This year we will celebrate the anniversary of when our ward was first created seven years ago on August 26, 2012. The number 7 has great significance within the history of Christ’s church starting from the earth being created in 7 days. Anciently, the Israelites also celebrated what was known as the Sabbatical Year every 7th year.
The bible dictionary says, “As was the seventh day in every week and the seventh month in every year, so also was every seventh year consecrated to the Lord. The land, inasmuch as it was the Lord’s, was to keep a Sabbath unto Him (Lev. 25:2–7). In this year the self-sown produce of the arable lands (suitable for growing crops) was to be left for the poor… A release of debts owed by Israelite to Israelite was made. The year was intended to be not simply a year of leisure but also one of religious instruction and exercises.”
First, not only did the land rest, like we do each Sunday from our work labors, but it was also a year of not just leisure but of “religious instruction and exercises.” We attend church to be instructed in religious matters and then go to our homes to exercise and practice what was taught. In this way we begin to perfect ourselves and help our families become a Zion people.
Second, what does it mean to be “left for the poor?” If you look at the topical guide “poor” also means ” people who are humble and without pride” or in other words meek. We know that when Jesus Christ was on the earth he taught about the poor in spirit when he said in the Book of Mormon, “Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (3 Nephi 12:3)
Again in modern scripture found in the Doctrine and Covenants it says, “But blessed are the poor who are pure in heart, whose hearts are broken, and whose spirits are contrite, for they shall see the kingdom of God coming in power and great glory unto their deliverance; for the fatness of the earth shall be theirs.” (D&C 56:18)
The land during the sabbatical year was to be left to the poor, meek and humble of the Lord. Those that are humble, meek and poor in spirit will be heirs of the kingdom of heaven. They are those who are ready to accept, listen and take part in the fold of Israel. Our role is to find those who are meek and ready to accept the gospel on both sides of the veil.
Third, there was a release of debts owed. Daily, weekly or monthly we can participate in family history research and take our ancestor’s names to the temple to perform temple ordinance work in their behalf. In so doing we give them a choice to be released from spirit prison.
This year will be our Ward’s Sabbatical year to focus on temple, family history and missionary work as we work towards the mission of the church and prepare our hearts, homes and wards for the return of the Savior’s second coming.
In following the Sabbatical Year we can fulfill our mission on earth to help our Heavenly Father, “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of [all] man.” This is where the great gathering of God’s people begins.
In the Kirtland Temple, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery received sacred keys and responsibilities. In D&C 110 it reads, “Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north. After this, Elias appeared, and committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham, saying that in us and our seed all generations after us should be blessed. After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before us, and said: Behold, the time has fully come… To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse. Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors.”
The three fold mission of the church was given to the people. That same power and keys is held today by our our living prophet, President Russell M. Nelson. He recently spoke and explained what the gathering other Israel is and how we can help our Heavenly Father in this divine appointed work.
The Gathering of Israel
Who wants to be apart of the gathering of Israel? We are hearing what was prophesied since the beginning that their would be a great gathering before the Lord would come for the second and final time. This is a miracle and blessing for us today to be apart of the greatest event to ever happen in the history of the world outside of the atonement and resurrection of the Savior, Jesus Christ.
What does that gathering look like for us and how can we be apart of it? During the sabbatical year biblically, the field was ready to be harvested and given to the poor in spirit. Similarly in Doctrine and Covenants 4:4-5 it states, “For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.”
Hearts and souls are prepared, yet are we available, willing and ready to have faith, hope, charity and love with our eye single to his glory to take part in gathering Israel on both sides of the veil? Let’s find out how we can be a part of Heavenly Father’s story to bring about his “work and glory.”
Ways to Help our Heavenly Father Finish his Story
How can we help save our Heavenly Father’s family? This is where our ward goal comes in. After much prayer, we feel the Lord’s voice asking us to help in a specific way for our ward. Here are four goals we invite you to participate in for the next year.
We invite you to dedicate a full year starting August 1st until August 1st of 2019 to your ancestors, neighbors and strengthening your homes by fulfilling the three fold mission of the church: Redeeming the Dead, Preaching the Gospel and Perfecting the Saints.
We invite all families to discover, find and take their names to the temple to complete all available ordinance work for one family from your family tree.
We invite all families to attend the temple once a month while encouraging the ward to go sometime together or alone during the second week of the month.
We invite all family members to ponder, pray and invite a neighborhood family to a ward activity, family home evening, church or introduce them to the missionaries.
