So it’s been over a month since my baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ, and it has definitely been a wonderful experience thus far.
The people in my ward (what Latter-day Saints call a regular “congregation”) are all great, and I must say, it’s awesome to be around so many young people that are not only just like “regular” people (who have jobs, go to school, like to have fun, go to parties, etc), but also have a fervent faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ. It really is refreshing to be around people like this, especially here in New York City.
I received the Priesthood of Aaron a few weeks ago. That experience was of course different for me, coming from the Catholic Church, where people that are ordained to the three priesthood offices must go through extensive collegiate study before ordination. I find that the LDS practice mirrors the Biblical precedent, and while there certainly are benefits to the Catholic method, I personally find the LDS/Biblical view simple and wonderful. I have been exercising the priesthood by blessing the bread and water we use in our Sacrament (also known as the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist in other Christian churches).
I have also received a limited-use Temple Recommend from my bishop (the presider in a local LDS church). Mormons have chapels or meetinghouses, where we have our Sunday Sacrament service, Sunday school, and various other meetings and activities throughout the week. We also have temples. Temples are sacred houses of the Lord, where special ceremonies take place where we can learn more about God’s Plan of Salvation and enter into sacred covenants with Him, as well as sealing spouses and families together for eternity. Finally, temples are a place where we can offer the blessings of baptism and other ordinances to our deceased ancestors who did not have an opportunity to hear the Gospel in this life. One of these ordinances, as I have mentioned in a previous post , is “baptism for the dead“. In baptism for the dead, a living person, such as myself, is baptized for and in behalf of someone who is deceased. We believe that this gives that person (who is in the spirit world) the opportunity to accept or reject the baptism. I must emphasize that such a ritual does not “make” someone Mormon, nor does it add them to the “member rolls”, as some critics like to claim. Instead, Latter-day Saints believe that it gives them the opportunity to accept or reject the restored Gospel if they did not have an opportunity to do so in this life.
Anyway, by receiving a limited-use temple recommend, I am able to enter the temple (since only LDS with a recommend from their bishop are able to enter the temple after its dedication. Before dedication, non-Mormons and Mormons alike are given tours of the building during an open house season), and perform baptisms for the dead. I am excited to do so, since I will be able to feel the Spirit of the Lord in a special way in His House, and I am also excited about being able to offer the blessings of the Gospel to our ancestors, made possible by the atonement of Jesus Christ. I am also excited about participating in a sacred ordinance that no other Christian church practices today, though it was anciently according to many historical sources, as well as brief mention in the Bible (1 Corinthians 15:29).
Finally, the General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is tomorrow and Sunday. Every April and October, we are able to hear the inspired words of the Lord’s modern-day apostles and prophets, as well as other Church leaders. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, as well as other choirs, sing beautiful hymns. While I have watched parts of Conference before, this will be my first one since baptism, and it will carry a renewed meaning to me. It is always wonderful to read the words of ancient prophets and apostles in the scriptures, and now, I can hear and read the words of modern prophets and apostles, found in the Lord’s Church.
Going forward, this blog will not only discuss certain aspects of my faith journey in the Church of Jesus Christ, but I would also like to continue discussing various unique beliefs of the LDS Church, showing not only the Biblical basis for those beliefs, but also ancient Judeo-Christian precedents for those beliefs, countering the claim made by many critics that LDS beliefs are not found anciently, and were invented in the mind of Joseph Smith. Quite the contrary, there are many evidences for unique LDS beliefs in ancient Judaism and Christianity, confirming to me that these really are restored beliefs, and that Jesus Christ really is at the head of this Church, with prophets and apostles just like in His ancient Church.