Sunday, 31 March 2013

SERMON: Mary Magdelene, Witness of the Risen Lord


Noli me Tangere by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1524
(Copyright free image)



The New Passover ("Easter") is the Greatest Story ever told. All of you know the story, but I want to speak about the part of the story in which Mary Magdalene meets Jesus at the empty tomb.

This story is found only in the Gospel of John, and is very much understated in the whole of the story of Jesus Christ's resurrection. For Latter Day Mormons, it is a very important story, and one that I think is missing from the other Gospels - maybe because Mary only told it to John personally.

Everything about this little story within a bigger story rings true to human nature as we know it. A woman alone by an empty tomb, weeping, wondering what has happened to the body of the Lord she loved. While the woman knelt alone weeping by the tomb Jesus suddenly appears, she doesn't recognise him at first. Then the women so overcome with joy and the spirit reaches out to touch the Christ she knows and loves, who confides in her that he has not yet fully resurrected and come unto his father. The vignette ends with the mourner turned into a missionary, running to tell the others what she has just seen and heard.

Although Mary Magdalene plays an important role in the life of Christ, the wider world knows very little about her and her role in the life of Christ. What we as Latter Day Mormons do know is that she is one of at least five different women named “Mary” in the New Testament, and unless we are careful, we will get them confused.

Mary Magdalene was one of a group of women who became followers of Christ during his earthly ministry. We know that she joined herself to Jesus in a way that no other women had ever done, As Latter Day Mormons, we know through modern revelation that Jesus loved her more than any other woman, indeed, more than any other of his disciples, and that they indeed were married. It has been taught by people down the ages, and is still taught by some, that Mary Magdalene was the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), but there is no evidence in the text to support this claim.

Others suggest she was the “sinful woman” who anointed the feet of Jesus in Luke 7:36-50, but the Bible does not make that clear, either. There is some tradition among many churches that it makes her a promiscuous woman, but there is no reason to say that based on the facts. After a time throughout Christian churches she became a symbol for repentant sinners who come to Christ from very chequered and colourful backgrounds, this may in fact be true in her case, but we have no way to be certain as to the validity of the stories attributed to Mary.

Far from doing Mary and her reputation throughout the world good, it has meant that this wonderful woman has been darkened and tainted with sin, sin which can not be proved she had committed.

However, this much we do know: That through her love and discipleship, Christ set her free, and liberated her from the world that surrounded her - a world that had kept her chained figuratively to darkness. Mary Magdalene is living proof that those whom the Lord sets free are free indeed. Having been liberated from the world around her, she said to herself, "I love him for what he did for me. I will follow him wherever he goes." And so when it came time for our Lord to offer his life and was hung on the cross, she stood nearby with Mary, his mother.

When they took his body down from the cross, she was there to see that awful image of her Lord. When they placed him in the tomb, she was sitting on a rock ledge, watching it all happen (Matthew 27:61). And so when the Sabbath had concluded, Mary, this woman whom the Lord had set free from the bondage of the world, this woman who loved him and followed him, and this woman who was there at his death, now went forth and purchased spices because she hoped to anoint his dead body. The Lord was hastily buried on Friday in order to finish before sundown, which is why they had not finished preparing his body.

Early on Sunday morning, before the sun came up, she and the other women ventured through the darkness to the Garden Tomb, expecting to finish the job of anointing the body of Jesus. When the women came upon the tomb they found it empty, they were confused and terrified. Then they saw and heard angels of the Father and they told them that Christ had risen from the dead.

They returned to tell the disciples who did not believe such a thing possible even though the Lord has told them such things were possible and that he would be resurrected. And so John and Peter went and investigated, and when they saw the linen wrappings exactly where the body had been placed on Friday evening, they believed, now they believed and they ran to tell the others of what they had seen. At that point, Mary Magdalene returned to the tomb alone, confused, bewildered, in shock, frightened, and of course at the very heart of it, brokenhearted, her beloved not there, but missing. It has not yet occurred to her that the empty tomb meant that Jesus had risen from the dead.

It has often been said that Mary Magdalene was last at the cross and first at the tomb. Even though this may sound a slight to Mary it must be remembered that that can not be said of the men who followed Jesus, the men who lived by his side as she did, the men who saw his do so many great and wondrous things.

Mary was the first to see him alive and the first to hear his voice, this is the one person he chose to see first, he chose her above his Apostles, and he chose his beloved. The irony of the story is that when she saw him, she didn't recognize him. But when the truth hit home, she became the first evangelist in Christian history. As Latter Day Mormons we must always remember that Christ bestowed this great honour on her because she loved him so deeply and so devotedly, and he loved her.

