|Photo taken from the 28th floor of LDS Church's City Creek Condo Project|
Last weekend in Sunday School we learned about the importance of prophets. I think the lesson was given specifically to prepare us for General Conference this weekend. Our Sunday School teacher taught us about the prophet Amos. The prophet Amos was a shepherd from Tekoa, a small and obscure town in Israel. He was unknown. He did not live in the highly religious City Center of Jerusalem. He did not have ranking or status. He was not the High Priest, nor did he officiate in the Temple or have any part of a hierarchy. Yet, he was called of God to preach repentance to the Temple going, covenant making, ordinance working, law abiding, religious people of Israel. He preached repentance to God's chosen people in Israel who because of their love of riches and oppression of the poor had gone astray. Amos confronted them with their sins. He warned and prophesied about dire penalties and about the latter days. He did not speak using smooth words, share feel good stories, relate emotional anecdotes, used stirring music, or produced inspirational full length documentaries. He taught truth, however unpleasant it was to hear. The Lord calls prophets to wake His people so that they are not lulled away into a false sense of security, and say that all is well.
I hope to hear a similiar message of repentance that Amos preached to the people in Jerusalem in General Conference. I think it is important to listen and give heed to any words given to us by the Lord, about the Lord and returning into His presence. While prophets are important to wake us up, they teach us the importance of our responsibility to connect to God ourselves and not depend on them. Otherwise, we would be like the Israelites who wandered in the desert just following Moses around. I have often wondered if Joseph Smith were alive today, what would he speak to us about. I wonder if he would ever repeat the things that he shared to the Relief Society on May 26, 1842. He said "if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall—that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves." (TPJS, pp. 237-238.)
Below is a trailer produced by the Church advertising General Conference.
A few people have asked me to share more about the significance of the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. I have written a few blog posts about this, but thought I would share some additional information that I received from friends.. In a nut shell, the Day of At-one-ment is the holiest day of the year in the law of Moses, which Christ followed and then fulfilled. This day is a chance to wipe your slate clean and be inscribed in the Book of Life. It would be the equivalent of being re-baptized. This is the proper day to make covenants with God. It's part of a process of examining how they behave and how they can improve ourselves in the coming year. It is a day of Repentance which means to return or turn around. It involves confession of the sin and resolve not to do it again.
It was likely the day when a crowd was gathered to hear John the Baptist at the river Jordan. The observing Jews would all be off work that day and looking for a good speech about reconciliation with God. Men were to perform a Mikvah, a ritual, purifying bath in preparation for the Holy Day. This points very strongly to the reason Jesus Christ would have likely been baptized on Yom Kippur. This holy day could mark the start of His Mission that lasted 3 1/2 years ending at the Passover in the Spring.
Some more interesting things to note:
Some restrictions on Yom Kippur are as follows:
- NO eating or drinking (Fasting(
- NO bathing or washing
- NO anointing yourself with perfumes, makeup or lotions
- NO marital relations
- NO wearing leather shoes as they denote high class, dignity and comfort.
- NO gold is worn in connection with the Golden Calf incident.
- NO driving (even the Arabs don't drive for fear of offending their Jewish neighbors, All of the airports shut down, the radio and TV stations become totally silent, it is a mandatory state holiday, as it is the most solemn and holy day of the year
These restrictions are not be seen as sad or mournful and aren't done for negative or punitive reasons, but for the purposes of emulating angels and being exalted and Holy like unto the angels (since angels don't eat/drink, wear makeup and perfumes, have marital relations or wear shoes. So truly the point is elevated emulation of the angels. This is a time of great JOY. Not to be found in sackcloth and ashes but to know that they have been given a gift of Atonement. Everyone wears white clothes. It is customary for men to wear a Kittel which looks like a white robe that goes down just past the knee and is sometimes accompanied by a white hat. And a tallit is worn all day by the men....even to bed.
It is a day of prayer and singing. Songs are sung by whole congregations. It is done in a really joyous upbeat way sung to a joyous and happy tune. The reason it is joyful is because they are basking in the joy and relief that God is granting them an opportunity to repent and receive a remission of their sins. They know that forgiveness will come and they will no longer have to carry this heavy burden of sin.
Sidenote: This photo was taken this week on the First Day of Snow. It is a photo of Lake Katherine. Katherine mean "pure". I can't think of a better place to be tomorrow morning on the Day of Atonement as well as hike to see the sunrise.