We invite all family members to participate in indexing as we try to beat Ryan Call’s grandmother who is the 3rd top indexer in the world.
Elder Packer shares his thoughts on how to accomplish God’s work and glory by using a spiritual passport.
Find and Free Your Family Tree
Let’s talk about each of these four goals and how we can accomplish them.
1. We invite all families to discover, find and take their names to the temple to complete all available ordinance work for one family from your family tree thus making a new ward on the other side of the veil.
Your ward or stake should have a temple and family history consultant to help you get started. This is my calling in my ward and I love it. As a recently called temple and family history consultant, it is my job to teach, inspire and motivate you to be converted to the spirit of Elijah in a way that will bless your family on both sides of the veil. I have the best calling in the ward! This is how a family history consultant can help…
2. We invite all families to attend the temple once a month while encouraging the ward to go sometime during the second week of the month. This can be something you do as a family or go together as a ward. We have created a facebook group just for this year’s goal. Those going to the temple can post and invite others to join them to encourage more attendance at the temple.
3. We invite all family members to ponder, pray and invite a neighborhood family to a ward activity, family home evening, church, give them a Book of Mormon or introduce them to the missionaries. We have planned a quarterly activity for the entire year, each focused on families, learning a new family history skill, fun and neighborhood friendly. Our first one will be the Day of the Dead which will be inspired by the recent Disney movie Coco. Details on how to put together your own combined Halloween/Day of the Dead will be posted here so be sure to follow our blog.
4. We invite all family members to participate in indexing as we try to beat one of our ward member’s grandmother who is the 3rd top indexer in the world. Her goal since she is sick right now is to do 100 batches a day so our entire ward will rally together and try to beat Grandma Call with a year indexing goal of 36,500 batches. She did 100,000 by June the year before!
Remember this is a Family Affair
We do not want to take you away from your family in fulfilling these goals. We want you to do them together. Start with prayer and decide what your personal and family plan will be to help God’s children. Temple and family history consultants are here to help in this process as well as you who minister one to another can use this tool to fulfill your ministering responsibilities.
A Sacrifice of Time
One of the greatest hurdles that will prevent you from participating in this ward goal, will be that Satan will get you to believe that you are too busy to take part right now in your life. He will want you to procrastinate until it is too late to save ourselves and our loved ones. I love this story from President Packer who had to of been one of the busiest people ever.
He said, “several years ago Sister Packer and I determined that we should get our records in order. However, under the pressure of Church responsibilities with my travels about the world, and the obligations with our large family and a home to keep up both indoors and outdoors, there just was not enough time. But we were restless about this family history responsibility, and finally we determined that somehow we would have to make more time in the day. During the Christmas holidays when we had a little extra time, we started. Then as we moved back to a regular schedule after the holidays, we adopted the practice of getting up an hour or two earlier each day.
We gathered together everything we had, and in the course of a few weeks we were amazed at what we were able to accomplish. The thing that was most impressive, however, was the fact that we began to have experiences that told us somehow that we were being guided, that there were those beyond the veil who were interested in what we were doing. Things began to fall into place. As I have traveled about the Church and paid particular attention to this subject, many testimonies have come to light. Others who assemble their records together are likewise having similar experiences. It was as though the Lord was waiting for us to begin.
We found things we had wondered about for a long time. It seemed as though they came to us almost too easily. More than this, things that we never dreamed existed began to show up. We began to learn by personal experience that this research into our families is an inspired work. We came to know that an inspiration will follow those who move into it. It is just a matter of getting started. Once we started, we found the time. Somehow we were able to carry on all of the other responsibilities. There seemed to be an increased inspiration in our lives because of this work.”
President Nelson invites us to make a sacrifice of time.
That’s the invitation and challenge from the prophet. We are here to support you in this great cause of the gathering of all of Heavenly Father’s children on both sides of the veil. There is a bulletin board outside of the Bishop’s office. You will discover a map, we want to fill that map up with our ancestors and give them a stamp or temple ordinances so they can be freed from spirit prison. In order to fulfill our ward goal of creating a ward on the other side of the veil, we need to find and complete all the ordinance work for 400 family members. We can do it! That is really only about one family per family.
In closing let’s again return to the spiritual passport and understand about where our ancestors are and how they are calling on us to help. All the pictures in this video of ancestors are ancestors from this ward. Please pay attention to the feelings it brings as you listen to the words of one of our General Authorities.