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The following quote is taken from a 1992 publication of the Encyclopedia of Mormonism and is informative for those not familiar with Priesthood Blessings and also for the personal story I will share later:
A priesthood blessing may be given only by those who have been ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood. In the Church, most boys at the age of twelve have the Aaronic Priesthood conferred upon them and are ordained to the office of deacon. At age fourteen, they are usually ordained teachers, and at age sixteen, priests. If the priesthood bearer continues to show faithfulness and worthiness, then at age eighteen, or anytime thereafter, he may receive the Melchizedek Priesthood with ordination to the priesthood office of elder. An elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood has authority to perform most priesthood functions in the Church, including giving priesthood blessings.
Each priesthood ordination, from deacon to apostle, is a type of priesthood blessing and is characterized, as are all priesthood blessings, by (1) the laying-on of hands by those in authority, (2) an invocation of the authority of the priesthood and the name of Jesus Christ, and (3) such words of blessing as follow the impressions of the Spirit.
This third element, that of spiritual impressions, is vital for any priesthood blessing. A fundamental doctrine of the Church is a belief that a worthy priesthood bearer, when giving a priesthood blessing, will receive promptings from the Holy Spirit regarding what is to be spoken-not necessarily the exact words, but ideas or thoughts that he will then express as clearly as he can in his own words. This is the essence of a priesthood blessing, and distinguishes it from a prayer. A prayer seeks to communicate with God, either vocally or silently, and is rooted in the faith that God will hear the words or the thoughts and feelings and then, in his infinite wisdom and power, will respond. A priesthood blessing is based on trust that the priesthood holder, while speaking the blessing, will receive spiritual promptings regarding what is to be spoken and thus his words represent the will of God.
As described in the quote, Elders in the Mormon church are ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood. The Elders within a congregation are assigned to be “Home Teachers”, or overseers for 3-5 families within the congregation. Hometeachers are assigned in pairs of two and visit the homes of their assigned families on a monthly basis. Part of their duty is to ensure the families’ physical, temporal, and spiritual needs are being met. This requires the Elders to stay in tune with the Lord because at any given moment, a family can call and ask for a Priesthood blessing. As we’ve already covered in the quote, a blessing is much more than a prayer. It is being a spokesman for the Lord and is a humbling, but deeply spiritual experience.
Yesterday when visiting one of my families, the father asked us (me and my home teaching companion) to give him a blessing. He asked me if I would be the one to give the blessing.
When giving a blessing, the Elders place their hands on the head of the individual receiving the blessing. If it is a blessing of healing, consecrated olive oil is placed on the individual’s head and one Elder annoints the oil through a quick prayer and then the next Elder, who will be giving the blessing places his hands on the head together with the first Elder. He opens the prayer by sealing the annointing and then speaks as thoughts from the Holy Spirit enter His mind.
Here’s a picture of what a blessing looks like:
After my companion annointed the head of the father, I sealed the annointing as outlined. It was a deeply moving experience for me as thoughts and feelings came to my mind and heart of how much God loved this father and viewed him as His son. Feelings of how noble and valued he was in the sight of God entered through me and it was hard for me not to get emotional. Towards the conclusion of the blessing, I felt a strong feeling of Jesus’ suffering on the cross and in the Garden of Gethsemane for our sins. I became very touched and cried openly as I spoke words of comfort and encouraged the father to turn to the Lord and place his burdens at His feet.
I’ve given many blessings in my life. Some are very moving like this one and others are less moving, yet still spiritual and simple. One thing I know is that in each case, I am not speaking my own thoughts and feelings, but I am speaking as a spokesperson for God. It is a very humbling experience and a privilege that I am grateful to have the opportunity to participate in on occasion.
I realize priesthood blessings are very sacred for those who have both received and given them. However, if you are comfortable with sharing your experiences, I think it would be good for those less familiar with blessings to learn from you.
Also, any of you who may not be Mormons and have additional questions, feel free to ask!
“CAR!” my friend, Steve yelled, but it was too late.
We didn’t see the car in time. I had just enough time to turn my front wheel and suddenly I was flying through the air and the “WHAM!” I hit the pavement and the back of my head whiplashed into the asphalt, cracking my helmet.
My first thought was: Wow! Helmet’s actually do save lives. Followed by I’ve gotta get an Advil and get back on the bike!
I wasn’t riding just for fun. I was riding in memory of my Grandmother, who had passed away from Diabetes related complications. Two months earlier I had written an article called “The Last Words I Heard my Grandmother Speak” and sent it out to a few hundred family and friends asking for donations towards Diabetes research for the American Diabetes Association. Close to 60 of my friends and family had been kind enough to donate money towards the cause and I had committed to riding 100 miles.
Fortunately, for me the Good Lord was looking out for me. Moments later a medic on a bicycle who happened to be riding along the trail at that very moment stopped and checked me (and my bike) out. He concluded that I didn’t have a concussion, but that I should go back a few miles to the medic station.
I was a bit annoyed. We were only 35 miles into it and had found some good friends along the ride from India. We had a good thing going as we had been drafting off each other. To turn around was so frustrating for me. However, after some convincing from the medic, I realized he was right and that I should go get checked out.
It just so happened (like I said, the Good Lord was blessing me) that a lady across the street had seen the accident and she had a pick-up. She came over and offered to drive me to the aid station. She happened to be a retired physicians assistant, so she had some good pointers for me along the way.
