Dear brothers and sisters!
We are currently living during complicated times when every day we hear news of the outbreak of the new corona virus. We have already quite many people in Estonia who have been infected by the new virus and the spread of this virus is expanding. After Estonia regained its independence this is the first time that the state of national emergency has been declared. This is to protect and keep us all safe, and to offer the best help to those who need it. Due to the national emergency as well as the order established by the Church there will be no Church meetings held. That does not mean that Church is not functioning.
Maybe you have read from our Church Facebook page the article “Lay up in store“. If you haven´t, I recommend you to do so. This article talks about a principle in the Church – we should always be ready and have some storage. Some excerpts from there.
One of the main gospel principles is to prepare for the time of need. President James E. Faust has said “Every father and mother are the family's store keepers. They should store whatever their family would like to have in case of an emergency...(and) God will sustain us through our trials.“
President Thomas S. Monson declared, “Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had a year´s supply of food …. and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have a supply of year´s debt and are food-free.“
President Gordon B. Hinckley has taught that the best place where to put aside some food, is our home. I think that if we haven´t yet given heed to this counsel, then now is the last time to do it. I do not want to create any panic, but we should be ready that when the illness hits us, then we should not go out to spread it. We know that we should then be in a fourteen-day quarantine. Therefore, we should have a fourteen-day food storage. Also, the state of national emergency means that when needed some additional restrictions might be established. We have already seen this happen in Italy and Spain. This mean restrictions to movements outside. We should just be ready.
When somebody needs help, then we have a wonderful ministering program in the Church. Now it is especially topical. I invite you all to show interest in our sisters and brothers, whether they are ready and when needs be to extend a helping hand, at the same time keeping from spreading the virus and getting infected yourself. The majority of us has got phones and many of us have the opportunity to communicate via internet. At the moment these are especially relevant means of communication. But what is the most important, let us be supportive to each other.
When we give our best, we can be sure that “The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry“ (1 Kings 17:14).
We are ready and because we are ready, we shall not fear. (DC 38:30)
At the moment it is good to give sense to what Church is. Church is not the building or Sunday meetings. Church is us who we study and teach the gospel to each other, we, who minister each other and extend our helping hand. The Lord´s plan of Salvation continues to function, He continues to answer our prayers and bless us.
As I already mentioned, during the upcoming weeks there will be no Church meetings. The General Conference will be held virtually and it is possible for everybody to watch it at home. Mutual viewing in church buildings will not take place.
Starting from next week also the Helsinki tempel will be closed, and these temples in the world that will be open will only perform ordinances for the living. So the Helsinki tempel has already been closed since yesterday. Our country leaders have invited us to refrain from any travelling and it would be wise to pay heed to this counsel. And also we should not invite anybody to visit us from abroad because many countries have already set additional restrictions to entering a country. Also, starting from Tuesday, people from abroad are unable to enter Estonia.
We ask everybody to continually hold Sunday worship meetings at your own home and to do it on the regular time, that is at 11 oćlock. If there is a worthy priesthood holder at home, then also the ordinance of the sacrament will take place. Our district president Siim Schneider will tell us more about organising Sunday meetings.
When President Russell M. Nelson opened the October 2018 general conference he announced “a new balance and connection between gospel instruction in the home and in the Church.“ This was part of an effort “to strengthen families and individuals through a home-centered and Church-supported plan to learn doctrine, strengthen faith, and foster greater personal worship,“ he said.
And he continued: “As Latter-day Saints, we have become accustomed to thinking of “church” as something that happens in our meetinghouses, supported by what happens at home. We need an adjustment to this pattern. It is time for a home-centered Church, supported by what takes place inside our branch, ward, and stake buildings.“
We had a year and a half to learn. Now it is time to put it to test. We are ready.
Current time is especially good for studying the scriptures more closely. Apostel Paul said, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness“ (2 Tim 3:16). One scripture that we should remind ourselves every once in awhile and to read it again is our patriarchal blessing. Do you remember what is written in there? Let us read it again and let us find what the Lord wants to tell us through it.
I testify that the Lord is with us in these complicated times. We get continual guidance through the Holy Ghost. He answers our prayers. He loves us. In the history of the world there have been many complicated times but we will manage.
In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Read the text for president Siim Schneider's talk here.