A Sacred Home

Our front room used to just be another room.

Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.

Bible Dictionary: Temple

The front room of our house looks like an ordinary front room that you may find in any number of homes. It has some moderately comfortable couches, a second hand piano that the kids practice on somewhat diligently, and some standard Ikea furniture. It was just another room in our home until a few weeks ago when life changed and we started staying at home because of the coronavirus. Since we have been at home, this seemingly ordinary room has transformed into a sacred place — a place where my family has felt the Spirit, worshiped Jesus Christ, sung hymns, and learned the gospel.

When we first viewed our home, our realtor jokingly referred to the front room as the “meet the preacher” room. Little did he know that this room would eventually become the nucleus of our home-centered worship. Since we have lived here we have held our weekly Family Home Evening lessons in this room. Even when there were no couches, piano, or Ikea furniture, we held our lessons in this room.

When members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were told that we would not be holding in-person church services because of COVID-19, the purpose of this little room changed. It was elevated in our minds from our family home evening room to our sacrament meeting room. We started spending careful time on Saturdays making sure it was clean. We dusted more often. We cleaned the windows. We made space for our family to partake of the sacrament.

On the first week that we gathered as a family to partake of the sacrament in our front room, we sang a song, had an opening prayer and then I administered the sacrament to my family. As I was blessing the emblems, I felt the cleansing, sanctifying influence of the Holy Ghost come into that little front room. The children were still. The peace that attends sacred places was present in that room. Every week since, as I have knelt at our little sacrament table, I have felt that same spirit.

Our children have also sensed the change in our home. They have been prepared for our Sunday services. They have each, on separate occasions, found their way to the front room on Sunday morning to sit and be quiet. Sometimes they will sit with each other. I believe that their innocent spirits are sensitive to the Holy Ghost and enjoy being in places where He is.

I want to have that spirit in my home all of the time! How do I accomplish this? I believe the statement from the Bible Dictionary quoted earlier is true — the home compares with the temple in sacredness. So what steps can we take to make it that way all the time? Elder Gary E. Stevenson taught the following:

Imagine that you are opening your front door and walking inside your home. What do you see, and how do you feel? Is it a place of love, peace, and refuge from the world, as is the temple? Is it clean and orderly? As you walk through the rooms of your home, do you see uplifting images which include appropriate pictures of the temple and the Savior? Is your bedroom or sleeping area a place for personal prayer? Is your gathering area or kitchen a place where food is prepared and enjoyed together, allowing uplifting conversation and family time? Are scriptures found in a room where the family can study, pray, and learn together? Can you find your personal gospel study space? Does the music you hear or the entertainment you see, online or otherwise, offend the Spirit? Is the conversation uplifting and without contention?

Sacred Homes, Sacred Temples, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, April 2009

All the things we put into our home, especially the activities we choose to engage in and the way we spend our time either invite or discourage the Spirit from being in our homes.

As we, individually and in our families, consistently point our attention to Jesus Christ, our homes can be sacred places. As we exercise our faith and continually repent, the Holy Ghost will be in our homes. Will they always be quiet and peaceful sacred places? No! They are sacred laboratories. Things sometimes go wrong in these sacred places. Sometimes they are loud! They are still inhabited by imperfect people. However, as we turn our eyes to the Savior and let His light fill us, we can allow the Spirit to sanctify our homes. They can become refuges from the storms of life. They can be filled with the Spirit of God.

What I Learned On The Way to The Temple

Yesterday we took a trip to the San Antonio Texas Temple. We try to go about once a month, and we’ve gotten really used to taking the trip down there. Yesterday, as usual, we wanted to go to the 9:30am session so that we could get done in time to come back home and get our Saturday chores and activities done. It takes us about 2 hours to drive from our house to the temple, so we have to get up fairly early to make it on time and be ready for the session. Yesterday we got out of the house a bit late and were really in a hurry to get there on time. As we were rushing along the toll road headed to the temple, I started to notice signs saying that the new section of the toll road was open going to San Antonio! I knew that the speed limit on that new section was 85 mph and the thought crossed my mind that if we took that way we’d get to the temple faster. Faster speed must mean earlier arrival time, right?

I made a split second decision to take the new road. Not only was this way faster, but for this time it was free! How could it get better? We were driving faster and even had more beautiful scenery to look at than the crazy traffic and busy city that we usually saw on our normal route. As we drove along I admired the wide open sky and the green fields that seemed to stretch on forever. I watched the hawks and eagles soaring and marveled at the beauty of the earth that I was seeing.

As we got farther and farther along this new highway, however, my focus started to shift from the scenery and to the time. We were traveling very quickly, but I was realizing that I had no idea where this new highway connected to roads that I knew. The minutes were flying by much faster than I thought they would, and we weren’t seeing anything familiar. I really had no idea what roads to take now to get to the temple. The ultra-fast toll road that we had been on ended in a small town with much slower speed limits and I had to deal with bumpy back roads and stop lights. I had to make several guesses on what way to go. When we only had 5 minutes left until our session was due to start and we knew that we were going to be late, we still hadn’t found a main road that I could connect to the temple on. Finally, when we were already late, I found the highway loop that I recognized would take us to the temple. I was very discouraged. I had tried hard to make it in time and had thought that my decision earlier would help us be earlier, but instead it had put us very behind schedule.

We eventually did make it to the temple but weren’t able to attend our session. I was grateful for the opportunity to participate in other ordinances but was still disappointed that we had missed our original plan. We were able to enjoy the blessings of the temple but perhaps had missed out on an opportunity to feel the spirit and learn from our session.

The San Antonio Texas Temple

After we had finished our activities in the temple and were on our way home, I couldn’t help but think about how my experience from that morning could be an example for our lives. In life, we have an ultimate goal and purpose to get to the Celestial Kingdom. Sometimes on our journey through life, however, we get distracted by other roads that look like they might be shortcuts. The road is new and the speed limit is high. We sometimes fly along these roads enjoying the scenery and the speed but are completely oblivious to the fact that our beautiful vistas and breathtaking speed are speeding us away from our goal. When we realize our mistake, it can be too late. We are already off course and have to make major adjustments to our direction to get back on course. We have lost precious time and opportunities.

In my trip to the temple, I knew the right way to go. I knew exactly where it lead, and I knew that it would likely get us to the temple on time. In our lives, much like my trip to the temple, we should remember that we do know the path we should take. We have the direction of the Spirit and of prophets and apostles to keep us on the straight and narrow road to the Celestial Kingdom. Let us heed their counsel and teachings and avoid the seemingly attractive detours that life will present to us.

The Draper Utah Temple Open House

I had a chance this weekend to go up to Draper to see the new Temple that will be dedicated in March of this year. The temple is gorgeous. It is set up on a hill overlooking the entire Salt Lake valley and commands an awesome view. The temple itself isn’t as large as some of the others that are in Utah but its interior is beautiful and a peaceful feeling abides there. I was reminded while I was there of the sublime opportunity that I have as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to attend the temple and to participate in the sacred ordinances that are there to be had. I had my testimony strengthened. I know that God is our heavenly father and that as such he loves each of us individually. He wants us to succeed in life and he has given us all of the tools that we need to enable us to be able, one day, to return to His presence and live with him for eternity. I know that the sealing power, available only in the temples, enables families to live together in the life after this and enjoy the same love and joy that they experience here on earth. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored church of God on the earth and that the leaders of the church hold all of the authority that the ancient prophets and apostles held. I am grateful for this knowledge and for the blessing to live so close to another temple of God.

[Header image By Leon7 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons]