Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Remembering Jesus

I wanted to create a picture book about the sacrament. That’s how it started.

I wanted to teach children about Jesus and the sacred thread that ties the sacrament to him. Children seem to bond easily and early with Jesus Christ, instinctively sensing his love, but do they understand the sacrament?

Sharing my feelings about Jesus was complicated, because His gifts to us are many and beautifully varied. The atonement is like a jewel with many facets or a mountain with many faces. I once called it as a mansion with many rooms.

I have tender feelings for Jesus because of His love and His mercy. I have powerful feelings for Jesus because of His majesty and glory. I have gratitude for Jesus because of His example, His grace, and His beautiful plan. I have hope because of Jesus and I want to be like him.

We are washed in the blood of Jesus when we are baptized and choose to follow him. Everyday choices bring us closer to him or farther from him. Agency is a wondrous gift with bittersweet consequences.

The sacrament is part of the glue that binds us to Jesus. If we choose, we can draw closer to Him each week as we thoughtfully partake of the Sacrament. We can renew sacred covenants, taking His Name upon us. We can promise to keep his commandments, and we can choose to remember him.

Taking the Sacrament is a sacred ordinance. It is a powerful reminder of our covenants and our dependence on our Savior. As we grow in obedience we can draw strength from this ordinance. Perfection is a process. The sacrament doesn’t make us perfect, but partaking worthily and honestly does help make us clean.

I love the sacrament. I love how it makes me feel. I love feeling close to my Savior. When I take the sacrament I feel his love for me, and I know that it is real.

These are some of the thoughts that teased my mind as I wrote about my love for Jesus Christ in the following poem. Maybe it’s not for children after all.

How Much Does He Love Me?

How much does He love me,
Jesus, my truest friend?
He loves me more than words can tell
or mind can comprehend.
For on this earth He walked the path
That showed me what to do.
I want to serve Him all my days.
I promise to be true.

How much does He love me,
Jesus, my powerful friend?
For He commands the thunder
and He commands the wind.
His love is warmer than the sun,
More mighty than the sea.
His voice is gentle as the snow.
His words, “Come follow me.”

Oh how I want to follow.
I promise not to stray.
He has the power to bring me home,
if I can just obey.
And though the days are sometimes hard,
the nights are sometimes long,
And on my own I’m sometimes weak,
Together, we are strong.

How much does He love me,
Jesus, my gentle friend?
He is the one who died for me
that I might live again.
He is the one who bled for me
in Gethsemane’s sacred garden.
He is the one who pleads for me
that God will grant me pardon.

He conquered death. He conquered sin.
It is my favorite story.
He is the shepherd of my soul.
He is the King of Glory.
I do not know how great the cost,
What pain He had to suffer.
He died for you; He died for me;
Our Savior and our brother.

How can I show my love for Him,
My Savior and my King?
What do I have to give to him?
What offering can I bring?
The gifts He gave are mighty.
The gifts I bring are small.
He wants me to remember Him
And share His love with all.

And when I take the Sacrament
I do remember Him.
I think of how He chose to live
completely without sin.
I think about the BREAD OF LIFE
while I eat the bread,
And of the multitudes He taught,
and of the ones He fed.

I hunger for His warm embrace
and for His healing touch.
I promise to be like Him.
I want His love so much.
I thirst for His forgiveness
when I falter and I sin;
And when the cup reaches my lips,
He bids me, “try again.”

and I promise to obey,
To stand for truth and righteousness
at home, at work, at play.
I think of His commandments.
I will try to do my part.
I’ll give to Him my love, my hands,
and most of all, my heart.

Linda Garner

My Special Investigator

I brought an investigator with me to Church today. She is amazing. I love her, and I hope that she will learn to love the gospel of Jesus Christ.

My investigator is five years old and she is my granddaughter. Her mother is not a member of our church and her dad is not active. For now, they let her come with me. She enjoys coming, and is learning a lot. I am honored for the chance to share the gospel with her.

My goals for my granddaughter are different than they were for my own children, for she is an investigator. I don’t know how many Sundays we will have together before life makes other plans. I know that someday she will choose for herself, so today I do what I can to create spiritual memories for her.

For my own children, my goals were about being quiet during Sacrament Meeting, not being late, looking presentable, and not having to go to the bathroom and get a drink twenty times.

For my granddaughter, I have just one goal. I want her to feel something. I want her to feel safe. I want her to know that church is a happy place to be. I hope that she feels good inside and that she will come to understand that those good feelings come from the Holy Ghost.

I don’t mind if she makes me late. I don’t mind if she does her own hair and chooses her favorite dress, instead of the one I wanted. I don’t mind if she whispers to me during the Sacrament, or if she wants to get a drink or go to the bathroom more than once. I don’t stress if she dances in the aisle or spills the crayons on the floor. I am just glad that she is with me.

I talk to her about Jesus and about the Holy Ghost. I tell her that Heavenly Father loves her and that she is his daughter. I tell her that the Sacrament helps us remember Jesus. I tell her that the things she is learning in primary are true.

She knows a lot for a five year old investigator. She knows about Jesus and about Joseph Smith. She knows about temples. She knows some Articles of Faith. Sometimes she reads scriptures with Grandpa and me. She knows how to pray.

She sings about the doctrines of the restored gospel in amazingly beautiful primary songs. She may forget the lessons, but I think she will remember the songs.

“I know that my Savior loves me.”

“Faith is strengthened, I feel it grow whenever I obey. “

“I lived in Heaven a long time ago, it is true. Lived there and loved there with people I know. So did you.”

“I know my father lives, and loves me too.“

“I love to see the temple. I’m going there someday, to feel the Holy Spirit to listen and to pray.”

“My life is a gift. My life has a plan. My life has a purpose, in heaven it began.”

“I will follow God’s plan for me.”

“I need my Heavenly Father to help me every day. He wants me to be happy and choose the righteous way.”

My own children seldom missed church and they had the advantage of family home evening, family prayer, and seminary. I never thought of them as investigators, but perhaps I should have. They learned the principles of the gospel, but some of them chose a different path.

My granddaughter will choose too. I cannot make this choice for her, even if I want to. The choice belongs to her. I can teach her gospel truths while I have the chance, but knowledge is never enough. Those gospel truths need to find a home in her heart. Truth is obeyed when it is loved.

Today we are planting seeds of testimony. Will I have her long enough for those seeds to take root? Will she learn enough to grow her own testimony? How much will she remember?

It is hard already. She is confused. Why is Jesus important to Grandma and Grandpa, but not to Dad or Mom? Her mom would rather she didn’t come to church, but she allows it. Why doesn’t Mom want her to go to Church? Why won’t Dad come too? How can she follow Jesus and honor her Mother and Father? These are hard questions for a five year old.

I don’t have good answers. I have my testimony, and my love for her. I’m counting on the Holy Ghost to help her find answers. I’m counting on Him to help her make important choices. Will she get the gift of the Holy Ghost when she is eight? Will she listen to Him?

“Oh may I always listen to the Still Small Voice,
And with his light I’ll do what’s right each time I make a choice.”

The Holy Ghost is my best friend. I hope He will be her friend too. And when it really counts, I hope she’ll remember who she is.

“I am a child of god, and He has sent me here.”

Linda Garner