The medic checked my vitals and everything was fine. I had a slight headache, but he determined it was from the heat and had me drink a bottle of watter and Powerade. A few minutes later, Steve and I were back on the trail. We were at mile 35 and had 60 more miles to go.
The next 22 miles were the hardest for me on the whole ride. I had rested for over 1/2 hour and my legs had stiffened. I wasn’t sure if I could go on at some points. However, with a few prayers and sheer determination, I was able to make it.
God was with us again as we pulled into the rest area. The people manning that location had thought all the other century riders were gone and they were literally starting up their motorcycles to leave. As we pulled up, they were very glad that they had seen us. They took our information and called all the aid stations letting them know there were still some riders on the trail. The stop on at the aid station had set us back about 45 minutes from the other riders. If we hadn’t met this motorcycle gang (they called themselves the Lollypop Guild motorcycle gang read about them on Facebook here) at the rest area, we would not have had any more Tour support while we were riding the most brutal portion of the course starting at mile 62 in the foothills of the Cascades. Praise God they were there!
A few miles later, we were winding our way through the foothills of the Cascade mountains. This was the second time I seriously wondered if I could make it. The elevation gain was about 3000 feet. That combined with the heat, and perhaps my wreck caused me to get a bit light-headed and my nose started to bleed. I barely stayed on my bike, wobbling up hill after hill.
At the next rest area, about 64 miles into the ride, I was able to get some Alieve. This helped my aching muscles, my sore knee, and my slight headache. After that, I felt like a new man and Steve and I kept pushing through the ride.
All was well until about mile 84 when we hit a monster hill. The hill is a category 5 (on a scale of 1-5) and it was 3 miles long. Somehow we muscled our ways up that bad boy and made it home.
When we got there, our lovely wives were there to greet us.
It felt so great to fight through adversity and with a lot of help from Providence and very good people I was able to finish the ride. Not to get too philosophical, but it was like a mini example of our journeys in life. We work hard and do all we can, but the Lord picks up the slack and usually helps us back on our feet through using other people.
I am grateful for a wonderful Grandmother who set such a good example for me in my life at a young age. It was her memory that kept me going. I am also grateful for all of the wonderful people who donated to support the cause. Together, we were able to earn the “Champions” medal for the amount of funds we raised ($2,440 so far).
Here are some pictures of the ride for you to enjoy:
Here’s the very first video around 8:00 a.m. when we first started the ride:
This is the point where you commit to either riding the 70 or 100 mile route…
Three miles after we decided to ride the 100 mile route, I got in the wreck, cracked my helmet, and scraped up my hip and elbow. I’m blessed that nothing more happened. Here’s my helmet and scraped elbow:
Here’s the best video! Riding into the finish line with our wives to greet us:
Here’s Steve and I after the ride
Our Indian friends we met along the way
The Lollipop Guild Motorcycle Gang
My jersey number (jersey number was yellow to signify over $2000 in donations…thank you everyone!)
Champion for Diabetes medal due to funds donated…thank you all once again (if I had made it back in time, Detlef Schrempf was the one who gave out the medal. Becca, my wife got it instead and was able to meet Detlef).
Finally, my beautiful bride, Becca (she rode the 45 mile route) who initiated getting a team together for the Tour de Cure. Without her, I wouldn’t have done this.
Recently I was fortunate to have been able to attend a Mormon temple wedding in both Sacramento, California and in American Fork, Utah. Just in case you haven’t seen either of the temples, here are some pictures:
Sacramento Mormon Temple
Mt Timpanogos Mormon Temple (in American Fork, Utah)
As you notice, the outside of the temples are white and the buildings are elegant. When you get closer to the temples, there are the words “Holiness to the Lord” inscribed on them as you enter.
Once you enter into the temple, there are temple workers who are dressed in white. The white signifies purity and cleanliness that is only found through following and accepting Jesus into one’s life.
The temple workers will then ask you for your Mormon temple recommend, which all Mormons receive if they are living a virtuous life and trying to follow Jesus.
After showing the recommend, we were then led to the sealing room where the Mormon temple wedding takes place. A typical sealing room, as shown in the picture below, has an altar in the middle of the room with chairs surrounding the altar for the guests. There are also two chairs at either side of the altar for the witness couple (typically the couple is both the bride and the groom’s parents) to witness the wedding.
Mormon Temple Sealing Room
We’ve had many discussions over the years on this blog about the various ways God speaks to us through His Spirit. I must say that God spoke to me in a very powerful, yet simple way at both of these Mormon temple weddings.
In both situations, I felt the power of God’s Spirit upon entering the temple. It was a feeling of complete purity and peace that washed over me.
After we were all seated, the bride and groom then entered, followed by the Mormon Temple Sealer, or in other words, the person performing the wedding.
As seen in most religious weddings, the Mormon Temple Sealer gives advice to the couple. Usually, the advice is good and centered around how to keep the Lord as the center of the relationship.
Additional advice that I found very insightful at these weddings included the following:
- Tell each other that you love each other every day
- Tell each other why you love each other
- Never give the same reason twice as to why you love each other
- Never speak evil of the Lord’s anointed can mean not to speak evil of each other
After giving insightful words and sharing testimony, the Mormon Temple sealer then has the couple kneels across the altar and grasp hands. He then performs the wedding and seals them as husband and wife for all eternity together with the Lord.
It is a beautiful thing to witness and the Holy Spirit is very strong. I recommend a temple marriage to anyone!