Several years ago my wife, Ruth, and I were serving in the Africa Southeast Area when we learned, sadly, that the Church’s registration with the country of Rwanda was invalid. The Church made the agonizing decision to close the branch there. This meant that these faithful Saints were unable to partake of the sacrament as a branch for a long time.
When they finally came together after that time had passed, there was a spirit that washed over that congregation and over me. It was one of the most intensely powerful experiences in a sacrament meeting in my life. I realized that feeling came from the Rwandan Latter-day Saints who came hungering and thirsting for the sacrament.
As I think about the current closures of our churches and temples, I believe we’ll have the same type of experiences as we start to again regularly attend church meetings and serve in temples. Our hunger will bring out an intense feeling as we experience being in a dedicated house of God again.
On March 25, 2020, the Church made the difficult decision to close down temples worldwide. That decision was made with the desire for the Church to be a good global citizen and to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. In May 2020, we began slowly reopening temples in a phased approach.
Although our access to the temple right now is limited, it doesn’t change the impact that the temple can have on us in our lives. Through our covenants and ordinances, we have access to the power of godliness in our lives—no matter our circumstances.
That power of godliness comes because we’ve entered into a covenant that’s been part of an ordinance. And as we keep that covenant, then the power of godliness can be in our lives.
When we go to the temple, we don’t renew our covenants as we do proxy temple work. Rather, we are reminded of the covenants that we once made. It’s by keeping those covenants that we access the power of godliness in our lives—whether we’re able to physically go to the temple or not.
We should not limit the ability of God to invoke the power of godliness in our lives. Our ability to access the power of godliness depends on us keeping the covenants we’ve made with Him.
Although our access to the temple right now is limited, it doesn’t change the impact that the temple can have on us
As I have worked with other leaders on how and when our temples can reopen, I have felt an outpouring of the Savior’s love and influence on this situation. He is in charge. He is guiding us to know how our temples can reopen as safe places of worship. I continue to be in awe of all that He is guiding us to do.
Until our temples fully reopen, I pray that we can keep our covenants and, by doing so, access the power of godliness in our everyday lives. When the day comes for us to attend the temple again, our hearts and our spirits will be hungry for the experiences of the temple. And it’s that desire, that hunger, that will result in a powerful temple experience.