The Transfiguration and Kirtland Temple

In 1836, Joseph Smith Jr. and Oliver Cowdery had a vision in the Kirtland Temple that echoes Peter, James, and John’s vision of the Transfiguration. Joseph and Oliver’s vision can serve as a vivid reminder of Community of Christ’s three core Mission Initiatives. (A sermon prepared for the Cincinnati Community of Christ congregation, Feb. 11, 2018.)

 

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December 24 (Fourth Sunday of Advent)

Theme: A Promise Fulfilled

Read from the Book of Mormon:
(abridged from 3 Nephi 1)

Nephi was sorrowful.
He went out and bowed himself down on the earth
and cried mightily to God.
He cried to the Lord all that day.

Then the Lord’s voice came to Nephi:

“Lift up your head! Be of good cheer!
On this night, the sign will be given.
Tomorrow, I come into the world
to show the world that I will fulfill
all that I have caused to be spoken by the prophets.”

The words that came to Nephi were fulfilled.
At the going down of the sun,
there was no darkness.
The people were astonished.
All that night, it was as light as midday.

In the morning, the sun rose again
according to its proper order,
and they knew it was the day that the Lord should be born.

Read also: Isaiah 40:9

Reflection:
Lord— Tonight is the night when darkness turns into light, sorrow into rejoicing. Tonight we celebrate the fulfillment of a promise you made to us. At the same time, tonight’s celebration is a sign of promises still to be fulfilled. As you told Nephi: your coming into the world is a sign that you will fulfill all that you have caused to be spoken by the prophets. The fulfillment of your promises is not complete, but it has begun. The work of building your peace on earth, your shalom, has begun. You have come to us! You are working with us! Those are the glad tidings we celebrate this night. Let the whole world hear!

Sing: Go, Tell It on the Mountain (CCS 409)

This has been the final installment in this series of Advent reflections. May you have a blessed, happy Christmas!

December 23 (Saturday)

Theme: A Hope Delayed

Re-read from the Book of Mormon:
Some began to say that the time was past
for the words spoken by Samuel to be fulfilled.
They began to rejoice over their brothers and sisters,
saying: “Your joy and faith have been vain!”

Nephi, son of Nephi, was sorrowful.
He went out and bowed himself down on the earth
and cried mightily to his God.

He cried to the Lord all that day.

Read also: Psalm 25:1-5

Reflection:
The verses from Psalm 25 capture the essence of what I imagine Nephi would have been praying. Unlike Nephi, I can’t spend the whole day in prayer. But I’m going to take a few minutes now to keep reading those first five verses of Psalm 25 over and over, as a meditation.

Reminder:
Tomorrow is Sunday—and Christmas Eve, the end of Advent. What will you give for your Disciple’s Generous Response?

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December 22 (Friday)

Theme: A Hope Delayed

Re-read from the Book of Mormon:
As many as believed Samuel’s words
went to Nephi to be baptized.

They watched steadfastly
for that day, night, and day as if there were no night,
so that they might know that their faith had not been vain.

Read also: Isaiah 35:3-4

Reflection:
In earlier reflections this week, I called the Nephites who are waiting for Christ’s coming a “community of believers.” Today’s reading reminds me that they are, more specifically, a community of the baptized. I feel that I’m being given a deeper insight into the baptismal commitment: being a baptized person entails being a person who watches steadfastly for Christ’s coming.

The mandates in the passage from Isaiah are also, it seems to me, part of the baptismal commitment. Those mandates also speak to what it means to watch, and to stand with others who watch, for the Savior’s coming. Strengthen the weary. Encourage the fearful. Assure the victims of injustice: God is coming! Wrongs will be righted! You will be rescued!

God— Who within my reach needs encouragement or hope? What can I say to them? Who within my reach is weary or waiting for justice? What can I do for them?

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December 21 (Thursday)

Theme: A Hope Delayed

Re-read from the Book of Mormon:
The people who believed began to be sorrowful,
fearing that those things which had been spoken
might not come to pass.

But they watched steadfastly
for that day, night, and day as if there were no night,
so that they might know that their faith had not been vain.

Read also: James 5:7-8, 10-11 (NRSV)

Reflection:
Despite fearing that they may have placed their faith in an illusion, the community of believers keep watching “steadfastly” for the promised sign. They haven’t given up yet; they’re still waiting.

James urges waiting believers to look to the scriptures for examples of patience and endurance. My mind turns to examples from more recent history as well. Slaves who yearned for, but did not live to see, emancipation. Suffragists who worked for, but did not live to receive, the vote. My mother, who tried multiple treatments for her cancer, all ultimately unsuccessful, then spent a year in hospice working to finish as many personally significant projects as she could before she was in too much pain to do anything more.

Compassionate Lord— I want to do better at patience and endurance. James tells me, “Strengthen your heart.” How do I do that?

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