Title: The Holy Invitation: Understanding your sacred temple endowment
Author: Anthony Sweat
Publisher: Deseret Book
Genre: Religion & Spirituality
Year Published: 2017
Number of Pages: 77
Reviewed by Elizabeth W. Roach for the Association for Mormon Letters
Imagine going to your mailbox and finding a letter addressed to you. As you open it, you find it is an invitation to an event where you are to be an honored guest. It is a personalized invitation for you: not a text, not an email blast, not a viral social media post. The host wants you to come and meet and get to know each other better.
Of course, you have been waiting for this chance. You are so excited, waiting for your opportunity. As you re-read the invitation, you realize there are several essential items you need to find out about the invitation. You know where the event will be, but not what the requested dress is or about the related activities. You don’t see any information about how to prepare for the event. Will it be black tie, beach casual, or somewhere in between? Are there certain protocols before, during, or after the event you need to be aware of? Understandably, you have questions related to this very important invitation. There are some things you are not sure about, and perhaps you feel apprehensive and unprepared. If your questions could be answered, you would feel able to focus on the event and enjoy the whole experience so much more.
Anthony Sweat, the author of the new title, The Holy Invitation: Understanding Your Sacred Temple Endowment, compares preparing to enter the temple for the first time to receiving a long-awaited invitation from God to come to His house and get to know Him better. The purpose of this brief book is to give additional light and understanding as to what the endowment is, how it developed, why we need it, and to provide a framework and perspective for understanding various aspects of the endowment history and experience.
Changing your perspective or vantage point can give a completely different understanding of an experience. At a football game, a fan on the 50-yard line, the scorekeeper, and one of the players on the field will all notice and remember different things from the same game. Even though the endowment is largely the same whether you go once or dozens of times, the things being focused on can lead to vastly different learning experiences. The Holy Invitation illustrates several of these possible vantage points.
As I read this book, much of the information was familiar, but there were several things that I had not considered before. The author uses his knowledge of Church history to share personal experiences from Saints in the early days of the Restoration. Journal accounts from the Kirtland and Nauvoo periods add dimension to the discussion. Sweat illustrates the holy invitation as a parable that I found interesting and highly applicable.
In the last section, Sweat proposes a series of questions that raise the endowment to an active and interactive experience. A couple of questions that I had never considered are: “What would the Lord want me to do with this information?” and “What would the Lord want me to become as a result of having this information?” Those two questions alone could prove a very enlightening reflection. I would like to take these questions, and the others, to the temple to ponder further.
The book is written mainly for newly endowed as well as more seasoned persons who are looking for additional insights into the endowment experience. While it is very concise, I think there would be something here for everyone. Our understanding of the endowment may come a little at a time, like building up layers on a dipped wax candles. No matter where we are on the journey home, it would be beneficial to review these ideas and see what application they may have for the current situation we are in. I see myself writing down the questions I want to incorporate into my worship then passing on the book to my daughter who is recently endowed so she can develop some depth to her endowment understanding.