My family likes to watch the TV show, Once Upon A Time. It is about the people who live in a town called Storybrooke where everyone is under a curse so they can’t remember who they really are and they can’t have what will make them the most happy. There is a character with a special gift that can break the curse. This character is the only one who can. It takes awhile for that person to believe in their power even though they are told about it repeatedly.Tonight we are commemorating the Aaronic Priesthood – the special gift we have to break the chains of what might be described as a similar curse. We’ve been told about this gift many times. We’ve read and seen videos of how the Aaronic Priesthood was restored. But I’m not sure all of us still really understand what our gift is and what our responsibility it to use it. I’m hoping this fireside helps us commemorate the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood with a greater commitment to live and act a little more worthy of our privilege. I pray that we might commemorate the Aaronic Priesthood – not as by being an audience, but by our actions.
Two of the main characters are “Charming” and “Snow.” Charming was of royal blood and was called Prince Charming before he left his kingdom and came to Storybrooke. He wakes up from a coma in Storybrooke not remembering anything about his former life. Snow was the fairy tale character Snow White but she too was cursed to forget that she was the fairest in all the land. The evil character had lost what it wanted most and because it couldn’t have what it wanted, it spent all of its energy with one purpose, trying to ruin Snow’s and everyone else’s chance to find true happiness.Before Prince Charming and Snow White leave where they were happy and come to Storybrooke where they will forget everything, the prince tells his true love that no matter what happens, “I will always find you.” I’ll be repeating that promise many times tonight.
I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to use Once Upon A Time to introduce a talk about the Aaronic Priesthood.With that story in mind consider this: Rachel Bruner, wrote about the Plan of Salvation on the Latter-day Saints page of “About.com”… She explained “the plan of creation like this:Just like the characters in Once Upon A Time, before we (click) were born on the Earth, we…
As pre-mortal spirits, we develop talents to be discovered and enjoyed during our Earth life. They might have included things like being a good listener, having artistic abilities, being good in school or at sports. We developed passions and aptitudes we might later call “gifts.” Some to make a livelihood. Some we’d use just to have fun. We develop talents, gain knowledge, made friendships, and make promises of eternal significance too. These talents and the knowledge we’d gain would help us make friends – friends that would appreciate what made each of us a little different. Friends that would help us rediscover our pre-mortal talents in our Earthly experience and develop them even further. Our best teacher was Jesus Christ. He was also our best friend. We might have worried that our talents and wisdom could make us proud – so proud, in fact that we might loose our way when we got to Earth life. We might have asked about how “Agency” would work. “If you get lost,” said Jesus – our best friend, “I will always find you.” We followed His example and told our friends, “If you get lost, I will always find you.”Imagine what it might have been like to hear about the plan of creation from the Creator himself? We developed our talents and gained knowledge from the greatest teacher of all.
We’ve forgotten who we were before we came to this Earth life, but know more than most because of what Joseph Smith learned when he was 14 and in the few years after that. If you’ve gotten your Patriarchal Blessing you’ve been a little more. You are royalty. Your father is God. Your brother is Jesus Christ. Imagine hearing your brother tell you how the Earth would be placed in our new solar system? Imagine how exciting it must have been to have Him as your teacher. It was a big family, but somehow He made you feel like you were His favorite little brother. You wanted to be part of His plan. How big should the Sun be? How hot? How far away should be put the Earth? You were there when all that was decided. Earth would be 93 million miles from the Sun, in an elliptical orbit with an axis tilted 23.45 degrees. You might have been part of that design. A little closer and everything would burn up. A little further away and everything would freeze. No tilt would mean no seasons and no crops as we know them; probably no tides, and very different animal populations. Where humans would live would be very different too. We might have thought – Surely no one will think this could all be a coincidence. Everyone will know the Earth is our brother’s creation.Alma was there. He later wrote: “All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth... and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator” (Book of Mormon, Alma 30:44).
We really looked-up to our elder brother. But we were warned that some really well-educated people would tell us in our Earthly studies that the miracle of creation is just a coincidence. What if I believe them? you might have asked. What if I loose my way?“I will always find you” said your brother.
