“Home Church”

I’ve lived rurally before. And I will probably live rurally again. But right now, this rural is different. The last ward I attended, it took an hour and 45 minutes to get to the building. But we still went for a time, as I wrote about in the May visiting teaching post here. Now we are a good two hour drive from the nearest fellow church members’ house, where there is no building, no relief society president, no primary.

 

I have not yet met the fellow members of the branch we are in; the District President (the presiding church officer over the 5 branches in this regional area) is the acting branch president for us because the branch is so small.  I wondered if the powers that be might assign my husband to be branch president, and me as relief society president. I had heard about this practice from fellow church members who had for a time lived in regional areas without chapels, church members or even missionaries. This branch assignment was gratefully not the case for us; I say gratefully, because if we were assigned these positions, we would likely spend a significant amount of time in the car attending regional leadership meetings, and possibly be assigned to “visit” (i.e. “reactivate”) less active (if they are still around) church members who have not been in communication with the church in years or even decades.

 

About once a month or more, we attend a branch that is about a 3 hour drive away. We chose to latch onto this branch mostly because they instantly welcomed us, and asked us to participate. Even though we do not attend activities, we are still alerted to them. In the end, and for the most part, we do “home church.” Or at least that is what we call it.

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Visiting Teaching June 2015: Divine Attributes of Jesus Christ: Virtue

As soon as I saw the word “virtue”—I rolled my eyes. Thankfully, this isn’t about the idea of virtue as a sexual commodity. It is about the virtuous aspects and acts of Christ as a servant, healer and friend to us all. So whilst I normally like the General Authority quotes included, I did not find them as inspirational in this month’s message. But I did find inspiration in the From The Scriptures section which was fully focused on Christ and a woman with faith:

 

From the Scriptures

Today, virtuous women, full of faith, reach out to the Savior. In Luke 8 thetouchwe read of a woman who had an issue of blood for 12 years that could not be healed. She sought healing when she “came behind [Christ], and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood [stopped]. … And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.” This virtuous faithful woman fell down before Him, declaring “unto him before all the people” that “she had touched him” and “was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole”

 

Through His virtue, Christ can heal, enable, strengthen, comfort, and cheer when we choose with courage and faith to reach out to Him.

 

 

Now, to be honest, in the past, when I have read this, a part of me felt like the woman somewhat robbed Christ of virtue—she touched His robe without permission (Luke 8:44).  But I thought about this some more—Christ did not become less because He shared His virtue—nor was He accusing her because she had touched Him. In thinking of this, and in consideration of Christ’s infinite love, I think He turned to share her joy in the miracle; not because He ever intended to accuse her. He turned to share in her joy of being healed- and don’t we all feel that way when we help someone feel well, whether it be trough prayer, a listening ear or chicken soup?

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Heavenly Mother’s Day: Desire and Sex in Relationship to Heavenly Mother Theology

There is no set doctrine about the Heavenly Mother that is a taught within the church. Because of this, andhera because evidence suggests that the concept of a Heavenly Mother originated with Joseph Smith, Jr., Since the start of the church, Mormon women have sought a divine role model to who they can relate to on a personal level. As complicated as the emotion of desire is, the desire for a Mother in Heaven is real. This desire is one of a very small groups of unifying factors that are shared by Mormon women across political lines: Conservative groups such as Mormon Women Stand discuss and celebrate the Heavenly Mother (seemingly ignorant of the fact that this has cost some women their church membership), as much as many of those who are in kinship with the progressive Ordain Women organization also seek Her. .

 

Based on the posts in this Heavenly Mother’s Day collection, and previous writings at the Exponent and otherwise that reference the Heavenly Mother, it seems to me that the foundation of this seeking is because women (and men) desire a sense of empathy from a God who can understand and relate on a mortal level. Many Mormon women seek a Divine Mother who has felt the joy and frustration of childbirth, infertility, dating, lonliness and divorce. We seek a Mother who can heal us when our breasts swollen with the milk for a stillborn child, as much as we seek Her to heal us from the loss of our breasts and reproductive organs due to cancer or other mortal abnormalities. But most of all, the seeking for our Mother God for both men and women is founded in the theology that teaches of a divine eternal family, that is led by divine parents.

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May 2015 Visiting Teaching Message: Teacher’s Choice from Conference

I confess that the past 12 months have not been easy for me. We moved house twice in this 12 months, and each time, waited 3 -4 months after each initial move for our things to arrive on moving trucks. I feel like I have been packing, unpacking and setting up house constantly for a year. With a perpetual feeling of displacement and clutter—in my physical home as well as in my mind, it has been hard for me to focus on General Conference.

 

 

viewIn the place before where we are now, we were in a remote area; though it took us an hour and 45 minutes each way on a twisty, sometimes slippery canyon road, we attended every other week or more. I was excited to be in this ward at first, but began to feel less and less welcome as the weeks passed. My husband and I were not given callings, not asked to speak, and I began to struggle to feel the spirit at church. I was cornered on one Sunday by two women, one who professed with acidic sweetness that I should follow the “Strength For Youth” pamphlet when making comments in Relief Society. They clearly didn’t like my comment (something on prayer), and were trying to “correct” me. The other woman backed away, sensing the lack of spirit in the other’s words, but the snake still spit at me until I shook myself free. I did not feel safe at church after that, and guarded against being cornered again.

 

As Kate Kelly was excommunicated, and I began to fear for my own safety within the church, my daughters began to be bullied at school. Their tormentor? The only other LDS child at their school. He was the same age as their ages combined, and he seemed to aim his venom most upon my youngest, who was 5 years old. His parents refused to meet with us, though his mother called to blame me and my daughters for tormenting him. She also contacted the bishop, blaming us for making their lives harder– in what way I do not know, as I barely knew her and had little to no interaction with the family. Soon the principal and teachers all became involved and I began driving my daughters to school and picking them up, lingering in the car both times, to ensure they were safe.

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On Being Happy: Reflections On The 40th Anniversary Exponent II Issue

A few months ago when the young, male missionaries were over for dinner, we discussed the upcoming general conference. The boys had just attended a mission conference where the mission president asked them who their favourite general authority was. The boys reflected that each missionary there had a favourite speaker, and they laughed and felt closer to each other when they learned that others shared the same favourite. At this dinner, we all agreed that each general conference speaker was worthy, and would bring spiritual insights to the table. But we also agreed that there were one or more “favourites” who we were looking forward to learning from.

Every issue of the Exponent magazine is like this for me. I look forward to each worthy contribution of art, word, poem and song, and feel uplifted as so many of the contributions stay with me, bringing me peace, making me feel un-alone, and loved. Often the contributors who are previously unknown to me bring me the biggest enlightenment and delights, and I feel like I am making new friends of them as I read their words. But then there are my favourites. A handful of women whose words I save, I save them to read when the children and husband are away, for a time when I can invite them, and they spirit they bring to me. They know me, even if I have never met them. They teach me things that I often didn’t know I needed to learn. They heal me with prophetic wisdom that can only be administered by the spirit. They are my sisters, and I love them.

Lavina Fielding Anderson is one of these women. And this essay is one of those essays.

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