Resurrection Eggs

eggs open jesus

Right now my church job is doing Activity Days for the 8-year-old girls. As Easter is coming up, I decided to do a craft that would double as a FHE that the girls could do themselves: Resurrection Eggs. If you’ve never heard of these, I’m pretty sure the Evangelicals came up with them. You take 12 plastic eggs, and each one has a scripture in it along with an item that reflects part of the last days of Christ’s life on earth. My Southern Baptist friend had a set that I borrowed—and quickly gave back.  Most of the eggs were filled with implements of torture: a thorn, a nail, the cross, a whip. The rest were almost as depressing: three dimes/pieces of silver, dice to show how the soldiers wagered on his robe, a sponge with vinegar. I half expected there to be a tiny ear inside to represent Peter pulling a van Gogh on the dude who came to arrest Jesus. Maybe these eggs are suitable for Mel Gibson, but as a Mormon who sees Easter as a time of life, I just couldn’t foist these sadistic symbols on my little gals. Not that those events didn’t happen, but I think to tell the story only in terms of pain and sorrow is to rob Easter of its fuller meaning.  There’s a reason we associate bunnies and lilies and Cadbury chocolate with this holiday; it’s a time of rebirth and promise.  Yes there was pain and death but there was also hope. 

So I searched online for less morbid versions and found some good ideas, but none of them, not even the obviously Mormon ones, addressed the Atonement. I get it. It’s a hard concept, not one easily represented by something that can fit into a plastic egg.  And even as Mormons, I think when we teach kids about the Garden of Gethsemane we tend to shortchange what happened.  Just as Mormons feel the cross reduces the Savior to the crucifixion as opposed to the resurrection, we tend to make the Atonement all about sin when that is just a piece of it.  In Alma 7:11-12 it reads:  And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. If we only think of the Atonement in terms of Jesus suffering and dying for our sins, then we run the risk of thinking that if we can just keep from sinning then we don’t need the Atonement, as if it’s some insurance policy we are glad to have but would really prefer to never use lest our rates go up.  Maybe it’s age (or arrogance), but I feel like I SUFFER more than I SIN and have come to heavily rely on the Lord for the balm that the Atonement supplies.  I find great solace that Jesus experienced “pains, afflictions, temptations, sickness” and uses this knowledge to “succor” us. I want my children to know they can find comfort and peace no matter what the cause.

I settled on a plastic sacrament cup to put in egg #2 along with Luke 22:41-44 where Christ asks that the cup be removed.  It’s a bit abstract but it’ll do. The girls are delighted by the whole project, and we go through the scripture and importance of each object as we put them in our numbered eggs. It touched me to see them reenact the Last Supper and pass a loaf of bread around and each tear off a small piece for their own egg like sweet little deacons in pigtails.  Then comes the cup, representing the Garden and the Atonement. Third are the 3 dimes to show Judas’s betrayal. Fourth, a piece of twine as Jesus was bound by rope and taken to Pilate.  Fifth, a chunk of soap as Pilate “washes his hands” of it all. Sixth, a square of purple fabric to represent the mock royal robe Jesus was made to wear. Seventh, a nail to represent being placed on the cross. Eighth, tiny rocks to show that the earth shook and broke apart at the sadness of the Lord’s death. Ninth, a strip of white linen symbolizing the shroud the Savior was wrapped in by his friend Joseph. Tenth, a good size smooth stone indicating the rock that was placed in front of the tomb. Eleventh, cloves and bay leaves to show what Mary Magdalene and friends brought to anoint the body on Easter morning. And finally, the last egg is empty to represent the empty tomb. I made sure that final egg was the prettiest one. You can’t really overstate the importance of Life Eternal. One needs glitter for that.

And yet, for their day to day lives, I really pray the girls remember the power of egg #2. I took care to explain that the pain He suffered covered all of our sins—but so much more. I asked them to tell me about things that caused them pain. I got great answers: being teased, stubbing a toe, your best friend not liking you anymore, strep throat, pets dying, your dad getting mad at your when it’s not really your fault and on and on. After each answer I said, “Jesus understands that” or “He knows how bad that feels.” I want these girls to know that they have Heavenly Parents who get it.  They have access to divine comfort and healing. That is the heart of Easter.  Whether we are 8 or 80, we all need to feel like someone understands our pain and mistakes and loves us not just in spite of these weaknesses, but maybe even loves us a little more because of them.

