'Preserve' rising generation through gospel ordinances

Some days ago we spoke with our children about the fears of raising children and preparing them for the ordinances and covenants of the gospel in a world of increasing polarization between the forces of good and evil. We searched in the Book of Mormon, written for our time, for an answer. We found that the story of the 2,000 strippling warriors is a very encouraging parable of raising a generation which will survive in this spiritual war.

These 2,000 sons of Helaman took up arms in the defense of their country, "yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives." We are told that " . . . they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted . . . . Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness;" and ". . . they had fought as if with the strength of God," because of their "exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe - that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power."And how did they develop this love for their country, for the "liberty of their fathers" and their exceeding faith to fight with the "strength of God?" They "had been taught by their mothers" - and surely there were many of them who were single mothers, because their husbands lost their lives years ago not willing to take up weapons.

And "there was not one soul of them who did perish." (Alma 53, 56, 57.)

And we learned that we can also "preserve" our rising generation by His marvelous power through testimony and teachings, and love and attention in the home in preparing children for the saving ordinances and sacred covenants of the gospel.

Ordinances "serve as witnesses or signatures to the spiritual agreement made." (John A. Widtsoe, Program of the Church, p. 109.) In providing opportunities for children to prepare for and receive the saving ordinances of the gospel, we have to, therefore, do the following:

Create a spiritual environment at home and in Church, and help children "feel that burning desire to return home to their Heavenly Father." (Michaelene P. Grassli, Primary general president, satellite broadcast, "Behold Your Little Ones," Jan. 23, 1994.) Preparing our four children for the ordinances of the gospel, we have witnessed the power of the following:

Prayer - personal prayer as well as family prayer. What an experience to hear the first spontaneous prayers of children, to receive a glance into their tender feelings.

Family home evening. I remember the many wonderful evenings we spent with our children, when we learned, sang, prayed, worked and played together.

Scripture study. At the end of a beautiful vacation in a log cabin in the Austrian mountains, we asked the children for their most enjoyable experience. They answered: climbing the mountain, searching for mushrooms in the woods, sailing or swimming in one of the wonderful clear lakes, sitting by a campfire in front of the log cabin. However, they finally all agreed: reading in the four Gospels. They received a deep impression of the life, sacrifice, death and resurrection of Christ and a strong desire to enter into sacred covenants.

Family togetherness. Periodically, I spend a day with each of our children. I remember a "Georg-Day," riding on our bicycles, swimming and enjoying a campfire with a barbecue. At the end of one "Ulrike-Day," I took our daughter to a concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Karl Bohm was conducting Mozart. Afterward, we went to the Imperial Cafe to eat a special Viennese crepe with ice cream, and spoke about Mozart and classical music. During such occasions, I could listen to our children share their feelings and views, which they needed to express and we needed to hear.

A "Welfare Plan of Beauty." In raising our children we learned how important it is that a family, along with its supply of the necessities of life has a supply of the beauties of life - where there is a store of or at least access to pictures, books, music and films of real worth.

Hymns of the restoration. What a great influence my wife has had in the lives of our children in developing a tradition of reading and singing in our family. She knows many of the hymns by heart, and we enjoyed traveling together in our car singing these hymns. "Lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made." (D&C 25:13.)

Missionary work. Working together with missionaries has been one of the most enjoyable activities of our lives, and which has had a great influence on our children in preparing them for ordinances and covenants. We give thanks to these missionaries, visible heroes for our children.

Ensure that children receive the ordinances in a most beautiful and spiritual way. The ordinance of blessing of children is not one of salvation, because, "Little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world." (D&C 29:46.) In this ordinance, the child is officially given a name and the Church records are made, but it includes also a blessing of inspiration and protection.

When our daughter received this ordinance I felt the power of the adversary which would be manifested in her life, and I exercised faith to bless her that she would be "protected against the power of temptation and destruction." Some months later, still a little baby, she was in a hospital with liver cancer and traces in her spinal column with no hope by the doctors to survive. There, I remembered this experience of blessing her. To give our daughter a blessing for the sick was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. Her blessing said she would survive - and she survived, according to the will and power of God.

Children who live in a spiritual environment surely view baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost as the central ordinance for them and look forward to it with great joy. The program of the baptismal service, the presents, or the celebration of the family or the ward should never detract from the beauty, spirituality and sacredness of the ordinance itself. According to the scriptures, it is the responsibility of the parents to prepare their children to be "baptized when eight years old, or the sins will be upon the heads of the parents." (D&C 68:25-27.)

How grateful we can be for a sensitive Primary teacher, faithful home teachers and a bishop who is a real shepherd, assisting the parents in this sacred commandment.

The years following baptism are years of preparation for the Aaronic Priesthood and the Young Women. These are years to learn to understand and to speak the language of the Spirit. And to live worthy to be guided and protected by this power.

From a letter of one of our sons when he was age 9: "Today I pondered about Christ and the Atonement. I heard, `I Am a Child of God' on cassette. I started to cry. I love my Redeemer and I love you, my parents. Please forgive all my wrongdoings (We were not aware of any). Love Helmut." It was a time when he preferred to write letters to express his feelings.

The years following baptism are also years to learn to understand to partake worthily of the sacrament and to "offer a sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in righteousness even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit."

One of the most touching experiences is the sealing of children to parents in the temple. You can see the happiness in the eyes of these children knowing without any doubt by the Holy Spirit that they belong to their parents and their parents to them forever.

The temple is a standing witness that the power of God can stay the powers of evil in our midst "if we will be worthy of those sacred covenants made in the temple. Our families will be protected, our children will be safeguarded." (Ezra Taft Benson, Come Unto Christ, p. 5.) Even for "parents of the wilful and the wayward" the Prophet Joseph Smith taught this comforting doctrine, "that the eternal sealings of faithful parents . . . would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity." (Orson F. Whitney, Conference Report, April 1929, p. 110.)

During the last year, hundreds of children came to the temple in Friedrichsdorf

near FrankfurtT. We cannot foresee the influence that having a close relationship to the temple in these young years will have for this "Primary generation," their children and even their parents.

May we lead children to Christ through the ordinances and covenants of the gospel. May we help them feel "that burning desire to return." May we be able to say, as has been said about the sons of Helaman: Some have "fainted," and there was none one without "wounds," but "not one of them who did perish." (Alma 57:25.)

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