Under the direction of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, the Presidency of the Seventy has administrative responsibility for the Church in the United States and Canada. On behalf of the Seven Presidents, I previously supervised the North America Central Area and now oversee the North America Northeast Area. Both areas have portions of the great country of Canada within them. Thus, in addition to my over 40 years of connection to Canada through my Alberta-born wife, I have been privileged to be ecclesiastically associated for the last five years. So, it is my privilege to share a message with you through the Canada country website.
I wish to briefly address a topic of significant importance. It has to do with our safety. You may think, “Well, that is one reason we live in Canada, it is generally a safe country.” As mortals, it is common for us to constantly consider and pray for our physical protection. In a dangerous world, that prayer makes sense and certainly is appropriate. However, I have come to more fervently pray for something else—for spiritual safety—I pray for continual strength for me and for my family to live true to our covenants. We should live wisely in protecting ourselves from bodily harm; but, in reality, whether we live a long or a short life on this earth is perhaps of relatively little consequence in the eternities. What really matters is our character, reflected in how we live. Living the life of a covenant-maker and covenant-keeper is of highest value, as that is the only way for us to fulfill our eternal purpose.
Our Church handbook, under the heading “Leadership Purposes,” states that leaders should, “encourage every member to receive all essential priesthood ordinances, keep the associated covenants, and qualify for exaltation and eternal life” (Handbook 2, 3.4). There it is—a clear, succinct statement of why this Church exists. Everything we do, in one way or another, should be supportive of this purpose.
There is no confusion as to what is most important. The scriptures state, “in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest” (D&C 84:20). Ordinances and covenants have the power to elevate our lives above that which is temporal and to provide the kind of safety that is of greatest worth. They are foundational and essential.
Ordinances are sacred ceremonies in which we make covenants. Covenants are commitments, promises we make with God. In order to connect us with heaven, and help us overcome the confusion of the mortal world, ordinances raise our view, providing vision “of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls” (Jacob 4:13). The covenants made in these ordinances are part of what the scriptures call “the new and everlasting covenant” (D&C 132:6). The new and everlasting covenant is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It comprises all the covenants that God and man make. The keeping of these covenants will provide us eternal life “which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7).
We want you to be safe. Yes, we pray for your physical protection. However, more importantly, we pray for your spiritual safety. We want your lives to reflect the promises you have made with God. We want you to feel the security your covenants bring. We thank you for being good Latter-day Saints. We thank you for being people of goodwill in your communities. We thank you for being covenant-makers and covenant-keepers.