Monday, June 28, 2010

5/23/2010 Hermana Christensen's Farewell Address

Good afternoon; thank you all for coming. I feel so blessed and so supported and so loved, and I thank you for that.
Both my mother and my father told me separately and singly that when I get nervous, I talk really fast so if I start talking too fast, give me a thumbs down; I might need it.
I’ve been asked to speak today on the Restoration of the Priesthood; I have to admit this is a little daunting to me; I’m not very familiar with much about the priesthood, so I’m grateful for the opportunity I had to study and learn more about the priesthood, which is so fundamental to our Gospel.
LeGrand Richards once said: “Could there be any subject more important to our understanding than the meaning and purpose of the priesthood of God and how it is obtained to hold the keys and rights to officiate in His name and to administer unto His children the saving ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
And in Doctrine and Covenants section 121 verse 36, it reads: “the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.”
Many are surprised to learn that when Jesus Christ was upon the earth, he established a church. We learn in Ephesians chapter 4 verses 11-12: “And he gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” He held his hands upon their heads and conferred upon them the authority to act in his name. However after the death, the resurrection and the ascension of Jesus Christ, Peter became the chief apostle, the prophet of the church. Because this church was so new, he and the other apostles had a difficult time keeping the doctrine pure and sound. They had to travel a lot and they wrote letters to one another addressing questions that they had.
But, because the church was so new and they traveled so much, before the Gospel could be entrenched, some of the doctrines were not kept pure, and between 60 and 70 A.D. the Apostle Peter was slain by his enemies and soon the rest of the apostles were martyred and the pure doctrine of Christ became polluted.
The pieces of Christianity were preserved after this through individuals like Linus, Anacletus, Clement, and other bishops of Rome. The purposes of the Nicene Creed and the Council of Trent were to argue on the basic argument, on the basic points of doctrine of Christianity. So these people had different ideas on the most basic principles such as the nature of God and after a couple hundred years the Gospel was lost. In the middle ages among the leaders the authority to act in the name of God completely disappeared.
This apostasy was predicted; actually I’d like to read in Our Search for Happiness, Apostle Ballard says: “The beautiful simplicity of Christ’s gospel was under attack by an enemy even more destructive than the scourges and attacks against the church by early Rome. The Gospel was based more on popular belief of uninspired men than upon revelation. After a period of time after the apostles had died, the spiritual ordinations in the time of Christ were lost. In short, the church that Christ organized was lost. Indeed these were dark ages, the authority to act in the name of Christ was gone.”
The apostasy was predicted; as we see in II Timothy 4:3-4: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” Also Amos 8: 11-12 “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.”
Paul wrote to the Thessalonian Christians who were waiting for the return of the Lord and he informed them that Christ would not return until there had been a falling away first. 2 Thessalonians 2:3: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.”
Legrand Richards said in A Marvelous Work and a Wonder: “This departure from the Gospel of Jesus Christ was to be universal as the prophets were told and this apostasy was confirmed by Jesuss Christ to the Prophet Joseph Smith. It followed that a Restoration would be necessary.
Such a Restoration is the message of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Restoration is our message and the peculiar part of our doctrine. The boy Joseph went into the woods having questions of the heart and soul that he couldn’t find answers to: So many sects and so many different beliefs. Joseph Smith was in a time of great religious freedom and confusion, so he petitioned the Lord and was told that a fullness of the Gospel was not yet on the earth. The boy Joseph became the man who restored our Gospel.
When Joseph Smith was ready and when the time was right, he was given the Book of Mormon to translate, and while he and Oliver Cowdery were translating, they repeatedly came across verses that really touched their hearts, and they weren’t certain as to what they were to do. 2 Nephi 31:5, they learned “And now, if the Lamb of God he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfill all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water.” Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith knew that they needed to be baptized, but they knew that they didn’t have the authority that they needed; so, on May 15th 1829, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery went to the banks of the Susquehanna River, and they petitioned the Lord.
They humbly poured out the desires of their hearts to God; while they were praying, they were visited by John the Baptist who laid his hands upon their heads and conferred upon them the Aaronic Priesthood, and he also told they that they should baptize one another. Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith were very grateful for the difference they saw in their continuing work after they had the Aaronic Priesthood.
However, it did not take long for them to realize that the Aaronic Priesthood was limited and as Joseph continued in his work of restoring the church, he would need the higher priesthood. Joseph Smith and Oliver again petitioned the Lord; they were so straight forward; they didn’t wait for the Lord. And because they were so faithful, he immediately answered their prayer again. Peter, James, and John—of old—appeared and conferred upon them the Melchizedek Priesthood.
Then Moses, Elias, & Elijah came and gave them keys to further use the priesthood. And because of this our Church is restored: April 6th 1830, and here we all are because these faithful men went and did these things. Every working man in the Church is able to receive this priesthood: the authority to act in God’s will.
