Monday, December 15, 2014

This quote reminds me of something said at the veil

"Recently I reviewed this Primary song. You’re familiar with it. It says, “Mine is a home where ev’ry hour is blessed by the strength of priesthood pow’r, With father and mother leading the way.” Mine is a home where every hour is blessed by the strength of priesthood power.... It isn’t just when Dad is there. It’s not just when Mom is there. It’s not just when a priesthood ordinance or blessing is being performed. It’s every hour as covenants are kept."
Julie Beck, BYU Women's Conference 2011

Priesthood power, the power of God, given to his children,  is real.  It is real in the lives of women and men of God.  I have seen it, felt it, watched it, and been humbled to be a vehicle for its healing (both physical and spiritual) and enlightening effect in the lives of my brothers and sisters in ways that I feel are too profound to articulate.  And I have been aided, healed, enlightened and comforted by that same power of God conducted via the words, actions and ordinances of brothers and sisters who served as conduits of priesthood power as well.

There is 'power in the priesthood'.  And it's not just when an ordinance or a blessing is being performed, though we talk mostly about those since they are so clearly recognized by the ceremonial actions involved. And it's certainly not just when a church leader, male or female, oversees a meeting or counsels with others  or a decision is made, another time when people may see it, or think they are supposed to see it.  Those are the times where function makes us notice.  Those are the times that any even disinterested person watching will assume that "priesthood" is being "exercised".

But priesthood power, like an iceberg, has 10% of it visible to an uninformed observer, while 90% of power in the priesthood moves slowly and powerfully, observed only by those who submerge themselves enough to look and experience it and recognize it for what it is.

Throughout the ages different subgroups of people have been  ordained to take responsibility for the the visible 10% of priesthood work..  Instructions as to which groups should be called to do that and how many of them have changed multiple times even in the last 180 years, not to mention the changes in previous eras.  And since that seems to be a pattern it makes sense to me to assume that they will change again, perhaps many more times.

However, we sell ourselves short when we, men or women, so focus on the 10% of priesthood work that involves ordination that we ignore or fail to see or dismiss as irrelevant, or never employ or recognize the amazing 90% that is not tied to administration or ordinances but wields the power of God in amazing, healing ways.. And my experience is that way too many of us, both men and women, do exactly that.

" [F]or man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart," said the Lord to the prophet, Samuel.  And we think, sure, we understand that, it's about people.  But I believe it's not just about people.  Way too many of us are fully aware of the "outward appearance", the formal manifestations, of priesthood and are so very blind to the heart of what priesthood power, given by God to his sons and daughters, really is. 

Yes, that 10% is beautiful. Yes it is a blessing.  Yes, the people who do that 10% are often listened to (and also anathematized) more than others and, by some, are believed to have more "clout".  But it strikes me as ironic and sad when we don't see or understand or live or experience the power of the 90% that is more far-reaching than we even allow ourselves to imagine, and when we think that all there is to priesthood is that 10% of priesthood responsibility that is, for now, given to some 3% (if you live in the Philippines) to 27% (if you live in Utah) of members of the church.  We sell priesthood short when we believe that that 10%  of evident function is what priesthood entails..

I believe that in heaven priesthood is shared and employed regardless of gender.  I believe that celestial life is, as the Doctrine and Covenants clearly explains, one of fully and equally shared light, power, and divinity and glory.  It is clear to me that inspired telestial and terrestrial patterns of organization (one of which we live with now) are simply that, inspired telestial and terrestrial patterns.  And I believe that we, as individual members of the church, including us women, don't even live up to those terrestrial patterns as they are given to us today..  

I have always believed that a child surrounded by 9 Christmas gifts that he refuses to unwrap in his frustration at not having, right now, the one his brother is currently opening is missing something important, not only in the presents that surround him but also in his understanding of what is possible and in his relationship with his sibling.  A child so responding is demonstrating juvenile behavior.

I believe it is good to rejoice in a gift that a sibling receives.  I believe it is good for each child to truly embrace and study and employ the gifts of power of healing, light, revelation, inspired leadership; the godly power: priesthood, that is given to God's children when they seek to understand it and wield it with light and truth.

"Yet, for different reasons, many of us live far below, or are unaware of, our privileges!" ~Neal A Maxwell  [The Promise of Discipleship, pp. 92-93] 

In my lifetime I have witnessed women in the church heal others, both physically and spiritually, through the power of God.  I have witnessed them guide and lead under unmistakably divine inspiration and watched God's power flow through them.  I have also witnessed women and men who have no idea that is possible, that think that such is only for those who do the 10% of priesthood work that is visible to the casual observer.  That is not so. But as long as we only see or experience the 10%, we will easily experience the frustration and sense of powerless that comes with that perspective.

To focus on what is not currently our prerogative without taking the time to fully learn about that priesthood power which is, in all it's glory (and I'm not talking about childbearing or childrearing or performing ordinances or overseeing meetings, or "presiding" in case you are wondering) available to us, is I think, short-sighted.  

"What has been your past experience or attitude when you have listened to or taught a lesson on the  priesthood? Be honest. Was your first reaction something like, “This doesn’t apply to me. This is for the men and boys over 12.” Or when you have read your scriptures and come to a part that mentions  priesthood, have you thought to yourself, “I’ll just skip this part. I don’t need to know this”? In the recent 2013 Worldwide Leadership Training, Elder Oaks emphatically stated: “Men are not the priesthood!” To me, that is a wake-up call as well as an invitation to all of us to study, ponder, and come to better understand the priesthood. Sisters, we cannot stand up and teach those things we do not understand and know for ourselves."
Linda K. Burton, General Relief Society President, BYU Womens' Conference 2013

As I said, I believe that priesthood power, the power of God, is freely and equally shared among God's children in celestial realms of glory.  And I also have come to believe that many of us, both men and women, are far from understanding or experiencing or recognizing or having faith to pursue and learn and know how that power, that huge, magnificent 90%,  is available to each of us, to work miracles through us, here on earth in its current, terrestrial, temporary earthly configuration.

If we cannot live up to our privileges and stretch and grow enough to "abide the law of a terrestrial glory" (Doc. & Cov. 88:23) how can we presume to think we are ready to abide a celestial?  Changing the law about the 10% will make things look better.  It may make some people feel better and some people feel worse.  But if we have only changed the outward, publicly observed 10% and do not seek to know and understand, as individuals, and look upon "the heart" of priesthood power available to work through us, that part which so many of us just barely know or which we feel is beyond our ken, we will continue to miss all that God hopes for us both now and in the eternities.  Changing the outward appearance is not what is needed.  We need to come to understand the heart.

I agree with Linda Burton.  We've been given a wake-up call.  We should not be shirking. We are called, as disciples, to study, ponder, understand and live the power of God.  The men and women I know who have done so are amazing, humble, powerful saints.  

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