"COME to the temple and claim your blessings."
Washington DC Temple
This afternoon, Jim and I had the privilege of attending the sealing ceremony of a young couple and their baby in the Salt Lake Temple. They have been married for a few years, and their baby boy is just about a year old. The woman has been a Mormon all her life. Her husband was raised Catholic. I first met him a few years ago at a ward activity. He struck me as incredibly nice and incredibly quiet. I was aware at that time that he had been talking to the missionaries. We chatted a while during the activity, and I told him that I had been Catholic and attended Catholic School as a child. I encouraged him to take his time and learn about the blessings the Lord had for him. I told him how much they meant to me.
As time went on, this good man took the missionary discussions from a few sets of missionaries as he and his wife pondered the path they wanted to take in life. He made his decision after contemplation and prayer and was baptized a little over a year ago. He has been a wonderful convert, faithfully following the path God laid before him. Both he and his wife exude goodness, and you can't help but smile when you look at them.
My husband is the bishop of our ward and has watched this family progress toward their temple blessings for the past few years. They recently invited both of us to attend their temple sealing this afternoon. We wouldn't have missed it.
It is difficult to describe the feeling one has as he or she participates in or attends the sealing of a husband and wife and their children. It is a feeling unlike any other. I have experienced it many times before and long to experience it as often as I can when I attend these sacred experiences. One way to describe it is as a feeling of profound serenity. There is a gentle warmth that fills my heart as I feel the presence of the Lord's Spirit attending such important events. The quietness of the temple is also profound. People speak in whispers as we acknowledge that we are in God's holy house. We take our shoes off because we stand on holy ground dedicated to the Lord's crowning blessings for His children.
The young couple came into the sealing room dressed in white where family and friends waited. The officiator gave wonderful words of counsel about the ordinance that was about to take place. When the time came, they knelt at the holy altar of God. I was struck by the look of sincerity in the young man's eyes as he knelt across from his wife at the altar. He had a look of perfect love for her. It was easy to discern that he knew that what he was doing was the most important thing he could do in this life. It was clear that they loved each other deeply. Many people in the room shed tears of joy attended by the feeling of deep warmth of the Spirit testifying to all of us that what was taking place was truly of the Lord.
When that ordinance was complete, the couple's baby was brought in. He too was dressed in white. He is a beautiful baby. He was wide awake and never uttered a sound. He looks like both of his parents, making it all that much sweeter. A family member, also dressed in white, knelt at the altar to hold the baby as his parents held hands. I don't think I can ever forget the tenderness of that scene. Just moments before when the husband looked at his wife with such intensity, it was now clear to everyone that the fulfillment of the temple blessings are wrapped in the beauty of the family. The look in their eyes as they looked at their child was as tender as anything you can imagine. Their baby was sealed to his parents forever. Their love brought him into the world, and God's love for all of them provided them with His greatest blessing-the promise of eternal life together as they remain faithful to their promises to each other and their promises to God.
One of the missionaries who taught the young father the gospel over a year and a half ago was also there in attendance. He sat next to us. We had him in our home for dinner when he first arrived as a brand new missionary only three days into his mission. Today he told us he's been a missionary for 16 months. Wow. After the service we discussed that all we do as members-my husband's work as the bishop-and the work of all the missionaries is to point others to Christ and to the temple where they can receive the great sealing blessings God has for them. The Lord's work truly is sweet. The feeling of joy is overwhelming. The realization of the blessings of the temple motivates all of us to try a little harder and be a little kinder to all around us. The blessings are for the entire human race. That's why we send missionaries to all parts of the world, and why we work so diligently to be member missionaries ourselves.
No one forced this couple to go to the temple. The young father willingly accepted the gospel and took the steps necessary to enter the temple. He received the ordinance of baptism and prepared himself to qualify to enter the temple. He understood that the invitation to "come to the temple to claim your blessings" meant that he had work to do, and he did it.
If only the whole world could experience the feeling we felt today as we saw this family sealed together forever. I think if they could feel what we felt, there would be many more people claiming their own blessings. I know by the power of the Holy Ghost which I felt today that this work is truly God's work. Only in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are all of the blessings of God available. That's why missionaries invite others, no matter their current religion, to "come to the temple and claim your blessings."
God is so good. The family is the center of all He does. Families are important to Him. He wants to bless all of His children. Surely He smiled on this couple today, and we smiled at them as well.
As we left the sealing room and hugged the couple after the ceremony, I hugged the young father. I whispered in his ear, "this is only the beginning." I know whereof I speak. The blessings offered through the gospel of Jesus Christ are many. They simply multiply as the years go on. Oh yes there are always heartaches and trials along the way, but as the couple was counseled today-because of the temple blessings they received-they will be able to handle them. The power of the ordinance that binds them together as a family will help see them through their trials.
I don't think there is any greater invitation I could extend to anyone than to invite them to do as this young couple did today and "come to the temple and claim your blessings." It will be unlike anything you have ever experienced in your life, and it is worth every sacrifice to make sure you find yourself kneeling at the altar of God to receive all that He has to offer you.
It's been a beautiful day. I can't think of a better way to end this Christmas season than to have witnessed what I did today. It is why "we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, [and] we preach of Christ" (2 Nephi 25:26 in the Book of Mormon). It is because Christ was born, and then died for us, that these blessings are available. Christ is The Gift God gave us, so that we could receive the gift of our temple blessings.
That's why at Christmas we remember that "the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people" when he announced Christ's birth to the shepherds the night He was born. And that's why "suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2: 10, 13-14). The "tidings of great joy" come because of the love of our Father in Heaven for His children, because of Christ, and because of the blessings of the temple.
(A different young family).
So come to the temple and claim your blessings...
And so can you.
And so can you.
Nothing else compares to the JOY
that comes when God gives us
our temple blessings.