Great article. Concerning comments re the Sacrament, it is an ordinance presided over by a priesthood leader, hence he is responsible for how the ordinance is performed. He has to approve who blesses and passes the Sacrament, even if it appears he just lets those who administer the ordinance to do it without his ever speaking to them. The same unit leader is responsible for baptisms, confirmations and other ordinances that are recorded and have to be done a certain way. As far as the presiding leader receiving the Sacrament first, this may have come about as a matter of respect as the leader presides in the meeting. However, in chapters 18 and 20 of Third Nephi, Christ institutes the Sacrament among the Nephites and then repeats the ordinance again. Both times He gives the sacrament to His twelve disciples whom He had called to lead the church first and then the Sacrament was given to the general group of people who were assembled. This may be one reason why we do what we do in the Church. Most importantly, we have the Sacrament to remind of of our Savior and the covenants we have made, not who received it first.
We too loved in a very, very rural community in a strictly controlled environment: were not aloud to practice our religions: in was a a deportable. In fact, my wife came up with the expression: "This is the only country in the world that 'exports' Mormons."
Fortunately there were other families. And we did have home church! But it WAS officially organized from Salt Lake. I was the presiding authority, and my wife was responsible for the women. We lived in apartment that had one single thickness of a cinder block wall, and in the quietness of the night we could hear our neighbors move around the house - especially using their water! And there was no way we could make our little congregation in the singing gospel songs quietly! However, we were blessed tremendously during our time there, and we often realized that we were divinely watched and we frequently experienced miracles!
We also had two little girls, (in fact, one of them was born there, and received a local Birth Certificate having the local dating system. She is now in her early 30's and she still boasts that she was born in 1342, and is proud to prove it by showing her official certificate!)
What we really learned was that in difficult times, if you work hard and live the gospel as best you can, you will be blessed and have incredible experiences - I so testify!!!
Jack; I would suspect that it is a matter or authority or chain of command. Oliver & Joseph didn’t have the authority or to baptize until given from John or permission as given by the Holy Ghost. They could have as other ministers did and I am sure those ministers felt what they did was correct. Yet they did not have authority or permission from God. Once given, that authority could be passed on to others. You could seal yourself to your wife or any other woman outside of the temple yet it requires authority from God to be recognized by Him. Joseph’s experiences give us the clearest example I believe. One can point to the BOM folks of whom we have no record of how they got their authority to do what they did, but I suspect that it was similar to Joseph’s, just not recorded in the BOM that we have. Maybe on the original plates that were abridged. Don’t know what soldiers did on a Sunday in war where they were cut off from their group leader. Did they perform the sacrament themselves or not? If they did, I suspect God recognized it. It is different if we willing stay home from a ward/branch or try not to receive permission when we know we will be in an place that partaking of the sacrament is not likely and conduct sacrament ourselves. I hope that I am explaining this correctly that you can see the differences the way I perceive them. An interesting part of the sacrament to me is the presiding authority is given the bread first. Why is that? We are all equal in God’s eyes and He is no respecter of persons. Once the person in authority, who has the responsibility for ensuring the prayers are said correctly, has determined that the prayers have been said properly, their duty has been fulfilled. The bread/water should be passed to all starting with the closest. This is where man’s ideas have intervened to me and our tendency to recognize positions and raise people higher than others. Just my thoughts.
I am still confused how we have to have "permission" to bless the Sacrament in our own homes. I always ask God directly prior to the ordinance and have yet to experience a time when it's denied. I think we need to get back to a time where God directs our actions, not man.
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