By Becky Squire
As progression of the COVID-19 pandemic spreads throughout the world, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have been comforted by leaders of the church with messages of peace and hope. With extra time on my hands, I have reflected on recent revelations from our prophet and apostles and noticed that they have not-so-coincidentally prepared us for certain aspects of the virus.
Some of these updated policies, guidelines, and revelations may not come as a surprise to you, but I hope it will help you notice that God's hand is in all things and he is aware of each and every one of us.
Home Centered Learning
I'll start with the most obvious one. In October 2018, President Nelson announced a change in Sunday church meetings and a shift to "a home-centered and Church-supported plan to learn doctrine, strengthen faith, and foster greater personal worship.” This has really come in handy as church gatherings have been temporarily cancelled and we are now to worship with our families at home.
This revelation might not seem so recent, but it is in the grand scheme of things. Prophets and leaders have counseled us for years to be prepared for adversity. They have encouraged us to be self-reliant with food storage, financial security, 72-hour kits, and more. Elder L. Tom Perry taught, “The need for preparation is abundantly clear. The great blessing of being prepared gives us freedom from fear."
In President Nelson's first general conference as prophet, he announced that the Church had made the decision to retire home and visiting teaching and implement a newer, holier approach to caring for others called ministering. Out with the old "rule" that we have to physically visit members in their home. Of course, that is ideal when allowed, but I believe ministering has prepared us to think more creatively and to act in a higher way to care for our neighbors.
One-Year Waiting Period to be Sealed Discontinued
In May 2019, church leaders discontinued the policy requiring couples who marry civilly to wait one year before being married or sealed in the temple. The change means Latter-day Saint couples can look forward to a temple marriage as soon as their circumstances permit. With the news of all temples closing until further notice, couples can have joy in knowing that as soon as these difficult times pass, and they will, they won't have to wait to be sealed.
Updated Italian Scriptures
One of the countries affected most by COVID-19 so far is Italy. In June 2017, the First Presidency announced updated editions of the scriptures in Italian, among a few others. Elder D. Todd Christofferson said, "This update will help us in regular day-to-day study as well as occasions of more in-depth study of the scriptures. That, in turn, can lead us to better listen to and act upon the promptings of the Spirit.” I believe this was a vital part in preparing Italian saints for strengthening their homes and their testimonies during this difficult time.
Missionaries on Facebook
Another recent update was a change regarding guidelines to social media use. Most missionaries are now authorized to use platforms such as Facebook to enhance their missionary efforts. Not only has this come in handy in our technology-evolving world, but it allows them to continue teaching and working while they are in lock-down or quarantine.
Sabbath Day Observance
This revelation may not be considered recent, but it's emphasis from leaders such as President Nelson definitely is. As we are confined to our homes for church services, we must remember the importance of the Sabbath. President Nelson said, "I believe [the Savior] wanted us to understand that the Sabbath was His gift to us, granting real respite from the rigors of daily life and an opportunity for spiritual and physical renewal." I hope that during these difficult times, we don't treat Sunday like a day off or just another day we can't keep track of. Let us find spiritual relief and worship Him more than we ever have.
In 2015, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints announced that they approved an electronic method for members to pay tithing and charitable donations. With social distancing enforced during this pandemic, we can still pay tithes and offerings online.
Making Your Home a Temple
The Bible dictionary states that "Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.” There have been many talks on the sacred relationship between the temple and the home. Not only can we turn the doors of our homes to the temple, but we can literally make our homes a “house of the Lord.” With temples now closed world-wide, it is vital that we do everything we can to make our homes a temple. President Ballard said, “Whether you are able to go to the temple or not, your home is a place you can...feel the hand of the Lord in your life...It doesn’t require you to be in the temple to ‘be still and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46:10). That can happen every day of your life.”
These are just a few, I'm sure, of many other revelations that we have received to prepare us for this world-wide pandemic. Not only can we be confident and prepared for anything that comes our way, but we can take this opportunity to become united as neighbors and communities, and to become better individuals.
Becky Squire is a writer and speaker. She has been published in several media outlets including the Ensign, LDS Living, and the Today Show. She's also the founding editor of Latter-Day Woman Magazine. Follow Becky Squire on Instagram