Sacred Feasting Hour…

“Gathering to celebrate and party together are most forward looked to events throughout life. Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, graduations, holidays, retirements, homecomings and goings away, are all parties anticipated and enjoyed. One of my favorite elements of a great party is the sometimes accompanying feast. A feast makes a party all the better, and all the more complete. When we feast we indulge in a wide spectrum of sights, smells and flavors that delight the senses and satisfy the appetite of all good desired. If I only had one more feast in me, perhaps the last party that I would ever enjoy with family and friends, upon what would I desire to feast most with those I love? It is written, ‘feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do’ (2 Nephi 32:3). That is how I would want to spend my last party, my last celebration with loved ones, feasting on the words of Christ, that they may know as I that He is the way of truth and life eternal.”

Daniel Joseph Malcolm, 23 March 2024

In recent months I have thought a great deal about what might accompany the last hours of my sojourn here on earth. How and with whom would I like to spend those hours and moments so sacred and special? I cannot imagine not wanting to spend them with loved ones, imparting some kind of message, final words, so to speak. I have long tried to live my life in a way that every day could be the last, so if tomorrow never comes, there will never be an hour of regret. But events as they have unfolded, have brought me ever closer to the realism that the hour may come ever so much sooner than expected or that I can possibly anticipate.

Christmas Day 2023 with the Malcolms at the Fresno Community Hospital Christmas tree.

We all have different ideas about what the perfect way to pass from this life to the next would be. Some may think a quick accident with no pain and then to heaven. That one almost had its way with me just last December. Alternatively, perhaps to go to sleep in the night to awake in the presence of long departed dear ones would be choice. For me, I have long imagined lying in bed, beloved family and friends gathered beside, allowing a final failing breath, a sweet goodbye before the long night of separation. If that was my opportunity, and I indeed had beloved family, including unbaptized grandchildren and perhaps great-grandchildren, beloved friends, many of whom may not as of yet taken upon themselves the name of Christ by baptism, aside from my expressions of love, what might I say worthy of such an hour?

We can read of similar such opportunities when in the last days and hours of a prophet’s life he gathered his people near, or wrote words he most wanted coming generations to know and follow. In scripture we discover such sweet and holy endeavors to urge and inspire to faithful discipleship.

The Prophet Nephi experienced such a sacred hour of final words to his beloved after they had been through so much together. But not only for those he loved of his day were these sacred things expressed, but for we who he saw in vision both the convert and the seeker of faith and truth. Like those with whom prophets lived for so long and had suffered great trials, we too have endured with them vicariously through reading of their days of probation with all the journeys and trials they and their people suffered. We too, the readers of their teachings, have become beloved unto them. Indeed, in Nephi’s hour to write his final words to us on metal plates that we might know what was most important to be written with a prophet’s tired and frail hand, he wrote with the power of God.

When I was a child I committed a scriptural declaration of belief called the Articles of Faith to memory, from the first to the last. I have throughout my life retained by practice those words in proper order, and to this day I can recite them when needed, often with help of the Holy Ghost. One that stands out plainly to the understanding of adults and children alike is Article of Faith number four: “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Nephi clearly felt the importance of participating in the first principles and ordinances of the gospel as he expended some of the very last pages of his writing to it. He wrote, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to His word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel” (2 Nephi 31:13).

Nephi speaks of having faith in Christ unto repentance and baptism that we might enjoy the presence of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives to guide us through our sojourn and return us to our Heavenly Father. Baptism is the very kicking off point, the doorway or “gate” to returning to the presence of God. Yes, there is so much more to learn and to do, but without baptism, for our children or our friends, they will have no ability to proceed forward and receive all of the blessings of the kingdom of God on earth nor in the eternities.

“John the Baptist Baptizing Jesus” by Greg K. Olsen

It is not enough to simply believe and do well. We need to act in faith on the invitation made to us by Christ and by His prophets and servants, to follow Him into the waters of baptism and beyond. We that are converted, let us follow Christ by extending His words to others. What better gift can we give, what better invitation can we make, what greater love can we show?

I love my family and friends, all sons and daughters of God, whether baptized bearers of Christ’s holy name or those beloved who have not yet found faith sufficient to do so, my love is the same. My prayers are true and devoted to you. Although I am weak in writing, and my witness is not of measure like that of the prophets, I declare still my Savior Jesus Christ and invite you with me to follow Him. I affirm with Nephi, “And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people. And the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in Him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal” (2 Nephi 33:4).

Like Nephi of old, who we know by his writings and by the Spirit, I too have watered my pillow with my tears for you I love. I have wept and cried out in my journeys to and from associations with you all. I cry unto the Lord on your behalf, as I know many cry for me. It is love of fellow man which inspires so prayerful devotion, even devotion to our Savior Jesus Christ, who loves us and has expended tears even more. He is our Redeemer and through Him we may return to the presence of God together and find peace and love and joy as never before known. Until that day I find peace in His countenance resting upon sweet faces of humble disciples, knowing that we together follow Him.

“Press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:20). Oh beloved, let us follow Christ, the only way, repent and be baptized, and repent again, and again, that we might have the Holy Spirit with us always and be guided by God’s loving and merciful hand. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Feasting

Daniel Malcolm is an entrepreneur, journalist, photographer, husband to Monica and father of twelve. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is a witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.