Today we got slammed with what has variously been described as a "Snowpocolapse" "Shopper-stopper" or "Obamasnow" (I don't quite get that last one - is it a tribute or a mocking name?). Anyways, the long and the short of it is that we have 22 1/2 inches of snow here. My dad and I spent parts of the afternoon going out to shovel - not that you'd really notice, since our sidewalk and driveway are still covered in snow. Church is already canceled for tomorrow (and I'm rooting for work to be canceled Monday).
Since I was going to teach a Sunday School lesson on the "Pure in Heart," I've had "Zion" on the brain recently. Now, at first glance, the concept of Zion may not seem to have much to do with Christmas. But in our current understanding of Zion, Christmas brings out what I would call the "Zion moments" in people.
Mormons in general are a little weird in our concept of Zion. When I think of zion in a non-mormon context, it's generally an idea of cults. In our scriptures, it's a concept that has evolved through time - it began as a place (Jackson, Missouri) and has evolved to a concept that includes anyone who is "pure in heart." I think of Zion as a striving to live the spirit of Christmas and giving. I noticed in studying for the lesson that Zion is usually accompanied by living the law of consecration - "having all things in common" - this applies to the saints in the New Testament in the book of Acts, saints in the book of Mormon after Christ's appearance to them, and to saints in the early years of the Church in the 1830's and 1840's. Obviously we don't live in a time where the law of consecration is in full operation but we still have opportunities to give to others.
I am really excited that it was recently announced there will be an addition to the "3-Fold Mission of the Church" - caring for the poor and needy. While this is already part of a true Christian life, I hope including this principle prominently in the church will lead us to "do many things of our own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness."
So here are some "Zion moments" I've noticed, today with the snow and all during the week:
- It was nice that in the coverage of the storm, all the news anchors were reminding us to check in with our elderly neighbors and see if they were ok - I thought that was truly kind and charitable, and I've never noticed it before during a storm.
- My dad helped dig out a van from our street, a family was trying to get home
- Our home teacher picked up my brother from the Metro (after his plane ride to Newark and train to Union station) so that he could be home for Christmas
Along with that, I had the opportunity for Zion moments to serve others this week. I won't tell you what I did in response (suffice it to say that I regret my response in some circumstances).
- Seeing a co-worker carrying two heavy boxes, a laptop, and purse through the hallway, and knowing she needed help, despite the fact that I was running late
- Seeing a salvation army bell ringer at the mall, but not by the entrance I was going in, and knowing that I should donate because I had cash and I don't usually have cash with me
- Being prompted that I should go into a client site early (before training at another location) to do some work so someone else wouldn't have to
- Getting a great Christmas gift idea for a co-worker that I don't really know that well, but feeling strongly I should give it
I love this quote about giving:
"We are all both givers and receivers. President Marion G. Romney has said, 'There is an interdependence between those who have and those who have not. The process of giving exalts the poor and humbles the rich. In the process, both are sanctified" (Ensign, Nov. 1982, p. 93). No one is exempt from giving to the impoverished. The counsel is: "And again, I say unto the poor...I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give. (Mosiah 4:24)" No one is exempt from receiving. To the rich, the reality is: "For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God,...calling on his name, and begging for a remission of our sins" through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ? (Mosiah 4:19-20)
- Bishop Robert D. Hales, "Welfare Principles to Guide our Lives: An Eternal Plan for the Welfare of Men's Souls," Ensign, May 1986, 29.
If you're reading this post, you are likely wealthy in the eyes of the world. What more can you be doing to create Zion and care for the poor and needy?