We listened more. He shared more about His miracle design. While water itself is a very small molecule (just a three-atom unit of hydrogen and oxygen) it is a primary ingredient of our planet. God's design of how water's specific molecules behave (and the impact water has on our entire planet) is an example of God's creative design and custodial presence, even on the smallest and largest scales.Water expands when it freezes, unlike most other substances. Ice and snow take up more volume than the same amount of liquid water. This makes water denser as a liquid than when frozen, so ice floats.If ice did not float on the surface of the water, the floors of oceans and lakes would be covered with glaciers of ice that would never melt. Surface ice also helps regulate the climate by reflecting energy.As a liquid, water’s temperature range is perfect for cycling water from the oceans to the land. Water requires a lot of energy to evaporate into a vapor and it releases this energy when it condenses back into liquid. This balances temperatures in the earth’s climate, as well as inside living cells. If less energy were required for evaporation, then streams, rivers, and lakes would evaporate away quickly.
Surely everyone will see God’s hand in this. No one would think that was a coincidence? But some of our friends would. When they got lost, we promised we would always find them. If they ended up in Japan or Chile, (click) we’d learn their language, go there and find them. We’d have the priesthood. We’d use it to break the curse.
"For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth.... And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them" (Moses 3:5.)We were part of Heavenly Father’s plan. We might have wondered how babies get oxygen before they are born. Some might have been satisfied to know it comes from the mother’s blood through the umbilical chord. Others might have ask more questions as we developed a talent and gained wisdom about science. The complicated structure you see here is hemoglobin. It is what carries the oxygen in the blood stream from the lungs to the tissues. It is pretty cool because it grabs oxygen in the lungs but lets it go just where it is needed in the body. Especially cool is that this complicated molecule is different in babies than in their adult mother. fetal hemoglobin has a noticeably higher affinity for oxygen than does maternal hemoglobin. This is of crucial importance during pregnancy in human females (and presumably in other pregnant mammalian females) because it allows the fetus to obtain much-needed oxygen during development. Basically, the hemoglobin present in the fetus is able to strip oxygen species from the maternal hemoglobin when the mother's blood comes into contact with fetal material. The portion of the mother's blood that does not touch the fetus transfers oxygen as normal to the mother's organ systems.Surely no one will think this is just a coincidence. But what if they do. What if your friend believes that? What if they loose their way. Then “I will always find you” you’d say. “I’ll learn what things you like to do and I’ll go where these things are being done and I’ll find you.”
Some friendships were just pals. Some perhaps a little more serious than others. Some may have found their eternal companion before they came to Earth. I was in the Army for 24 years. I know the special bonds of friendship we formed as comrades in arms. We know we fought a war in Heaven. A war with eternal consequences. Those friendships must have been strong enough to have carried beyond the veil.
If any of those friends get lost we will find them. We will always find them.
Who were some of the friends we formed there? The scriptures tell us.In Abraham 3: 22 (click)Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the aintelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of thebnoble and great ones; 23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and (click) he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good
(click) Deuteronomy 4:20 But as for you, the LORD took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are.(click) Deuteronomy 7:6 For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.
Titus 2:14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Exodus 19:5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.
Exodus 19:6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.'
Deuteronomy 10:15 Yet the LORD set his affection on your forefathers and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 14:2 for you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession.
Deuteronomy 26:18 And the LORD has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised.
Deuteronomy 26:19 He has declared that he will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations he has made and that you will be a people holy to the LORD your God, as he promised.
1 Samuel 12:22 For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own.
Psalm 118:27 The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine upon (you).
Psalm 135:4 For the LORD has chosen (you) to be his own, … to be his treasured possession.
Isaiah 61:6 And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God.
Isaiah 62:12 They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the LORD; and you will be called Sought After.
Isaiah 42:16 I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them
Isaiah 42:16 …and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.
