Temples and Homes as Sacred Spaces

I recently had the opportunity to accompany my husband on a high council speaking assignment. His companion speaker had a family emergency a few hours before the meeting time, but I was able to fill in using a talk I had written two years ago. I realized I never posted that talk on this blog, so I wanted to share it today. My husband gave a great talk, Habits of Christ-centered Homes, which is worth a read as well.

One of my favorite sources for gospel learning is the Bible Dictionary. Under the heading of Temple we learn “A temple is literally a house of the Lord, a holy sanctuary in which sacred ceremonies and ordinances of the gospel are performed by and for the living and also in behalf of the dead. A place where the Lord may come, it is the most holy of any place of worship on the earth. Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.”

Elder Stevenson of the First Quorum of the Seventy taught “Understanding the eternal nature of the temple will draw you to your family; understanding the eternal nature of the family will draw you to the temple” (Stevenson, April 2009. “Sacred Homes, Sacred Temples”).

The theme of my remarks today centers on the sacredness of the temple and the sacredness of the home, and how a greater focus on the temple brings blessings to our family.

Temples and homes are sacred because of how they are constructed.

Majestic spires, beautiful stonework, craftsmanship that is awe-inspiring—every temple that is constructed is a work of art. But temples are so much more than simply buildings to be enjoyed for their visual beauty.

Temples are always made of the finest, “the most prized, and the costliest materials” available. “This condition of excellence was…an offering unto the Lord…the best the people could give” (Talmage, Oct. 2010 “History of Temples). Solomon’s ancient temple was one of the most remarkable buildings in history. Nephi recorded that the temple built in the promised land was constructed “after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land…But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine” (2 Ne. 5:15–16).

Throughout history, the building of temples has always required some degree of sacrifice. In their impoverished state, the early Saints in Kirtland and Nauvoo gave of their substance and time to build temples-temples they would quickly walk away from. Before any homes were built in the Salt Lake Valley, President Brigham Young marked the spot where a house of the Lord was to be built.
While our homes today might be humble or elaborate, they can still be a place of peace and of order. The Lord counseled the Saints in Kirtland to “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God (D&C 88:119).”

Last year our family moved to North Carolina. As I worked to unpack the numerous boxes and make order out of the chaos, this scripture kept coming to mind. It prompted a Family Home Evening lesson, where we discussed the importance of organizing our home and working together to make our home “a house of God”, or a place where we can feel the spirit. And after a recent move back to Florida, with many boxes again to unpack and organize, this scripture is once again on my mind.

The temple is the Lord’s house, but our homes can be a house of order too. A house of order is a home where we try to do as Jesus taught. It is a home where we can feel love and peace.

Temples are sacred because of the lessons that are taught there.

In the temple we are taught about the purpose of life, the mission and Atonement of Jesus Christ, and Heavenly Father’s plan for His children. As Elder Nelson taught “Each temple is a house of learning. There we are taught in the Master’s way. His way differs from modes of others. His way is ancient and rich with symbolism. We can learn much by pondering the reality for which each symbol stands. Teachings of the temple are beautifully simple and simply beautiful. They are understood by the humble, yet they can excite the intellect of the brightest minds” (Nelson, April 2001).

Homes are sacred because of the lessons that are taught there.

President Monson once stated, “The lessons learned in the home are those that last the longest.” (April 2005, “Constant…” ) He went on to report the findings of a noted medical authority: “What is placed in the child’s [mind] during the first eight years of life is probably there to stay. … If you put misinformation into his [mind] during [this period], it is extremely difficult to erase it.” It is important to note that the most receptive age in human life is that of two or three years.

Family Home Evening is a wonderful way to see that our children are learning principles of the gospel. But many lessons in the home occur naturally, simply by our example. What lesson are we teaching our children when we kneel to pray as a family at the beginning and close of each day? When we take a meal to a family in need? When we spend a Saturday morning washing windows and vacuuming the church building?

Our children are like little sponges. They soak up the words we say, and most especially our actions, often without us even aware. Let us be certain that the lessons they are soaking up are lessons of faith, prayer, love, service, obedience, example, and kindness.

Elder Washburn of the Seventy taught “We go to the temple to make covenants, but we go home to keep the covenants that we have made. The home is the testing ground. The home is the place where we learn to be more Christlike. The home is the place where we learn to overcome selfishness and give ourselves in service to others” (Washburn, May 1995) Washburn, May 1995 “The Temple is afamily affair”

Temples are sacred because of the work that is done there.

In the temple we do the work that is necessary to salvation. Individuals are endowed with blessings from on high, and families are bound together. Once we have received these blessings for ourselves, we are invited to return again and again to carry out the work for those individuals who are helpless without us.

Homes are sacred because of the work that is done there.

The day-to-day work of running a home may not have the appearance of anything sacred. Laundry, dishes, diapers, cleaning floors, meal planning, making beds, mowing the lawn—these tasks are nothing glamorous. But these tasks become sacred as we stop and think about whom we are doing these tasks for—“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt 25:40).

