Visiting Teaching Message December 2014: The Divine Mission of Jesus Christ: Prince of Peace

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In what ways does the Savior bring peace to your life?

ww2-warbonds-christmas-adThis is the question posed at the end of the formal December 2014 Visiting Teaching message. Most often the end questions don’t seem to apply to me or the women I visit teach, but I appreciate the idea of inquiry, and the admonition to “seek to know what to share” that is included in the precursory section of each Visiting Teaching message. So I read them, and think about them even if I end up not using them. But…. I thought about that query…. and I thought about Christmas…. and I thought about women through the ages.

I also have a thing for history. I love it. Drawn to the Egyptians as a child, I grew curious about the World Wars as a teen as I wondered about George Santayana’s statement “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I grew to believing Santayana, so began a life-long love in seeking the wisdom, hindsight and experiences of those gone before me. Indeed, it surprises no one who knows me that I listen to a collection of dated audio recordings, including my Christmas favourite, Bing Crosby’s 1944 Live Christmas Broadcast.

There is something nostalgically sad, yet hopefully longing and strangely beautiful  to me about Christmas in wartime.

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Christmas Series: “…and her name was Elisabeth…”

Peru Nativity SetI love Christmas. All of it!  The stockings, the scents of spruce and cinnamon, the ribbons and ruffles…. it is distracting beauty. It distracts us from our worries, our fears and our troubles…. and while our heads and hearts are supposed to be filled with thoughts of religiosity, the story of the birth of Christ for a long time, was foreign to me.  I knew, as a Mormon, that I was meant to put more “Christ” into Christmas… but for me, my heart and mind interpreted that as celebrating the symbols associated with Christmas. My favourite was, and is, mistletoe, which was believed to bring fertility.

 

As an infertile woman with no hope of ever bearing a child, the celebration of birth was just a reminder of my own imperfection. As a result, for years, I found myself drawn more and more to the ‘worldly’ side of the holiday. Any religious highlighting that focused on the miraculous conception triggered a reminder of the irresolvable fact that my womb was absent of the miracle of most women. Though my heart was hungry for celebratory songs of divine women, the underscore of Mary’s etude rang in a ballad that had the habit of swirling me into a deep, lonely sense of worthlessness and depression.

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The Exponent Christmas Series: The Posts of Christmas Past…

We love Christmas here at the Exponent, which means we love Christmas posts!

noelBecause of this love, we are dedicating this week to a Christmas Series, complete with poetry, ward Christmas party hints, an excellent Christmas Nativity play, and even a Christmas book review, plus lots of love for the women who celebrated the First Christmas, Exponent Style. But it won’t end this week, we will sprinkle flakes of Christmas cheer throughout all of December, in celebration of Christmas.

“But wait!” You say, “This week is American Thanksgiving! We want Tofurky recognition!”

We know!  We do, too! We love American Thanksgiving …and Canadian Thanksgiving, and Australian Thanksgiving and any time a Thanksgiving Feast is offered.  (“Thanksgiving” was a term used in a celebratory feast when voyagers arrived at far off destinations, and was even a term used among Mormons at the completion of a new chapel’s construction.) So we are still having some delicious Thanksgiving posts as a part of the Christmas Series, to round out the season properly…. rather like a nutmeg-sprinkled happy sip of egg nog.

But before this series of fresh Christmas posts begin, we invite you to visit the ghosts of Christmas posts past. So, sit down, grab a cup of cocoa –or iced chocolate for those in the Southern Hemisphere– and put your feet up. Because we have some magical Posts of Christmas Past for you, such as:

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November 2014 Visiting Teaching: Teacher’s Choice from Conference

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“I love how they all do that when they are done with the speech, you know? That thing they say at the end every time?” This was to me byjesus loves you my non-Mormon friend after she had just attended a Mormon funeral. I was a bit perplexed about what she was talking about.

Then it came to me. “You mean… ‘in the name of Jesus Christ, amen’?”

“Yes!” she said emphatically, passionately and with a devoutness not common to her manner of speaking. “It really sounds sweet…but it means something more, ya know? I can tell. I means something. I like that. A lot. The rest of the talking was just….whatever… but that ending part…. I really like that.”

“Yes…” I said, somewhat vaguely. I had never thought about the way we, as Latter-day Saints, close speaking assignments and prayers up until that moment. I’ve heard people discuss how to begin prayers, from the traditional “Heavenly Father,” to the more progressive “Heavenly Parents,” or “Heavenly Mother,” and even to “God, the father of Abraham,” all pending social, traditional, personal and political influences. I’ve often heard people stumped over how to start a speaking assignment. But no matter the start, the end-speak cadence is always the same: “In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

I pondered this in consideration of the Visiting Teaching message from General Conference.

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Voices from the Exponent Backlist on the Joseph Smith Polygamy Essay

On October 22nd, a new essay appeared on LDS.org under the topic of “plural marriage.” (read it here ; subtopics are also here about the beginning of plural marriage in Kirkland, and here about plural marwomanriage in Utah and here about the end of polygamy.) The essay soon made rounds on the internet, including facebook and the Exponent backlist, stirring up feelings and even more questions about Joseph Smith, the practice of plural marriage, and what it means for men and women in the church. Below are a few of the responses of the Exponent bloggers on this very controversial and painful topic.

 

Em: I thought the essay published by the church was mostly okay, and definitely more than we usually hear.  Then I saw some comments from a friend of a friend regarding the article.  She wanted to know where it says Joseph had sex with his wives. 

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