President Baird’s Message
休み、休日、休業日、祝日、国民の祭日、休暇、休暇期。Holidays. Whatever the source, the cause, the stimulus, I love holidays. They represent fun, recreation, relaxation, food. Perhaps what I like best about holidays is spending time with people I love; friends and family. For a short time we are both friends and family to one another. Sister Baird and I love being with you—our Japan Nagoya Mission family.
Of all the types of holidays my very favorite are 宗教の祭日。These are not just holidays, they are holy days. Thanksgiving is like that. It is a holy day; a day for acknowledging the goodness of God and returning thanks to Him for our many blessings. As a mission family we honor this holy day by offering service throughout the day and then enjoying a good meal and sharing feelings with our companions. Christmas is a special holy day. This year we spent time with each zone celebrating our service as missionaries and focusing our attentions on the life of Christ. We celebrated in word, song and a multi-media presentation.
This month we celebrate another of those special holy days. Though Easter may be the most sacred of holy days, we do not gather as a mission to celebrate. Maybe Easter is too sacred for that. Maybe for missionaries, the celebration of Easter should be a personal and spiritual celebration. Perhaps this is a time to reflect on the life of He who is our Savior, Redeemer, and King. Each Easter season I find myself seeking him out in the scriptures. I especially focus on the last week of His mission.
During the month of April, I invite you to seek him out in the same way. His thoughts, actions and teachings during the final week of his mission can be found in Matthew chapters 21-28; Mark chapters 11-16; Luke 19-24; and John 12-21. Don’t gallop through these pages like a race horse with only the end in mind. Go slow. Ponder. Reflect.
As you read about the last week of Christ’s mission, please do as Nephi recommends—“liken” it to you and your situation. As you go slow, reflect and ponder, and then “liken”, the Holy Ghost will give you rich insights. I pray that you will rely on the Spirit to teach you as you read. For that reason I will not offer commentary on the following days—just milestone events.
Day 1 Sunday: The stage is set in Matt 20: 17-19,29. As Jesus and his disciples make their way toward Jerusalem to keep the holy day, Christ tells his disciples of his impending imprisonment, crucifixion, death and resurrection. As they depart Jericho a sizeable multitude begins to follow. The multitude grows as they pass through Bethphage and Bethany. By the time Jesus is riding into the city of Jerusalem all the multitude praises him. They call him the Son of David, acknowledging him as their king! The chief priests and scribes were unhappy—disturbed even. They chided Jesus saying, “Master, rebuke thy disciples.” His reply was regal, “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” Luke 19: 39,40.
Day 2 Monday: Jesus returns to Jerusalem having spent the night in Bethany. Hungered he curses the baron fig tree. He cleanses the temple, Heals in the temple and returns to Bethany for the night.
Day 3 Tuesday: Teaches his disciples who comment, “how soon the fig tree is withered away”, that they shall do this and greater things by the prayer of faith—even to the removing of mountains. We must ask. He teaches of authority. Jesus teaches parables of two sons and the householder. He successfully navigates traps from Pharisees and Sadducees in their questioning. He accuses them of hypocrisy, teaches the signs of the times, gives parables of ten virgins, talents, sheep and goats.
Day 4 Wednesday: Christ administers the sacrament, teaches the role of the comforter and Holy Ghost, offers great intercessory prayer. He retires to the Garden of Gethsemane and performs
the first part of the atonement. He is betrayed by Judas and taken prisoner.
Day 5 Thursday: Christ is tried. He remains silent. He endures all manner of
mocking and abuse. He performs additional portions of the atonement—He is
crucified and buried.
Day 6 Friday: Christ remains in tomb while chief priests and Pharisees seek a
watch to prevent his body from being taken.
Day 7 Saturday: Christ completes the Atonement. He rises from the dead
bringing resurrection to all. He gives a sacred charge to all who will follow him
Matthew 28:16-20. I wonder what our world would be like if He had coasted the
last week of His mission. May we pray and ask in faith to perform the miracles
He asks of us. May we commit to GO as did the first son in the parable. May we
actually GO and PERFORM the assigned task as did the second. As we seek our
errand from the Lord and work hard to achieve it, we will be blessed, as Elder
Holland promised, with urgency in the work and the love our Heavenly Father
has for those who labor in His vineyard. Let my love for you stand as evidence
that He loves you, I pray in Jesus’ name Amen.