Sunday, November 23, 2008

Baby Blessings

Kathryn M wanted to know more about baby blessings. Specifically who writes or delivers them. And if they tell the future of the baby. I may have to back up a little to explain this properly. Bare with me.

In the Bible, Jesus gave to Peter and the other apostles the "keys to the kingdom" or the power and authority to act in the name of God. This would allow them to continue the Saviors work and lead the church by revelation from God after the Savior was killed. It is by this power that the apostles preformed miracles in Christ's name. It is this authority, directly from the Savior who had chosen them out of the world, through which they guided the church in those early days.

We call this power and authority the priesthood. But the world was too wicked for those early apostles and in time all of them were killed and the priesthood authority was lost. Saints or believers still had the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, but they had lost that priesthood power, that presiding revelatory authority necessary, to guide the church under Christ's direction in the challenges of that present day. We call this the apostasy.

Still there were lots of good people who prayed and got answers to their prayers. They were personally guided by the Lord in their lives. But we believe there was no church that was headed by Christ himself with Christ's prophet as the president or leader of the church.

Fast forward to 1830. Here Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdry are visited by Peter, James, and John, the biblical apostles. These angels give Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdry these same keys to the kingdom, to bind on earth and in heaven, or the priesthood power, that Jesus gave to them.

This power is passed from Joseph Smith to others the same way he got it -- through saying a special prayer while placing hands on the head of the one receiving the priesthood. Only one holding the priesthood can give it to another. Each priesthood holder can trace his authority back to Jesus Christ this way.

Okay now that the background is done (thanks for the patience), on to baby blessings. My husband, and most worthy active men who are Mormons, hold some level of this priesthood. They are not given authority to preside over the whole church. Only the current prophet and apostles have that. But they are given the power and authority to preside over their homes and act in the name of God in their duties as a father.

I should note here that this priesthood is only effective when the man is truly living worthy and by the Spirit. It is not a free reign to boss everyone around and be the power figure. It is a way for men to serve and sacrifice for their children and wife even as a mother spends her life serving and sacrifices her body for her children in her divinely appointed role as mother.

So one of the benefits of this priesthood is the opportunity to receive blessings given by this power and authority. There are many kinds of blessings given under priesthood authority. We give them in times of sickness to heal, just as the apostles did and with that same authority. They are given to give comfort and guidance. I received a few of these types of blessings after Camille died. They were very healing and are still a great comfort to me. I KNOW the priesthood holder was but a mouthpiece for the messages the Lord wanted me to have in those blessings.

Fathers often will give their children blessings when they start a new phase of life, like a new school year. These will encourage, warn, give comfort, or bestow blessings on the child. And also, new babies are blessed and given a name to be known on the records of the church. This is typically done in the first few months of life. It is usually done at church in our main sacrament meeting.

If the father of the baby holds the priesthood, he usually gives the blessing. Otherwise a grandfather, uncle, or anyone the family chooses who holds the priesthood can perform the blessing.

Blessings themselves are not written in advance. They are not pre planned. The man or men (often the one giving the blessing is joined by other priesthood holders) place their hands on the head (or in a baby blessing they all hold the baby together) of the person being blessed. The priesthood holder giving the blessing, or being voice, begins by invoking the power of the priesthood that he holds and then proceeds to give the blessing.

Now I have never given a blessing. Women get enough opportunities for service as women and mothers. We don't need the priesthood to help us in that area. But, the words of the blessing are given to the priesthood holder by faith and through the Spirit. The priesthood leader must be listening to know what the Lord would have be in the blessing. How this exactly happens -- well I am pretty sure the answer to that is as individual as how each of us hear the Lord in our lives. Some of us see visions, some hear voices, some feel peace, some feel a warmth in their soul, some just feel right about certain things. It is just as individual for each priesthood holder.

Blessings are not often recorded. But I often take notes as fast as I can when my children are blessed. I took notes during Camille's blessing. Jon told her that there would be a special circumstance in her life that she would have to go through. He noted the lineage of faith from with she descends and how her faith would grow through this experience. He said she would always be a great example to all her older sisters.

I remember asking Jon after the blessing what that meant. He said he didn't know. He couldn't find words to properly fit what he felt. Just that she would have something she would have to go through. I remember thinking and telling him, "that does not sound good." I certainly did not think it would be that she would die early. That was no where in my imagination. I thought maybe she would have some sickness or other trial to endure.

But as it turns out her blessing is being fulfilled. She is no doubt growing in her faith daily under the tutelage of her faithful ancestors and the Savior himself. And she is in every way an example to her older sisters and her mother and father as well. Blessings are not like fortune telling, but sometimes the Lord shows us a tender mercy by giving us a forewarning of things to come so that we may stand strong through the storm.

25 comments:

Amanda said...

