It’s not often that an angel chooses the lectionary scriptures for the day, but that’s exactly what Moroni did when he appeared to Joseph Smith three times during the night of September 21-22, 1823. In addition to instructions about where to find the plates that would become the Book of Mormon, Joseph reports that Moroni’s visit consisted largely of the angel’s reciting scriptural texts focused on the dawning of a messianic age when the wolf will lie down with the lamb (Isaiah), when God will, through prophetic calling (Acts) and the spirit of Elijah (Malachi), gather his scattered people (Isaiah) and pour out spiritual gifts on them (Joel) before judging the earth (all of them).
The Book of Mormon declares its own role in the coming of the messianic age: speaking from the dust, it will appear as a sign of mercy to the Gentiles, marking their inclusion in the great process of gathering. In 1832 Joseph Smith received a revelation that placed the entire church under condemnation for having treated the Book of Mormon lightly. Ezra Taft Benson famously observed that this condemnation had not been lifted—a condemnation that no subsequent prophet has seen fit to lift, notwithstanding our increased attention to the book. Therefore the call remains for us to take the Book of Mormon seriously, to learn from the temporary successes and monumental failures to establish messianic community that it records. Let this anniversary of Moroni’s visit serve as a perpetual witness and reminder of the part we are called to play in the process he described.
The Book of Mormon, 1823/1827
The Collect: God Almighty, Lord of heaven and earth, unto whom all people (your children) are alike: with gratitude for the Book of Mormon, we pray that its message may rise from the dust and settle in our hearts, until in the grace of Jesus Christ we lay aside our contentious love of gain and become one people, with no manner of -ites among us, as you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are one God. Amen.
Because the Book of Mormon arises as it were de profundis with a cry for judgment and God’s redemption of his people, what could be more appropriate than a setting of Psalm 130 (in this case, John Rutter’s, from his Requiem)?[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AP_ZHGJvHbk]