He told a story in which a young man was to be ordained an elder before leaving on his mission. It became apparent that the young man’s father was not prepared to perform the ordinance and, for whatever reason, had not been asked. Nevertheless, President Packer insisted: “Young man, your father will ordain you, and you’ll live to thank the Lord for this day.”
He went on to explain that, had the father not been an elder, “he soon could have been! In the military they would call that a battlefield commission. Sometimes such things are done in the church.”
Coached by President Packer, the father ordained his son an elder, and then the two embraced as if for the first time.
Just as it did then, this story brings tears to my eyes.
President Packer’s insistence that the father ordain his son, even should it require a “battlefield commission,” shows the urgency of his message that “the priesthood does not have the strength that it should have and will not have until the power of the priesthood is firmly fixed in the families as it should be.”
At that time I lived thousands of miles away from my dad, and he and I have not always understood each other. Yet, I felt united with him through his righteous use of his priesthood, which has the power to bridge physical and emotional distance.
I have spent hours pondering the meaning of this talk. It adds significance to experiences in my own life and makes me grateful for family members strong in the gospel.
It also reminds me of the honor it is to exercise the priesthood in behalf of others, whether it’s to ordain — as I did two of my close friends whose fathers could not — or to bless family and ward members.
Shortly following this April’s conference, I will be privileged to baptize the first of my three children. He understands that being baptized means taking upon him the name of Jesus Christ. He will become a member of the family of Christ, just as his last name means he belongs to my family.
I look forward to how the Spirit will teach and touch us both, “sealed safely in the covenants of the everlasting priesthood.”
Andrew Bud Adams is a college writing instructor. He is married to an elementary school teacher and enjoys watching cartoons with his three children. For more of his writing, visit andrewbudadams.blogspot.com.