Tomorrow is the 24th of July a large day in the history of the church, A day on which we celebrate the arrival of the Saints in Utah. Regardless of where you currently live, this day is more worthy of fireworks and celebrating than most Latter-Day Saints want to admit. Most of us will take any opportunity to relax and get together with family and friends, or go to a parade or watch fireworks. My question is why? How many Americans re-read the Declaration of Independence on or before the 4th of July? Or how many reviewed the martyrdom on the 27th of June? Tomorrow, what will we talk about with our families and friends, will we share stories of faith rewarded with a place where we would be left alone to worship as we saw fit, where our women wouldn’t be raped and beaten by angry mobs? Or will we just show up with another Jello salad?
The celebrations of the Jews were all associated with religious holidays, and as such they were edified by celebrating them, as we are with Christmas, and Easter. What does it mean to break away from oppression, to declare to the world the reasons why you must rebel, even though that means treason? We could re-read the Declaration of Independence every year our whole life and strengthen our faith every time. We can make our celebrations worshipful, but it requires study before hand, which stories and books will be reviewed?, which scriptures memorized? Which contexts of famous quotes will be studied to better understand what was meant and felt when Brother Brigham said ” This is the right place drive on” or “Here we will build the temple of our God” What prophesies were fulfilled, or promises made upon arrival in the valley. Who was and wasn’t there.
Today’s lessons were learned by those who went before, that we may study them, and be worthy of celebrating, having the knowledge required to appropriately oo and ah, dance, sing, play and celebrate arrival in another country where none would dare to bother or make us afraid for years. It was the right place, now lets celebrate.