“Upon you my fellow servants.” When you are given the Aaronic Priesthood, you are given the responsibility to serve others. As Deacons, you will be able to pass the sacrament – the sacrament is the single most important thing that we do at church, and Deacons are a part of it and partially responsible for it. That is a lot of responsibility! The most important thing we do at church is mainly done, under the direction of the Bishop, by the young Aaronic Priesthood holders – ages 12 to 18. There is nothing more important Deacons can do than to faithfully pass the sacrament and live worthily to do so. The sacrament is so important that the Savior blessed and passed it around Himself at the Last Supper; He now delegates this responsibility to the Aaronic Priesthood.
The Aaronic Priesthood also holds the keys to the ministering of angels. Think about that. As a bearer of the Aaronic Priesthood, you are entitled to the ministering of angels – for angels to strengthen and teach you; even if you don’t ever see them, they are there. Elder Holland spoke on this topic at the Oct. 2008 General Conference:
“I testify that angels are still sent to help us, even as they were sent to help Adam and Eve, to help the prophets, and indeed to help the Savior of the world Himself. Matthew records in his gospel that after Satan had tempted Christ in the wilderness ‘angels came and ministered unto him.’ Even the Son of God, a God Himself, had need for heavenly comfort during His sojourn in mortality. And so such ministrations will be to the righteous until the end of time.”
Elder Holland went on to explain to whom angels minister:
“As Mormon said to his son Moroni, who would one day be an angel: Has the day of miracles ceased? Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved? Behold I say unto you, Nay; for…it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men…. For behold, they are subject unto [Christ], to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.”
Those who hold the Aaronic Priesthood – and everyone else – who have strong faith and a firm mind will be able to see ministering angels. Seeing angels may not necessarily involve vision; seeing angels might simply be discerning their hand – the Lord’s hand – in our lives and in the world around us. However, I believe what the scripture says – those with a firm mind in every form of godliness will have the privilege of seeing angels. I should note, that a pure heart is not always a pre-requisite for beholding heavenly messengers – Nephi’s brothers Laman and Lemuel saw an angel and heard it speak but they were not strong in faith or with firm minds in the faith. Even the viewing of angels is not enough to dispel the darkness of disbelief but it can strengthen the faith and lives of those with strong faith.
Within the Aaronic Priesthood, there are four offices: deacon, teacher, priest, and bishop. Bishops also hold the Melchizedek Priesthood and are ordained High Priests but they are mainly responsible for the Aaronic Priesthood in the ward.
What are some of the things you can and should do when you hold the Aaronic Priesthood? “With the authorization of the presiding priesthood leader (usually the bishop or branch president), deacons pass the sacrament. They help the bishop or branch president watch over Church members by giving service and assisting with temporal matters such as gathering fast offerings. Teachers may perform all the duties of deacons, and they also receive other opportunities to serve. They prepare the sacramental bread and water and serve as home teachers. Priests may perform all the duties of deacons and teachers. With the authorization of the presiding priesthood leader, they may also bless the sacrament, baptize, and ordain others to the offices of priest, teacher, and deacon.” (Source
John the Baptist came and restored the Aaronic Priesthood to the earth. We even know what he said when he gave the Aaronic Priesthood to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. We find a record of John’s words in D&C; Section 13 (and Joseph Smith History 1:69). What does it say and what does it tell us about the responsibilities the bearers of the Aaronic Priesthood have?
“Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.”
The Priesthood is the power and authority of God given to man. Just think, our Heavenly Father is willing to give part of His power to young men, when they are only 12 years old. By this power, the earth was created. By this power, sick people are healed. By this power, the Church is directed.
I want to focus on the thing that will be most important for those who are preparing to receive the Aaronic Priesthood (as well as for those who have already received it) – what the Priesthood means for them. I’m going to focus both on what the Priesthood is as well as why it matters in one’s life. When a young man is ordained to the office of a Deacon and given the Aaronic Priesthood, he might ask himself, “OK, so now what?” I’m going to answer the “Now what?” part.
First, let me write a couple things about the Aaronic Priesthood. The Aaronic Priesthood is named after Aaron, the brother of Moses. This priesthood is often called a preparatory priesthood. “And the lesser priesthood…which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel; Which gospel is the gospel of repentence and of baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments, which the Lord in his wrath caused to continue with the house of Aaron among the children of Israel until John, whom God raised up, being filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb” (D&C; 84:26-27). It is the priesthood of outward ordinances. Because of the wickedness of the children of Israel in the wilderness, the Lord took Moses and the Mechizedek Priesthood away from them (see D&C; 84:25) and left them with a lower priesthood. It was, for them, a priesthood that would help prepare them for the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood back into their midst. So, for Aaronic Priesthood holders, their time spent performing the ordinances of that priesthood help prepare them for the Melchezidek Priesthood. How does one prepare to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood? By keeping the commandments, participating in church, and serving others.