Relief Society Lesson 10: “Come into the Temples”
Earlier this year, my bishop announced that we had a ward challenge. Each family was challenged “to bring two family names to the temple to have their work done by April.” In January, I felt sure this task would be easily accomplished. In February, I decided that since it was such a short month, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. In March, I started to wonder if the challenge ended on April 1st or April 30th… the ambiguous “by April,” declaration tempted me with an argument as to why I could not get the work done until May. But, by the end of March, I accomplished what had become my goal. It was uncomfortable, I had a lot on my plate. I needed help. Relatives who are genealogy buffs pretty much did the electronic work for me. I just had to print the cards. A friend acted as proxy for the baptisms and confirmations. I did the initiatory for both and one endowment. I handed the second proxy card to a stranger in the temple who agreed to do the other endowment.
So- how did I feel after? I did feel good. I am glad I did it. But my motivation was not really for me, it was for someone else. Sadly, it was not for my dead ancestor. It was for my bishop. He asked me to do it, so I did it. I really felt nothing spiritually, though I have felt inspired to do work for the dead before. This– well, it was about obedience. For some, attending the temple is a joy and an indulgence. For some, it brings relief and edification. For some, it brings confusion and disharmony. But we are commanded to attend and participate in the ordinances which means that attending the temple is an expression of obedience.
But before I start the rote lecture as to why we *should* attend the temple, let’s address that issue. Admonitions to attend the temple can feel like we are repeating an admonition/obligation that we have heard time and time again. In this, I have tried to focus on details that will be of benefit to women who have not been to the temple, have had a negative experience at the temple or have heard the temple-attending call so many times they are wont to zone out. (as a reminder, be extremely sensitive to varying temple experiences and interpretations that can cause arguments and hurt feelings, i.e. remember, the temple experience is not idyllic for everyone).
Write the words to the Hosanna Shout on a board in frot of the class, if possible (“‘Hosanna! hosanna! hosanna! to God and the Lamb. Amen, amen, and amen!”). This chapter discusses Lorenzo Snow’s participation in the teaching and dedications of the Kirtland and Salt Lake temples. It places some emphasis on the Hosanna shout. Prior to the dedication of the Kirtland temple, there are two scriptural references to the Hosanna Shout. The first is when Jesus rode into Jerusalem triumphantly (Matthew 21; Mark 11; John 12), the second is when Christ appeared to the people post-resurrection in the Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 11). This signifies the importance of the Hosanna Shout, as it is only used when Jesus Christ is present.
From the text:
President Snow, who was then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was to lead the Saints in the Hosanna Shout [at the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple]. As he explained the Hosanna Shout to the multitude, he expressed his love and enthusiasm for temple work.
“The words of the shout, Hosanna!” he said, “to be uttered upon, or after, the laying of the capstone to-day, were introduced by President Joseph Smith at the Kirtland Temple, and were there used at a solemn assemblage where the power of God was manifested and the vision of the Almighty was opened up to the brethren. This is no ordinary order, but is—and we wish it to be distinctly understood—a sacred shout, and employed only on extraordinary occasions like the one now before us. We wish it also to be distinctly understood that we want the brethren and sisters not only to express the words, but that their hearts shall be full of thanksgiving to the God of heaven, who has accomplished, through our agency, this mighty and extraordinary labor. Thirty-nine years ago to-day the foundation-stone—the corner-stone—of this Temple was laid, and in reflecting and meditating upon the wonderful blessings that God has bestowed upon us, His people, during this number of years that have passed since that time, we wish the Saints to feel when they pronounce this shout that it comes from their hearts. Let your hearts be filled with thanksgiving.” He demonstrated the Hosanna Shout and then said, “Now when we go before the Temple, and this shout goes forth, we want every man and every woman to shout these words to the very extent of their voices, so that every house in this city may tremble, the people in every portion of this city hear it, and it may reach to the eternal worlds.”
This to me, is testimony. Shouting- as loudly as possible the phrase, “Hosanna! hosanna! hosanna! to God and the Lamb. Amen, amen, and amen!” Is a perfect witness of our faith- we are shouting it to heaven.
What does this phrase mean to you? (“Hosanna! hosanna! hosanna! to God and the Lamb. Amen, amen, and amen!”)
The bible dictionary reports that the term “hosanna” means “save now.”
How does “save now” apply to us in our daily lives? What does this mean to you, to be saved?
