You might find a boy equally excited as Gabriel, but none more so, to receive the Aaronic Priesthood. For months he’s been counting down each Sunday– “Only twenty-seven more weeks until I’m a deacon!”
As the fifth in our string of boys, he’s watched every brother before him don a white shirt and tie, sit with hands placed on his head and be ordained to serve in the priesthood.
I find it brilliant, or rather inspired, to take a boy at twelve– just before he enters he teenage years– and instruct him on serving God and his fellow man. From setting up chairs before church to raking the widows’ lawn, passing the sacrament on Sunday, shoveling walks, early morning clothing drives and afternoons at the food bank, visiting the care center, visiting the sick, helping the neighbors move in, then out, and finally taking the chairs down after every meeting, the priesthood SERVES.
In this world where we desperately need good men, honorable husbands and devoted fathers, nothing prepares boys better than the priesthood. Honestly, even if I didn’t believe in LDS doctrine, I’d attend the Mormon church just for the principles and habits taught to my boys. Every Sunday they are taught to love God, be kind to their neighbor, avoid pornography, speak kindly and serve, serve, serve.
Worldwide, young men and fathers are struggling to stay engaged in religion, but the priesthood gives men a clear pattern to lead their family with humility and kindness. From our Doctrine & Covenants:
“We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion….
Gabe read those verses over and over before his priesthood interview with our bishop. Our bishop made it very clear to Gabe that while the priesthood is the power of God given to man, that power should be used to help everyone he meets, just as Christ healed the sick and washed the feet of his disciples.
One of the privileges of the priesthood Gabe has anticipated the most is attending Priesthood Meeting with his dad and brothers. Held twice a year, the Saturday evening of General Conference weekend, it’s no secret the men hear the same messages almost every time: “be kind to your wife” “tell your mother you love her” “get an education” “work harder” “serve more” “nurture your children.” We joke (but it’s absolutely true) the men go to Priesthood meeting for a two hour scolding while the women go to Relief Society to be told, “you’re wonderful” “don’t be so hard on yourself” “you’re doing better than you think.”
By tradition, when kids turn twelve, they stand beside the bishop at the pulpit and recite an Article of Faith. Gabe chose the thirteenth:
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul-We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
At home, when we talk about this verse, the boys like to recite “chaste, benovolent” as “chased by an elephant.” So just as Gabe started to speak, Hans moved his arm like an elephant’s trunk and flapped his hands next to his head like giant ears. Gabe started to laugh and couldn’t stop. Still, he made it through, every word in place and still laughing came down to our pew where his brothers hugged him and laughed with him.
Ben came home for the occasion.
Settling on a chair in the center of the room, Gabe beamed as Erik, Ben, our bishop, Kevin and Grandpa Fritz gathered round, placed their hands on his head conferred the Aaronic Priesthood on him and ordained him a deacon.
Erik may have received the first hug,
but mine was the longest. Wrapping his arms around me, he sunk into me, almost in relief; he’d finally reached his goal.
Everyone celebrated with Gabe.
(just cause you can’t see her pretty face in the other photos)
a snapshot in time: High Priest, Elder, Priest, Teacher, Deacon
This is priesthood: serving with gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned.