Our friend Leonard Tripp died on Dec. 21, and his funeral was held on Dec. 27. Jeff was one of the speakers at the funeral, talking about Christ's atonement and resurrection. He gave the best "speech" or "sermon" I've ever heard, anywhere, on any subject: Here are his notes:
Leonard was my home teacher, and he was faithful as a clock. He never missed.
We were both mathematically inclined; among other things, we once talked about the math of the Laws of Physics:
* Conservation of Energy (kinetic <-> potential)
* The Equivalence of Mass and Energy (E=mc2)
* Conservation of Momentum
* The Second Law of Thermodynamics
A short way of stating these common physical principles without the math is:
* Everything must balance.
* Symmetry must hold.
* There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch.
* You must pay for everything - or SOMEONE must.
I talked with the Primary kids earlier in the month and asked them if they could repair a broken egg? One young genius – another mathematician or engineer in our midst – argued that maybe parts of the shell could be restored (perhaps) but once broken, the Second Law of Thermodynamics takes over. It’s the Humpty-Dumpty Law. It takes substantial ENERGY to put things back in order, together again.
TACITLY: SOME things - perhaps MOST things - you CAN’T ever pay for.
Leonard and I once talked about Father in Heaven being the Great Physicist. After all, HE created this universe of ours - with all the laws that govern it. HE knew how those laws worked. He DESIGNED them. And the result is a universe of balance, and surpassing beauty. FiH wanted a Garden for ALL His children.
As Sister Harker pointed out, Father laid out the Plan of Salvation. But he also knew we His children were still growing, and would have a rough time if they were to make it back to Him, and be amplified in the Earth Experience process to BECOME like Him. And Father wanted us to have joy in doing it. He knew there would be failures – many things that would have to be balanced. Paid for. He loved us more than we can currently comprehend, and He set out that Plan.
The balancing part is called the Atonement.
How do you pay for - balance out - the sins of 100 billion human beings? By having SOMEONE - Someone who was CAPABLE OF DOING SO - pay steep price. 100 billion humans living an average of 30 years ~= 1011 human beings times ~10,000 days times X sins per day. I’m thinking this through like Leonard would. This comes to 1*1015 human days.
Well, I have been going through this math exercise to give everyone an idea that the Atonement meant a LOT of PAYING. A LOT of REPAIRING.
Probably none of us in this life will ever really understand the Atonement, what the Christ agreed to undergo to save US. The New Testament record makes it clear that He had a deep foreboding of what would be exacted of Him. The scriptural record even says that he flinched and asked that The Cup be taken away – but went through with the Atonement anyway. I once got a tiny, millisecond glimpse of the shock and horror that slammed into our Savior in the dark, abandoned by friends, in that garden across the Kidron Valley.
WHY DID HE DO THIS? For the same reason you would donate a kidney to a sister, sacrifice your life for that of your child: because He LOVED us. That’s why he called us FRIENDS. Brothers and Sisters. We are part of His Family.
SO... WHAT WAS TO WHAT END? WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES?
The Two Great Gifts:
2. Eternal Life.
These are NOT the same thing.
The First Great Gift is Immortality. Immortality means to be resurrected as living beings - beings of great power, judging by examples like Moroni - with all our memories and DNA (says Russell M. Nelson) intact.
For some of us, those memories may NOT be our friends.
As a former atheist and new convert to this Church, I learned that Jesus Christ lived - and moreover He knew who I was. I gained a testimony that the Book of Mormon was exactly what it claimed to be (pretty astounding), and that Christ had visited the New World. There’s some of that symmetry and balance for you again.
But I DIDN’T initially comprehend that the Resurrection was for ME, that it applied to ME. With time I slowly learned about actual resurrections that have already taken place, and that they don’t happen with a snap of the fingers, but take a certain measured amount of time to bring about. They are incredibly joyous events, wonderful beyond human words.
Restoring bodily decay requires ENERGY – PAYMENT. And… it’s already in place – which is why no resurrections COULD take place before the Atonement happened 2000 years ago. Resurrection apparently happens far faster than the time needed to carry, give birth, and rear a child to adulthood (which takes a lot of energy!). I don’t have time here to provide you the details, but you can sure get some pretty potent hints of those details in Ezekiel 37 and in the Book of Job.
But that isn’t IT. That isn’t EVERYTHING.
Father in Heaven so loved his Children that He gave his own SON to buy not ONE, but TWO Great Gifts for them.
The Second Great Gift is Eternal Lives - that’s how it’s worded in the Temple, and how Russell M Nelson words it in an astounding 1992 talk titled “The Doors of Death.” It is not worded that way by accident. The plural form hints at things far greater than just returning to God’s Presence, which by itself would mean living permanently in His Light, permanently suffused with such joy, that the scriptures constantly refer to angels singing praises of joy and gratitude.
Leonard was a very unusual person. He was one of the truly Great Ones. I cherish my memories of him.
I CHERISH the clear and full understanding that he and I will have time together again in the near future, talking and reminiscing. I am sure that we will be talking about the mathematics and physics of Dark Matter and Dark Energy together... which should probably really be named Bright Matter and Bright Energy, because they figure in our future.
It won’t be that long, my friend, till I’ll be seeing you again, with the joyous name on my lips of my Savior and Brother Jesus Christ.