Elder Ekberg's Farewell Talk - June 14th, 2015 - Lakeview Trails
Hello brothers and sisters, my name is Dan Ekberg and I have been called to serve as a full-time missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I have been assigned to serve in the California Los Angeles Mission. I report to the Mexico Missionary Training Center on June 24th where I will learn to speak Spanish as well as continue my missionary preparations for what I will be doing everyday for 24 months and ultimately everyday of my life. I will be inviting others to come unto Christ and take part in the same joy and love that I feel, that each latter-day saints should and can feel as we live worthily and do as would the Savior.
I will be set-apart as a missionary, an official representative of Jesus Christ and His church. I will be expected to uphold a high standard of living which includes my conduct, appearance, and obedience to commandments and mission rules. I will devote the next two years to the Lord, leaving behind my personal cell phone, my use of social media, my college attendance, my musical aspirations, my friends, and my family. For two years I will be on the Lord's errand, helping others receive the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and feel that joy and peace that comes with it.
However, we are all on the Lord's errand. We all have the responsibility to share this gospel and to feed His sheep as He would if he walked on the earth again. We may not all be called as formal missionaries to do this for 18 or 24 months, but we can all be everyday missionaries. The power and authority by which we save souls is the priesthood. During his ministry here on Earth, Christ performed many miracles including healing the sick, raising the dead, and suffering for the sins of the world. This was all done through the priesthood. God's power and authority is the priesthood. Christ ordained 12 apostles and bestowed upon them the priesthood, the power and authority to act in His name when he left. The apostles then used their priesthood power and authority to continue His work but one by one, the apostles were killed, and along went the priesthood power on the Earth. Without the authority of God upon the earth, many people took it upon themselves to try and lead others towards salvation. However, without the power, authority, and direct communication from God, this was impossible. Hence, man started to put their own spins and interpretation on the true gospel of Jesus Christ. It even went as far as to having big councils where religious doctrine was voted on by men. This is why there are so many different churches now a days. Sure, lots of modern churches contain large amounts of truths that hold true to the gospel of Jesus Christ, but in every church out there, there is error and fault in them, most originating from the lack of authority from the priesthood.
In 1829, the priesthood was restored to Joseph Smith, the man who wanted to know for himself which of the many churches at the time were true. After being told by Jesus Christ himself that He should join none of them, but rather organize His church once again on the earth, and after many years of preparing the way, the priesthood was restored to Joseph Smith by John the Baptist, and Peter, James and John. In May 1829, both priesthoods were restored here upon the earth to Joseph Smith, the first prophet in the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saints. My priesthood line of authority travels back all the way to Joseph Smith, which then travels back to Jesus Christ himself.
I may not be able to raise the dead or multiply loaves of bread on my mission, but I will be able to bring others to Christ. The Lord has entrusted us, to continue His work in his place. Elder David A Bednar has said: "Ordinary men are given the authority of the priesthood. Worthiness and willingness—not experience, expertise, or education—are the qualifications for priesthood ordination." "A priesthood holder is expected to exercise this sacred authority in accordance with God’s holy mind, will, and purposes. Nothing about the priesthood is self-centered. The priesthood always is used to serve, to bless, and to strengthen other people." Every week we partake of the sacrament. While it may not be a saving ordinance essential for our salvation, it is an act done through the priesthood to renew the covenants we made at baptism. God has entrusted the young men, specifically the 14 year olds to prepare it, the 16 year olds to bless it and the 12 year olds to offer it to all those in attendance, God has entrusted us, ordinary teenage boys, to carry out this sacred responsibility. It is not by how tall we are, or how long we have been in the quorum that qualifies us for our sacramental duties, it is about our worthiness and willingness to serve and bless others.
I hold the aaronic priesthood. This priesthood was conferred upon me when I was 12 years old and then I was ordained to be a deacon. As a 12 year old boy I was given the opportunity to pass the sacrament, collect fast offerings, and as D&C 20 says "to warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ." As I progressed through the aaronic priesthood, I was given more responsibilities such as preparing the sacrament each Sunday, Home teaching, baptizing, administering the sacrament as well as being able to ordain other deacons, teachers, and priests to the office that I held. A little more than a year ago, I had the opportunity to confer and ordain my brother Sam to the aaronic priesthood. That was such a cool experience, being able to place my hands on my brothers head and conferring the sacred power and authority to act in God's name upon him. Together, we have been able to officiate the sacrament. Being able to hand my younger brother a bread tray across the sacrament table seeing him smile up at me, there are not many things cooler than that. We have also been able to go to the temple together, and participate in baptisms for the dead. The first couple of times we went, Sam was so nervous about which door to go through next or when he should change into the right underwear, ok maybe that was more of me and my first couple times going through, but we were both so eager and happy to be able to do that together. Being able to sit in the chapel, waiting to go into the font with your younger siblings is so cool. The peace and close connection you feel with them there in that sacred setting is un-matchable. I can't wait for Julia to be apart of that and take part in those blessings.
