Sunday, January 20, 2008

Spiritual Crowds

In the adult session of Stake Conference last night, one of the speakers spoke about a time when, in a large group of unrelated, mostly unacquainted men, the Spirit was present so strongly that the entire room was utterly silent. The event was the April 2007 Priesthood Session of General Conference . The BYU Men's Chorus provided the music, and sang for the closing song "I Love the Lord", set to the tune "Finlandia" (better known to most as "Be Still My Soul"). (You can listen to it here.) It was a breathtaking arrangement of Nephi's Psalm (2 Nephi 4:16-35). My husband attended the priesthood session in a different stake center, and he came home amazed at the effect it had on the men in the room. Usually there is a fair amount of rustling and movement during the music at the priesthood session, he reported, but everyone was unusually silent, and there was strong spirit of quietness in the room. This lasted through the song, the closing prayer, and even a little afterward.

I have had one such experience in my life. On April 6, 2000, the Palmyra New York Temple was dedicated. Because of the importance of this temple dedication, the First Presidency chose to (closed-circuit) broadcast it to 3000 locations, so that as many who wanted could attend. I was a BYU graduate student at the time, and our location was the Marriott Center on campus--the huge multi-purpose arena that can seat 22700, where both basketball games and devotionals are held. In my journal entry of that day, I wrote:
"I was struck by how many were up, so early [6:30am], to go; there were probably 10,000 people in the Marriott Center. I was also struck by the reverence of everyone--we are so accustomed to laughing and talking before CES firesides, devotionals, etc; afterwards hurrying out, greeting friends. There was a very low murmur of conversation before the dedication began, none during, and most impressive to me, NONE during the quiet emptying of the Center. Everyone was happy-somber, and the Spirit was not chased away as soon as the closing prayer was said. It was amazing."
Large crowds--even large crowds of exclusively adults--aren't usually conducive to amazing spiritual experiences. We love to talk too much, we aren't always in the same place mentally or spiritually, we are busy and distracted and worried about life. But I think that my experience at the Palmyra Temple Dedication was enhanced by the presence of so many others. I well remember the strong outpouring of the Spirit that I felt on that day. I was overwhelmed during the Hosannah Shout and Anthem, with the thousands of white handkerchiefs waving in the air, all at once. To sing "The Spirit of God", my all-time favorite hymn of the Restoration, with so many other voices was unforgettable.

If you were there in the Marriott Center that day, thank you. Thank you for allowing the Spirit to flow so abundantly. Thank you for being part of an experience that has stayed with me so vividly, even after eight years.


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  • Isn't it amazing how our spiritual souls can be knit together so as to serve the purpose of bringing the one to a sense of peace and a feeling or a peak of what Heaven must be like. How wonderful that you can tuck this experience away for future comfort and a chance to share this with your children when the spirit prompts.

    By Blogger Laurene Ross, at 1/20/2008 9:12 PM  

  • I found a Wonderful site on Isaiah!
    The site has free lessons on every chapter.
    Very well done and in the author’s own voice.
    Every Isaiah Chapter has the Analytical Commentary of Isaiah. Enjoy this personable verse-by-verse commentary of Isaiah by well-known Hebrew scholar Avraham Gileadi.

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    “It is my testimony that this man has been brought forward and trained at this time to help those inside the Church into Isaiah, and those outside the Church, Jew and Gentile, through Isaiah into the Church” —Arthur Henry King, author, former BYU professor and London
    Temple President.

    “Dr. Gileadi has achieved a major breakthrough in the investigation of a book of such complexity and importance as the Book of Isaiah”—Professor David Noel Freedman, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

    “Dr. Gileadi’s work will render obsolete almost all the speculations of Isaiah scholars over the last one hundred years . . . enabling scholarship to proceed along an entirely new line . . . opening new avenues of approach for others to follow”—Professor Roland K. Harrison, Wycliffe College, Toronto, Canada.

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/21/2008 10:42 AM  

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