I don't know where I first heard the theory that resurrection is an ordinance, and that when the day comes, Jesus will send us out to resurrect each other.
I don't know if that's how resurrection will actually happen, or if it's doctrinally sound--but it's a beautiful story. I love the image of people being raised from the dead and then immediately going out to bless and wake others, to place hands on heads and ask God to clothe naked spirits in fresh perfection.
Here's the thing: even the story isn't accurate, I think it's true. In the sense that it can wake a profound truth within the listener about our connections to each other and about the kind of hope the promise of this earth's end can bring.
On Real Intent, I wrote a poem that builds off this idea to imagine a moment in which Elijah Abel gives the blessing to raise Brigham Young. Only after writing the poem did I realize that many LDS readers have probably not heard the idea of resurrection as ordinance that the poem invokes, especially seeing as it's speculation rather than standard Mormon belief. And only when I thought about the speculation element did it occur to me that I'd need to give some kind of disclaimer to share the resurrection-as-ordinance story.
And that made me think about how we tend to have mixed feelings in the Church today about speculative religious stories or ideas which aren't confirmed doctrines. Part of that suspicion is good. There are plenty of chain email type stories which may be inspiring, but are also deeply problematic. And there have been many doctrinal speculations that were actively harmful, from the heresy of one true soul mate in Saturday's Warrior to racist stories that built up around the 1846-1978 priesthood restrictions. So I can see why we care about patrolling the line between doctrine and speculation.
Mormon religious imagination is so rich and varied I'd hate to stifle it too much. Does a grain of sand contain an intelligence that demands justice? Was Melchizedek a title for the ancient patriarch Shem? Did our spirits act as angels until it was our turn to be embodied on earth? Are the Three Nephites still serving across the earth today, heedless of modern nations' insistence that all wanderers be documented?
We don't know. And because we have no good reason for needing to know in this life, we are unlikely to find out. At least not until take the advanced trivia class in the Spirit World MTC, or our mortal blood is swapped out for divine light, or until Elijah Abel puts his hands on our heads just after breakfast on the morning of the first resurrection...
We don't know. But we can imagine. And maybe by opening our imaginations, we'll have eyes for deeper truths.