September 22, 2015

Ancient Jewish Wedding Feast

This year I hosted the second ever Ancient Jewish Wedding Feast. It was not quite as big as last year (we had around 80-90 people last year), but we still had a good turnout. With the smaller size, I was able to focus a little more on getting video of the wedding procession (see above), including some video footage using a GoPro and a drone. The evening began with the reenactment of the betrothal ceremony, followed by the one year preparation (or waiting period) where we set the table for the feast, the wedding procession and the actual feast. All in all, I think everyone had a great time!

The groom and bride, parents, friend of the bridegroom, and myself
The bride and groom listening as I explain the betrothal process
The groom pours the 'cup of covenant' for the bride
Women of the group help prepare the bride for the wedding procession and feast
The bride being readied with her gold-coin headdress
Food set out and ready for the wedding feast
Food ready for the wedding feast
Guests light their oil lamps in preparation for the coming of the bridegroom
The parents of the bride head the wedding procession
The bride being carried in the bridal litter (or aperion) to the wedding feast
Guests enjoy the wedding feast
The bride and groom enjoy the wedding feast with their guests
The groom and bride with oil lamps
Some of the wedding feasts participants holding their oil lamps
One of our younger participants with an oil lamp

August 26, 2015

Tabernacle of Moses Camp

Here are some of the pictures I took at the Tabernacle Camp as part of the Meridian Idaho North Stake Young Men's camp from August 5-8, 2015. It was an experience I will never forget, and I hope there will be many more like it in the future. The chance of a lifetime!

The outer courtyard with the altar of sacrifice, the bronze laver, and the sanctuary
The outer gate with the altar of sacrifice
A closeup of the horn of the altar of sacrifice
The Tabernacle bronze laver
The bronze laver with the Tabernacle sanctuary in the background
The Holy Place with menorah, altar of incense, table of shewbread, and the High Priest
The table of shewbread in the Holy Place
The bread and wine pitcher on the table of shewbread
The menorah and altar of incense
The menorah oil lamps lit within the Holy Place
Incense burning on the altar of incense before the veil of the Tabernacle
Altar of incense and the clothing of the High Priest
The ark of the covenant with the veil of the Tabernacle in the background
The two cherubim on the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant with the ten commandments in the background
Inside the ark of the covenant showing the blossomed rod of Aaron, the ten commandments, and the pot of manna
A pillar of fire by night lights the sky above the Tabernacle of Moses

August 13, 2015

Tabernacle Camp - Meridian North Idaho Stake

This past weekend I was privileged to participate in a historic, first of its kind, Tabernacle camp. The camp was hosted by the Meridian Idaho North Stake as part their young men's cornerstone high adventure camp out. During the four days the young men built the Tabernacle, camped around it, then learned about the various parts, services, and symbolism of the Tabernacle. A special emphasis was placed on the Aaronic priesthood, and on how the Law of Moses pointed to the Savior Jesus Christ. Needless to say, it was kind of a dream come true for me! Below is a short day-by-day review of the activity.

Day 1 - Wednesday

The first day began with the young men being divided into twelve groups, reminiscent of the twelve tribes of Israel. Each tribe was given a letter of the Hebrew alphabet to differentiate the tribes. The young men were then rotated through twelve different activities throughout the day. Six of the classes focused on the symbolism of the lamb, incense, oil, water, the rod of Aaron, and the Hebrew meanings of several words. During these classes, the young men from the tribe took something with them from the class (such as purified water, oil, incense, etc.) that they would then take into the Tabernacle on the third day of the camp. Two of the twelve activities were devoted to having the young men help build the Tabernacle of Moses. These 'shifts' were spread throughout the day so that each tribe was able to participate in building a different portion of the Tabernacle. In addition to the spiritual classes and the building of the Tabernacle there were four relay-type activities.

Young men lifting the support beams in to place for the Tabernacle (photo by Cordell Moon)
Young men hammering in the stakes for the Tabernacle main structure (photo by Cordell Moon)
Lifting the main canopy covering for the sanctuary of the Tabernacle (photo by Cordell Moon)
The Tabernacle nearing completion (photo by Cordell Moon)
I taught the class on incense and helped the young men understand why incense was used in ancient times, and how it relates to modern-day worship. During the class I burned the specific combination of incense that is described in the book of Deuteronomy.

