Sunday, August 28, 2016

Romy's Talk on Reverence

Today, I gave a talk on the topic of reverence. My scheduled has been so full that I really haven't had the time to really sit down and focus on it until the later part of this week. However, having to put aside my temporal commitments to focus on preparing for this talk has also helped me get right back to my scripture study schedule without delay.

In August 1833, while in Kirtland the Prophet Joseph Smith received revelation instructing him to build a temple (D&C 97:5-17)
“And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it;
“Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God.
“But if it be defiled I will not come into it, and my glory shall not be there; for I will not come into unholy temples.”
Wherever we gathered to worship, whether it be our home, in a chapel, or the temple we are entering a sacred holy place dedicated unto the Lord where, as we just read, His presence and glory dwells.
Every Sunday we have the wonderful opportunity to sit next to those we love most dearly, reflect upon the things that are sacred and divine, and share with them in the spiritual renewal that comes from partaking of the Sacrament and listening to inspired speakers.  
I’d like to share with you some of the things I have come to find most useful to whenever I enter the chapel to get the most out of Sacrament Meeting.
-         - Sitting towards the front helps me focus. I am not tempted to look at what is going on in the rows in front of me if all I can look at is the speaker.
-         - I always start in the chapel. I might end up spending a large portion of sacrament meeting in the foyer due to an energetic or loud child, but my goal is to be in the chapel. And I try to make sure that the foyer or mother’s room is not a reward for the child.
I know it might seem a little embarrassing to walk out with an upset child, but speaking from experience: all you will see as you walk out, are smiling compassionate faces of fellow members who’ve all been in the same situation.
-         - I limit my conversation to the foyer
-         - I allow myself a few minutes of quiet meditation prior to the beginning of the meeting.  As a mother of young children I recognize that sometimes sacrament meetings are not ideal. Asking the Lord in prayer for guidance will help. He loves us perfectly and is anxiously waiting to bless us.
To quote Heber J. Grant: “That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do. Not because the nature of the task has changed but because our ability has increased.”