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Walking with Ordain Women … and the Church

Suzette Smith 2013I read the letter from the Church’s PR Department early this morning. It asks me to “reconsider”, so that is what I’ve done all day – reconsidered. I’ve thought and prayed and pondered.

I’ll be walking with the sisters of Ordain Women on April 5th; not because I want to pit myself against the church, but because I am part of the church – with divine nature and individual worth. The letter called me “extreme” and that made me feel that “I don’t belong”. But I do belong. I go to church every Sunday and the temple every month. I love the gospel. I teach it in my ward. I love worshiping with the Saints. I love the Lord. I am a believer.

I take my faith seriously and I take the question of women and ordination seriously. The church’s letter seemed to say that because I’m in the minority they don’t take me seriously. My concerns felt dismissed by the letter – and yet they are of eternal importance. I’m talking about WOMEN – half of God’s Children. I’m asking hard questions about Daughters and those questions matter. I believe the church is true – and that makes it a living, growing, changing church. (See Article of Faith 9) I am a truth seeker and I love the LDS faith because it is a truth seeking religion.

I’m walking with Ordain Women because I want to attend the meeting of the General Conference of my church (of Latter-day Saints – that’s me) – I want to be seen as a seeker. In the early days of the church, the Saints went to the Red Brick Store to discuss with the Prophet Joseph, who counseled with the Lord. This is the closest thing to a Red Brick Store I know of in 2014 – the door where I know the prophet is.

I do not wish to make enemies by disregarding the request to stay away from temple square but I do not think my walk will be disruptive to the spirit of light and knowledge. I can not stand in the free speech zone and align myself with anti-Mormons because I am not one of them. I am a Mormon.

(I’m also going the General Woman’s Meeting – with just as much passion – and I’ll be wearing my purple dress.)

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Young Women Lesson: How can repentance help me every day?

Repentance can be a very difficult subject. You want to help the girls learn how to recognize when they’ve done something wrong and to improve upon that, but you don’t want to instill shame. I think as an opening activity, I would ask one of the girls to tell the story of the Council in Heaven. In the story, Satan wants to make every one do the “right” thing, but Christ advocates for agency. This story tells us that making mistakes is something that we know will happen and it’s part of the Plan to make mistakes. Doing the wrong thing means simply that we did something wrong; it does not mean that we are therefore “bad” people. In the class, I might emphasize that again: doing something wrong does not mean we, ourselves, are bad and undeserving of love, mercy, and forgiveness.

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An (Out)Burst

Three Sundays ago in Relief Society we had lesson 1 in the Joseph Fielding Smith manual. It was the lesson on Heavenly Father. I had  ended up on the front row with my knitting and my baby. The first discussion in the class included listing the traits of God on the board. I sat there wondering if I had something to add while everyone else put up all the phrases  I was already thinking about: all the omni-stuff, loving, merciful, etc. And then,

“Male.”

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Guest Post: The Miracle of Forgiveness

By East River Lady

(CW & TW: child and sexual abuse; suicide)

1_1

“Ask God for forgiveness first.”
“Okay. God, please forgive me…”

Right before my teenage cousin told me to perform a sexual act on him, he told me to pray to God and ask for forgiveness for the sin I was about to commit. I was around six years old at the time. I realize now, it wasn’t me who should’ve been asking for forgiveness. And I realize he was distorting the beautiful gospel principle that forgiveness is. At the time, I didn’t even think for a second my cousin was at fault. Perhaps it was because I was used to it. Around the same time, my mother had a friend with a teenage son. One evening, when my mother and her friend were in the other room talking, the son took a break from playing a computer game and came over to where I was sitting on the couch. He then proceeded to sexually molest and abuse me.

Growing up, I thought nothing of it. My uncle would make detailed comments about my body and how beautiful it looked and would have me spin around to show his brother how pretty I looked. And then I would be given a dollar. This same uncle would even watch pornography with me in the room. He told me to cover my eyes, but I could hear. It was my father, surprisingly enough, who let me see. He would show me pornographic pictures on the internet. Again, I thought nothing of it.

But my soul knew differently.

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