Relief Society Lesson 20: Love and Concern For All of Our Father’s Children

Relief Society Lesson  20: Love and Concern For All of Our Father’s Children

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Lesson 20: Love and Concern For All Our Father’s Children

rosegardenstatue  “I believe it is our solemn duty to love one another, to believe in each other, to have faith in each other, that it is our duty to overlook the faults and the failings of each other, and not to magnify them in our own eyes nor before the eyes of the world.  There should be no faultfinding, no back-biting, no evil speaking, one against another, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  We should be true to each other and to every principle of our religion and not be envious one of another.  We should not be jealous one of another, nor angry with each other, and there should not arise in our hearts a feeling that we will not forgive one another our trespasses.  There should be no feeling in the hearts of the children of God of unforgiveness against any man, no matter who he may be.” (Joseph Fielding Smith – lesson manual)

When I read this lesson, this quote alone spoke to me as being the message I would share with my sisters in Relief Society.  I have chosen to break it down into the many bits of counsel that Joseph Fielding Smith offered, supplemented by other quotes from sisters in leadership callings.  A good companion talk for this lesson is Sister Oscarson’s April 2014 address “Sisterhood: Oh how we need each other.”

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Visiting Teaching Message September 2014: The Divine Mission of Jesus Christ: Comforter

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From the formal message:

Jesus Christ promised, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18).

baby (2)

“It’ll be like you don’t even have a dog,” promised my husband before I agreed to let him get a puppy. To be true, he did try to do what he could. But since I worked from home, dog care evolved into much of my daily routine. I didn’t mind for the most part. Because I was lonely, I liked the company of the  dog. I soon grew to rely up on him— I firmly believe that there really is nothing like the unconditional love of a dog to teach you about the love of Christ.

Being unintentionally childless, he was my baby. I found sitters for him when I would be gone for more than 3 hours, just as all of the doggy manuals taught. I was picky about his food, and was even fussier about other dogs we had playdates with. As soon as he was “trained” and a little before, he slept by my feet, in the bed shared by my husband and me….and as he grew to adult-dog size, he sometimes crowded me (or hubby) out of bed.

I took him visitDCP02520 (2)ing teaching with me. I ordered him ice cream cones or a  side of bacon at drive-thrus, and instructed the fast-food workers to hand the item directly to him the back seat, where he gently and gratefully received the nosh. A photo of him (being held by the person I wrote about) was among selected images that were published in an academic journal article. He waited at home by the door, or sometimes went with me to four different rounds of  IVF. And when I still came home childless, he licked me, and his fur absorbed my tears. He sat at alert when I was ill, and snuggled me when I was lonely. He comforted me. Greatly. To no end.

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Relief Society Lesson 19: In the World But Not of the World

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City Scape by Ham, Myung SuThis lesson guide is based on the Joseph Fielding Smith manual’s lesson, Chapter 19. Fortunately, this topic is also well-covered in an exceptional lesson guide we recently did for Young Women’s. Definitely check it out! (As per usual, my questions to the class are italicized.)

This quote opens the lesson, “While we are in the world, we are not of the world. We are expected to overcome the world and to live as becometh saints.”

Ask the sisters: What does this quote mean to you?
Can we live apart from the world and avoid being condescending towards those who don’t believe as we do or choose the same path that we do?

I worry about the second question quite a bit. As a Mormon who holds political ideologies different from many of the members in my various wards, I have felt judged for voting Democrat…that perhaps, I don’t quite understand the gospel or the Church because I see issues differently.

Rachel Held Evans says in better in her book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood (have you read it? It’s fantastic!), “We tend to take whatever’s worked in our particular set of circumstances (big family, small family, AP, Ezzo, home school, public school) and project that upon everyone else in the world as the ideal.”

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Relief Society Lesson 18: Living by Every Word that Proceeds from the Mouth of God

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Dear Relief Society Sisters,
I have strong beliefs on adult learning. Long term learning is attached to emotion and connected to the experiences of the learning. It appeals to a variety of learning modes. A teacher reading the manual or lecturing with no opportunities for discussion is my idea of the worst lesson ever. Inspiration/revelation only enters the room through one voice, the instructor. Conversely, a great lesson is discussion oriented with many voices providing comment and opportunity for inspiration/revelation to enter the room. The objective of the following lesson plan is to create opportunities for meaningful discussion, inspiration, and revelation.

Introduction: From the Life of Joseph Fielding Smith
Write on the board: “Why should we obey Gospel laws?” with numbers 1-5 listed below the question. This is our focus question. Throughout the lesson stop and ask the focus question and add new answers.
Assign sisters to read the watchtower quote and Word of Wisdom anecdote from President Smith.
The man in the humorous anecdote had already repented. He isn’t offended by a call to repentance because he has already chosen to change.

Ask the Sisters: When you listen to a call to repentance what makes you want to change? Is it feeling scared of consequences and fear driven? Is it feeling loved and understood? Does an emotional plea to your heart or logical reasoning directed to your mind work best for you?

Participation helps to increase learning! Have each sister turn to a sister next to her and take 2-5 minutes to share with each other what kind of appeal for change helps them the most and why it works best.
Call the group to order and have the sisters raise their hands to vote for which type of call to repentance they like best.

Ask the Sisters: What are some positive and negative aspects of each approach? Are there times when it might be best to scare someone into obedience? When might an emotional plea not be the best fit?

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Visiting Teaching Message August 2014: The Divine Mission of Jesus Christ: Messiah

The Virgin with the Grapes

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Each one of these visiting teaching messages, including this month’s,  comes with a question or questions at the end of the message, probably meant to encourage discussion. I often disregard them as too “preachy” for a Visiting Teaching conversation, however, the single query at the end of this month’s message made me think. And wonder, and….as always, consider how and why this is important to women.

So I start this post in asking that question:

“Why is it important to understand the Savior’s role as the Messiah?”

First, I think it is important to differentiate between the terms: Savior/ Saviour and Messiah. The term savior is defined  as someone who saves, rescues, or delivers. The term Messiah is more antiquated as per its Hebrew origin (māshīach), and means “anointed one.” In combination, the Savior who is also Messiah is one who is anointed to save.

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Relief Society Lesson 17: Sealing Power and Temple Blessings

family-holding-hands

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Don’t be fooled! This lesson plan can be a real challenge. I think that more often than not, an almost automated response to this is to ask whoever is serving as the ward or branch genealogy specialist to teach this lesson. And likely, this person will be a genealogy bug who will swirl rings of testimony about how “easy” doing the admin side of genealogy is, topped with a dose or two of guilt for not doing the work, thereby paining us with reminders of our duty to those who have gone before us.

 

So. To be clear, I want to do more genealogy and family line temple work because I have a testimony of it. But I have deep empathy (and experience!) in not feeling motivated to do the work because of raw and aching relationships with genetically, or legally “close” family members whom either they, or I do not seek an ongoing familial relationship now— much less in the eternities. It seems I am not alone in this feeling. Therefore, as I am wont to do, I re-angle the lesson for those of us (ME) who have family issues. (plus, I thought the intro in the lesson seemed a bit pompous. I think that Joseph Fielding Smith’s story was never intended to be pompous—but rather a revelling in the miraculous. But still. The story did not address the real issue of apathy or even hurt in regard to dealing with the closeted skeletons of family history and temple work.)

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