I think you did a great job explaining the priesthood. I am always amazed at what the Lord is able to tell us through our blessings and love looking back at the blessings I have received throughout my life as they take on new meanings and just realize how well the Lord knows me. I am so grateful for the priesthood and the Lord's love for us.

Stina said...

Wow. That was simply amazing. You explained that REALLY well. :)

I like that you write down what is being said. I wish I thought to do that with our girls. Our oldest screamed the entire time and I couldn't hear most of what was said...and then I had to try and keep her still when her younger sister was getting her blessing. In both instances, though, the Spirit was strong. I'm grateful for the love the Lord has for us and for the gift of the priesthood in our home and in our lives. :)

Micaela said...

Stephanie,

You have such a talent for explaing yourself. You are blessing so many lives through this blog, not just those not of our Faith. I feel reassured so many times while reading your blog. You are very special person and the fact that you are spreading the Gospel to others during this time in your life is incredibly admirable and motivating. Thank you for continuing this blog... MY daily scoop.

Micaela

Randi said...

Very bizarre... I had a dream about your family last night. Nothing profound or anything. Looking back on the dream the people looked nothing like you and your family, but that is who they were suppose to be. Anyway, you all came in to eat at the restaurant I work for. I was so excited to meet you, so that I could tell you how much I enjoyed your blog and how inspirational I found you. :)

Angie said...

You truly are a missionary for the lord. The knack you have for explaining gospel principals never ceases to amaze me. I have been a member all my life and never have I understood so clearly the way I do after reading a post of yours. Camille must be so proud of you right now.

Plain Jame said...

Thanks for this post. Since I am so sick right now, I was bummed I couldn't get up and go to church. You were part of my spiritual nourishment for the day (amongst other things).

When I was being set apart to go on a mission, my stake pres said, "you women are given a gift to feel of other peoples' spirits all the time. Us brethren - we're given the Priesthood so that we may have a glimpse into peoples' souls when we call upon it's powers..."
I loved that. I have never forgotten it (obviously).

Sylvia said...

I am so happy to share to you that Camille helped bring the spirit in to my sacrament meeting today. A young man shared Camille's story and the way his mother (you) has looked at the eternal aspect in her trials of losing a child. It was a very spiritual meeting. The kind where you wish it wasn't ending so soon and the whole congregation seems to sit still enjoying the peace of the holy ghost. So thank you for sharing Camille, and looking at the eternal. What you share truly benefits many.

HammondFam said...

Wow, you put that so well. Goodness, I have been a member of the church my whole life, and I learned a few things about the priesthood from what you wrote.

I am so grateful for priesthood blessings. I have had a few blessings at very critical moments in my life, and it is always an amazing power to feel the love of my Heavenly father's words being directed to me during these difficult times.

Kathryn_m said...

Hi Stephanie:

Once again you have outdone yourself in answering my questions. Thank you!

Lately, I have a real thirst for knowledge of The Gospels and Eternity. You & Jon have helped to quench that thirst -- yet I still have this strong feeling (at times, unsettling) that I am being called upon or prepared for something. I have prayed and pondered over this matter but it is still unclear to me -- I just *know* it is a pivotal point in my life -- like a hazy prompting. I hope that makes some sense ... I have utmost trust that He will reveal it in His time not mine.

Once more, many warm thanks.

love 'n hugs,
kathryn_m

Mandy said...

As a lifelong member of the Church I am still amazed at the eloquence and simplicity with which you write about gospel topics. Thank you for your continuing testimony buoying me and many others up on our own life's journey.

nancy said...

Stephanie,
I have been amazed at the beauty and love shown in your Blog. I can feel the love you have for God and family. I am not LDS and only know about your beliefs through media-not always in a positve light. This information is fascinating to me, though. I am a Christian of the Episcopal faith and I am sure our beliefs and traditions would seem unusual to you. I do, however, wonder how Joseph Smith's beliefs concerning polygemy were abandoned while keeping his other beiefs. As you have said, you are not easily offended and will not answer if you don't care to, and I respect that. You are a fabulous writer and should write that book. I would buy it, even if we don't share all the same beliefs. In your religion, are LDS the only ones going to heaven?
Thanks for your time.
Nancy in SC

Heidi said...

Wonderful explanation, Stephanie!

Mel said...

It's sweet that a man can have that connection with his child. My boyfriend says that he received a baby blessing, but doesn't know what was said.

However, I still don't understand why only men can receive the priesthood & higher levels of... whatever-ness? I don't know the right word for it. Certainly not spirituality... maybe "ranks"? With elder and all that... deacon, teacher, priest, elder...

Well, anyways, whatever the right word is, I still don't understand why only men can get it. How do women get to feel people's spirits in a way that men don't? I am not trying to be rude, I just really don't understand... I grew up with both men and women pastors so it is unusual to me to see different roles for men & women in a church.

Thanks... again, I really am just curious... nobody has been able to explain it in a way that I feel satisfied with the answer, you know?

Melissa said...