When young men turn 18 and often after they have graduated high school, they are able to receive the Melchizedek priesthood, or the higher priesthood based on again their worthiness and willingness. It is when men are ordained to be elders and they receive this higher priesthood that ordinances such as fathers blessings, administer to the sick, dedicating homes and graves, conferring and setting apart can be accomplished to help others come closer to Christ and feel of his love. I have seen and felt the power of a priesthood blessing many times in my own home. I am thankful for worthy priesthood holders who were able to provide a blessings and words of comfort to my sister Olivia as she has battled many obstacles on her way to successfully winning pretty water-treading 101. I have a testimony that these priesthood blessings are powerful, and that any worthy Melchizedek priesthood holder can act in the name of God and do as He would.
Everyone can take part in the blessings of the priesthood. The fullness of joy here on this earth as well as eternal reward is done together, man and wife. Brigham Young said: “Priesthood is to be used for the benefit of the entire human family, for the up building of men, women, and children alike. There is indeed no privileged class or sex within the true Church of Christ. … Men have their work to do and their powers to exercise for the benefit of all the members of the Church. …So with woman: Her special gifts are to be exercised for the benefit and uplift of the race” Where the men hold the priesthood and are the head of the household, they cannot receive the fullness of the blessings of the priesthood alone. Bruce R Monkie reminds us that: " The ordinances of the Temple are distinctly of Priesthood character, yet women have access to all of them, and the highest blessings of the Temple are conferred only upon a man and his wife jointly”..."Godhood is not for men only, it is for men and women together." As an elder missionary, I will hold the Melchizedek priesthood and will be able to baptize, give blessings, and use my priesthood power. The sister missionaries will not have the same power, but will still have priesthood authority. They are set apart just the same as the elders and are acting with priesthood authority in a priesthood function. President J. Reuben Clark. has said that "They are not bearers of the Priesthood; they are not charged with carrying out the duties and functions of the Priesthood; nor are they laden with its responsibilities; they are builders and organizers under its power, and partakers of its blessings, possessing the complement of the Priesthood powers and possessing a function as divinely called, as eternally important in its place as the Priesthood itself.”
I know that the priesthood is for everyone, That everyone--man and women alike--can partake in the magnificent blessings that come with it. I know that priesthood POWER comes with a worthy individual. Although priesthood authority comes with ordination, it is only with priesthood power that the Lord's work can come to pass. I know that this church is the same church that Christ lead when He was on the earth. I know that the same priesthood that He used to perform all those amazing miracles is the same priesthood that is on the earth today. I know that my priesthood line traces directly back to the Savior. I know my Savior died for me. That He suffered in Gethsemane and suffered for all of my trials and sins. I know that through Him and the Atonement, I can be made clean and my sins can be forgotten. I know that through diligent effort and work in this gospel, that you can find true and lasting happiness. The road is narrow, but it is there and you can find it. When you do, continually hold fast to the iron rod as did those faithful saints on the way to the tree of life. I know that there is a loving Savior waiting for you to speak with him. I know that He really does listen and will answer your questions if you kneel down and pray to Him. He knows you and He knows what you need. I know that the Lord works in mysterious ways and that through Him, you will find support and love. I know that the Book of Mormon is inspired of God and that it was translated by Joseph Smith. It contains the fullness of the gospel and that you will find principles and stories that will help you in your life. I know that by daily feasting upon the words of Christ that you can again find support, comfort and answers to your prayers. I know that this church is inspired of God and all the people serving are called of God to be in the callings they are placed in at this time. I know that I was supposed to report on June 24thfor a reason. I know I was specifically called to serve in LA for a reason. I may not know what those reasons are now, but I have faith in the Lord that I will be answer to at least one prayer. I know that I can become the best missionary I can be as I serve diligently and obey with exactness. I know that although leaving for 2 years and leaving behind all my personal affairs and my family will be the hardest thing I have had to do, I know that my family and I will receive greater blessings than we could ever have imagined. I'm excited and nervous for the lessons I will learn on my mission, for the Spanish language, and for all the friendships and lives I will touch as I am on the Lord's errand. I love this gospel. I love my family and my Savior. I know that although people are not perfect, the Gospel is perfect. I know that through a perfect effort we be perfected in our Savior Jesus Christ. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.