News Story

Taking Turns to Share Inspiring Messages

Latter-day Saint worship services in the spotlight

Sarah Pemberton is a 26-year-old Aucklander who is always on the move. “Cycling, hiking, running, camping, adventuring…basically anything outdoors,” she says are her passions.

A nutritionist by profession, she works for Ka Ora, Ka Ako, a government funded healthy school lunches program that runs throughout the country.

But on Sunday mornings you’ll find her at church, on Auckland’s north shore.

Sarah Pemberton (right), with her sister Sophie.
Sarah Pemberton (right), with her sister Sophie.
Sarah Pemberton (right), with her sister Sophie.© 2022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Just like other members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the world, she is asked from time to time to share a message, or a sermon, during a worship service.

The participatory nature of Latter-day Saint services means that members and visitors get to hear from a wide range of speakers with diverse backgrounds and experiences. But the aim is always the same–teach and testify of Jesus Christ, and share personal experiences and feelings that will inform and inspire others.

Congregations are communities of saints, made up of individuals who are striving to love God and neighbour, by following Jesus Christ and serving others in practical ways. They are not perfect, but striving, alongside family and friends.

Recently, Sarah was asked to speak during a Sunset Ward (congregation) worship service in Mairangi Bay. A transcript of her message follows:

Good morning Sisters and Brothers,

I have been asked to base my talk today on President Eyring’s 2021 conference talk entitled “I love to see the temple."

How exciting it has been for us to have the temple open house for the last few weeks. Like many of you, I had the opportunity to walk through the temple with my family and what a special experience that was, walking through each beautiful space. Truly a wonderful day.

Today I’d like to focus on 3 points that President Eyring touches on in his talk.

The first: The temple is a holy place.

The temple is a holy and sacred place, a sanctuary where we can find spiritual refuge, renewal, hope and peace.

I have experienced this feeling of peace and refuge in the temple. I remember particularly as a youth looking forward to temple trips as I could leave the stresses of school and friends at the door and feel peace each time I entered. My mind was clear, I felt safe and at ease. This was a great blessing and strength to me as a young woman. My desire to go to the temple continued to grow. I knew this was a holy place.

At the entrance of every temple, we see the phrase “Holiness to the Lord – The House of the Lord”. These words can be a constant reminder for us to have our hearts and minds pointed to Christ and remember the sacredness of the ordinances within. We can show holiness to the Lord as we keep the commandments, honour our covenants, and listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. By doing this, we can be worthy to enter his holy house.

The second: In the temple, we can draw closer to God.

In D&C 97:15-16 it reads – “And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it; Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God.”

This scripture promises that when we go to the house of the Lord, with a pure heart, we will see God. When we enter His house worthily, we are open to receiving revelation and by doing so we can draw closer to our Saviour. I always feel close to my Saviour when I am in the temple. My mind is clear and quiet, and I can more easily focus on the promptings of the spirit. I try to replicate this outside of the temple as well. Though the distractions and noise of the world can get in the way, I try to find a peaceful spot to ponder and pray.

Another way we can draw closer to him is devoting our time and energy to serving Him in the temple. When we make the effort to attend the temple often, we can feel the spirit and see God’s hand in the details of our lives.

During my time in youth, temple trips were always on Saturdays. This would often clash with my sports games. There were several moments where I had to make a choice to play the game or attend the temple. This decision was not easy as I was relied on by my teammates. However, I would make the small sacrifice and effort to attend the temple because I loved being in His holy house and feeling the spirit. Performing the ordinances of proxy baptism, I felt my Saviour’s love for me and for the work I was doing. I strived to live worthily to enter the temple so I could experience that feeling again and again. I know that because of this decision I made to focus on the temple, I had the spirit to be with me throughout my life and drew closer to my Saviour.

The third: Through the ordinances of the temple, we can draw closer to our families.

The temple is for families. The only way we can return to live with our family is through the ordinances of the temple. President Eyring said, “It is in the temple that we can receive the assurance of loving family connections that will continue after death and last for eternity”.

I have not yet been sealed to my family. I know that one day, I will have this opportunity but until then, I continue to strengthen my family connections in heaven through proxy ordinances in the temple and I know I will be blessed for my efforts.

We are prompted by the Holy Ghost to seek out our ancestors and perform ordinances for them. Young men and young women have a special opportunity to perform proxy baptism and confirmation on behalf of their ancestors. 

I remember the first time I took family names to the temple. It was a special and meaningful experience to have discovered and learnt about these ancestors of mine and then perform their proxy ordinances. I felt this overwhelming feeling of love, joy, and peace. I knew that the work I was doing was essential to his plan and that our kindred dead are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to be a part of this gospel. This experience motivated me to take more family names to the temple and my love for the temple continues to grow as I do this.

Elder David A. Bednar once said, “I encourage you to study, to search out your ancestors, and to prepare yourselves to perform proxy baptisms in the house of the Lord for your kindred dead. … As you respond in faith to this invitation, your hearts shall turn to the fathers. Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded … throughout your lives”. (close quote). I know that through special ordinances of the temple, we can deepen our love for our ancestors and draw closer to our families past and present.

The Hamilton temple will be re-dedicated on the 16th October and we will soon be able to participate in temple ordinances and receive great blessings. I encourage you all to start now by doing family history work for your ancestors who are yet to have their temple work done. Prepare now, strive to live worthily and seek a temple recommend if you don’t have one so that you can feel close to your Saviour and feel of His love in His holy house.

I want to close with lyrics from a beloved primary song –

“I love to see the temple. I’m going there someday. To feel the holy spirit. To listen and to pray. For the temple is a house of God, a place of love and beauty. I’ll prepare myself while I am young. This is my sacred duty”.

Brothers and sisters, I know that God lives, and he is in the details of our lives. I know that the temple is a beautiful, sacred and holy place where we can receive great blessings. I know we can become closer to our Saviour as we learn of him and receive revelation in his holy house. I know that the temple connects and reunites families here and in heaven for eternity. I pray that we may all strive to seek the blessings of the temple and to live worthily to enter His house.  

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

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