“The family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” (from The Family: A Proclamation to the World, 1st paragraph)
We often talk about the importance of families in our religion. Nearly everything we do is, in one way or another, directed toward stabilizing and strengthening families. The crowning temple ordinance is the one that seals families together for eternity. We do family history work. We preach marital fidelity and extramarital abstinence. We encourage Family Home Evenings, canceling all church activities on Monday nights to avoid separating families. We quite literally believe that the highest blessings God can give are available only to families, not to single individuals.
Families are central to this faith.
It’s no surprise, then, that we have a hymn about making our home a sacred place. While we can teach the importance of family in our church meetings, the truth is that those meetings cannot strengthen our families on their own. Building a strong and happy family is a day-to-day task, one that cannot be accomplished if we only think about it for a brief three-hour period each week. These bonds are only built under constant effort.
The first verse calls out the many attributes we hope to see in an ideal home. We sing about “happiness and joy, rich blessings from above—warmth and kindness, charity, safety and security.” Who wouldn’t want a home like that? And yet, it’s the unfortunate truth that there are some people who have never known home to be a happy, welcoming place. There are those who think of home not with fondness but with fear. There are many who may look at this list and only realize how much more work there is to do. It’s important to remind ourselves what a good home can be like, or what it should be like. Like a guiding star or a lighthouse beacon, these reminders can help us see how to act, no matter how far away from the ideal we may be.
The second verse gives some specific counsel on how to attain this happy home. Drawing family near each week. Serving Him with cheerful hearts. Parents teach and lead the way, Children honor and obey. Each of these phrases references a specific principle. Family Home Evening. Service. Guidance. Respect. These are all important principles in building a happy family. Further, they’re all things we need to actively instill. We can’t just sit around hoping that our children will learn to give service; we need to teach and set the example.
The third verse continues the theme of the second verse, giving specific points of counsel. This verse, however, focuses more on learning the doctrine of the Christ. Praying daily in our home. Searching scriptures faithfully. Singing hymns of thanks. Each of these phrases encourages us to each strengthen our personal relationship with Christ. The gospel gives a unifying purpose and direction to a family, and it helps each member realize the importance of the family relationships they hold. Another passage from The Family: A Proclamation reads “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.” I believe this to be true.
As I examine the hymn as a whole, I was drawn to the last line in each verse:
Making home a part of heaven,
Where we want to be.
Reaching for our home in heaven,
Where we want to stay.
Leading to our home in heaven,
Where we long to stay.
This hymn reminds us that our home is not merely a place to build family ties. In its holiest form, home can be a reflection of heaven, a mirror of that sacred place where we once lived with our Father, and where we hope to live again with our own families. With each verse, we intensify the expression of our desire for that holy place.
Heaven is not just a wonderful place, filled with angelic choirs and pristine clouds. Heaven is our eternal home. To the extent that we make our earthly homes a reflection of our true home, we will find them more welcoming, more peaceful, and more fulfilling. Truly, only the Temple of God can compare with the home in sacredness, if we make of our home what God desires.