So yesterday evening I attended the Manhattan New York Temple for our Ward Temple Night. It really was a great, spiritual experience.
The Manhattan Temple is somewhat different from most other temples in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in that, firstly, it is right in the middle of the city, instead of off in a more suburban setting. You can just step out of the subway and the temple is right there. Also, the temple is actually only part of the building, with the rest of it including a meetinghouse, small Distribution Center, Public Relations Office, and I believe a Family History center. When you walk into the building, there is a separate ornate door to enter the temple.
As soon as we stepped through that door, I was pretty surprised. Everything was bright, with white and gold colors everywhere, and paintings of Jesus and scriptural events on the walls. Everyone was dressed in white, and the sisters were in these flowing white gowns. It really felt like if we were in a special sacred space (which we were). Everyone kept telling me “welcome to the temple”, which was nice.
We were doing baptisms and confirmations for the dead that night, which offers the opportunity for the deceased to hear the gospel and choose to accept or reject it, if they did not have that opportunity in this life. This concept is one that makes a lot of sense to me, not only because of its scriptural and historical basis, but because many other churches simply do not know what happens to the unbaptized (leaving it at hoping in the mercy of God who may save them anyway if they would have received baptism if they knew about, which seems to deny that baptism is really necessary for eternal life for those that need it), or say that they will go to Hell. Instead, the restored Church of Jesus Christ teaches that, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, we are able to receive these ordinances for and in behalf of deceased persons, who will then have the opportunity to accept or reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Spirit World. God has provided a clear way for people to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ if they were unable to do so in this life. Proxy work has always been a part of Judaism and Christianity, whether it was animal sacrifice in the ancient temples, or the ultimate atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf.
So after we walked in, we received a white baptismal suit to change into. After that, we sat in front of the baptismal font. It is HUGE. It is set on the backs of 12 oxen, similar to the brazen sea of Solomon’s Temple in the Old Testament. A few other people from another ward were also there, and were already doing confirmations for the dead. We joined them in doing that first. After that, we started to do the baptisms for the dead. It was a great experience, and you could really feel the Spirit in the Lord’s House.
I can’t wait for the next time I’m able to go to the temple. It’s great to be able to step off the busy streets of Manhattan and be in such a peaceful, sacred space, where you can’t hear the hustle and bustle of the city. Going to the temple was definitely a testimony building experience, and I am grateful for having a temple so close to home.