Twice a year as a child I would attend Stake conference with my family in Mestre, a city in the outskirts of Venice 30 minutes away from where I lived. The meeting was held in the large conference room of a hotel. Our stake was comprised of both Italian members and English speaking members from a nearby air force base.  The wide room was partitioned on one side by sliding padded fabric dividers. 
I remember one time, as a child asking for permission to go to the bathroom. On my way back I ran into some Primary friends playing in the sectioned off area. I was so tired of sitting still on a hard chair, listening to people speak in Italian and then waiting for the interpreter to translate it into English that I decided to stay and play for a while.
Eventually our unsupervised group got a little too loud and my mom came and found me. That day, on the drive home I clearly remember my parents talking to me about reverence.
For many years my definition of reverence was the external manifestation of respect for God and Jesus Christ shown by speaking quietly, folding my arms, not running in the halls, bowing my head and using the appropriate pronouns whenever praying.
Even now, whenever teaching my kids about reverence I begin by demonstrating to them the appropriate behavior to have inside of the chapel.  But reverence is a lot more than that.
Last year the primary children learned a greater definition of reverence when memorizing the simple lyrics to the hymn “Reverence is Love.”
Reverence is more than just quietly sitting: It’s thinking of Father above
A feeling I get when I think of his blessings,
I’m reverent, for reverence is love.
When I’m reverent, it shows in my words and my deeds
The pathway to follow is clear.
And when I am reverent, I know in my heart
Heavenly Father and Jesus are near.
Reverence is more than a behavior. It is an attitude of profound respect and love. Love for God and Jesus Christ. Love for those with whom we worship. Love for those who teach us. Love for those whom we teach. Love for our family. Love for our neighbors and fellow man. Reverence for the Lord leads to serving other people and treating them with kindness and respect.
When referring to God, the word reverence is only found 11 times in the scripture. The word fear is used in its stead. When Moses received the 10 Commandments from the Lord, he received written law by which to live. Four of the 10 Commandments refer to our attitude towards God. After returning to his people he exhorted the children of Israel to keep the commandments: “Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.”(Deut 6:13)
In his closing remarks the Preacher in Ecclesiastes sums up his writing with these words (12:13) “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”
Much is expected of us. We have a duty to keep the commandments, but it is also as important that we honor and worship the Lord with reverence.”
If Reverence is love, how could it also be fear?
Elder Ballard gave the following explanation: Reverence may be defined as a profound respect mingled with love and awe. Other words that add to our understanding of reverence include gratitude, honor, veneration, and admiration. The root word revere also implies an element of fear. Thus, reverence might be understood to mean an attitude of profound respect and love with a desire to honor and show gratitude, with a fear of breaking faith or offending.
Any time you find the word “Fear of God” in the scriptures, you may substitute the word “reverence” in its stead.
Sister Lifferth, former 1st counselor in the Primary General Presidency explained:  “if reverence is rooted in love, so is the teaching of it. Harshness in our training begets resentment, not reverence. So begin early and have reasonable expectations. A toddler can learn to fold his arms and get ready for prayer. But it takes time, patience, and consistency. Remember that we are not only teaching a child his first lessons in reverence, but the child may be mastering his first attempts at self-discipline. This process of teaching and self-discipline continues line upon line and precept upon precept. Thus a child learns to be reverent during prayers and the sacrament. He sits by his parents during the meeting. Then he grows in lessons of self-discipline as later he learns to fast, to obey the Word of Wisdom, to make good Internet choices, and to keep the law of chastity. We each grow in ability as well as understanding. We bless our children and youth as we exemplify, teach, and encourage them through this process because self-mastery is not only the root of self-respect, it is essential in inviting the Spirit to teach, confirm, and testify.”
When encouraging reverent behavior we are teaching our youth an attitude of self-discipline that transcends sacrament meeting and applies to all of God’s commandments.  As we strive to live in accordance with the commandments, we will grow closer to our Heavenly Father.  Our behavior shapes our attitude and our attitude determines our eternal destiny.
Just as the Primary hymn describes. “When I’m reverent it shows in my words and my deeds.”  “Reverent behavior includes prayer, scripture study, fasting, and payment of tithes and offerings. It includes having wholesome thoughts, wearing modest clothing, and using clean, wholesome language. The depth of a person's reverence is evident in his or her choice of music and other entertainment, in the way sacred subjects are spoken of, and in the way the person dresses and acts when attending church services and worshiping in the temple.
Reverence also includes making righteous choices even when no one is watching.”  The scriptures remind us that the Lord looks at our hearts, not just our actions. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. (Matt 6:2)
Little by little, our profound feeling of respect and love for God will elevate our daily behavior and decisions and we will “know Heavenly Father and Jesus are near.”
By living a reverent life we invite the spirit to be with us and by so doing we open the way to personal revelation. Helaman said of that voice of revelation, “It was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul.” (Hel. 5:30)
It was Nephi who reminded his brothers that an angel “hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words.” (1 Ne. 17:45)
I can testify of countless times when I’ve received answers to the question “What lack I yet?” during Sunday service, and most often during Sacrament meeting, even though I am sitting next to four young children who vie for my attention.

I recently visited a beautiful tropical waterfall. From its highest point the falls plunge 173’ into a punchbowl of emerald green water below. The stream that feeds the waterfall runs on ground constructed by layers upon layers of volcanic lava flows. The bottom layers of lava, also known as pillow lava, cooled off quickly upon reaching contact with sea water creating a solid crust that cracked and oozed allowing additional lava to flow forward. The upper layers were made by lava flowing much more slowly and fluidly creating a gradual smooth surface.
Because of their nature, the pillow lava is a lot more subject to erosion. The rocks near the bottom of the falls erode quickly causing slabs to break from the undercut lava changing the appearance of the falls over time.
It is the same with the consistency of our reverence. If we see reverence as a quick and sporadic external demonstration of our devotion we resemble the pillow lava flows: solid on the outside but easily abraded by the loud and persistent flow of secular messages.
On the other hand, like the upper layer of lava, a steady and unwavering devotion towards Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will mold us into the sons and daughters he wants us to become.
In truth, both manifestations of reverence are important and together they create a magnificent sight in the eyes of the Lord.
We are promised that blessings will be ‘poured upon those who shall reverence’ the Lord (D&C109: 21).

May we be partakers of those blessings by choosing to be reverent on the Sabbath and in our daily lives, it’s my humble prayer.