Thursday, November 20, 2014


In Mosiah 18, we read the simple requirements for baptism. Alma mentions five things that are needed before entering the waters of baptism. These five things are: 
  • The desire to come into the fold of God and to be called his people.
  • Be willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light.
  • Be willing to mourn with those that mourn.
  • Comfort those that stand in need of comfort.
  • Stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death.
Today, before anyone is baptized in the Church, the baptismal candidate needs to answer the following questions in a formal interview. There seems to be alot more requirements today than there were in the days of Alma. The bar has been raised. :) Here are a few of the questions asked in the interview:
  • Do you believe that God is our Eternal Father? 
  • Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world?
  • Do you believe the Church and gospel of Jesus Christ have been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith? 
  • Do you believe that Thomas S Monson is a prophet of God? What does this mean to you?
  • What does it mean to you to repent? 
  • Do you feel that you have repented of your past transgressions?
  • Have you ever committed a serious crime? 
  • If so, are you now on probation or parole? 
  • Have you ever participated in an abortion?
  • Have you ever participated in a homosexual relationship?
  • Are you willing to obey the law of chastity, which prohibits any sexual relationship outside the bonds of a legal marriage between a man and a woman?
  • Are you willing to obey the law of tithing?
  • Are you willing to obey the Word of Wisdom?
  • Are you willing to obey the Sabbath day, including partaking of the sacrament weekly and rendering service to fellow members?
  • When you are baptized, you covenant with God that you are willing to take upon yourself the name of Christ and keep His commandments throughout your life. Are you ready to make this covenant and strive to be faithful to it?
If the above questions are not answered correctly, I don't think the candidate can be baptized even though they could have passed Alma's requirements. On the other hand, I wish today we were asked to do some of the things that people in the Book of Mormon covenanted to do before being baptized. ...

The people at the Waters of Mormon covenanted to be true disciples of Christ. They promised to mourn with those who mourn, and comfort others in need of comfort. They promised to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all places. I think our wards and stakes would be more Zion-like if we actually bore one another's burdens, mourned with those who mourn, comforted those who need comfort.
I know alot of people who have great burdens, who mourn, who need to be comforted. This week was the first year anniversary of the passing of my friend's 11 year old son. His son died unexpectedly at home a year ago on Sunday. This past year has been a difficult year for him and his wife.  A couple of days ago, a father of 7 who lives in our neighborhood died after a long battle with cancer.  I wish I knew how to mourn with them, or even know what to say or do for them. I recently watched a video that probably most of you have already seen. It shows how we really lack empathy for others. While we might have some sympathy, we lack empathy. We lack knowing how to truly mourn, comfort and bear one another's burden.

On a positive note, just as we should mourn with those who mourn, In Romans 12:15, it says that we should also rejoice with those who rejoice.

I have been studying a little about Early Christianity and thought this was interesting.

In Early Christianity, as a follower of Christ, the person was baptized and immediately was anointed with oil. This would then give the recipient access to the Spirit. The person had a portion of the Spirit before the baptism, but after receiving the annointing you have the Spirit in greater abundance.  This Christian practice of anointing after baptism was called chrismation. In chrismation, they would anoint the person's forehead with the holy name, "that they might with open face behold glory of the Lord.” 

The chrismation was a type of “confirmation”. They didn't have confirmation like we do today and confirm someone a member of the Church. Instead, the early Christians performed the chrismation ceremony where the name of Christ was symbolically written on their forehead.

Since that time, this ritual has been modified and changed. What the Catholics do today is they sprinkle a baby with water, which is what baptism has turned into for them, they then take holy oil and make a little cross on the baby's forehead.

Also, early Christian baptisms took place at sunrise, which they could be reborn like the sun and in some regions could only be performed at Easter. Also, Baptism in early Christianity was not for infants or young children, but for adults.

Unrelated Sidenote:
Here are a few photos from an early morning hike on the 8th of November, 2014.
In the first photo, after ascending over a small hill, I was surprised to see hundreds of sheep. They were too numerous to count. I have never seen anything like it. I sat and watched them. Some were lying down, and others were on their feet. However, it seemed like they were all asleep because they were so still, almost frozen in place.  It  wasn't until the after the sun rose over the mountain and the sunlight descended down on them that they awoke, rose and began moving around grazing on the grass.  
A field of hundreds of sheep just before sunrise.
First sunlight hitting the tops of the mountains with the full moon still visible in the sky in the upper right.

Sunrise. The most sacred and peaceful time of the day.
Natural twin springs coming directly out of the mountain.


In closing: I wanted to share this quote that I really like. It is from a speech given at the International Interreligious Colloquium at the Vatican City by Pres. Henry Eyring:
"Where there is selfishness, natural differences of men and women often divide. Where there is unselfishness, differences become complementary and provide opportunities to help and build each other. Spouses and family members can lift each other and ascend together if they care more about the interests of the other than their own interests."