Consider the following:
Eliza R. Snow reported that a woman came from a great distance to attend the dedication of the Nauvoo Temple, not hearing that babes in arms were barred. She went to the patriarch in distress as she had no one to leave her infant with. Brother Smith told her to attend the service and promised her that the baby would make no disturbance. Eliza R. Snow reported, “But when the congregation shouted hosanna, that babe joined in the shout.” (Claudia Bushman, Mormon Sisters, “Mystics and Healers,” USU Press, 1997, 9.)
Eliza R. Snow was convinced that the child had joined in the Hosanna Shout, being taken up by the spirit of the occasion. In modern times, we can view temple dedication on satellite video and all partake in the Hosanna Shout.
For those who have attended a temple dedication (in person or by satellite), how did you feel during the Hosanna Shout? Did you shout as loud as possible? Why or why not?
This next section focuses on the promise of eternal families. This is problematic for any number of reasons: couples who may have obtained or are seeking temple divorce, couples who are not sealed, mixed-member couples, single sisters, widows. I like this quote from James E. Faust, to open up the discussion and connection of home as a holy place of temple preparation:
“In addition to temples, surely another holy place on earth ought to be our homes. The feelings of holiness in my home prepared me for feelings of holiness in the temple.” (James E. Faust, Ensign, “Standing in Holy Places, May 2005)
What are some ways that you invite peace into your own home, making it feel more “holy”? Does this always work? Why or why not? Is it okay for our homes to not feel like a temple? When would that be?
Mraynes did an excellent lesson plan for the Exponent Daughters in My Kingdom series on the “Guardians of the Hearth” chapter that relates well to the marriage of home and temple. I cherry-picked these ideas and quotes from her post:
Mraynes: I often struggle with feelings of inadequacy and guilt in regards to my role in the home and I believe many sisters do as well. Anchoring this lesson in the Atonement and the love of Jesus Christ helps to ease these feelings. Ask members of the class to share their experiences with how the Atonement and their relationship with God has helped them strengthen their homes.
DIMK: In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have a theology of the family that is based on the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement. The Creation of the earth provided a place where families could live. … The Fall provided a way for the family to grow. … The Atonement allows for the family to be sealed together eternally. (President Julie B. Beck, 2011)
In that most important of places, our homes, we learn best how it is that “out of small things proceedeth that which is great,” for life at home is a series of small things that combine to create an eternal family. Perhaps because creating strong relationships with the Lord and each other is so incremental, or because teaching and encouraging and leading are sometimes thankless, it is easy to become distracted, even discouraged. The adversary would like to confuse us and divert our attention from what matters most. But we are blessed, for we know that faith and family matter most. The women who have touched my heart and motivated me to lead a better life are those who put the Lord and family first. (Virginia U. Jensen, 2000)
How can our homes be a place of preparation for attending, and gaining the blessing of eternal families both in and out of the temple?
Imagine your home is the temple. What routines are special and sacred to you and to your family? (family time, playing games, reading together, etc.)
How can you preserve these things to strengthen your family relationships?
The next section focuses on doing temple work for the dead, with a genealogical reminder.
From the text: We ought not to wait for opportunities to be pleasant and agreeable always; but we should strive, even if it takes a little sacrifice on our part, to put ourselves in a condition to perform this labor. … We desire anxiously that the brethren and sisters should not neglect this important work.
Quimby did an excellent guest post on family history work here. Her take is based in missionary work, not necessarily temple ordinance work. I like this; there are those who are uncomfortable with attending the temple, or are unable to attend the temple. But, even if we do not desire to do the work ourselves, as I found in chasing the goal set by my bishop, there are people who will help us to do the work. Being a driving force for the work does not necessarily equate to us creating, researching and executing every detail of temple proxy work.
As I mentioned at the start of this lesson, often attending the temple can feel rote, if we attend at all. The business of life, and home situations may put us in a position where we struggle to feel inspiration or direction. But we are clearly admonished to attend, and partake in the temple and its blessings as often as possible.
Must we attend the temple as often as possible, even to the neglect of our families, to partake of temple blessings?
How can we focus on the promised blessings of the temple in our daily lives, even when we cannot attend regularly or do not feel comfortable in attending the temple?
“Your daily life is your temple and your religion.” (Maude Beeley Jacob, The Relief Society Magazine, February 1940, 87.)
Think about this quote.
In what areas do we devote so much time as to become temples to us? Is this good or bad?
Do you treat your body as a temple? How can you do this better?
What puts you in a position where you can hear the spirit?
Close with your testimony of the Atonement that is manifested in the temple, and if you are comfortable to do so, of temple blessings.
What struck you with this lesson? Please add your own comments and ideas for the lesson below.