I recently read an article online that prompted me to question my motivation behind doing some of the typically mundane tasks in the home. In regards to washing dishes, the author wrote “On the level of physical sensation, doing the dishes is actually fairly pleasant. The warm water can feel good on your hands. The rhythmic motions of cleaning can be soothing and relaxing. We don’t hate dishwashing because it’s inherently unpleasant. We hate it because we’re always in a hurry to get to something else. It’s our sense of what’s important that makes dishwashing an interruption, and therefore a frustration. We rob ourselves of joy by unnecessary rush.”

I believe that much of the household work we engage in can be sacred and enjoyable when we remind ourselves that it can be nice, and when we give ourselves permission to treat diapers or laundry or “dishes as a worthwhile experience, and not just a chore standing in the way of something else.” (Mormon Midrashim : http://mormonmidrashim.blogspot.com/2013/05/my-hobby.html)

Jesus Christ lived a life of service. He was always teaching and serving others. He was frequently sought after for blessings of healing. His never-ending patience, even though he must have wearied, is a great example. I help to bring sacredness to my home and follow the example of Jesus Christ when I answer the daily calls for help from my children.

Temples are sacred because of the blessings that are bestowed there.

In the temple we are taught, we make covenants, and we are promised blessings. The greatest blessings of the temple are concerned with the family. The Family Proclamation teaches that “Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally” (proclamation). What a comfort this is to those who have lost loved ones. The promise of being reunited for the eternities with those we most care about is a blessing worth qualifying for.

Service in the temple brings peace to troubled hearts. The temple offers an escape from the cares of this world, and provides us with an eternal perspective.

Countless are the faith-promoting stories of those who have gone to the temple in distress, who have then received strength and comfort and answers while within its holy walls. Consider the experience of Samuel, as recorded in the Old Testament: “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears” (2 Samuel 22:7).

President Benson promised “with increased attendance in the temples of our God, you shall receive increased personal revelation to bless your life as you bless those who have died.”

Homes are sacred because of the blessings that are bestowed there.

In the most recent General Conference, Elder Richard G. Scott gave an excellent talk entitled “For Peace at Home”. He spoke of the need that each of us has to have “a place of refuge where peace and serenity prevail, a place where we can reset, regroup, and reenergize to prepare for future pressures. The ideal place for that peace is within the walls of our own homes, where we have done all we can to make the Lord Jesus Christ the centerpiece.”

Elder Scott continues “One of the greatest blessings we can offer to the world is the power of a Christ-centered home where the gospel is taught, covenants are kept, and love abounds.”

Having a home that is blessed with peace requires adherence to the fundamental principles of the gospel: daily personal and family prayer and scripture study, as well as weekly family home evenings. As the Family: A Proclamation to the World teaches, “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”

Sacred Temples and Homes are worth the sacrifice.
Having a sacred temple experience obviously requires some sacrifice on our part. We are blessed to live in close proximity to a temple, but perhaps our sacrifice is setting aside the time in our busy lives to visit the temple regularly. Whatever the sacrifice, attendance at the temple is well worth it. President Monson promised, “The world can be a challenging and difficult place in which to live. We are often surrounded by that which would drag us down. As you and I go to the holy houses of God, as we remember the covenants we make within, we will be more able to bear every trial and to overcome each temptation. In this sacred sanctuary we will find peace; we will be renewed and fortified.” (the holy temple a beacon to the world).

Likewise, the sacrifices we make for home and family are well worth the reward. When a child wraps his arms around your neck and says “I love you, mommy”, somehow the challenges of the day all seem to melt away.

Lastly, focusing on the temple in our homes brings blessings.

We are blessed to live in a grand era of temple building. But the 141 temples in operation will not bless us until we walk through their doors. If you have a temple recommend, you should return as often as possible to the temple. If you don’t currently hold a recommend, put your life in order so that you may enter that sacred place. Make sure that your children know of the importance of the temple by speaking of it often. President Monson has encouraged children and youth to have a picture of the temple in their bedrooms. He has encouraged youth to touch the temple.

My husband and I are striving to instill a love for the temple in our children. Pictures of the temple hang in our home. When we attend the temple, our children are often along for the ride and have the opportunity to walk around the sacred grounds and “touch the temple”.

A few years ago our family was privileged to attend the open house of the newly remodeled Atlanta, Georgia temple. It was such a special experience to be able to walk through the temple with my young children, showing them the beautiful sealing rooms and looking in the mirrors together. My children are young, but I hope that they will remember the beauty and peace that they felt in the temple and strive to be worthy to enter its doors when they have grown.

As I close my remarks today, I bear testimony of the blessings of the temple. I am forever grateful for the covenants that I have made there, covenants that bind my family together. In the words of our Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson “may we make whatever sacrifices are necessary to attend the temple and to have the spirit of the temple in our hearts and in our homes” (Monson, source).

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