March 31, 2020 – Letter from the First Presidency
To the Saints of the Most High God:
The First Presidency of the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints share a message of hope, consolation, and good cheer.
Along with everyone in the world in the year 2020, members of the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, find ourselves dealing with the coronavirus epidemic. The end of March and the first of April, one begins to wonder how long we will have to self isolate. We wonder how long we will be required to postpone our church services. The Jackson County authorities have informed us that we are not to meet until at least May 15th, and this will be evaluated as we approach that date. Many have stated that when we are finally able to start meeting together again, we will really be appreciative of the ability to hold services.
When we think about the present epidemic, the well known phrase, “This too shall pass” comes to mind. I began to ponder about the origin of this phrase. The truth contained in this phrase is most pertinent to each of us today. In September of 1859, Abraham Lincoln quoted this famous line in a speech in Milwaukee, to the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society. He said “It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations.” They presented him the words “And this, too, shall pass away”. “How much it expresses!” Lincoln went on. “How chastening in the hour of pride. How consoling in the depths of affliction!” The saying is an acceptance of the temporal nature of man. The saying accepts that tragedy comes and goes in human existence. Yes, the scriptures do speak about how earthly things and states of being are temporary, but we are called to endure. Endurance is necessary to overcome the trials of this life. It is necessary to spread the Gospel. When we endure there is the promise of glory with the Lord in eternity. Many places in the scriptures we read of suffering and enduring and the acknowledgement that hard moments will indeed pass. John 16:33 (IV) says “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
In the difficult time we are in, members of the church are indeed actively engaged in a good work. There are many possible avenues of service. Lunch Partners is continuing, in a manner altered to maintain safety; food pickup and delivery. Many service opportunities are altered or temporarily suspended until the government removes restrictions, such as Clothes Closet, Zion’s Academy, Sewing Studio, Missionaries in Training, Remnant Handmaidens, Remnant Warriors. Then we are hoping that as we get into warmer weather later in the Spring that we will then be able to also enjoy together Vacation Church School, Youth Camps, (Junior, Junior High, Senior High), several church reunions, General Conference, several Center Place of Zion activities and choirs.
In the Book of Hebrews Chapter 13, verse 5,6 the Lord tells us “I will not leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, the Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
In the scriptures, we acknowledge the suffering and trials of the world, but we as believers rejoice that trials produce endurance, good character, and increases our hope and reliance upon God. When we read the scriptures, unlike the phrase “this too shall pass”, they do not merely accept suffering as an inevitable part of our life cycle, but a source of personal improvement that brings each of us closer to God.
In II Corinthians 4:17,18 we read “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
We all trust our God. An email post from a Tennessee Christian pastor was brought to my attention: “I trust God…and I wear my seatbelt. I trust God…and I wear a motorcycle helmet. I trust God…and there are enough life jackets in my boat for everyone on board. I trust God…and I use oven mitts with really hot dishes. I trust God…and I lock my house at night. I trust God…and I have smoke detectors in my house. I trust God…and I take my prescribed medicines. I trust God…and I will follow the best guidelines to share the task of flattening the curve. Acting with caution and wisdom does not indicate a lack of trust in God.”
Each of us is anxious to be able to meet again in our sanctuaries. We are anxious to be able to see each other, to safely share handshakes and embraces. Until then, let us each hold tightly to the Rod of Iron; let us each “Read, Study, and Obey”. We can share phone calls, send encouraging notes and letters. We can take time to prepare that Early Worship or Sermon, or class, we know we will soon be able to share. We can even now send in our “Moments with the Master” testimony.
At times like these, we hold fast to those scriptures, those hymns, that are most meaningful to us. A day or so ago, I found myself singing (in my head), the words to Hymn #281 (Hymnal of the Remnant Saints) “I Have Found the Glorious Gospel”—I am sure we are all thankful that we have found this Gospel, and it does give us solace, and the assurance God is aware of our every need.
May the Lord bless each of us as we seek to magnify our calling, whether it be priesthood member or Church member. Once again, concerning the present coronavirus epidemic, may the Lord give each of us peace, hope and encouragement as we remember “And this, too, shall pass away.” We can well use this as a time of preparation, a time of accomplishing some things we have been too busy to do in the past.
Michael B. Hogan
For the First Presidency