March 3rd, 2013 Dear Elders and Sisters of the California Santa Rosa Mission – fellow servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“One evening my missionary companion and I knocked on the door of a young man who was an international student studying at one of London’s many universities. He invited us in, and we explained that we were missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He seemed eager to learn more about the Restoration of the gospel, so we testified of the Prophet Joseph Smith and told him about a sacred book from our Heavenly Father called the Book of Mormon. We emphasized that it was sacred because it testifies of Jesus Christ.We explained that he could know for himself of its truthfulness and offered to give him a copy. As I handed the Book of Mormon to him, he got up from his chair and left the room without saying a word. I held the Book of Mormon in my hand momentarily, and my companion and I looked at each other in puzzled silence, wondering what to do. I put the book down on the table.
We could see our young friend in the kitchen washing his hands and drying them on a fresh towel. He came back into the room and picked up the Book of Mormon from the table and simply said, “My people always wash their hands before they touch something sacred.” Tears came to my eyes as I watched this young man open the Book of Mormon for the first time and turn its sacred pages with his clean hands.Alma taught that the scriptures are sacred and are preserved to bring souls to salvation. He declared to his son Helaman, “God has entrusted you with these things, which are sacred, which he has kept sacred, and also which he will keep and preserve for a wise purpose in him, that he may show forth his power unto future generations” (Alma 37:14).
I was sent on a mission to teach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, yet I was the one being taught by this young man with his clean hands. In many cultures—including my own—it isn’t necessary to wash our hands before reading the scriptures, but his simple gesture of respect was a reverent and powerful reminder of the sacredness of the Book of Mormon.”
“In 1832, as some early missionaries returned from their fields of labor, the Lord reproved them for treating the Book of Mormon lightly. As a result of that attitude, he said, their minds had been darkened. Not only had treating this sacred book lightly brought a loss of light to themselves, it had also brought the whole Church under condemnation, even all the children of Zion. And then the Lord said, “And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon” (D&C 84:54–57). (Italics added for emphasis)“If the early Saints were rebuked for treating the Book of Mormon lightly, are we under any less condemnation if we do the same? The Lord Himself bears testimony that it is of eternal significance. Can a small number of us bring the whole Church under condemnation because we trifle with sacred things? What will we say at the Judgment when we stand before Him and meet His probing gaze if we are among those described as forgetting the new covenant?”
“Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing” (Mormon 8:34–35).If they saw our day and chose those things which would be of greatest worth to us, is not that how we should study the Book of Mormon? We should constantly ask ourselves, “Why did the Lord inspire Mormon (or Moroni or Alma) to include that in his record? What lesson can I learn from that to help me live in this day and age?”