My brother, Kirk, and my niece, Sarah:
Kirk, Sarah, and Sarah’s mom, Amy:
The whole family:
The closing song was How Great Thou Art, in honor of our dad who passed away last October.
Sarah asked me to give the talk on the Holy Spirit, and then there are more pictures below:
The Bible Dictionary tells us that the Holy Ghost, or the Holy Spirit, is the third member of the Godhead, a “personage of Spirit not possessing a body of flesh and bones” (D&C 130:21–22).
The Holy Spirit is manifested as power, which can come to anyone even if they are not baptized. This power helps people know what is good, what is true, what is of God. This power resonates deep within all of us because we are all Children of our Heavenly Father, and it helps us remember Him and recognize those who are His servants. This is how the Holy Spirit gives us a testimony of Jesus Christ and our Father’s plan for us (Acts 15:8).
The Holy Spirit also manifests as a gift. It is the most sacred gift our Father gives us, because it is our only connection to Him while we are away from His presence. Without the gift of the Holy Spirit, we would be banished entirely. The Holy Spirit what tethers us to our Father since the Fall, and it is part of what enables us to return to Him again. The atonement makes it possible for us to return to our Heavenly Father, but it is the Holy Spirit who qualifies us to do so by teaching us righteousness and peace (Romans 14:7).
Today your baptism has made you clean, has enabled you to “Arise, and Shine”, has made you shiny even like Moses (Exodus 34:29-35; Mosiah 13:5).
Tomorrow your confirmation will give you this marvelous gift of the Holy Ghost, to help keep you shiny. The Holy Ghost will correct, instruct, and guide you along the way as you work hard to follow the example of our Savior. The promptings are the “still, small voice” (1 Kings 19:12; 1 Nephi 17:45; D&C 85:6), which means you must listen carefully to receive this gift every day.
Some will say our church has too many rules, or that it is legalistic, or that it is focused on works instead of faith. We know this is false. The truth is that we understand that distractions, loudness, ignoring the direction given, not responding to promptings, or not being worth of the Spirit – the very presence of God – all will quickly and easily drown out the gentle, sweet whisperings of the Spirit.
We know that good works are not earning His love, but evidence of our love for Him.
He loves you so much, Sarah.
On this day, the Lord is pleased with you.
A few months ago you and I had a good, long girl talk in the park as we walked around and around the path. We felt the Holy Spirit that day, quietly teaching us as we shared with each other our understanding of God, the atonement of Jesus Christ, and the changes it all brings about – this is the Holy Spirit, Sarah. This is what changes you, grows you, becomes you.
As long as you listen to the Holy Spirit, you will never be the same as you were yesterday.
And yet, at the same time, each day you will grow to be more yourself, the true you, the you that you were created to be.
That is the power of the Holy Spirit.
That is the gift of becoming so purely you, that all that is not of-God is washed away, forgiven, forever gone, so that over time you become more and more like Him, more and more His daughter, a daughter of His House, a daughter of Holiness.
Holiness to the Lord, the House of the Lord.
Ephesians 4:24 says:
“And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness”
Hebrews 12:14 says:
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:”
Moses 6:57 says:
“Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man [of Holiness], even Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge, who shall come in the meridian of time.
The day we walked around the park, we talked about hard things from our past. We shared with each other our stories intertwined of things we wish we had not done, of things that hurt ourselves and our family, of things that still sting when we think of it because we understand now how wrong it was. We testified to each other that we know the only one who can heal such wounds is the Savior, that this is why He is our Savior, that it is from ourselves that He saves us.
In 3 Nephi, the son of Helaman quotes Isaiah 54:
Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach… any more. For thy Maker… is… thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit…
For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.
For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.
For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.
Sarah, today you are making a covenant of peace.
You are promising to live according to His plan, and He is promising you will have peace – peace with God, peace with others, and peace with yourself – as you do so.
You are promising to love others as He loves you, and He is promising that you will be at-one with Him, with others, and yourself, as much as you do so.
He is not promising life will be easy, but He is promising to help you.
He is not promising life won’t have challenges, but He is promising to enable you.
He is not promising life won’t be hard, but He is promising to empower you.
I thought of you when I read this quote from April 1990 General Conference:
Problems form an important part of our lives. They are placed in our path for us to overcome them, not to be overcome by them. We must master them, not let them master us. Every time we overcome a challenge, we grow in experience, in selfassuredness, and in faith. In the 100-meter hurdles race, runners must jump over hurdles placed in their path. The hurdles are not there so that a runner will come to them and stop and, discouraged, go back to the starting line. They are not there to make him (her!) crash. The beauty and excitement of this race is to jump over the hurdles, to overcome the obstacles. If we understand the importance of the obstacles in our individual lives, we begin to see them in a positive light as true challenges to overcome.
We will overcome because He promises to fight our battles for us (Exodus 14:14; Deuteronomy 1:30; Deuteronomy 3:22; Deuteronomy 20:4; Joshua 10:42; Joshua 23:3; D&C 98:37).
This is your baptismal covenant, in which He promises to pour His Spirit out upon you so that you can overcome.
This is why we sing Psalm 30 with David (and Watershed):
You have turned
My mourning into dancing
You have turned
My sorrow into joy
This is how we overcome,
This is how we overcome!
I say these things in the sacred name of His Son, even Jesus the Christ, Amen.