to do with our salvation beyond simply wanting to be saved, and willing to come home. And then we are interrupted, we can't even finish what we want to say before this happens:
  22 "But his father said to the servants, 'Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.' So the party began. The finest robe would belong to the father - his own personal robe. The ring as a sign of belonging, a declaration that the son was still a son, still an heir, still a part of the family. And a celebration, not a welcome home, not a back to work, no, a celebration involving the entire household. A party to rejoice that a suffering son had chosen to return to his father's house.
  25 "Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. Another we, working away, looking around and realizing that there was some kind of joy that he was missing out on, not understanding what the reason for the rejoicing. 27 'Your brother is back,' he was told, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.'
  28 "The older brother was angry and wouldn't go in. We become angry when we see others rewarded without deserving it. We are still attached to the idea that our works bring us some kind of merit, that they are in any way a part of our salvation. We resent the return of our brothers and sisters to the fold. His father came out and begged him, And our Parents' response? To beg us to come and join the celebration, to beg us to come and be one with our brother, who has come back. They desire that we should see as They do, and love and forgive freely. 29 but he replied, 'All these years I've slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!' Our ideas of work get in the way. We think that we deserve things, that we have earned things, that there ought to be a difference between me, who made good choices, and you, who did not, that there should be a punishment inflicted because of past actions. We fail to see that the punishment happens during the actions themselves, the consequences of our sins apply to us as we sin. Why on earth should they continue when we have turned our face back to Christ? Why should we demand additional, punishment? This is because of our orientation to the Law, to the ideas of punishment and revenge, that we deserve something for being wronged, or that we deserve something for our work. We demand that that we be unequal in the eyes of God and that They love us more than others.
  31 "His father said to him, 'Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. Which begs the interesting question - what will the older brother do when the father dies and he inherits the estate? Will he have learned the lesson and be united with his younger brother? Will he remain angry and resentful? We have to decide what we will do when someone comes home - will we stand at the gates and demand that they suffer for wronging us? When we have all done so much wrong to each other? Following on these ideas are the parable of the 12 workers and the parable of the indebted servant. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. And indeed it is a happy day! For your brother was dead and has come back to life! Has turned away from death / separation, and has wanted unity, has wanted to come back home, was willing to return. He was lost, but now he is found!'"

NLT translation of Luke 15

We are both the younger son and the older son. We are all in a far away land, spending our inheritance on things that cannot please or save us. We all have Heavenly Parents who will come running when we turn to Them. We, none of us at all, are deserving of Their love, or of the Salvation They offer us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We all come back thinking that we will work off our sins, that we will need to convince Them to accept us, that we have to prove worthy. The reality is, grace intervenes. We desire to come back and grace cuts us off in mid sentence, we are embraced, we are clothed, we are heirs, as we have been all along, if we hadn't been too wrapped up in our actions and our sense of unworth to have seen it. Grace opens the doors of heaven, and we only have to stop turning away, stop rejecting it, and it will fill us with light, clothe us with righteousness, and make us whole before God and Goddess. And, as we are all the younger son, let us not be as the older son, still worrying about works and tallies and balances while dwelling in the kingdom. Let us rejoice over every single soul who wishes to come back. Let us join with our Parents and our Savior in throwing our arms around them, welcoming them, and celebrating their return, for every single soul is precious. Each of us prodigals is of infinite worth.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

What is our offering?

A broken heart and a contrite spirit.

Not a whole heart, or a perfect heart, but a broken one. Something that needs to be fixed and healed by the power of the Atonement.

A spirit that feels its unworthiness and unclean nature in the face of God's and Goddess's goodness and holiness.

These are what we are to sacrifice - to set apart, reserve for deity - it is not up to us to make ourselves perfect, but to accept the grace that Jesus offers us - to stop hoarding our sins and our weaknesses and give them to Him to heal.

And when we do, this is what we receive (3 Ne 9:20): And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost...

We receive the Holy Ghost in our brokenness and our inadequacy, not by resisting until we clean ourselves. It is rather our contact with the divine that makes us clean.

How great the mercy of our Father and Mother, and our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, to accept us, broken as we are, and still see the possibility of redemption and salvation in us.

May we all see that same possibility in each other.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Humanizing others

In general, it seems to me, that when we see others in the midst of their relationships, it has a powerful humanizing effect. They become more "real" as it were, since without the public masks we wear, we are far more alike than we might think.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Unity

39 For behold, this is my awork and my bglory—to bring to pass the cimmortality and deternal elife of man.

Eternal life is God and Goddess's life. They are one, the Son is one with Them, so it would appear that eternal life is nothing more or less than perfect unity with our Parents and our Savior. Thus the commandment to forgive - by refusing to reject the other, we can become one instead of separate.

The law is to love, the purpose of the law is to bring about unity, the means of accomplishing this is repentance (changing of our hearts) and forgiveness. Then, through the atonement and resurrection of Christ, we can become perfect, immortal, and return to live as one with the hosts of heaven.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Treating Things Lightly

There is so much in the Book of Mormon that we have not realized - messages that really define the book that we haven't even seen.

http://feastuponthewordblog.org/2011/12/25/book-of-mormon-lesson-1-the-keystone-of-our-religion-sunday-school/

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Taking the Name of Christ

How can we be one with Christ if we do not know as He knows, feel as He feels, understand as He understands. We must enter into His suffering even as He enters into ours. This is taking the name of Christ upon us. This is the strait and narrow path that leads to Eternal life.

