“I got bit by the booster,” I texted my boss the Mayor when I asked to be excused from her staff meeting. I had put off getting my Covid-19 booster vaccination (shot #3) because I missed two days of work each with the first two shots, with fever, aches, and chills. (My aged parents had no adverse reaction to any of their Covid shots!) Knowing I might get sick, I needed to plan around Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, Steven’s visit in early December, Laura’s visit in mid-December for Caleb’s wedding, and Jeanette’s post-Christmas visit, not to mention weekly City Council meetings. I thought I had escaped Continue reading
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, said Yahweh to Israel. Thousands of years later, paying one-tenth of one’s increase continues to be the standard in my Church, a law both temporal and spiritual. Temporal to help the poor, and to build schools and churches and temples. Spiritual to show faith and obedience, spiritual to turn outward to others, spiritual to be sanctified through sacrifice. Tithing and other offerings are used for Church buildings and programs, for Church institutions of higher education and missionary work, to help the poor, and to provide humanitarian assistance worldwide. Every December, members of our Church are invited to meet with the local church leader, the Bishop, for a Tithing Settlement, where we discuss in private our tithe-paying status. Mom and Dad put their names on the sign-up sheet for after Sunday services. I followed the unconventional step of asking if I could join in their appointment, though we tithe our incomes separately and privately. The Bishop thanked us for our offerings and reiterated Jehovah’s promise that for those who give to the Church, God will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing upon us that we will not have room to receive. Our vessels will be full to overflowing. We consider ourselves greatly blessed. And we are grateful.
(Photo from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)
The neighborhood women of the Church Relief Society, whom we call Sisters, invited all the women with October and November birthdays to a birthday luncheon, in true Relief Society fashion. Mom drove herself up the street to join 20 other birthday girls. She was so happy to associate with her friends, neighbors, and fellow Sisters. And she enjoyed the soups—creamy chicken noodle and spicy chicken taco—not to mention the desserts. Several Sisters stopped by with birthday gifts for Mom, including Barbara R., who brought a small loaf of banana bread (adding walnuts because Mom is “extra special”), Barbara N., who delivered a potted plant, because we all need to be near green living things, and Judy, with a fresh baguette and raspberry freezer jam, which went perfectly with our dinner of pork loin topped with a sweet deglaze of boiled dark stout Guinness and raspberry dressing. Such events and interactions greatly enrich Mom’s life.
On a Sunday afternoon, I took Mom and Dad to see their church leaders to renew their temple recommends. This document allows them admittance to the temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church has 265 temples worldwide in operation or at some stage of construction. They are magnificent buildings, and we consider them a House of God on earth. Temples are not for regular weekly worship services, but for ceremonies in which we covenant with God to obey his commandments, to be moral and chaste, to contribute our time and means to the Church, and to love and serve one another. We are instructed on the purpose of existence and the nature of God and his Son. And couples are married and families sealed together not just until death but for eternity. We change into white clothing as an aspirational symbol of purity and cleanliness, and of having left the world outside. Mom and Dad do not visit the temples anymore due to age and infirmity, but visited temples monthly during the previous decades. Even not attending, to them it is important to be worthy to attend. So, they cheerfully waited in the church meetinghouse foyer for their interviews, making pleasant small talk with the other temple-goers. I waited for them as they each had their turn, knowing the questions they would be asked, including: Do you have faith in God the Eternal Father and in his Son Jesus Christ? Do you believe in Jesus and his role as your Savior and Redeemer? Do you strive for moral cleanliness, and are you chaste? Are you a tithe payer? Do you abstain from consuming harmful substances? Do you believe in the truthfulness of the Church, and support its Prophet and Apostles? Are you honest in all that you do? Mom and Dad each emerged from their brief interview with humble smiles, the smiles of peace from living lives of faith and good works.
Pictured above: Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah (where I live), dedicated in 1898.
Some Church temples around the world:
Brazil, Sao Paulo
Mom received an invitation from one of the women of the Church. It was fancy, with vinery winding around the pretty graphics and text. An invitation to a Relief Society Garden Party. The Relief Society, established by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1842, and reestablished in 1868 after the “Mormons” were driven from Missouri and Illinois into the wilds of Utah Territory, created a “temporal and spiritual ministry” by which the frontier pioneer women cared for each other, Church members and not. The Relief Society organization, tradition, and mission thrives today, both with weekly meetings and countless acts of ministering to one another by over seven million women—a great worldwide sisterhood. And here was the Garden Party, 179 years on, with 60 neighborhood women converging on the designated garden. I dropped Mom off at the driveway and watched her gather with the welcoming throng. She beamed as she walked through the front door three hours later, happy, refreshed, built up by camaraderie and love. Dinner had consisted of a huge salad bar spread over several tables, plus one for desserts. She loved visiting with the women, her sisters, and particularly enjoyed those who beamed cheer despite personal hardship. For that is what we do: we take what comes and help each other through with smiles on our faces, sustained by a faith that all will work out in the end.