Let us, therefore, be inspired by this great woman of faith to be faithful in our devotion to Christ and in our duties to honour God.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Reading: "Behold, I bleed for you..." Jeraneck 16:42-45


And the Lord spoke unto me and said, “Behold my birth, for I will come in humble circumstances and I will bear witness of the Father and I will teach the Gospel unto all that will listen. Now look,” And I looked and I saw that he was older and in his mid years and I saw that he was in a garden and I saw that he bled from his skin and the Lord said unto me,

“Behold, I bleed for you and your people behold I bleed for all that have lived and will ever live. I bleed and take upon my self the sins of the entire world.” and then I saw that the people spat on him and whipped him and they placed thorns on his head and they nailed him to a tree in the form of a cross and there he died.

And my heart sank that the people would do this. Now the Lord commanded me to look and I saw that he had risen from the dead and that he walked upon the earth once again and that he did many great things unto the people.

Book of Jeraneck 16:42-45

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

NEWS RELEASE: A Challenge to Pope Francis


BRITISH MORMON PROPHET 
CHALLENGES POPE FRANCIS
TO RELEASE HIDDEN GOSPEL RECORDS
Says Vatican Must Reveal the Truth About Early Christian Writings

Thursday, 27 March, 2013
Contact: Elder Phil Gill 01283 585972 (UK); 1-44-1283-585972(from US) 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ASHBOURNE, DERBYSHIRE, UNITED KINGDOM – The Prophet of a British Mormon sect is challenging Pope Francis to come clean about possible “secret Gospels” hidden in the Vatican’s vaults and release them to the world. 

Matthew P. Gill, the Prophet, Seer and Revelator of the Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ, says the new pope should be honest with the world about the Vatican’s contents. 

“The new pope has made statements to the effect that he wants to govern a more open church,” he said. “I applaud that effort, but I challenge him to fully live up to his word, and release a list of all materials lying in the dark recesses of the Vatican about early Gospels of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

There were many books not included in the New Testament Christian scriptures by the Roman Catholic Church, and many were unknown until the 20th Century. In 1945, a large cache of Gnostic Gospels were found in Egypt, and last year, a scrap of papyrus was acquired and translated by a Harvard Divinity School professor showing evidence that Jesus was married. Gill says the world should be told about all such writings. 

“There are likely to be many such unknown fragments that could shed light on the earliest years of the Christian Church, and we all deserve to know about them,” he said. 

Gill’s church, which is not affiliated with the Utah-based Latter-Day Saints, traces its origin to the revelations Joseph Smith, Jr. in 1830 and Gill's revelation of the Book of Jeraneck in 2006. Latter Day Mormons believe in ongoing revelation by Gill, the Living Prophet, but do not believe in polygamy, and reject the authority of all Latter-Day Saint prophets after the death of Joseph Smith, Jr. in 1844. They are online at www.latterdaychurch.co.uk

The full statement is below: 

In his first weeks in office, Pope Francis has made statements to the effect that he wants to govern a more open church. I applaud that effort, but I challenge him to fully live up to his word, and release a list of all materials lying in the dark recesses of the Vatican about early Gospels of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Gospel fragments have surfaced throughout the last century that have given us new insights into the Lord’s message and teachings. This includes the Gnostic Gospels and the Gospel of Judas, which Catholics have known to have existed since the time of Ireneaus, a Catholic Bishop living around AD 180, but has only been published within the past decade. 

What other Secret Gospels and writings has the Vatican withheld from Catholics and the rest of the world? There are likely to be many such unknown fragments that could shed light on the earliest years of the Christian church, and we all deserve to know about them.

With the greatest of respect, I challenge the pope to immediately release a full list of Gospels and fragments of Gospel writings hidden in the Vatican, whether or not his church will be embarrassed by their contents. Only then will we know Pope Francis is serious about living up to Christ’s words, "The Truth shall set you free."

###

Sunday, 24 March 2013

SERMON: Blessings of the Restoration


A Sermon by Matthew P Gill

Many of the blessings and the opportunities we enjoy are results of the Restoration. We have more light and knowledge than has ever been on the earth before at one time. The Gospel sun, which had its setting in the day when darkness covered the earth, that same Gospel sun had its rising in the new day of the Restoration.

What great blessings and advantages does the Restoration offer us? We have knowledge of life’s purpose and eternal opportunities that await us. We can share eternal joy with our friends and our families. We can have growth and satisfaction through organised service, and we can gain a profound peace and strength through a spiritual closeness with the Lord. God has restored his Gospel and it is given to us as a way of life, our way of Life, God’s way of life.

