When our sons and daughters reach that time of life where a mission or temple sealing will naturally involve experiencing the Initiatory and the Endowment. It can be hard for some to know how to prepare someone for temple worship and covenants. We want to maintain the sacredness of the Temple, but we also want to help our youth have a positive and fulfilling experience.
There are several resources on this page: Symbolism and Sacredness: Ideas for Teaching Children
The scriptures are naturally the best place to go for understanding the temple, but where do we begin?
The Topical Guide, Bible Dictionary and LDS.org are all great places to go a search for information. We also have a pdf prepared with selected scriptures that are placed in an order that mirrors the temple experience. It can be a great primer for familiarizing oneself with temple language and ancient vs modern parallels. It can be used as a starting point for branching out and exploring other topics in the scriptures.
Most ordinances that we participate in have several parallels. Rather than seeing them as completely different kinds of experiences, we can look for similarities.
Baptism is an initiatory ordinance; to initiate means ‘to enter or begin’ and a person’s membership in the Church begins with baptism.
Baptism involves two ordinances, immersion and confirmation, a ceremonial washing (with water) and anointing (with the Spirit). Below, the sequence of events will be presented by using an accurate, but non-typical description:
- A person changes out of their street clothes and puts on a white garment.
- They come into contact with a person representing the Lord who makes a sign by raising their arm to the square.
- The Lord’s representative speaks the words of the ordinance and immerses, or washes them in water.
- By being baptized, a person is receiving a new name, the name of Christ; “ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism” (2 Nephi 31:13)
- Next is confirmation which involves hands being placed on their head, and like Jesus, being “anointed … with the Holy Ghost and with power” (Acts 10:38)
The Creation Story
We have three accounts of the creation story in Genesis, the Book of Moses, and the Book of Abraham, that are great for study and pondering. There are numerous Church talks on the creation and additional resources on LDS.org.
It wouldn’t seem like there would be anything in pop culture that has to do with the temple, but interestingly enough, you can find some great scenes from movies that can be used to help people understand how ceremony and symbolism can teach us.
There is a wonderfully produced 15 minute scene from a movie called “The Tree of Life” (2011) which depicts a beautiful creation sequence. The climax of the scene involves two dinosaurs and one is about to eat the other but it hesitates and allows it to live. While we have no idea if such a thing ever happened, it doesn’t matter because it is using symbolism to convey the idea of mercy coming into the world. Using dinosaurs to depict this is unexpected, but that makes it all the more interesting. Some may not like that the sequence appears to depict evolution, (which the church takes no official position on) but it also seems to indicate the process unfolding by the hand of a Creator.
The official temple preparation manual of the church notes: “The characters depicted, the physical setting, the clothing worn, the signs given, and all the events covered in the temple are symbolic. When they are understood, they will help each person recognize truth and grow spiritually.”
This movie clip can be useful in explaining how important it is to look more for principles being delivered through symbols rather than focusing too much on the mechanics and literalism. Learning to find the principles in paradoxical situations is a very handy skill to acquire.
Ordinances and Repetition
Sometimes we can grow complacent with ordinances, or not realize what we are doing while participating in them.
Take the sacrament for example, week after week are we growing or becoming more complacent? There is a great scene in the latest version of the Karate Kid movie starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith that can be a fun way to teach a helpful perspective.
While Jaden’s character Dre thought he was just doing a meaningless task, putting on and taking off a jacket repeatedly, Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) was having him repeat motions that, unbeknownst to Dre, were quietly transforming him. When the master puts the student to the test, he finally realizes that the simple motions he was repeating had fundamentally changed him and Dre is astounded at what he has become.
LDS scholar Hugh Nibley once wrote, “The ordinances are mere forms. They do not exalt us; they merely prepare us to be ready in case we ever become eligible.” – The Meaning of the Temple,” CWHN 12:26 This scene from the Karate Kid movie is a great metaphor for illustrating how our Master, Jesus Christ, uses repetition and ritual to exercise our faculties and become more like him.
Watch these two clips and imagine the characters depicted as a metaphor for the relationship between us and the Lord.