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2006-07-24

"Offerings Up" Signs to God

Some historical background:

"if we have the garments upon us at all the times we can at any time offer up the signs"
--George A. Smith, Dec 21, 1854, Sunday, Nauvoo Temple, An intimate chronicle, p. 221)


"It is necessary for all who have been through the temple to meet in quorum, in order to become familiar with the signs and tokens, because they are the keys of the Priesthood, in this the seventh dispensation."
--Heber C. Kimball (1846) quoted by Catherine Lewis in her Narrative of Some of the Proceedings of the Mormons, 1848, p.11


"Saturday Mar 7th, [1846, Nauvoo, Ill]
... at evening for the first time my family met together for prayer according to the Order of God in our priestly garments conversed together partook of the sacrament, offered up the signs and prayed and dedicated the upper room of my house for the purpose of worshiping our Heavenly Father. The good spirit of our God was with us and we felt blessed. There were 8 of us myself, Br. Horace Fish and Philo T. Farnsworth, Br. Fish's wife and daughter, Julia and Jane, Elizabeth and Mother Pulsipher making 8 in number ... In this company I saw by faith the beginning of a great and mighty kingdom when we should enjoy all the blessings of this life, riches, music, wisdom and the full manifestations of the holy priesthood unto the salvation of ourselves and all that pertain unto each of us ... This evening Philo declared his intention to be adopted to me and wished me to consider him my son."
--Franklin D. Richards, Diary


I find it interesting that they use the words "offer up" in relation to the signs. It is as though the signs are a gift given to Heavenly Father, and brings to mind images of him accepting them as tokens of our love and obedience. My question: What can we offer up to Father today to engage in such holy Worship, as our ability to offer up the signs as families and quorums seems to be quite stifled, presently? How can we engage in genuine worship as quorums?

Church seems to be so much about temporal needs and actual Worship of God is a subject many I think would find awkward or confusing. People may point to singing hymns or listening to talks as Worship, but I believe there is more to it than that. Also, worship should probably be focused, and I believe at best we currently seem to achieve diffused worship in Church (if at all), diffused in both purpose and direction.

At least a few other Churches seem to be a few steps ahead of us in root level spirituality, even if they may be lacking in doctrinal areas. So: What do you offer up in simple worship to God, as a family or a quorum?

7 comments:

Lianne said...

What a great post! I have often wondered if we are taught the "True Order" of Prayer, that shouldn't we be praying "truly" at home? We are endowed with that knowledge and the keys... but no, we are currently charged not to do so outside of the temple.

I love the concept of "offering up" something to God. I believe I offer my thoughts and almost continual conversation with Him.

I'll be back to read you again.

Roy W. Wright said...

You know, the BCC entry on prayer circles says "On May 3, 1978, the First Presidency announced that all prayer circles outside the temple were to be discontinued." I looked up the Pirst Presidency letter in question and read it, and that's not exactly what I took it to mean. Look at the preamble to the announcement:

Over the years special permission has been given from time to time for special prayer circles to be held either in the temples of the Church or in special rooms designated for that purpose in stake, ward, or other
buildings.


Does this seem to speak of prayer circles in the home? To me it does not. Such prayer circles wouldn't be conducted under "special permission... from time to time;" they would be under the initiative of the family patriarch on a regular basis. Now, the rest of the relevant parts of the letter:

Because of the increasing number of requests for such prayer circles...

This doesn't apply to family prayer circles.

...and because of the complications that holding prayer circles in temples on Sunday have created...

Again, nothing to do with family prayer circles.

...and their tendency to take the participants away from their families...

Could it be more clearly not about family prayer circles?

...the Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve has decided that all such prayer circles, whether held in the temples or outside the temples, be discontinued immediately.

In light of the rest of the letter, the "such" doesn't appear to apply to prayer circles held around home altars. And even if it did, I think it would take more than a statement like "we've decided," to convince me to forsake previous decades of forceful counsel.

Jeff said...

Roy, you are reading it exactly as I have understood it.

I don't see where people are getting the other conclusion, certainly not from the text of that letter.

Jeff said...

Did I really title the post with Offerings instead of Offering. Teach me to proofread. Oh well, too late to do much about it now. :)

Roy W. Wright said...

I didn't see the extra s.

MistaBen said...

You may want to reread some of Leviticus and the Bible Dictionary entries concerning heave and wave offerings, and what exactly those mean. Then perhaps the use of the phrase "offering up" may make more sense.

Jeff said...

MistaBen, your comment is very thoughtful. Could it be that these wave and heave offerings constitute no less than additional "signs" of the Priesthood of that day? Their biblical placement would tell me the answer is yes, because I believe one can find the other signs of the holy priesthood also in the book of Leviticus. Back then, these sorts of things were not held secret.