Monday, March 11, 2013

The teacher’s greeting in the school of the prophets


It is interesting to see how the Lord expected the teacher in the school of the prophets to greet the others as they would come in. 
Art thou a brother or brethren? I salute you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, in token or remembrance of the everlasting covenant, in which covenant I receive you to fellowship, in a determination that is fixed, immovable, and unchangeable, to be your friend and brother through the grace of God in the bonds of love, to walk in all the commandments of God blameless, in thanksgiving, forever and ever. Amen.  (D&C 88:133)
Art thou a brother or brethren? – This seems to be intended to encourage the other to examine himself as to whether he is fully committed to the gospel, to Christ, and to becoming one with the inhabitants of Zion.

I salute you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ – Pretty amazing.  The students were to take this salutation as if it were Christ Himself greeting them.  This would be yet another reason to examine oneself as one enters the school. 

I receive you to fellowship, in a determination that is fixed, immovable, and unchangeable, to be your friend and brother through the grace of God in the bonds of love, to walk in all the commandments of God blameless – This seems to be making a ‘”fixed, immovable, and unchangeable”  commitment to be friends and brothers with the stipulation of walking in the commandments of God.   Seems pretty strongly worded, doesn’t it?  When I was reading this it almost seemed like it could be construed as a secret combination, but I realized there are three things that make it not: 1) It isn’t secret, 2) there is no death penalty, and 3) there is that stipulation of keeping the commandments.   

I also asked myself whether I felt I would be able to make that kind of strong commitment to be someone’s friend, considering both I and those I am friends with are imperfect people.  That’s when I realized why “through the grace of God” is in there.  We need the grace of God (the enabling power) to maintain that friendship to bear with each other’s foibles without losing our love.  We especially need it if our friendship is tested beyond our ordinary limits.  I really can’t think of too many times when my friendships have been tested this way (or maybe I’ve conveniently forgotten J), but it is comforting to know that the Lord can help me maintain friendships if I really need help.

What was the purpose of this greeting?  I think it establishes the school of the prophets as a holy space, set apart for learning the mysteries of the kingdom of God.  I think the self-examination it encouraged would help participants learn the importance of preparing spiritually for the sacred experiences they would have together.  I think it was meant to establish a foundation of trust that would be necessary for full participation and two-way exchange of ideas.

I think it also establishes a pattern for how we can treat others when we come to church or church activities:
1) Ask ourselves whether we are a brother/sister committed to the gospel and unified with others
2) Ask ourselves whether we can greet others in a Christ-like way
3) Ask ourselves whether we can receive and accept others in a Christ-like way