This is an amazing post. I'm so thankful for the priesthood and the blessings I've received. You explained this really well. Thanks for your inspiration. Your blog and words have been an example to me many times. I, also, grateful for the love the Lord shares to each on of his children. It is so amazing!! Keep up the great work!

Julie said...

Steph, you did a really good job explaining the priesthood. I did not really understand, even with a very long lineage of LDS family members (my grandfather was the last, my father's family came to Mesa, Arizona on wagons from Utah). Thank you!!!

I am glad you took the time to share, because even though I am of a different faith, I still like to understand the things that make our faiths different.

My personal faith in Jesus Christ and passing that on to my children is the most important thing to me. And although our doctrines are very different, there is a bond I feel with anyone who answers to Someone higher than herself. I really respect you and have learned a great deal from you. I am glad you are open to a "friendship" with me despite our differences!

It goes without saying that even though we've never met in person, I can only pray I tackle my life's issues with the grace, strong faith and commitment that you have shown and shared here on your blog.

Keep up the good work,
Julie

Seesalou said...

i have had the gospel in my life for my entire life. thank you for constantly strengthening my testimony through the sharing of your own.

Kathryn_m said...

Hi Nancy:

I don't profess to know the answers to your questions but it has gotten me to thinking -- a quite usual state these days:)

I do know there is a difference between Church doctrine and Devine Law. For instance, for many years, Roman Catholics were told by that church that they must eat fish not meat on Fridays. I am unsure of how this "sin" was classified -- i.e veinial, mortal etc.

I could never find a Biblical reference to eating only fish on Fridays and, in fact, it is no longer a "requirement". It seems that it was more of the Church's political/social control to ensure that the fishers, who were on hard times, had a large number of buyers for their product.

Yet, at the time, we were lead to believe that the gates of hell would open if we dared attend a weiner roast on a Friday night.

Again, I don't know but perhaps polygomy was man's doctrine to increase the number of the flock???

It's all more than a bit disillusional to me. The United Church of Canada (with Methodist roots) have made some shocking statements the past several years. One was the ordination of gay ministers and, as you may know, gay marriage is now legalized here. The one that shocked me to my very soul was when United Church Moderator said there was no hell nor did the Trinity exist.

WOW!

Just WOW!

I want to be very clear. I hold no animousity toward gays or lesbians but I do wonder why they would want to step unto a pulpit every Sunday and teach from the Bible which clearly speaks against such relationships/unions.


I, too, an anxious to see Stephanie's reply if she chooses to do so.

I hope I haven't offended anyone -- was truly not my intent.

Mindy said...

I love how you explained why women don't hold the Priesthood. :) I think I probably will explain it that way from now on. :)

Vicki said...

Beautiful summary, Stephanie!

Anonymous said...

Stephanie, I found you through divine caroline. You are an inspiration. I am not LDS but my Grandmother,Great grandmother,etc were.I was not raised in any church. I am a 39 year old mother of two my son is 18 and away at U.C.S.B. my daughter emmy is 12 and also loves your sight. We live in Green Valley Ranch which is pretty close to you. My sweet husband asked me what i wanted this year for christmas i think my answer will be to take us to church. You have introduced yourself to me with such style and grace i hope someday i can be as strong and courageous as you. Maby i will be lucky enough to run into you at church one of these days. Until then enjoy the holidays with your sweet family. Sincerely, Christie...

So Blessed said...

WOW! Stephanie thanks for this post. Last Thursday my 5 year old daughter had to have emergency surgery. My husband gave her a fathers blessing right before they took her into surgery. At that moment it hit me how wonderful and specail it is to have the preisthood in my life. I knew right then and there that she would be fine. I was calm and able to hold myself together. What a specail gift we have all been given to have this most precious gift in our lives. And to have you to explain and inspire us to be better people. Thank you!

nancy said...

I really enjoy reading everyone's comments. This is such a thought provoking blog. Thanks for spending the time...Kathryn, I agree with you entirely concerning the churches' social agenda. My denomination basically came about so Henry the VIII could be divorced and married again in the church, so our history is a little (lot) murky at times. I have always had church questions. I was raised in a very church going, Bible believing, Baptist home. If you know anything about Baptists, you know just how many variations on the theme there are! I just enjoy asking questions and hearing (reading) others opinions. Y'all are great.
Again, fabulous blog, Stephanie!

Carolyn said...

Stephanie I loved this post. And I am so excited by all the responses from it! Wonderful things! I'm looking forward to your responses. I'm praying for you. Love you!

Kathryn_m said...

I wish we could go back and edit posts.

The word "animosity" seems so harsh and not at all in keeping with my heart.

I am truly sorry if I offended or sounded judgemental.

This blog is such a blessing to me and I would not want to taint it in any way - however unintentional.

Kelsi said...

Stephanie, you are a beautiful person with a beautiful testimony! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and knowledge to help strengthen mine! Love you, Kelsi