April Young Women Lesson: Why is the First Vision Important?
Kirsten is the president of the Exponent II board and is serving as the Young Women president in her ward.
(Much of what I prepared will work just as well with the lesson on Joseph Smith’s role in the Restoration. I find the two topics are so closely linked that they really should be one lesson.)
Start by asking the YW what kinds of things they do during a typical day. These can be listed on the board (school, family time, seminary, chores, jobs, homework, etc.) What kinds of things worry them or what do they spend a lot of time thinking about? (schoolwork, boys, where to go for college, should they serve missions, etc.)
I’d then ask what they think a typical teenager in the early 1800s would do/worry about.
The video for this lesson is “The Restoration”. It is around 20 minutes long, but does a good job of showing what Joseph’s life might have been like and what things he thought a lot about.
After the video, ask what things they have in common with Joseph’s youth. (chores, family prayer/scripture study, church attendance, wanting to do the right things, worrying about the mistakes you make, etc.) Point out that even though the circumstances and time period are different from today, the essentials are very much the same.
Why is the First Vision important for us as a people/Church? (Why do we capitalize “First Vision”?) I would compare this to what Moses saving the Israelites from Egypt (parting the Red Sea, etc.) was for Old Testament people—a story of incredible faith and inspiration. It is something that was told over and over again as a touchstone for the people of his time. Joseph’s story is our touchstone. With his story we can begin a journey of faith with the latter-day restoration of God’s church.
The First Vision is our sacred story. Other faiths have their own stories of saints and holy people. These stories are important to retell. Remind the YW that we do not worship Joseph Smith, though at times it might seem that we do!
President Uchtdorf has said,
“As we remember and honor the Prophet Joseph Smith, my heart reaches out to him in gratitude. He was a good, honest, humble, intelligent, and courageous young man with a heart of gold and an unshaken faith in God. He had integrity. In response to his humble prayer, the heavens opened again. Joseph Smith had actually seen a vision. He knew it, and he knew that God knew it, and he could not deny it. “(See JS—H 1:25.) “The Fruits of the First Vision, Ensign Apr 2005.
You can mention that there are multiple versions of the First Vision. (Many of the YW will not know this.) There are four versions from Joseph himself and various second-hand accounts. The main thing for the YW to know, is that through each of them, we can learn great truths about the nature of God and our relationship to Him. (Find the different accounts here: https://www.lds.org/topics/first-vision-accounts?lang=eng)
Ask the YW to think back to the film or to scan JSH 1:7-20 and help make a list of the truths we can learn from the First Vision
- -Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are actual, physical beings, not spirits
- -They are separate beings, not one person
- -Revelation continues; it has not ceased
- -God answers prayers
- –None of the churches on the earth was God’s true church
- -Satan is real and God’s power is greater than his
Why Joseph Smith? How do you think he was ready to receive such a vision? (Ask the YW about other prophets who have seen the Lord or received great visions: Moses, Lehi, Noah, etc. What are some similarities that they share in personalities and how their messages were received?)
“From small beginnings, great things come to pass” This is the first line from the video. Remind them that this Church began with questions and that it is okay to have doubts and ask questions. Without Joseph Smith asking questions, the Restoration would not have happened. One prayer began a movement—a rough stone rolling. Our prayers may not receive visions, but they can change us and can affect change in the lives of others.
Remind them that it is significant that Joseph Smith recorded his vision. They should try to write down their spiritual experiences in their journals for the future, where they and their posterity can read and learn from them.
If you have time, ask the YW to share their feelings about Joseph Smith and/or the First Vision. Or give them time to write down their feelings and put them in their journals.