Monday, February 16, 2015

2015-02-16 President's Message

49 The Hope of a New Morning
Dear Sisters and Elders,

The Gospel of Luke records the heart wrenching scene of the Savior of the World being cruelly tortured and crucified. As I read and pondered these events my focus turned this time to his mother and the other faithful women who "bewailed and lamented him." In spite of his personal anguish, He had compassion on them, saying: "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep; not for me, but weep; for yourselves, and for your children." He foresaw the terrible destruction of Jerusalem that was to come within a few years.

I imagined how they sorrowed and wept as He finally cried out: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit!" and then died. The women followed the men to see as they carried his body to the "sepulchre (grave), and how his body was laid."

All of their hopes and dreams were laid in the sepulchre. He had spoken of rising again and other future events, but they did not understand. No one had ever risen from the dead and all they knew, and felt, was deep, deep sadness.

Out of love and respect, still deeply grieving, they arose on the "first day of the week, very early in the morning, [and] came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared." This is when things did not go as they had planned. They found that the large stone, which had been rolled over the entry to the sepulchre, had been rolled away. "And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus." Imagine their surprise and confusion. Imagine their disappointment and anger that someone had stolen the body of their Lord.

Then, all of a sudden, "two men stood by them in shining garments; And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee?"

Imagine the joy that began to enter their minds. Imagine the hope that began to fill their hearts! Could it be true? Could it be that He, whose terrible death they had witnessed with their own eyes, was alive again?

(This morning as I watched the sun rise early in the morning I could feel some of the hope they must have felt. The hope of a new day. The hope of life and health and peace and strength through the sacrifice and resurrection of our Lord.)

The women at the sepulchre quickly ran and told the disciples what had happened. They didn't believe them at first, but Peter ran to the sepulchre and saw for himself that it was empty. Later, Christ appeared to all of them. His first words were: "Peace be unto you." These are the first words He would say to each of us: "Peace be unto you."

Like the disciples, we do not always open our hearts to his love and peace; at least not immediately. They were "terrified and affrighted, and supposed they had seen a spirit." But he showed them His hands and feet, letting them touch Him. Only then did their feelings begin to change, but still "they yet believed not for joy, and wondered..."

When will we allow ourselves to receive the joy and peace that comes from Him? When will we let the joy of the Gospel of Peace settle into our souls?

Finally, after spending time with them, teaching them and blessing them, the disciples received the peace and joy He offered. "And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God."

Elders and Sisters, many of the people we teach are downtrodden and depressed by the difficulty of their lives. Others are consumed with worldly things and are distracted. Others have hope in their hearts but don't know where to turn. Ours is the great opportunity to show them the joy of the empty tomb and the risen Lord. We testify that there is truly a Jesus Christ who paid for our sins, who suffered for our sufferings and who opened the gates of death so that we can be resurrected and live with our Father again.

As you teach and testify this week, may your hearts be filled with great joy. May your testimonies ring with the happiness that comes from the great Plan of Happiness.

With love and hope,

President Ostler