This past week we had another big event. One of the ladies in our little branch has been living with a man for 15 years. The two oldest kids were baptized last October, but the two younger ones and their dad are not yet members. Well, they decided they should get married, and Natasha wanted to have a ceremony at the church. Our church authorities do not have the legal authority to perform marriages in the BVI, so they had the legal ceremony at Josiah’s Bay on Thursday. It was mainly for family and close friends, so of course we were invited. The setting was lovely and the occasion was special. Then we held a ceremony and reception at the church meeting place on Saturday afternoon. It was a fitting celebration with about 60 people attending. President Kalama actually took them through the Church's civil wedding ceremony, having them recite the vows found in the Handbook. It was very nice.
|The branch members love to have a party|
Sister Terry Hill, our snowbird from Canada who comes down here every winter, is a terrific cook and loves to entertain huge crowds of people.
|Joshua 18, Frankie 13, Josie 15. Great kids.|
She purchased the food and fixed the meal for all the guests. She involved two of her neighbors in the effort and enlisted the young people in the branch to serve the dinner. It was a tremendous success
|Kaylee is a 3 year-old fireball. She and Mia would have a ball together.|
from every point of view.
Marcus is actually the chief bailiff for the BVI court system. Elder Tower, a retired judge from San Diego, has become friends with Marcus and he informed me that the chief bailiff is a very important office.
|Cutting the Cake|
He has not allowed the two younger kids, Marcus and Selena, to be baptized yet because he doesn’t think they are ready. They are ready, but we will all wait patiently for his permission. Meanwhile, Marcus and Natasha are now legally and lawfully married.
They actually asked me to make a few remarks. Here is the text of what I said.
I am honored to be asked to make a few remarks. Perhaps it is because I am the elder statesman here. In two weeks we will celebrate our 40th anniversary. What we have learned could occupy many hours of discussion. But not today.
When a marriage takes place, a new individual is created--a family. The family unit thus created is bigger than either of the individual participants, and it is bigger than the sum of the two together. Before marriage, two people are simply two people. They can make promises and arrangements with each other any way they choose, but they are still just two individuals. When God is brought into and kept a part of the new unit, then it has God’s blessing. The question we all collectively and individually must ask constantly is simply this: Do I want to do this God’s way and have God’s blessing, or do I want to do it man’s way? Remember that the natural man is an enemy to God, so man’s way, the way of the world, will be blessed by someone less than God. Is that what we want?
The family is the most important unit in heaven and on earth. Congratulations to you both, Natasha and Marcus, as you embark on the journey of strengthening this new family unit.
Marriage is a contract, but it a covenant relationship even more than it is a contractual relationship. In the covenant we make promises to each other, and to God. In front of God and witnesses we promise to be faithful, loyal, and true to each other. We sign the official papers to signify that we are willing to abide by the terms set forth. There are three places where we might put our focus.
- We might focus on our selves. We might come to a marriage with the idea of what it can do for me. How do I benefit from this relationship? How will this arrangement prosper and bless me? What will I get out of this investment? If this remains the focus for long the marriage is in trouble.
2. We might focus on the other person. What can I do to improve the life and situation of my beloved? How can I make her feel special? In what ways is my spouse better because of this union?
3. We might focus on the role of God in this covenant relationship. A marriage is a union between two people, but we must never forget that God desires to be a part of every marriage, every family relationship. It is not just between two people, it is also between those people and God. There is a relationship of each individual with God. In addition, there is also a relationship of the new entity, the family unit thus created, with God.
Marriage and the resulting family unit are intended to last forever, throughout all eternity. The way has been revealed and the authority has been restored to make that eternal unit possible. Almost as important in God’s eyes, however, is the sacredness and seriousness of that relationship in mortality. In the LDS Church we talk of being sealed for Time and Eternity. We must not forget that Time is part of Eternity. I believe that if we take care of Time, Eternity will usually take care of itself.
Joseph Smith said, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” Marriage is ordained of God, and he recognizes the authority of the laws of the land. We cannot receive the blessings of eternity unless we obey the laws that apply to mortality. When a man and a woman are married by the authority of the law of the land, that marriage is recognized by God for the period of time when that law is in effect. In other words, we believe that God recognizes civil marriage for as long as the mortal life of the participants endures.
In considering the purpose of life, the Prophet Joseph Smith said: "Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God" (HC 5:134–35).
When I was a lot younger and leaner I enjoyed hiking in the mountains of my home land. The trails would lead to breath-taking views of peaks and valleys. The view was always worthy of the effort to get there. Inevitably there were junctions and forks in the trails where I was required to decide which way I would go. All trails do not lead everywhere. We are all free to choose which path we follow, but we cannot choose a path without choosing the result of that path--the territory we pass through as well as the destination. We cannot pick up one end of the stick without picking up the other end also.
On the way home each day I see a church sign announcing the coming Sunday’s sermon. This week the sign says Our God Is a Covenant-keeping God. Our God truly is a covenant-keeping God. He remembers his promises. We must also remember that God’s stated mission is about us. In Moses 1:39 God said: This is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. We can be totally confident that this statement is true. God’s whole purpose is to assist us in returning to him to receive all that he desires to give us, even Eternal Life. To this end he has given us the roadmap of laws and commandments. Happiness will be the result of obedience. Misery will be the result of disobedience. It really is that simple.
I pray, we all pray, that God will bless you in your marriage. Counsel together. Learn from your children even as you teach them. May you lead in righteousness with patience and love. May you follow in humility.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.