Jacob’s Temple Sermon

Last Sunday in Gospel Doctrine, we discussed Jacob chapters 1-3 in the Book of Mormon.  I noticed that Jacob says that his sermon in chapters 2-3 was given “in the temple” (1:17).  I looked through the sermon to see if perhaps that setting influenced the content of his message.  Jackpot.

Consider just the broadest outline of the address.  Jacob begins his sermon by telling the people that he was fulfilling his duty as a servant of the Lord (the “all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth,” he takes pains to note from the start, in 2:4) by bringing them an authorized message (2:2-11, especially verse 11).

The first major doctrinal topic that Jacob broaches, in 2:12-22, is the necessity of giving up our worldly gain and selfish desires for the good of others and the work of the Church.  Look at some of the Topical Guide subjects listed in those verses: almsgiving, generosity, welfare, worldliness, good works.  Jacob ties these themes of sacrifice in to a general command to obey the commandments (2:21), and, being the Book of Mormon, warns against pride.

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The Law of Consecration, As Contained in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants

During a recent session in the temple, I was hit with particular force that we are to study the law of consecration not in general, not in a vacuum, but specifically as it is taught in the Doctrine and Covenants.  Besides the factual and motivational information I’ve found in this brief project so far, I’ve been impressed that this aspect of the gospel agrees so well with our growing emphasis on charity and service, as per President Monson (best exemplified in adding “care for the poor and needy” to the mission of the Church). 

So I’ve been trying to read up on this basic celestial law, from sources that focus on its development in the D&C.  First, not surprisingly, I looked it up in the index to the scriptures.  This list includes all those in the Topical Guide, plus several others:

See also Common; Devote; Equal; Inheritance; Order; Poor; Property; Substance; United Order; Zion

D&C 42: 30-39 (D&C 51: 2-19; D&C 58: 35-37) principles of consecration explained.

D&C 42: 30, 39 consecrate of thy properties for support of the poor.

D&C 42: 32 consecrated properties not to be taken from church.

D&C 49: 20 one man should not possess above another.

D&C 51: 3 every man equal according to his family.

D&C 51: 5 transgressor not to have claim upon portion consecrated to bishop.

D&C 58: 36 (D&C 85: 3) a law for inheritance in Zion.

D&C 78: 5 order established that saints may be equal in bonds of heavenly and earthly things.

D&C 83: 6 storehouse kept by consecrations.

D&C 105: 5 Zion can only be built up by principles of celestial law.

D&C 105: 29 lands to be purchased according to laws of consecration.

D&C 105: 34 let commandments concerning Zion’s law be executed and fulfilled.

D&C 124: 21 bishop to receive consecrations of the Lord’s house.

The next source I thought of was the CES manual for the D&C.  It has an essay in the appendix which is entirely devoted to teaching the law of consecration.  This may have been the best single source for what I was studying.  One of the many useful things in this section of the text was this series of self-analysis questions:

1. Are you contributing to or detracting from a spirit of unity in your home? in your ward or branch? in the Church as a whole?

2. Is your life in harmony with the Spirit of the Holy Ghost so that you will contribute to a unity of thought and action in the kingdom?

3. Do you truly have an attitude of consecration? Is your primary concern in life to consecrate everything you have or with which you will be blessed to the building up of Zion and the Church on the earth?

4. Do you have enough confidence in your commitment to truly say, “I am willing to sacrifice anything and everything for God”?

The third of the official sources I used for this study was BYU’s Scripture Citation Index, where I looked up the references given in the index, to see how they had been used in general conferences.  Continue reading

How Many Hours Does It Take To Run A Ward For A Week?

I want to quantify, or at least illustrate, just how much sacrifice people put into their church communities.  I hope for this to be an opportunity for us to realize just how much we serve each other, and rely on each other.  Let us each remember that we’re not the only ones out there trying to make the world a better place by giving a little of ourselves.  Let this be a celebration of consecration.

Below, I’ve attempted to answer the question posed in the title of this post: How many hours does it take to run a ward for a week?  The answer, obviously, is an educated guess at best.  I’m not shooting for an ideal amount, or those hours put in by people I’ve known, but based on my experience and understanding of the practical operations of all church units with which I’ve ever been familiar in any way, I’m trying to estimate what a realistic average is.  I’m not counting attending Sunday meetings unless a calling involves work during that time, nor am I counting things like family home evening, temple attendance, or home teaching.  I don’t want to artificially pump up numbers to be more impressive; I think they’ll be impressive enough as it is. 

The biggest factor holding this back from being more accurate is that beyond major leadership, the roster of callings and how they’re implemented in sundry church units varies remarkably.  Just as with the hours themselves, I can only give my best estimates.  Perhaps someone with more experience from a higher position in the church could refine my roster and numbers.  But please don’t say, “Hey!  I have that calling and I put in a lot more time than that!”  It’s meant to be an average.

Here are my estimates:

CALLING–AVERAGE HOURS PER WEEK:

Bishop–20

Bishopric counselors–14 (x2)

Relief Society President–12

RS Counselors–10 (x2)

High Priest Group Leader–10

HP Assistants–5 (x2)

Elders Quorum President–10

EQ Counselors–5 (x2)

Primary President–6

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Now That’s Charity

Elder Holland’s recent Conference talk about the intense depth of suffering experienced by the Savior for the Atonement–and the Church’s incredibly successful YouTube clip from it–have got me thinking about how this episode also teaches us perhaps history’s greatest lesson about charity. 

Sometimes I’m tempted to pull my head back into my shell and call it quits as far as the world is concerned.  I think we all feel that way sometimes.  Work is stressful–or lost, finances are tight, illness is soaking up strength, family problems are heartbreaking, addictions are threatening, or a combination of these or any of a thousand other adversities conspire to drag us down.  Often we may feel that the best option to preserve what little sanity we have left is to circle the wagons and just worry about yourself, and let the rest of the world go its way. 

When this temptation surfaces, it’s good to remember how the Savior conducted himself in the midst of the Atonement.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, as Jesus Christ felt infinitely for “pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and…the pains and sicknesses of his people…their infirmities…[and] the sins of his people” (Alma 7:11-13)–truly, every negative experience every mortal has been, will be, or even could be called to pass through–a sacrifice so profound that the “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” (D&C 19:18), He did not pull his head into his shell, or circle the wagons, or give Himself up to worry or self pity, letting the rest of the world fend for itself. 

First, he Continue reading