Recently in a sacrament meeting, a bishop announced that ward members were being invited to attend a temple groundbreaking in their area the following Saturday. Because parking at the temple site would accommodate only a limited number of attendees, the members of the ward were asked to go to a nearby stake center where the proceedings would be televised.
After the Sunday meetings, a couple in the ward, wishing to provide their children with the opportunity of actually being on the site prior to construction, drove to the location. There, in the warm glow of sunset, they enjoyed the view from the prominence where the edifice would be built and envisioned how it would look on the soon-to-be-sacred plot.
A decade earlier in another city where a temple was being built, a father and mother built anticipation in their young ones by periodically driving them by the temple site so they could observe the progress of construction.
Often at a temple groundbreaking, the officiating authority will invite children in the congregation to come forward and participate by scooping up some soil.
It is a way to impress upon the minds of the young and rising generation the joy and anticipation that should be part of each new temple construction and the importance that attaches thereto.
Throughout the ages, temples have brought joy, edification and assurance to the faithful among the people of God. While building a temple, king Solomon was promised that if he remained steadfast and obedient, the Lord would dwell among and not forsake Israel (see 1 Kings 6:12-13).
Alas, the Israelites did not live up to the promise, but thereafter languished in idol worship and division into the two separate kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
After a period of apostasy in Israel, the righteous king Hezekiah reopened, cleansed and sanctified the temple. He then invited all Israel and Judah to "come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto the Lord God of Israel" (see 2 Chronicles 30:1). Though some mocked and laughed at the invitation, many did respond with eagerness, trusting in the promise that "the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him" (see verse 9).
In our own gospel dispensation, the saints in Nauvoo, Ill., worked feverishly to finish the temple there, even though they knew they would shortly have to abandon it and leave the city in the face of mob oppression. They well understood that they would need the blessings obtained in the temple to sustain them through the rigors and trials of their westward trek and the building of a new home in the Mountain West.
We are blessed to live in a day when temples are proliferating in fulfillment of latter-day prophecy. This issue of the Church News includes an account of the open house for the Church's newest temple, located near Sacramento, the capital city of California, a state rich in Church history. And as this edition of the Church News reaches local readers, ground is being broken for a temple in Draper, Utah, on the extreme southern end of the Salt Lake Valley.
These temples provide yet another occasion for us to ponder the goodness of our Heavenly Father to us as His covenant people and to let worship in a temple, wherever it may be located, sanctify our lives and prepare us to be sealed together forever as families and eventually to be joint-heirs with Christ of all that the Father has.
May we not let the contemporary proliferation of temples dull our sensitivity or cloud our understanding of the infinite and eternal blessings represented by the construction of each new temple. As with Hezekiah, let the word go out to the faithful in our day: Come to the house of the Lord!