Friday, February 10, 2012

We Just Aren't Getting It

I see it in the divisions we create among ourselves. We separate by gay/straight, man/woman, black/white, rich/poor, and every single one of those separations is the exact antithesis of Zion.

When we oppress, tread down, and dis-unify with others we are fighting against God and Goddess, destroying the saints of God and sending them away.

http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2012/02/story-that-broke-my-heart-and-why.html

It is said over and over, if we would be Christ's, we must be one, as He is one with the Father. We must mourn with those who mourn, comfort those who stand in need of comfort, literally. We are commanded to love God, love each other and forgive all people. Not some of them, or just the ones we like, all of them. Every single one, without exception.

"If you do not accuse each other, God will not accuse you. If you have no accuser you will enter heaven. . . . What many people call sin is not sin; I do many things to break down superstition, and I will break it down."
  • Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 4:445-446

This is the key, right here. Salvation alone is NOT salvation. Our Heavenly Parents' work and glory is to bring to pass the eternal life of Their children, not to pick and choose, or play favorites. Eternal life is life as They live - in perfect unity. If we would be like them, then we must be one. Unity, over and over again is the message.

And we just aren't getting it, like crabs in a bucket, pulling each other down to gain an imaginary advantage.

Oh, for the day when we join together and truly seek Zion - to be of one heart, one mind and to have NO poor among us, whether poor of spirit or poor of possessions.

Salvation

Personal salvation is deeply, desperately linked with communal salvation. Communal salvation is impossible without personal salvation, and personal salvation is empty without communal salvation.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Messiah and Son of God


Jesus had two roles and claimed two titles in mortality - messiah / redeemer and Son of God

Why do we need a redeemer?

The purpose of God is to bring about the immortality and eternal life of man. Why? Man is that he may have joy. Spirits existed and God was the greatest, and He desired that we should be like Him.

How to do this? We needed corporeality (immortality), unity (Eternal life - God's life - my name is Eternal - be one as I and my Father are one - unity) and agency (to act and not be acted upon). Corporeality needs mortality. Thus, after the Creation, the Fall - a descent into mortality, by choice (2 Ne 2 concepts of agency are key - God being God could not force us to be like Him (D&C 121), He could only set up conditions where we could choose to be like Him, for He is an agent, and to be like Him, we must also be agents. 2 Ne 2:26.)

The Fall brings mortality, which is a state in which death occurs, which death is a separation from God and from each other. This is the opposite of God's desire, which is for no death, no separation. We are incapable of resurrecting, incapable of maintaining relationships forever, and are acted upon instead of being actors, and thus we need to be redeemed from the Fall. ("By proving contraries, truth is made manifest." History of the Church, 6:428 - God approached the work from a contrary position, in a way.)

That redemption must then reverse the Fall - avoiding the separation of death by reversing death, restoring to life permanently, and allowing relationships with others and God to be continued and perfected (Atonement), and giving us the chance to be agents, who act and who are not acted upon (immortality and eternal life).

That is what Jesus did for us as a Redeemer. His resurrection nullifies the Fall and makes it possible for the works of God to be accomplished.

How could He do this? As the Son of God (literal or adoptive? KF / SitG indicate that we are eternal, existing with God. Abraham seems to confirm this - spirits, not children. We become children of Israel, and of Christ by adoption, it seems reasonable that we might become children of God by adoption as well.). His Sonship must have been a prerequisite for achieving a redemption. He lived a sinless life (what does that mean exactly if sin = not-love?) and was a full agent, which we are not, capable of taking His life back, despite a descent into mortality, as a result of His pre-mortal divinity.

What a limited understanding I have - I haven't said it exactly right, but I have at least tried to approach it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Worthiness

We sang "In Humility, Our Savior" recently in Sacrament meeting and the last bit made me think:

Then, when we have proven worthy
Of thy sacrifice divine,
Lord, let us regain thy presence;
Let thy glory round us shine.

I love this hymn, it is one of my favorites, but I am not sure about the idea that we can somehow prove ourselves worthy. If we could, then there would be no need for an Atonement. Christ suffered precisely *because* we were unworthy. We can be redeemed only because he *was* worthy, and was the only one who was worthy.

I think too often we beat ourselves with the idea that we have to be perfect before we let Christ in, that somehow our shadows and dark corners might make him love us less, or shock him and cause him to turn away. The reality is, of course, exactly the opposite. He has experienced first hand all of our darkness, and still he is standing at the door knocking. All we have to do is let him in. 

There is great power in realizing that I, of myself, can never obtain salvation. I cannot ever perfect myself. The work is too large. When I realize this, then I can quit trying to do it *myself* and accept the grace of Christ, accept his power and his help in that perfecting process. Suddenly the weight leaves my shoulders and lands squarely on his - surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.