Deuteronomy 26:18 And the LORD has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised, (and that you are to keep all his commands).So I hope you are feeling pretty good about who you are, who your friends are and especially who your best friend is – Jesus Christ.I hope you are thinking about what a privilege it is to have his name. To be a member of His church.I hope that right now, at this very moment you are remembering that Jesus Christ made promises to you… that you made promises to Him and that you made promises to one another.I hope you think about who your friends are, or who they might be, and what you can do for them with the power and authority of the Aaronic Priesthood. I hope the phrase, “I will always find you,” takes on a new meaning. I hope you are grateful for, and willing to take advantage of the promises Jesus Christ made to you and that you are resolved to live-up to the promises you made to him and to your friends.You have the power to break the curse of a jealous fallen angel who can never be happy so he doesn’t want you to be either.You have supreme power against such an adversary. When you and the 1.8 million of your young Aaronic Priesthood brothers are valiant, you WILL win this final war. That’s the focus of this commemoration? The keys of the ministering of angles, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins was restored to the Earth on May 15th, 1829. And it will never be taken again from the Earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness (D&C 13. There are approximately 1,800,000 young men among the ranks of the Aaronic Priesthood. You young men are among them. You may feel like you aren’t that important. You may not understand what all it means to hold the office of a deacon, teacher or priest. I doubt Joseph did either in May of 1829. But unlike Joseph and Oliver, you are NOT alone.
I was in Washington, DC for the 1976 centennial celebration of the 4th of July. I looked across the Potomac River from the steps of the Pentagon where I worked and saw what a crowd of 1.8 million people looked like. There wasn’t a square inch of flat, dry ground anywhere I could see within miles that didn’t have someone standing on it. Cars just drove as far as they could on I-95. Then the people stopped, got out and watched the fireworks. It is easy for me to imagine seeing all the Aaronic Priesthood holders in one place at one time. From that image, I can imaging what power you have as you all worked together to fulfill their Duty to God.
You need to know how powerful you are. You need to believe what you can do.
You had hands laid on your head by someone in authority who gave you the power you have. You remember who that was. That person, in many cases, your father, remembers who gave it to him. There is no doubting the fact that these ordinations happened as they are remembered.There are only 3 men who passed the priesthood authority from the three witnesses, Oliver Cowdrey, David Whitmir, and Martin Harris, one to another and eventually to President Monson. The three witnesses got that authority from Joseph Smith, Jr., Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams. Joseph Smith, Jr. got it from Peter, James and John who got it from Jesus Christ. The number of men in your line of authority probably isn’t much longer. Each knows as vividly as you how they were blessed.
Imagine with faith in these few first-hand accounts then how it must have felt to have been Joseph Smith or Oliver Cowdrey on May 15th 1829, just 183 years ago. I have a friend from England who teases me that the United States has no history. That compared to his country, what we study about our past should be called “current events.” He’d call something that happened in 1829 is news. I hope you believe the news. What if the world believed that John the Baptist actually appeared to Joseph and Oliver. It would be, as described by Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone, “… forever changed. Every honest person of any religion would praise God, weep with great tears and embrace the restored gospel. Every knee would bow and every tongue would confess that Jesus is the Christ and that he has restored his church in this day.”Joseph and Oliver were ministered to by Angels. The power and authority they received is the only power and authority that will break the curse. Joseph gave his life in order to find his friends and give them what he got on May 15, 1829. He believed Jesus’ promise and kept his. He might have told Brigham Young before he came to Earth, I will always find you. And he did. That chain of keeping the promise has extended to you. It can end with you too of you are not careful. I pray that we will all commemorate the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood with faith and action. Brother Day is going to talk about how you develop talents and learn wisdom. President John is going to show you a video about how an Aaronic Priesthood holder found his friend and kept his promise. We’ll conclude by asking you to develop talents and gain wisdom, make friendships and keep promises. That’s how we really commemorate the Aaronic Priesthood.
The Plan of Creation Before we were born on the earth we existed as spirits and lived in a spirit world in the presence of God, our Eternal Father.We developed talents and gained knowledge.We created friendshipsand made promises.