A House of God…
Since ancient times there have been sacred places established of God where He has communed with man, providing wisdom for guidance, commandments for law, and ordinances for salvation. Such places have included but are not limited to Eden, Mount Moriah, Mount Sinai, and the Mount of Transfiguration. Jehovah also commanded that temples be erected, where He could dwell and His people could be taught, receive ordinances and make covenants, including the traveling tabernacle of ancient Israel, and the houses of God built on the site of what is known today as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Such sites have come to be known as Holiness to the Lord, the House of the Lord.
For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the first such edifice or Holy Temple in this dispensation, was built at great sacrifice and dedicated unto God at Kirtland, Ohio in 1836. During the dedicatory prayer, offered by the Prophet Joseph Smith, these words earlier given of the Lord by way of commandment were repeated, “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 109:8).
Temples are built and dedicated with divine purpose, which cannot be substituted by whims or desires of men, nevertheless the presence of the Lord can be felt in other sacred places we create by the things we do and the dedicated ways in which we live, such as in our own homes.
When I was a young missionary in Paraguay I came to know a family who lived in ways, and served the Lord as such, to make their own home a house of God. They were a happy and kind people who taught their children to walk uprightly before the Lord, and welcomed all to partake of the Spirit that was so easily felt within the walls of their home. I felt this from the first hour I met them, their house becoming a second home to me during the seven months I spent in their community of Luque. Seve and Anastacio became like a mother and father to me as I was so far from my own parents. Rarely have I known such a mothering person as was Mamá, and the childlike kindness of Anastacio was all disarming as a father should be. Zuni became my sister, and grandfather Secudino brought to my remembrance the love of my own Grandpa Boyce. The Cabral family were indeed among the most kind and loving family I have ever known. They still remain so today.
It was not only their good natured kindness that made the Spirit of their home so inviting, but the way they chose to live. I remember one specific occasion in the living room of their home when my companion and I read with them by way of lesson, “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.”
The Cabrals were a family already living these principles. Their home was well ordered and prepared to care for their own, as well as any and all who would cross their threshold. It was a place of bended knee where heads were reverently bowed and voices lifted heavenward in fasting and prayer without need to be reminded. The Cabrals were keepers of God’s commandments, their faith stretched and strengthened in turn. uplifting conversations of gospel subjects as well as learning of all kinds came before television, and was encouraged and acted upon by both young and old. When within the gates of the yard or the walls of the home one could feel God’s Spirit and His glory as the Cabral family were true gatherers in His name. Indeed the Cabral home was truly a house of God.
I have strived to remember the dedication of my dear family from Paraguay and to emulate their home life in the gathering places of my own family.
While again, our homes cannot, nor should it be attempted to make them a replacement for God’s most sacred and dedicated places, we can sanctify our homes as we dedicate our lives to living and following Christ at all times and especially within their walls. As spoken from that dedicatory prayer in Kirtland, “that all people who shall enter upon the threshold of the Lord’s house may feel thy power, and feel constrained to acknowledge that thou hast sanctified it, and that it is thy house, a place of thy holiness” (Doctrine and Covenants 109:13), so too may be our homes.
As a family we ever strive to make our home a house of God, a place where God’s word is learned and obeyed, our voices are lifted to Him, and His Spirit is felt. Since my children were small, at our partings I have always shared these words, “Remember who you are.” On the inside of our doorway, for our children to see as they depart from home, there is a little metal plaque, “Return with Honor.” Although on the exterior of our home the words are not inscribed as on temples, “Holiness to the Lord” and “The House of the Lord,” our home is dedicated in prayer and principle nonetheless.
May we live uprightly before God and create heaven on earth within our homes that our children may ever strive to seek out heaven in this life and in the life to come as a place they may call home. May we look for and embrace sacred places on earth and establish in our own homes “a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.” Let us “with uplifted hands unto the Most High” follow the Lord, live His law, and enjoy with our families and friends the peace of His house. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.