A young man smelling the incense that would have been burned at the Tabernacle (photo by Cordell Moon)
At the close of the first day, the young men all gathered in the almost completed Tabernacle to bring in the furniture into the Tabernacle. The shofar was sounded and several young men carried the menorah, table of shewbread, altar of incense, and the ark of the covenant inside the sanctuary. It was quite the experience! A symbolic 'last stake' was then pounded into the ground by several of the leaders.

The young men gather as they prepare to bring in the Tabernacle furniture
View of the Tabernacle and campsite from a drone as the young men gathered inside the outer courtyard
Day 2 - Thursday

The second day began with an early morning devotional given by the stake leaders. The young men then again participated in twelve activities throughout the day, three devoted to the more spiritual side of things, and the rest part of an intense eco-challenge designed to help form greater unity within the individual tribes. The three spiritual classes consisted of the bread of life, the Tabernacle pieces, and the clothing of the High Priest. I of course, taught the class on the High Priest. As part of the class, I dressed up one of the young men while explaining each of the eight pieces of clothing worn by the High Priest.

Me explaining the significance of the clothing of the High Priest (photo by Cordell Moon)
The bread of life class, each tribe making a loaf of bread for the table of shewbread (photo by Cordell Moon)
Young men carrying a boulder as part of the eco-challenge (photo by Cordell Moon)
Young men carrying one of the members of their tribe as part of the eco-challenge  (photo by Cordell Moon)
The second day ended with a fireside given by an emeritus area authorities, and one of the stake leaders. The winning tribe of the eco-challenge was also then recognized and given an award of a lobster dinner for the following day.

Day 3 - Friday

The third day began with two groups of rafting for the young men, followed by a full tour of the finished Tabernacle of Moses. During this tour, the young men from the tribe took the various pieces they had collected from the previous two days (such as water, incense, oil, etc.), and brought them to the Tabernacle. They first came to the gate, singing a hymn as they entered the outer court (as was done in Biblical times when an Israelite would enter the Temple). They then took their lambs to the altar of sacrifice where they learned of the symbolism of the Law of Sacrifice and how it related to the Messiah (no lambs were actually killed as part of the camp). They next poured their water (that they had purified from a stream) into the laver, and learned about the importance of being clean before entering the Temple of God. The young men then entered the Holy Place and learned of the menorah (adding oil and lighting the lamps), the table of shewbread (adding their shewbread that they had made), the altar of incense (burning their incense on the altar), and the veil of the Tabernacle. They then entered the Holy of Hollies (adding their 'rod of Aaron' to the ark) and learning of the importance of symbolically entering the presence of God.

Young men with their lambs in the outer courtyard of the Tabernacle
Young men leading their lambs around the altar of sacrifice (no lambs were killed)
View showing the altar of sacrifice, the laver, and the Tabernacle sanctuary
A leader teaching the young men about the menorah found in the Holy Place
The young men being taught about the table of shewbread (or showbread)
A leader teaching about the altar of incense within the Holy Place
A view showing the ark of the covenant within the Holy of Hollies
The night closed with a powerful fireside within the outer courtyard of the Tabernacle. The Stake Relief Society president gave perhaps the most powerful talk, saying that she hoped the young men, having built the Tabernacle, would now bring it home with them, just as ancient Israel carried the Tabernacle with them as they traveled in the wilderness for 40 years. At the conclusion of the fireside, the tribe captains stood and pointed towards the back of the sanctuary, where a huge spotlight shown up towards heaven, symbolically representing the pillar of fire. Needless to say, it was quite the experience! As the young men left the Tabernacle, they broke up into wards, and had individual testimony meetings.

One of the tribe captains speaking during the fireside within the outer courtyard
The stake president speaking to the young men during the Tabernacle fireside
People gathered around the lit Tabernacle and pillar of fire after the conclusion of the fireside
The "pillar of fire by night" lighting the sky during the fireside and testimony meetings
Day 4 - Saturday

On the last day of the Tabernacle camp, they young men took down their tents, took down the Tabernacle, and headed back to their homes. Just prior to taking down the Tabernacle, several groups from the stake came and toured the Tabernacle. The young men, instead of their leaders, took many of the parents through, teaching them the things they had learned during the camp. I also had the opportunity to teach two more classes on the clothing of the High Priest to the parents and families who came up for this last day.

The Tabernacle camp was an experience I will never forget. I hope it will only be the first of many, held throughout the nation and world, teaching young men (and I think young women as well) about the importance of the priesthood, sacrifice, the atonement, and the Savior Jesus Christ.