I want to reflect a little on the blessings of the priesthood. The Aaronic priesthood blesses us each week as these young men prepare, bless and pass the sacramental emblems—Christ’s flesh and blood during our weekly sacrament meetings. Because of this we are able to renew our baptismal covenants and be made clean. We are able to redirect our minds and become close to Christ. Every week we are able to do that because of the Aaronic Priesthood.
Also because of the Aaronic Priesthood, those that hold it are able to perform baptisms. I want to share a few stories really fast. First related to the sacrament. I have a really good friend who turned 16. He really respected his priesthood; he would go home early on Saturday night to prepare to honor the priesthood. I have always remembered that and am so grateful that he realized what a blessing this was.
Regarding baptism, I have gone many times with my brother and with my friends who hold the priesthood and are able to baptism me, and each time I walk away from the temple, I am so grateful for these men who are so pure and who are striving to be righteous.
Young men of the Aaronic priesthood are able to gather donations to help the poor and to minister to needy members in their homes. We have so many great young men in our ward who sacrifice their time on Sundays---to go home teaching with their fathers and to minister to needs of the ward. They are just young boys, but they hold the Aaronic Priesthood, and for this I am so grateful.
Then there is the Melchezedek Priesthood. We are so blessed, for worlds without end were formed with that power. It is through this power that we were formed. It is through this power that our church was formed and reestablished upon this earth in this dispensation.
This Restoration is so fundamental in each of our testimonies. I am so glad that we have the fundamental knowledge to be members of the Church. In the Melchizedek priesthood there is order that we understand, and there is order from our home teachers to our bishopric through our stake presidency all the way up to our Prophet who receives revelation from God. We are so blessed. The Melchizedek Priesthood blesses each of our lives more than we can realize.
Those who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood are able to confer the Holy Ghost, which was what Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith knew was necessary for restoring the priesthood, in order to bestow the Holy Ghost upon each other.
Those who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood are able to heal the sick and administer to them. The are able to conduct church services and to perform sacred ordinances. My mind goes to the temple where the Priesthood allows us to perform sacred ordinances as proxies for those who are dead. Through the priesthood all of this is made possible.
It is also through this priesthood that we are permitted to have priesthood blessings: physical, emotional and spiritually healing. I am so grateful for all of these things.
I have many stories that I want to share with you. I went to the temple early in March around mid-Term; I had tried to call my home teachers, but they were really busy, but the night before I went through the temple, I knew I needed a blessing, so I called my home teachers, and they were over within five minutes. They left the library early and were wearing clean white shirts. It was just great; they were able to just sit and talk with me before and after the beautiful blessing that made me feel peaceful and gave me comfort about going through the temple. I share these thoughts with you because they are very important to me; it meant so much that these wonderful men were able and willing to drop what they were doing and give a girl they home teach a blessing. I was so grateful for that, and I felt that blessing being fulfilled as I was going through the temple. It was a beautiful experience, and I attribute that in part to the blessing I was given.
Also a few years ago I was involved in an accident where life was lost. While the life flight was going to the hospital, I was taken to the roof of the houseboat and given a blessing that I might have peace and not have guilt. I have reflected on that blessing every day as I have grappled with loss and how I feel about it. Also, that blessing was inspired in seeing what I needed even years down the road. I really respect the power of blessings and the men who hold the sacred power of the priesthood.
In Doctrine and Covenants section 107: 18-19, we read:”The Power and Authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church. To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn,and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant. It is through the Melchizedek Priesthood we are able to do that.”
Also in Doctrine and Covenants section 84:20 we read : Therefore in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.” I know that it is through the Priesthood we see God’s hand as a special blessing in our lives. It is an indescribable blessing to have the blessing of the Priesthood in our lives.
As Apostle Ballard said: “The Latter-day Saints may draw upon the priesthood as a special blessing in their lives. In Man’s Search for Happiness, John Taylor says: “Whether on this earth or in the heavens all things are upheld and sustained by the power of the Priesthood. It governs all things; it directs all things. It governs all things that have to do with God and our association with him.”
I would like to close with a reference to Apostle L. Tom Perry, who said: “We have been blessed by the great power of the priesthood. It blesses the family; it blesses the congregation to which we belong. It even blesses the world in which we live.”
I know that the priesthood is a gift and a blessing from our Father in Heaven. I am so grateful for it. I am so grateful for the righteous men in this ward by whom I have been highly influenced. The blessings of the priesthood are many; I have touched on only a few. We are so blessed to have the priesthood.
I know that as I leave on this mission that it is the priesthood work. I know that as I preach the Gospel it is through the priesthood that those taught will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost to be truly converted and to be members of the Church for the rest of their lives as they go through the temple and receive the blessings there.
I am so grateful to be here. I feel I really belong here, and I’m so grateful for the Gospel and for my testimony that this is without a doubt the true church of Jesus Christ. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that it was translated through the priesthood. It contains the fullness of the Gospel when put with the Bible. And I am so grateful for the privilege of serving the people of San Diego in this sacred work. I’m grateful for all that I have, for my testimony and for this gospel.
I bear this testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen