April 2014 Visiting Teaching Message: The Divine Mission of Jesus Christ: Savior and Redeemer

The visiting teaching messages of the past many months have all focused on one or two aspects of Jesus Christ’s role. This month, the focus is on his role as Redeemer and Savior.

When discussing stories or attributes of Christ, I try to ask myself, “How does this affect my relationship with God? And how does this affect my relationships with others?”

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Visiting Teaching: The Divine Mission of Jesus Christ: Light of the World

From http://judithweingarten.blogspot.com.au/2007/02/cybele-and-silk-road.html

From http://judithweingarten.blogspot.com.au/2007/02/cybele-and-silk-road.html

This is an interesting visiting teaching topic. The message itself is typical, yet friendlier because inclusive brackets have been added to the text to make it more easily applicable to women, and the history section choices are examples of actions which reflect the “Light of Christ.”

But—in reading, I couldn’t help but wonder what is the “Light of Christ”? Is it the Holy Ghost? Is it symbolism of the Son/Sun giving light? I have heard the phrase so often, and it is defined in my mind… yet… I suddenly wondered if there were more that I did not know. So I looked it up in the most reliable resource I know. The Relief Society magazine. And this is what a 1965 lesson on the “Light of Christ” taught me:

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February 2014 Visiting Teaching Message: The Divine Mission of Jesus Christ: Good Shepherd

This is a sweet message, and it is an easy one to adapt individually without too much issue. I say this because I think at the heart of this—it is addressing isolation. The isolation of the “lost sheep” wandering away from the fold—or even, as the James Faust quote includes—the “brokenhearted parents” who might feel isolated because their child might not have made choices that reflect the desire of their parents- especially in regard to the church.

 

Now. Because I am short on time this month as a result of… many things, I chose to just focus on that simplicity: addressing isolation. There are times in all of our lives that was have felt isolation- the teen who aches to be included in social activities, the single adult who longs to be married, the mother of young children who finds herself at a loss for conversation outside of her family, the unmarried or divorced mid-single who is tired of being labelled a “problem” because they “can’t get married,” and the widow who makes cash withdrawals from bank tellers just for the conversation…. Isolation is a common illness, one that we have all suffered from at one time or another.

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Visiting Teaching Message January 2014: The Divine Mission of Jesus Christ: Exemplar

I am not sure why this message at first struck a negative chord with me, but it did. Probably something to do with the idea of New Year’s resolutions—that as an Exemplar- I needed to resolve to be exactly like Christ. For me, this is a sure way in which I am doomed to fail. My thought that Christ is perfect, so He set a perfect example for me, so I need to be perfect, Right? But I am not perfect. Not even close. And I get depressed, distressed, and even angry thinking about how I perceive this message to be something that is obligating me to constantly try to be perfect….

To be true, the actual words, and certainly the spirit of the message do not reflect this flawed and failing ideology. Yet,  I did not feel encouraged by the words included in the message. They state that we are supposed to be somehow inspired to “follow in Christ’s footsteps” and “become the kind of people the Lord wants us to be…” (which made me think, “isn’t He, of all beings, supposed to love me for who I am? Does He really not ‘want’ me as I am?” Does Christ… actually not want me?)

So I was in a stupor, trying to feel inspired somehow about the message. Lo and behold, with the holidays, I have been catching up on some of my favourite podcasts, including BYU Free Speeches on iTunes, which is a collection of BYU devotionals. Specifically, I listened to BYU President, Cecil O. Samuelson, give a speech titled “Failure and Success.” 

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December 2013 Visiting Teaching Message: The Divine Mission of Jesus Christ: The Only Begotten Son

I was 18 and preparing to go home for my first holiday break from University. As an out-of state student in in Utah, I had the opportunity to meet people not much older (or even the same age as me) who were already married. In coming to know these newlyweds strangely close in age to me, I began to be educated about the important aspects of a wedded couple’s first Christmas: Declare which Christmas stocking was your’s, create and instigate a holiday routine- who’s house for which holiday, set up parameters regarding what constitutes a “family gift” (i.e. vacuums, Kitchen Aid mixers, electronic games and snow blowers do not count), etc.

But in the dozen years following my 18th year, I remained unmarried. Physical distance increased as I moved04 to find my own path, and growing systematically more tired of the politics and hurt feelings associated with familial  “non-invitations” and “must-attend” obligations,  I decided to liberate myself. Christmas day for me was spent in my own apartment, alone. I opened gifts from friends, had a good work out, caught up on movies, chatted for hours with single friends— often while wearing a face masque. It was my day to spoil myself and I loved it.

But then, I married. Not only that, I married an Australian. He nicknamed me spunky. And I moved to Australia. Though I had spent the majority of my adult Christmases alone, the advertised traditional trimmings changed from the northern hemisphere’s winter of roasted turkey and ham, warm socks and scarves to the southern hemisphere’s summer of iced soft drinks, BBQed prawns, SPF30+ sunscreen and beach gear.

And, like many other things, the forewarning I had at 18 to communicate my holiday expectations had long been forgotten.

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November 2013 Visiting Teaching Message: Teacher’s Choice From Conference

Sometimes it is hard to choose one conference talk that seems particularly inspiration to share with the women we visit teach. Sometimes it is because there mormon-christ-gethsemeneare so many lovely talks that we find inspirational. Other times it is because…. well… sometimes nothing really is striking to us. I found the latter a bit with the conference; no one talk really stood out among the others for me. Seems I was not alone: more than a few friends mentioned that the highlight from conference for them was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s rendition of Oh, Divine Redeemer by Charles Gounod.

In listening to this passionate and emotionally invocative piece of music, I was also touched, and recalled the announcement that the Visiting Teaching Messages for the next while are to be aimed at the divine mission of Jesus Christ. With this in mind, I sought for a talk from conference that best felt inspirational to me, something that drew me closer to Christ.

Hear Thou my cry, hear Thou my cry,
Behold, Lord, my distress!
Answer me from Thy throne,
Haste Thee, Lord, to mine aid!

And then, Elder Richard G. Scott said this:

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