Sunday, July 12, 2015

2015-7-12 President's Message

Dear Elders and Sisters,

A few years ago, while serving as bishop of our ward, the deacons brought me the sacrament tray with the water. They had accidentally not filled several of the cups in the tray. I selected a cup with water and drank it but I could not remove from my mind the image of the empty sacrament cups. As I sat on the stand, looking at the ward members who I loved, and as I thought of my family and the many other people I cared about, I wondered what would have happened if Christ had NOT atoned for us. What if there was never any water in the sacrament cups and no bread on the trays, because he hadn't atoned for us? What if baptism meant nothing more than getting wet? What if the temples were locked and closed?

As I thought about this, my heart filled with gratitude for my Savior, Jesus Christ. As He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and as He realized, maybe for the first time, how painful and deep this was going to be he asked "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." But then, in the greatest act of selfless love in the history of the world he said: "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt."

I imagine all of us, waiting to come to earth at that time, holding our breath and feeling very anxious. We knew our Savior. We knew He was pure and strong and good. But we also know that it was His CHOICE. He was not required to do this for us. I imagine my deep relief and gratitude as He made the choice to show His love in such a personal and painful way.

I also imagine that the Father may have let us know something about the depth of Christ's suffering. I imagine my heart aching, feeling broken and unworthy as He paid such an terrible price for me. I imagine praying for Him will all my heart. I imagine being so grateful that the Father sent angels to "strengthen him." I wish I could have done something to strengthen Him or at least, in some way, show my gratitude for Him.

I imagine watching his humiliation, torture and crucifixion, all of which are also part of the Atonement and wishing that somehow Pilate would stop, that the soldiers would stop, and that someone would just be kind to the Man who had just done so much for me!

I imagine being relieved when He finally gave up the ghost and died, so that His suffering would be complete.

I imagine feeling amazing joy and rejoicing when He was resurrected, somehow opening the door for me to someday gain an eternal, resurrected body myself.

My heart fills with gratitude, joy and hope as I thank the Lord for His love. My heart fills with desire to serve and share and sacrifice in a small token of thanks. The words to a favorite sacrament hymn go through my mind:

"As now we take the sacrament, Our thoughts are turned to thee,

Thou Son of God who lived for us, Then died on Calvary.

We contemplate thy lasting grace, Thy boundless charity;

To us the gift of life was given, For all eternity

As now our minds review the past, We know we must repent;

The way to thee is righteousness--the way thy life was spent.

Forgiveness is a gift from thee, We seek with pure intent.

With hands now pledged to do thy work, We take the sacrament.

As now we praise thy name with song, The blessings of this day

Will linger in our thankful hearts, and silently we pray

For courage to accept thy will, To listen and obey.

We love thee, Lord; our hearts are full. We'll walk thy chosen way.

(As Now We Take the Sacrament, Hymns, 169)

As Nephi said:

"And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children [and those we love] may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins." (2 Nephi 25:26)

My dear fellow missionaries, may we go forward this week with hearts full of love for God, love from God and love with God for the people we serve.

Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg Ostler