Every Easter for the past 20 years (or more), my family and/or my extended family have lined up in two rows and thrown eggs to each other to try to catch them without breaking them. Yeah, if you haven’t done it, you might find it weird. Even so, it is great fun and has become quite a tradition as our family grown, and we have gotten remarkably good at it.
But what does an egg toss have to do with Easter and Jesus. Good question. The answer? It might take some explaining…
This McBride Easter Egg Toss will include more people this year. Our Brad & Chrissie family has grown from 2 to 14, and because of some careful scheduling, and a little bit of luck, we are all together today. All of us.
That’s when a link between egg tosses and Jesus starts to come into focus. I do know this: Family holiday traditions help make for strong families – even odd ones, like tossing eggs. (If you need some support for that, here and here are some articles about it.)
A strong family and desire for togetherness is something I hope for that will endure beyond this life and into the eternities. So what does that have to do with Easter and Jesus?
In his most recent General Conference talk, President Nelson said this:
“The spirit in each of us naturally yearns for family love to last forever. Love songs perpetuate a false hope that love is all you need if you want to be together forever. And some erroneously believe that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ provides a promise that all people will be with their loved ones after death.
In truth, the Savior Himself has made it abundantly clear that while His Resurrection assures that every person who ever lived will indeed be resurrected and live forever, much more is required if we want to have the high privilege salvation and exaltation. Salvation is an individual matter, but exaltation is a family matter.”
(In MY humble opinion, I would like to take that last sentence, add three words, and call it Article of Faith #14.
“We believe that salvation is an individual matter, but exaltation is a family matter.” (Suggested, not approved. Thankfully, I’m not in charge, not should I be.)
That said, what Christ accomplished during the first Easter set in motion everything that makes individual salvation a possibility.
If not for the Savior’s life, atonement and resurrection, which is what we celebrate today, our hopes for salvation would fall apart. Without the atonement, repentance could never be completed. Without the resurrection, our journey would end with death. Individual salvation would be an unattainable theory, rather than the linchpin of everything that really matters.
While that speaks to our hope for individual salvation, what about exaltation – what the prophet said is a “family matter?” How does Jesus and Easter affect that?
Exaltation has some pre-requisites: For us to even have a shot at exaltation as a family, we must achieve – through Christ – individual salvation.
While Christ has also set things in motion to make both salvation and exaltation attainable. He also made possible the ordinances of baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, which can lead us to individual salvation. He also set the stage for more revelation and more ordinances that can help us as families.
How did he do this? He shared the Priesthood authority with we mere mortals, and sent the prophets the keys to unlock those covenants, ordinances and blessing that can lead us as families to exaltation.
Yes, being sealed in the temple happens because Christ founded His church, and provided the authority needed to make it a church of power and possibility.
Yes, just as Jesus offers me the hope of salvation, he offers me the hope of familial exaltation. President Nelson asked, and answered his own question:
“So, what is required for a family to be exalted forever? We qualify for that privilege by making covenants with God, keeping those covenants, and receiving essential ordinances.”
He went on to teach an Easter truth, which might be difficult for some to hear:
“They need to understand that while there is a place for them hereafter—with wonderful men and women who also chose not to make covenants with God—that is not the place where families will be reunited and be given the privilege to live and progress forever. That is not the kingdom where they will experience the fulness of joy—of never-ending progression and happiness. Those consummate blessings can come only by living in an exalted celestial realm with God, our Eternal Father; His Son, Jesus Christ; and our wonderful, worthy, and qualified family members.
That last part, he uses the word “qualified.” That qualification comes because of Christ, because of Easter, and because of the Church He provided for us as a means to make and keep sacred covenants, and participate in ordinances that can help us get and stay clean. (The salvation that precedes the exaltation.)
If there is no Church, there is neither Salvation, or Exaltation. It saddens me, and apparently President Nelson, that there are those who think that by being a “good person” and by spending a lifetime doing good has done enough to merit salvation and exaltation. It simply does not work that way.
If we could be saved without covenants, ordinances, priesthood keys and the Gift of the Holy Ghost, then Easter would not have been necessary.
It was. And it is.
What an Easter blessing! As I toss eggs with the people I love most in this life, I’ll be reminded that the reason we are tossing eggs, and the reason we have hope for being together eternally are the same: Christ is our Savior.
Note: I have friends who are not married, who are divorced, or whose lives don’t include family, who might read this and be filled with feelings ranging from sadness to frustration to anger. I am quick to acknowledge that I cannot relate. But I can offer my love, sympathy and encouragement.
If you find yourself cringing or despondent whenever the concept of family exaltation is brought up, I might point you to my “go-to” apostle, Boyd K. Packer. He said, “Any soul who by nature or circumstance is not afforded the blessing of marriage and parenthood, or who innocently must act alone in rearing children, working to support them, will not be denied in the eternities any blessing—provided they keep the commandments.” (link) (There are oodles of references about this – go to LDS.org and search for terms like single members and denied promises.)