“Pass on the Fire of the Covenant” The following address was given in the sacrament meeting preceding the Wee Granny memorial service 24 June 2001, at Scottsbluff, Nebraska, by Dennis Ray © 2001

In February of 1846, the exodus from Nauvoo—of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—officially began. The approaching winter of 1846-47 found the majority of the saints in the Winter Quarters area near the Missouri River. However, a few hundred impoverish saints still remained in Nauvoo. Generally they did not come to the Missouri river because they had not the means to do so. The mob decided they had waited long enough for the remainder to depart and drove these destitute and sick people across the Mississippi to the mercy of the elements. When Brigham Young received word of their deplorable condition, he called the brethren together and asked them to return and bring these saints to the safety of the main body of pioneers. Never one to forget the poor, he emphasized the importance of this task by stating, “Let the fire of the covenant, which you made in the house of the Lord, burn in your hearts like flame unquenchable! Rise up brethren, take your teams and wagons and go straight to the Mississippi and bring a load of the poor back here where we can help them find shelter for the winter” (Journal History, 28 September 1846). The Fire of the Covenant—of baptism, the sacrament, or the temple—is a ponderous thought indeed.

We have gathered today to worship our Savior, and to honor...to remember, what our forefathers have done for us. President Spencer W. Kimball once in part stated “When you look in the dictionary for the most important word, do you know what it is? It could be remember. Because all of you have made Covenants—you know what to do and you know how to do it—our greatest need is to remember...Remember is the word, remember is the program.” (B.of M SS lesson manual lesson 47).

There are many ways in which we can remember. Certainly in the case of Wee Granny and others of the Martin Company, we remember their sorrows, difficulties, and deaths in coming to Zion. We also can remember their routes, their camping locations, their water sources, and their methods of travel. These are all worthy of remembrance. However, it is not necessarily in death, difficulty, or sorrow that the greatest or only remembrance is achieved, for many who arrived safely and with relative ease, also passed on to us the same significant remembrance to which I refer. It is the fire—the fire of being resolutely determined to keep our covenants.

Most of you will remember the movie Camelot. Not long after King Arthur’s fairytale wedding to Gweniver, he begins to think upon the unacceptable state of his kingdom—a kingdom in which “might was more significant than right.” He stated of the knights and of royalty, “Right or wrong they have the might, so right or wrong they’re always right.” His ponderance lead to the creation of the round table, a place at which knights and others could gather to “talk about it, to debate, to make laws, and to plan improvements.” Camelot would be a place and an order where might was used only for right.

The creation of the round table was a marvelous success until the result of his own previous immorality and that of his once faithful knight and friend Lance—along with his wife Gweniver—caused the collapse of his kingdom. Having lost his wife, friend, the Round Table, and perhaps his kingdom, the performance draws to a close just before an impending war that may well end his life, but almost certainly all of the “right” he has dreamed about. Amidst his depression and sorrow and in the mist of a early morning dawn, a boy of 12 or 13 years of age suddenly appears seemingly from nowhere, asking if he can please fight with the Knights of the Roundtable. Arthur inquires how the boy knows of the roundtable—has he seen or spoken with a knight? He replies “I only know from the stories people everywhere tell. Might for right! Right for right! Justice for all!” Arthur then realizes that all is not lost, that the seeds of his truth-filled dream have been planted far and wide, and that they will live on in future generations. He quickly “Knights” young Tom and then tells him not to fight, but to leave and grow up, instructing that “ Each evening from September to September before you fall asleep upon your cot. Think back on all the tales that you remember of Camelot. Ask every person if he’s heard the story and tell it loud and strong if he has not, that once there was a fleeting wisp of glory call Camelot. Don’t let it be forgot that once there was a spot for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.”

Don’t let it be forgot... Don’t let it be forgot that once there was a spot where Wee Granny and many, many others in many, many ways allowed the fire of their covenants to snuff out their mortal nature through faithfulness, opening the doors to eternity. Like young Tom we must tell it wide and loud to all who have not heard it, for it is in those memories, in the heritage they left, and in seeing the fire of their covenant keeping, that we and future generations will be strengthened in times of trials. Then the legacy must be renewed and passed to the next, and the next, and the next generation....

  Vilate Raile wrote:

  They cut desire into short lengths

  and fed it to the hungry fires of courage.

    Long after, when the fires had died

  Molten gold gleamed in the ashes.

    They gathered it in bruised palms

  And handed it to their Children

  And their children’s Children forever.

Ours is a day of physical ease—we will not likely die from cold and starvation. But never in the latter-day restoration time has there been a greater challenge facing Latter-day Saints than we face. It is, at least partially, the test of facing spiritually-freezing and spiritual death-threatening complacence and wickedness that is unparalleled in modern time, and perhaps through much of the history of the earth. It is the trial of remaining spiritually faithful and clean, and then helping all who we can to do the same. Is not the need for modern pioneers as great as it was for those who walked the Trail of Hope? Without question our part and sacrifice—in its own way—is as great as any who have walked before us. And is there not the need for another generations to—symbolically at least—“die with their spiritual faces toward Zion.” We can do that...we must do that, and if we do, we will be remembered reverently by generations yet to come for having kept our faces toward Zion, having kept bright the fire of our covenants...no matter the difficulty, passing on to future generations the legacy of our ancestors with ours added to it, for as Elder J. Ruben Clark once stated,

  “In living our lives let us never forget that the deeds of our [pioneer] fathers and mothers are theirs, not ours; that their works cannot be counted to our glory; that we can claim no excellence and no place, because of what they did, that we must rise by our own labor, and that labor failing, we shall fail. We may claim no honor, no reward, nor respect, nor special position or recognition, no credit because of what our fathers were or what they wrought. We stand upon our own feet in our own shoes" (J. Reuben Clark, April General Conference, 1947)

And so I hear again the voice of Wee Granny saying, “Tell John, tell Joseph A. Murdoch and Mary Ellen Fortie, tell Elroy Murdoch and Jennie Walker, tell Robert Murdoch and Susan Plummer, tell Cathryn Campbell and David Hicken, tell Oscar Murdoch Hunter, tell Ruby Estella Murdoch Hooper, tell Mary Murdoch Mair, tell Hyrum Murdoch, tell John Murray Murdoch and Isabella Crawford, tell Brigham Murdoch and Martha Louann Hammon, Tell Brigham Dallas Murdoch and Winona Lee, tell Dallas Earl Murdoch and Joan Hale, tell James Dallas Murdoch and Maili Stone, Tell Michael Murdoch—Oh, please tell all of my descendants that “...I died with my face toward Zion!”

May the line of faithful covenant keepers expand and extend on forever until He who watches over all—returns—beckoning the faithful to His side, healing all wounds, and ending the fiery physical and spiritual challenges of this mortal “Trail of Faith,” is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ , Amen


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