Academic journal article Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought

Trajectory and Momentum

Academic journal article Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought

Trajectory and Momentum

Article excerpt

Remarks delivered at the Woodland Park Ward Conference sacrament meeting in Seattle, Washington, on January 25, 2015.


It is a privilege to speak to you today as your bishop, but also a responsibility that deeply humbles me. I pray that the Spirit will be with me.

First, let me address one of the most important groups in our congregation today-the Primary children. This meeting is going to be a little longer than normal, so all of you in the Primary please feel free to stand up and shake your arms for a few seconds.

While you are doing that, let me just tell you that we love you, and we love that you are here with us. We, like you, are trying to be like Jesus. We love him and our heavenly parents. We know they love us and we know they love you. Their influence and direction are at work in our Church, in our ward, and with you in the Primary.


Sisters and brothers, I want to speak today about trajectory and momentum. I'm going to start by telling you a little something about myself that you may not know: I was born on a missile range in the New Mexico desert. If you don't believe me, I can produce a birth certificate that says "White Sands Missile Range" in bold, black ink. This is the same missile range-code-named "Trinity" during the Manhattan Project-that was the location of the detonation of the first atomic bomb. It's a dubious distinction to be sure. But, besides the location, the other details of my birth are not as exciting as you might imagine. Regardless, you might wonder if being born on a nuclear missile range has had any residual side-effects. Such as, say, curly hair or absent-mindedness. My wife sometimes wonders about the latter. I suppose that there are not enough data to determine either correlation or causation. In any case, it was in this inhospitable desert setting where my mortal sojourn began or "launched," so to speak.

Missiles are projectiles, and projectiles are defined as bodies projected or impelled forward. So you could argue that, in a literal sense, when we are born into mortality, we are all missiles-bodies impelled forward. And because missiles are in motion, they have trajectories. One of our Church's websites says that the term "plan of salvation" is used to describe the trajectory of human existence. "This 'plan' refers to the design God has employed to help us grow, learn, and experience joy. It addresses the fundamental questions 'Where did we come from?' 'Why are we here?' and 'Where are we going?'"1

Although all of our mortal journeys are launched at different times, from different locations, and under different conditions, we all shared the same ultimate target-a return home to our heavenly parents.

But, man, is it a wild ride!


Depending on circumstances, some of our trajectories were aimed true from the get-go; whereas others of us may have started as shots in the dark. Eventually, as we became accountable, agency engaged and we began to guide our own flight path. Some of us have tried to stick more or less to the original flight plan, others of us have intentionally meandered, trying to find smoother sailing or more exciting rides, and still others of us have just recently gotten ourselves tracking in the right direction. Regardless, we all get blown off course from time to time because the skies can be quite stormy. Like I said, it's a wild ride.

It's particularly challenging for us because we are moving objects with a first-person perspective and everything is rushing by. For the most part we can't see the forest for the trees. But it was designed this way. It had to be to protect our autonomous guidance systems (our agency) so we could learn how to fly. And this requires a huge leap of faith.


As we read in both Hebrews and Alma, faith is the assurance of things hoped for.2 Faith is a stabilizing control that we can acquire on our life trajectory. And when we acquire it, the circumstances that have brought it to us grant us a feeling of assurance of the things for which we hope. …

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