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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Christmas at the Mormon Temple

The Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Kensington, Maryland/Photo from the LDS website

When you drive on the outer loop on the western side of the Beltway at night, do you crane your neck to look up and see the beautifully lighted spires of the Mormon Temple?  It is straight up, and I have often wondered how many car crashes have happened at that curve when drivers lean forward to catch a glimpse of the sacred monument on the hill. As you approach, the spires seem to almost lean over the roadway before they are obscured by trees.
The Washington, D.C. Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Once I saw the Temple's Festival of Lights listed in the paper, I jumped at the chance to go and visit, but, not unexpectedly, upon arrival, my entrance to the Temple was denied. 

Without adequate training and education, I was told by two "sisters" at the adjacent Visitors' Center, I was not "worthy" to enter the sacred space of the Temple of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

But, I was not the only one.  Some Mormons themselves do not pass the "worthy" test!

The sisters, both in their 20s, guided me through the Visitors' Center, explaining in a gentle manner that "worthiness" (sounds like Colbert's "truthiness") requires training, commitment, and devotion.  

Not something which can be taken lightly or done overnight.

As a matter of fact, the married Mormon aunt and brother-in-law of one of the sisters were not "worthy" themselves, having committed some "unworthy acts" (not defined) and were undergoing training and education at the very moment to learn and practice "worthiness." Once they passed the test and gained approval by the Temple's bishop, then, in one of the Temple's "sealing rooms," they would participate in an eternal marriage or "celestial sealing."

"'Till death do us part" is not long enough for Mormons.

In the Visitors' Center, a large cutaway model of the interior of the Temple (160,000 square feet) stood nearby. The sisters explained to me the purposes of many of the rooms.
At the Visitors' Center at the Mormon Temple, the large cutaway model of the Temple shows what the Temple looks like inside on multiple levels. The spires of the real thing are seen through what appears to be fog in the distance but is actually a window at the Visitors' Center/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Reflection on the heavy plastic or glass of the Temple model diminishes clarity for the photo/
Photo by Patricia Leslie
A close-up of one of the sections of the Temple model/
Photo by Patricia Leslie
At the Visitors' Center is a tall statue of Jesus.  Note its size compared to the adults standing nearby.  The base is marble and the statue components are ? Photo by Patricia Leslie
Jesus at the Visitors' Center flanked by poinsettias and decorated Christmas trees/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Sister Tillitson asked if she could read to me a short verse from the Book of Mormon which I was happy to hear.  She read Chapter 10, verses 4 and 5.  
 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
The sisters carried their own well-worn copies of the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon.  To fulfill Mormon requirements they said they volunteer their time and talents for 18 months and serve as guides at the Visitors' Center, among other duties.  Males must spend two years in service for the church/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The Washington Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  On top of the spire at far left, clearly visible from the Beltway, is a gold statue of Moroni (pronounced "Mo-roan-eye"), the Mormon prophet/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Moroni, atop the Temple's tallest spire (288 feet), the closest spire to the Beltway/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Many tall decorated Christmas trees including this "doll tree" filled the Mormon Visitors' Center/Photo by Patricia Leslie
 A close-up of the "doll tree" at the Mormon Visitors' Center/Photo by Patricia Leslie
One Christmas tree was filled with scenes from a children's book, Bethlehem, based on art by Mikolas Ales (1852-1913), a Czech artist/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Crèches from around the world filled a separate room at the Washington Temple's Visitors' Center.  This one was from Honduras and made with banana leaves/
Photo by Patricia Leslie
In the "Crèche Room" at the Visitors' Center was a figure from Russia/Photo by Patricia Leslie
A crèche from Bolivia/Photo by Patricia Leslie
A crèche from Bulgaria/Photo by Patricia Leslie
A crèche from Tanzania/Photo by Patricia Leslie
A crèche from Ecuador/Photo by Patricia Leslie
A crèche from Thailand/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The Washington D.C. Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Aerial view of the Washington D.C. Mormon Temple from Carol M. Highsmith Archive, U.S. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division/Wikipedia
Wikipedia says the Temple cost $15 million and was completed in 1974 when 750,000 persons visited the building.  It was the first Mormon temple built east of the Mississippi River since the original temple was constructed in 1846 in Nauvoo, Illinois.

What:  The Washington D.C. Mormon Temple Visitors' Center

Where:  9900 Stoneybrook Drive, Kensington, Maryland 20895

When:  Open every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

How much:  It's free

Parking:  Plenty of spaces on-site and free

For more information:  301-587-0144

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