Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 35:2-4

2 Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments:

3 And let us arise, and go up to Beth-el; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.

4 And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.

The place that God had called Jacob to was of special significance to him. It was the same location where God had first appeared to Jacob, given him a vision of a ladder ascending to heaven, and had promised to be his companion. All this had occurred as Jacob was fleeing for his life from Esau, out in the middle of nowhere. At the time this location must have seemed like the farthest place from home, but now it literally was his home.

Jacob knew that this place had been sanctified by the personal presence of God, and as he examined his household, he saw that they were not ready to dwell there. Evidently members of his family and/or servants had pagan idols, perhaps a carryover from when they had lived under Laban’s roof.

Now was the time to officially set all of that behind them, though. The camp was purified, their sins were put away, and everyone changed their clothes, symbolic of putting off their old way of life and putting on a new, clean one instead.

This is an example of a very important theme in the Bible: that of purifying, cleansing, and dressing in fresh clothing. Anyone that has tried to live a life of discipleship knows that we have to refresh ourselves many times over. We are called by God, but then we go aside in the rut, and then we clean ourselves up and recommit again.

In fact, this month I am going to attend a spiritual retreat in the mountains that I go to yearly, which is one of the most sacred keystones of my life. Each time I attend I feel the presence of God more vibrantly than at any other, but before each visit I find myself taking inventory of where I’m at, in what ways I have lapsed in my discipleship, and how to clean my heart in preparation for going to meet my God.

Solemnity and Joy- Exodus 3:2, 4-5

And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.


Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground
Before Moses could fully approach the Lord he was instructed to remove his footwear. It was as if God was saying “this place is very delicate, so tread lightly!” Moses needed to show his respect by setting aside that which was callous and hard, and approach with caution instead.
This reminds me of times that I have opened up the most inner sections of my heart to God or another person. “This is a very delicate place we’re going to now, so please tread lightly!” In these moments a soft voice and carefully chosen words make all the difference.
Think also of how delicate God’s spirit is when we commune with it. Anything callous or hard will offend it away and we must take care to handle it gently.
Thus one definition for “solemn moments” would be times that call for being “delicate,” “gentle,” or “careful.”

Solemnity and Joy- Doctrine and Covenants 20:75-77

It is expedient that the church meet together often to partake of bread and wine in the remembrance of the Lord Jesus;
And the elder or priest shall administer it; and after this manner shall he administer it—he shall kneel with the church and call upon the Father in solemn prayer, saying:
O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.


He shall kneel with the church and call upon the Father in solemn prayer
Yesterday I mentioned Yom Kippur, a solemn day in ancient Israel with rituals that symbolized the coming sacrifice of Jesus. Now we are on the other side of that sacrifice, and we still have rituals that point backward to it.
One of those rituals is, of course, the Eucharist or sacrament. And notice in this verse how this practice calls for being “solemn.” Though different denominations may vary in the specific details of how they carry out their sacrament, they generally maintain this same solemn demeanor, due to the respect they wish to show for the sacred event they remind us of.

That they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son
And there is a second reason for solemnity in this moment. In addition to reverently remembering what has happened, we see in the words of this prayer an invitation to make a solemn commitment. All those that partake are able to renew a covenant to God to keep Christ’s sacrifice in their mind and live in a way that follows his example.
And we are best able to make a serious commitment when we are of a calm and quiet mind. Consider how it is the same with weddings. Yes those are known for their gaiety, but then everything becomes very quiet and still when the moment comes for bride and groom to make their sincere pledge to one another. It is still a happy moment, of course, but it is a moment of happy solemnity. So, too, we should be of a sober and steady mind when we make our pledges to God.

The Nature of Sacrifice- Question

Some things in the gospel are very easy to talk about with others: grace, love, forgiveness, and peace for example. But other things are more difficult to broach, such as the element of sacrifice. Sacrifice, by its nature, means a painful experience. Indeed if there is no pain involved, then it isn’t really a sacrifice.

Yet discussing sacrifice is not only difficult because of the pain associated with it, but also because of the sweetness. Many people testify that their most sacred moments have come directly from their sacrifices. Indeed, both words have at their root the Latin term sacer, which means holy. Sometimes these moments are too private to share, and those that experience them can only encourage others to find their own.

But why is sacrifice such an integral part of the gospel? And why is pain essential to perfection? I would like to explore these questions and others with my new study, taking into consideration the root of all sacrifice: that of the Jesus Christ to redeem mankind.

In the meantime, I would love to hear about your own experiences with sacrifice. How have you known what you should sacrifice and what you should hold to? What were the effects of your surrendering? What did you receive in return for your loss?