I love reading Keepapitchinin (Keepa) because I learn so much about the gospel, as it has been applied and taught since the time of Joseph Smith. I don't have Mormon ancestors, or any ancestors who lived in Utah, so many of the things I read are like going on an archeology hunt for people who are similar to me, while being utterly foreign as well. It is an important trip though, because while these are not my blood line ancestors, they are the spiritual ancestors of my faith. I can find insights into how to live my life, as I read about how they thought, worshiped, and lived.
I really like the idea of looking at the ways the gospel has been lived and applied at different times, places and circumstances. The Jews in Palestine, the Nephites in the Promised Land, and Mormon pioneers, and more current Latter-day Saints, all worship the same God, and have access to the teachings and spiritual promptings of the Holy Ghost. The differences in the way they practiced their religion came from the places and circumstances they were in. There is always the same goal in each group, to understand God's desires and then learn how to act in accordance to the way God asks us, so we can become like Him. The desire to know and understand God is the same. It is the implementation and details of worship differs with the culture and circumstances . It is important to look at the difference in how worship happens at different times, so that we can distinguish the doctrine from the culture in which it is practiced.
Often I have pridefully thought I could easily see the difference between doctrine and culture. While I may be fairly good at parsing them by the standards of 2012 USA, *I* really need a much wider and longer view, that comes only from the scriptures and writings of saints from other times provide, to be able to sort out the gospel of Christ, distinct from how the gospel is practiced in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2012, or at any other time in history. I need to look for the doctrine by finding which principles and doctrine have been taught by prophets in all dispensations, even though they may be practiced uniquely in specific cultures.
I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a member if the church when I haven't been to sacrament meeting in almost six months, and it is unlikely I will be able to physically go to church in the next six months. What started out as a couple of months is turning into a year or more, of my husband attending church without me. We are finding that we miss that companionship on Sundays. Looking at six more months, we are considering having church at home at least half the time, so that our worship doesn't seem so disconnected from each other.
My husband is a new convert, who was baptize a little over a year ago. He only had a few months after his baptism before my health started declining and my body wasn't able to make it through the three hour block. As it progressed, I was only able to be there for sacrament meeting, then only the sacrament, and then I was told I should not to travel, (even the 20 minutes each way to church) unless it was for medical care.
During the time where I was not able to attend, Scott has been at church most Sundays, he has continued to fulfill his calling as Assistant Scoutmaster, but he is lonely at church, and constantly worried about me when he is away for long. He has been prompted a number of times to leave church early, and has reached home within 5-10 minutes of a fall or other problem, which hadn't started until he was more than half way home. As my condition has worsened again, he has felt prompted that he needs to stay home with me, at least until we move, on Sundays. Originally I was very resistant to the idea, not wanting him to miss the blessings of church attendance just because I could not go.
After much study and prayer, the Holy Ghost helped me to *remember* a number of key things I have read on Keepa. (Part of the spiritual preparation to receive this personal revelation was having already read, asked questions, and thought deeply about those things that now became important to *remember* as I listened to the whispering a of the Spirit to my soul.) Part of what brought me to thinking about that option (besides our discussion as a couple) was my question, at least a month ago, about early saints who did not migrate to Utah. Ardis's answer gave me a lot to think about, and consider what it might mean in my life. This is her answer to my question:
"Julia, they were on their own, unless there were other members nearby to meet with. They were encouraged to subscribe to the Liahona and other Church publications, and the missionaries would call on them the next time they came through (we’ve seen Elder Jones call on members a very few times earlier in his journal), but mostly they were on their own.We’ve had a few stories about missionaries calling on people who had been baptized years earlier but hadn’t ever seen or heard from a Mormon since then, yet they considered themselves LDS and so did the missionaries. At exactly the same time Elder Jones is writing, my own family were isolated members like this in Alabama. They held a home Sunday School part of the time, and they always welcomed and took care of the missionaries who passed through, but they had no day-to-day Mormon communal life like members in the Mormon West had."