Monday, 20 February 2012

Early Morning Seminary: Peace is Zion?

What is peace?  What is Zion?  Questions that rest heavily on the minds of many I love.  Probably a good time to be honest about what Mormons believe about Zion. Right?

In the Book of Moses, Zion is defined as a state of being where individuals are linked together in community (often referred to as Enoch).  Each person in Enoch is in a state of Zion.  The state of being is dependent on their being community or others.  That is how people can come together where everyone is of "one heart and one mind, and [dwells] in righteousness; and there [is] no poor among them."  Or as others may say: 'God don't make no junk', mingled with a triple portion of 'no man is an island and no man walks alone'.  Or as Brother Merrill so elegantly wrote: "wherever you are, that's Zion to me".

The Mormon Bible Dictionary defines Zion as thus:

Zion. The word Zion is used repeatedly in all the standard works of the Church, and is defined in latter-day revelation as “the pure in heart” (D&C 97:21). Other usages of Zion have to do with a geographical location. For example, Enoch built a city that was called Zion (Moses 7:18–19); Solomon built his temple on Mount Zion (1 Kgs. 8:1; cf. 2 Sam. 5:6–7); and Jackson County, Missouri, is called Zion in many of the revelations in the D&C, such as58:49–5062:463:4872:1384:76104:47. The city of New Jerusalem, to be built in Jackson County, Missouri, is to be called Zion (D&C 45:66–67). The revelations also speak of “the cause of Zion” (D&C 6:611:6). In a wider sense all of North and South America are Zion (HC 6:318–19). For further references see 1 Chr. 11:5Ps. 2:699:2;102:16Isa. 1:272:34:3–533:2052:1–859:20Jer. 3:1431:6Joel 2:1–32Amos 6:1Obad. 1:17, 21Heb. 12:22–24Rev. 14:1–5; and many others. (In the N.T., Zion is spelled Sion.)

Does it mean living in a community that feels safe and secure?  Is it feeling the warmth of tighly woven networks of human interaction?  Is it existence sans conflict or is it 'grace under pressure'?

Some believe that when we extend compassion to everyone, we are doing what God (no matter who that is to you) would do it she were here.  To be treated the way Christ, God, a Queen, a President, the Prophet, the perfect Mother, benevolent Father, protective Brother, trusted Sister, nonjudgemental Auntie, etc would is the ideal in Mormonism.  When our Wards do this, it feels like Zion.

Peace is, ironically, not in the Bible Dictionary of the Mormon study helps.  So I will glean most of my info on this from my NIV and the Book of Mormon*

When I was a student at BYU Byron Merrill taught in the Ancient Scriptures Department,  this is from a paper he wrote in 1995:

Appearing repeatedly in the book of 4 Nephi is a phrase which speaks to the heart of what Zion was and will be. Occurring three times in its singular form and once in the plural within the first 18 verses, this phrase explains a primary reason for the blessed state enjoyed by the Nephites as well as the results which flowed therefrom. The phrase simply reads: “There was no contention.” In its simplicity lies a pattern for reestablishing Zion which encompasses both a warning of what must be avoided and a promise of what can, with the Lord’s help, be achieved.

Early in the Lord’s visit to the Nephites, as recorded in 3 Nephi, he taught the people this principle:

And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been.  For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.  Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away. (11:28–30)

The people in 4 Nephi received, internalized, and lived this commandment for a lengthy time. Verses 2 and 15 detail the reasons for their success in eradicating contention: “The people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly on with another”; and “there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people” (4 Nephi 1:2, 15). Two other verses disclose the blessings arising from this condition:

And it came to pass that there was no contention among all the people, in all the land; but there were mighty miracles wrought among the disciples of Jesus.

And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered until an hundred and ten years had passed away; and the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land. (vv. 13, 18)

I'd just love to see the @CommonGoodAmerica call out those that think that fighting is the only answer. Let's put an end to this calling out of contention.

Jesus was a lover not a fighter.  Who is the disciple of Christ the hawk or the dove? The one willing to die for truth or the one willing to kill?

Is the purpose of life to identify what your willing to kill for to protect? Or is it to believe something so incredible that you'd rather just live, in part because you believe what sister Simon taught that: "life is eternal", and "love is immortal" and "death is only a horizon". Or, as the Great British Prophet Sting has taught "one day we will dance on our graves, and one day we will "sing our freedom".

 So why not just stand up in peace right now? Reach back to the person behind you, whose been chomping their gum the entire service, and say "peace be with you, my peace i give unto you." Let's see where that takes us.

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