Fear Factor


This guest post is by Heidi Naylor, who teaches English at Boise State University and writes amazing books for BCC Press on the side.

My brother Karl Beus and his wife Lisa have worked hard to help build an interfaith alliance in their Cleveland community. As good people, and as Latter-day Saints, they’ve forged relationships with the local Islamic congregation, with benefits of community and friendship for all involved. [Read more…]

Prayer for Easter Morning

Praise be to the God of the dawn,
our God of the morning light,
whose Son this morning lives again,
dead in the tomb though he was!
Grant that we, too, might come forth
from the dark places of our own hearts
and find together the fullness of life,
in the rich vigor of the Holy Spirit
and the renewing presence of the Son;
in your strength may we rise together
as the living body of Christ,
proclaiming the message of peace
in all the world, until we become
one people as you are one God. Amen.

Baptism, Resurrection, and Women Witnesses

Mormon-landia is abuzz today with the news (broken by This Week in Mormons) that youth can now more fully participate in baptisms for the dead on youth temple trips.  Specifically, Priests (age 16+) can now perform and witness temple baptisms, just like they already perform and witness live baptisms.  And young women (age 12-18) can perform any baptistry assignment (i.e. logistics, temple clothing, towels) currently done by adult women.   Previously, all of these functions could only be performed by endowed members.

There is much to celebrate here.  I fully support increased responsibility and participation in the workings of the church for our incredible youth.  Hopefully, these additional spiritual and service opportunities will help all youth feel closer to Christ and strengthen their faith.  This change also reduces the burden on finding sufficient adults to officiate youth temple trips, hopefully increasing the total number of opportunities to perform baptisms.  In addition, it may help those young women who are uncomfortable being baptized while on their periods (despite temple pronunciations that this is permitted), feel more comfortable having an awkward-question-free opportunity to serve.

And yet.  This policy change was a major missed opportunity to increase the spiritual role of young women in the Church.  [Read more…]

Prayer for Easter Morning

O God of abundant life: as we rise with Jesus from the dark tomb of our failures to love, grant that we may greet our sisters and brothers with the gentleness of his call to Mary, the sweet art of the Spirit’s loving breath making up our defects until we become one in love as you are one God. Amen.

For music, Jamie Hall singing Ralph Vaughan Williams’s setting of George Herbert’s “Easter” from Five Mystical Songs:

[Read more…]

MLP: Easter Day




Mormon Lectionary Project

Easter Day

Jeremiah 31:1-6 (NRSV); Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 (1979 BCP); Acts 10:34-43 (NRSV); John 20:1-18 (NRSV); D&C 76:19-24

The Collect: Almighty God, who through your Son overcame the world and conquered death, grant that we might not only live in him, but that we might daily rejoice in this gift of life through thy Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen.

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The Three Trees: A Folk Tale for Good Friday

[An old and oft-told story, one which gets better with age.]

Once upon a time, three trees stood in a forest high on a mountain, dreaming of what they might become one day.

[Read more…]

Easter Sermons

The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early,
when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre,
and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

Christian holidays like Easter and Christmas were not widely celebrated in the United States during Joseph Smith’s lifetime. Such anniversaries were associated with Catholicism, and much of Protestant America saw them as symbols of “popery” and pagan in origin.[1]
[Read more…]

Music for Easter Morning

First, Vaughan Williams: Five Mystical Songs Since I was a little girl, Easter has arrived for me with the opening Rise, Heart (skip to 25 seconds in to avoid annoying announcer). The rest of the five are here. If I ever understand atonement, it will be because of “Love Bade Me Welcome.” [Read more…]

Holy Week

The dark of night lies everywhere.
So young the night around,
We see how vast with stars the sky,
Each star as radiant as day.
And if the earth could have its way,
It would sleep on– through Easter Day—
Lulled by the reading of the psalms.

The dark of night lies everywhere.
So young the night, the square seems like
Eternity form end to end
Where still a thousand years must wait
The dawn of day and light. [Read more…]

Good Friday

Bach. The Passion According to St. John, in an exquisite performance by the Bach Collegium Japan, directed by Maasaki Suzuki.


I can hardly bear to pick favorites, but if you have to choose, I’d say 3, 5, 10, and 11. [Read more…]

Maundy Thursday–That Ye Love One Another

The liturgy of Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper, and often includes the washing of feet–either the priest washing other priests’ or congregants’ feet or congregants washing one another’s. It is a startlingly beautiful, powerful, and visceral reminder of Jesus’s personal love for those he called friends.

The indispensable text for this service is “Ubi Caritas”
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Holy Wednesday–Into Darkness

The traditional service for Wednesday night before Maundy Thursday is known as Tenebrae. Services vary among denominations, but most of them feature the gradual extinguishing of lights in the sanctuary until the service ends in total darknesss. This night marks the beginning of the end, the descent into despair that will be miraculously lifted by the dawn of Easter.

Here is Paul Celan (whose poetry is holy despair all through) reading his “Tenebrae.” And here’s a translation.

The music for these services often consists of settings of texts from the Lamentations of Jeremiah. A few examples:

Victoria (with an interesting bit of history of the (d)evolution of Tenebrae services)

Holy Monday

The world would be a better place if everyone listened to Bach’s St. Matthew Passion at least once a year, and I highly recommend it as a Holy Week observance.

The story of the Anointing at Bethany is often part of the reading for Holy Monday (even though it’s not chronologically proper to holy week), so the first section of the St. Matthew (particularly starting at about 10 minutes in) is especially good for today.

And for the textually-inclined, here‘s a sermon on the anointing.

Text below: [Read more…]

For Palm Sunday

Hosanna to the Son of David–Weelkes, Gibbons

My Song is Love Unknown

1. My song is love unknown,
My Savior’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I,
That for my sake
My Lord should take
Frail flesh, and die? [Read more…]

A Mormon Easter Sermon

Presumably, you’re all watching or listening to General Conference now, or at least checking out By Common Consent, thinking that you ought to be. Whatever is or isn’t said in the conference sessions today, very likely there will be no mention of the fact that today is Holy Saturday, the quietest and most somber day in the whole Christian calendar. That’s all right; just because no general authority is going to name today the Sabbatum Sanctum, doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from calling it such.

I have a tradition of reading Eugene England’s powerful and appropriately somber essay “Easter Weekend” on Holy Saturday. But I have also noticed that, very nearly exactly 25 years ago, on the day before Easter in 1985, a sermon–also powerful, and also appropriately somber–was given in general conference. Elder Bruce R. McConkie delivered his last general conference address, “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane”, during the morning session of that Holy Saturday. (He died 13 days later.) Whomever may or may not be speaking at the time you’re reading this, I very sincerely doubt that they will have anything as important, or as appropriate, to say this Eastertide as Elder McConkie did, a quarter-century ago. I remember watching it, long ago, and it moves me still.
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Easter Weekend, by Gene England

[This post originally appeared on Times and Seasons.]

Gene England (1933-2001), Mormonism’s greatest personal essayist, wrote “Easter Weekend,” his greatest personal essay, twenty years ago. I reread it every Easter, usually on Holy Saturday. The following are only excerpts. It was originally printed in the Spring 1988 issue of Dialogue, was reprinted in the Autumn 2001 issue of Irreantum, and is available in full in The Quality of Mercy, a collection of his essays long out of print.

I didn’t know Gene well. But even many of those who didn’t know him well miss him, and look forward to someday hearing his voice again. [Read more…]

The Three Trees: A Folktale for Good Friday

[This post previously appeared on Times and Seasons.]

Once upon a time, three little trees stood in a forest high on a mountain, dreaming of what they would be when they were grown.

[Read more…]