Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on the Church as a hospital and not a monastery

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (born December 3, 1940) served as Church Commissioner of Education from 1976-1980, as the president of BYU from 1980-1989, as a Seventy from 1989-1994, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1994.
"Mercy, with its sister virtue forgiveness, is at the very heart of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the eternal plan of salvation. Everything in the gospel teaches us that we can change if we need to, that we can be helped if we truly want it, that we can be made whole, whatever the problems of the past.
"Now, if you feel too spiritually maimed to come to the feast, please realize that the Church is not a monastery for perfect people, though all of us ought to be striving on the road to godliness. No, at least one aspect of the Church is more like a hospital or an aid station, provided for those who are ill and want to get well, where one can get an infusion of spiritual nutrition and a supply of sustaining water in order to keep on climbing.
"In spite of life’s tribulations and as fearful as some of our prospects are, I testify that there is help for the journey. There is the Bread of Eternal Life and the Well of Living Water. Christ has overcome the world—our world—and His gift to us is peace now and exaltation in the world to come. (See D&C 59:23.) Our fundamental requirement is to have faith in Him and follow Him—always."
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "He Hath Filled the Hungry with Good Things," General Conference October 1997
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

The idea of describing the Church as a place of healing, and not merely a place to display or honor the healthy and perfect, has a long history. It was employed in a 1964 article by advice columnist Abigail Van Buren ("Dear Abby"). A variation is attributed to the early Christian theologian St. Augustine. And it may even have its roots in the words of the Savior Himself: "They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick..." (Mark 2:17).

However, we still seem to struggle with that idea, and hence Elder Holland's reminder. We come to Church to be "made whole" and to "get well" from whatever ailment is holding us down, holding us back.

"Spiritual nutrition" and "sustaining water" are wonderful symbolic promises. Elder Holland emphasizes in his talk the blessing of both the "Bread of Eternal Life and the Well of Living Water" that are offered to us, as we turn to God in faith.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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