We came to Tehachapi last night because I had to go to Bakersfield this morning to finish up my CSET. Coincidentally, our ward was, that night, having its father/son campout in Tehachapi. So I took the Big O and my father and we went up the mountains to spend the evening celebrating the joys of fire and graham crackers.
The bishop asked if I would bless the food so I did and I guess I did an alright job, because after I prayed he asked if I wouldn't mind giving a talk that evening on the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood.
A bit of history for my readers yet unsteeped in the LDS mythos:
In May 1929, Joseph Smith was in the midst of translating the Book of Mormon with the help of scribe Oliver Cowdery. They ran across some passages describing the importance of baptism to salvation. I don't know which passage it was, but I usually imagine it was this one (feel free to skim):
- I would that ye should remember that I have spoken unto you concerning that prophet which the Lord showed unto me, that should baptize the Lamb of God, which should take away the sins of the world.
And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!
. . . . But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments. . . .
And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?
And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.
And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism -- yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.
It worked again. No less a luminary than John the Baptist (of, if my history is correct, that sweet hippie band Honey & Locusts) appeared to them, put his hands on their heads and said, "Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness."
And thus Joseph and Oliver had the authority to wade into the Susquehanna River and baptize each other.
I didn't know precisely what the bishop wanted me to talk about but now we're all sitting around the fire and night has shown that it's absolutely serious about this getting dark stuff and someone says Theric's going to say something about the Aaronic Priesthood restoration (this being our official yearly excuse to leave the women and be mountain men after all) and so I do and say roughly what I just typed. More or less.
Then someone says they guess that's it and will someone say the prayer.
Which I guess means I did a good enough job.
But svithes aren't about me.
And the priesthood isn't about me either. It's not about me and it's not about my bishop and it's not about the prophet. Or, in other words, it's every bit about us.
See, like most things in this world, the priesthood is an evidence of God's love. God, after all, didn't have to make beautiful mountains--the world could be a plain ball of nutritious mud--but he did because he loves us. God didn't have to make thing taste good--vitamin-supplemented bark-flavored gelcaps could sustain life--but he did because he loves us. God didn't have to make me thmazing either but---
Well, nevermind. You get the point. Nothing beautiful or wonderful is a requirement of his plan, but he gave us these things anyway.
Now priesthood is more of a requirement, I suppose, but when you consider that its sole purpose is to bring us back to him, it too becomes no more than evidence of God's love.
But then....what isn't?
Last week's svithe