This week's reading was very short, six chapters, but only a page and a half. Which was a good thing because I was originally going to teach next week, but the other teacher needed to go to SL suddenly. I was a little worried because its so short and at first I really couldn't think of a lot to say. But a bit of prayer and the first time we have had a large group and I made it.
As we start, in Moroni 1, Moroni is alone, and according to the date at the bottom of the page, has been, for twenty years. Many of us have known loneliness, but very rarely do we experience the depth of solitude that he had. Every other person he encountered would be his enemy. He must have felt a kinship with the prophet Ether, as he wrote Ether's last words, "Whether the Lord will that I be translated, or that I suffer the will of the Lord in the flesh, it mattereth not, if it so be that I am saved in the kingdom of God. Amen." Ether 15:34
We know he did wander for years. In those years he must have given these last chapters a lot of thought. These things written are what he was kept on Earth longer to write. We went through the next few chapters and talked about the importance of the ordinances, and the blessing of having the details. So often in the scriptures the information is vague, whether by intent or because of stylistic reasons, or even because there just isn't room. These precious chapters tell us how ordinations, the sacrament and blessings should be done. It also gives us a link to those ancient Saints, to know if they were to come to our meetings they would recognize many of the things we do.
As we moved to Chapter 6 we read a few quotes from President Hinckley and talked about why we come to church. Moab has a lot of people who are on the church's roles but do not want any contact. It is sad, because as Moro 6:4-5 says,
4 And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.
The names are not taken so the people can be hounded, pestered, or for some vague nefarious purpose that is hidden deep within the secret areas of the temple. We keep church records so everyone is remembered. So everyone can be "nourished" and loved, and reminded of the covenants they have made, and the blessing they receive by keeping them. Those who home or visit teach out of obligation, to mark off on their calendar that they did it each year are not fulfilling their calling. We are to love each other and by reminding each other of Christ, who (is) the author and the finisher of (our) faith, strengthen each other.
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “Any convert whose faith grows cold is a tragedy. Any member who falls into inactivity is a matter for serious concern. The Lord left the ninety and nine to find the lost sheep. His concern for the dropout was so serious that He made it the theme of one of His great lessons. We must constantly keep Church officers and the membership aware of the tremendous obligation to fellowship in a very real and warm and wonderful way those who come into the Church as converts, and to reach out with love to those who for one reason or another step into the shadows of inactivity” (in Church News, 8 Apr. 1989, 6).
I repeated those words, tragedy, and serious concern. How much effort should we make to prevent tragedies? What can we do to prevent them?
Elder Carl B. Pratt told of the feelings his family experienced as they visited different wards in the Church. Share the following excerpt with class members:
“Some wards our children loved to visit because they quickly found friends among the youth, and we all received a warm and hearty welcome. But there were other wards to which our children returned with less enthusiasm, and there was a noticeable absence of the warm and hearty welcome.
“We then began to observe that in some wards we visited … , if we had been investigators or new members, we would not have felt very welcome. …
“These experiences … made us conscious of the need we all have to improve what we call our fellowshipping skills. …
“Brothers and sisters, we have the richest blessings that God can give to His children. We have the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We ought to be the most open, friendly, happy, kind, considerate, thoughtful, loving people in the whole world. …
“Will nonmembers, new converts, and visitors to our chapels recognize us as His disciples by the warmth of our greeting, by the ease of our smiles, by the kindness and genuine concern that shine in our eyes?” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 12; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 11–12).
Read those last two paragraphs again. When was the last time you greeted someone you didn't know before the meeting began? When was the last time you sat next to someone sitting alone in Sunday School? What is the atmosphere of your ward? Would a visitor feel welcome in your chapel? "Moro 6:3 And none were received unto baptism save they took upon them the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end." How often do we serve him, by loving his sheep we come in contact with every day?
I got the picture of Moroni here