So how, as Latter Day Mormons, can we take advantage of the blessings and opportunities of the restored Gospel? We are in a position to claim these blessings when we strive to obey the commandments. One of these blessings is to fulfil the role that the Lord gave to us; this role was divinely appointed to us before we came to earth at this time of the Restoration for a special reason. It is the duty of every Latter Day Mormon to be holy unto God. We must have elevated aims, if we are holy people under God. We shall feel that we are called to perform important duties.

As the ancient Prophet Alma said, “And now my beloved brethren, I have said these things unto you that I might awaken you to a sense of your duty to God, that ye may walk blameless before him, that ye may walk after the holy order of God, after which ye have been received.” (Alma Chapter 5; 7:22/Utah)

No one is who is a Latter Day Mormon is exempt from doing their duty. There is no person so isolated, and their sphere so narrow that they can not do a great deal towards establishing the kingdom of God upon the earth. Let us look at the Holy Bible in Isaiah chapter 29: “Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.”

In the Book of Jeraneck, that prophet recorded that all his people were called by God to, “Be righteous and obedient and clean, Be holy and sanctified.” (BOJ, Religious Teachings 1:63)

What we have to remember today is that many good people of the world will be drawn to the church in ever increasing numbers. This will happen to the degree that the members of the church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the members of the church are seen as distinct and different in happy ways from the people of the world.

There are among the people of the world heroes and heroines who will come to the church who are concerned with being righteous than with being selfish. These real heroes and heroines have true humility, which places a higher value on integrity than on visibility, Great men and women are always more anxious to serve than have dominion.

So Latter Day Mormons, as members, are the ultimate examples of the church and it is we who will be a significant force in both the numerical and spiritual growth of the church in these the last days. The blessings of the Restoration are ours when we keep the commandments and fulfil our roles as members of the church.

Let us be guided by Heavenly Father to be true to His Word.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Reading: "And we talk of Christ..." (2 Nephi 11/1830)

"And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."
- 2 Nephi Chapter 11/1830 version (25:26/Utah)

Friday, 15 March 2013

Reading: 2 Nephi 13 "...after that ye have got into this straight and narrow path..."


“And now, my beloved brethren, after that ye have got into this straight and narrow path, I would ask, If all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far, save it were by the word of Christ, with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of Him who is mighty to save; Wherefore, ye must 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 Chapter 13 (31:19-20/Utah)

Monday, 4 March 2013

SERMON: Stand In Holy Places

A sermon by Matthew P. Gill

“Behold it is my will, that all they who call on my name, and worship me according to mine everlasting gospel, should gather together and stand in holy places.”
(D&C 97:5 - 101:22/Utah)

The Lord has said that his house is to be one of prayer, fasting, faith, learning, and glory. But our homes, whether they consist of a husband and wife, mother and child, or single sister, can also be a house of the Lord, and as Latter Day Mormons, we can strive for our homes to be holy places. The Kingdom of God is anchored firmly in the divinely ordained family unit, tightly bound with  the principles of righteousness, purity, and centred around our love and understanding of God, which we know through the Gospel.

Latter Day Mormon homes can and should be safe places of righteousness and spirituality where individuals are influenced by the living gospel principles. In such a home is made the strong place which children can come to the safe harbour they need in such a time of trouble and strife and temptation. The Latter Day home should be a place where children and young adults feel the love and nurture of Christ and where they may be at peace from the world.

Latter Day Mormon homes can and should be places to raise families of righteous sons and daughters where they can feel safe and loved and feel of the overwhelming love and nature of the presence of their heavenly father. If our homes are holy places, our children will work toward becoming strong and faithful members of the kingdom and work toward eternal salvation and eventually work towards that goal with their wives and their own children.

As Latter Day Mormons, it is important for us to remember that our homes should be homes of prayer, church attendance, and church service, all these things invite the Lords spirit in to our homes and in to our families. However some times some family members may be reluctant to attend church and take part in church activities, and so it is up to us to bring the church to them to make church not just a building, a place for them to attend but a living breathing entity that lives with them all the day long.  We need to make them feel at church while they are at home; to bring some of the things of heaven in to the home is to insure that family members will move closer to church participation.

As we strive in our homes to make them holy temples of God, places where we can stand in his name we can experience all that the Lord has promised us. The Holy Spirit will be present to comfort, to inspire, and to bless us and our families. Let homes with gloomy foreboding and heavenly clouds of despair have their burdens lightened and their faith in God increased so they may feel the love of the Lord in their families, for themselves and their children.

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