Relief Society Lesson 10: “Come into the Temples”

Posted by on April 23, 2013 in Relief Society Lessons, temple | 22 comments

Earlier this year, my bishop announced that we had a ward challenge. Each family was challenged “to bring two family london-mormon-temple40names 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.

Related posts:

22 Comments

  1. Thank you for this! I have been to a few temple dedications in my short life and was always struck by the Hosanna shout. What an occasion to express our happiness and gratitude for this new temple! However, in all the dedications to which I attended, it ended up monotone and joyless. I’m not the first to say this, but we worry so much about our words and actions being “reverent”, that we stifle joy and emotion.

    A temple has been announced not far from me, in a country that doesn’t yet have a temple. I know how long we have been waiting for it (and how long we still have to wait until the dedication). I know that when that day finally comes, I will be wanting to SHOUT! I love what you quoted :

    I know now what it is to be far from a temple, and to have to sacrifice to get to one, even if it not a huge one. I think of the story told not too long ago of a man who lived far from his family working to get them to the temple, and wonder why such an excess is held up as a standard. If God truly knows the desires of our hearts, wouldn’t He forgive us for not sacrificing EVERYTHING including perhaps the well-being of our family, to go once to the temple? I wonder about those stories where the family sold everything and traveled two weeks to go to the temple. What happened to them when they got back and realized they had nothing left? Perhaps I am unwilling, or selfish, or don’t understand the importance of the temple, but I think we should be reasonable and moderate in all things.

    There are so many more things I could say, but I’ll stop here. Thank you, again, for such a rich lesson plan!!

    • block quote epic failure! I meant to quote about shouting so the entire world can hear.

      • Amanda,
        I love the quote, (who care about proper blocks?:) ) Thanks for your comments! Its a hard lesson to teach, and I appreciate the feedback.

    • I agree with you and moderation in all things, but that’s what sacrifice is. Giving up something good for something better, in this case something eternal. We all have our choice to choose and everyone is at different levels of faith. When an individual is ready, takes that leap of faith and decides to follow some instruction whatever it may be, it’s knowing that Heavenly Father will take care of all of that. It’s happened a lot to me. I am not rich, and I have problems like everyone else, but when I am strengthened I will exercise faith. I appreciate this blog and wish good will on all of you.

  2. I always struggle with the “home can be a temple” thing because it seems like what comes right after is an expectation that your home physically resemble a temple — that it should be spotless, quiet, tastefully decorated, and done in pale colors. I don’t even have children and I have a hard time achieving that. Yesterday I decided to clean my bedroom. Just that. Cleaning the kitchen is a thankless task because it is immediately filthy again, like everything else. I think having a space WITHIN the home that feels peaceful and quiet and a good place to feel the spirit is realistic and worthwhile. The home as a whole, however, can be a temple without looking like the celestial room. After all, the temple is God’s house. For all we know there are spirit children racing around the halls and leaving little spirit finger prints all over the place.

    • For many years I kept a tiny altar in my bedroom. On it I placed a crucifix, a statue of the Blesses Virgin, two medals (St. Francis and the Immaculate Conception), a tiny statue of the rice Buddha, and a Pueblo bear fetish. I kept a singing bowl nearby. A beautiful place to practice sitting. Now my altar consists of a 3″x4″ porcelain dish with the St. Francis medal, the rice Buddha, and the crucifix. This is where I recite the Divine Office. My point is that sacred space is easy to create.

    • I hate requirements or suggestions made by someone in authority that we all dig up some names to take to the temple by a certain date or for some specific occasion. These requirements are usually made by someone who has never actually done it. It often results in what I call ” junk genealogy.” That is, undocumented names or dates of people whose work may have been done dozens of times, or who may never have existed or who are not really related to you in any way. I know there are those who feel a special spirit in the temple when they go these ordinances, but I wonder what that spirit is when the name is for a non-existant person. Maybe it is the satisfaction of obeying a commandment.
      I just finished speaking in every ward in my stake about family history, and I urged them to create bonds between living generations, and to research a single ancestor and learn who that person was, beyond a couple dates. Why bother to revel in an eternal family if you don’t even know who those family members are?

      • CFG,
        I love the idea of creating a bond between yourself and the people whom you do the work for. That does create so much more than just a plain ol’ numbers game for the dead. Thank you for this suggestion.

    • I agree with you, Em. My home is an odd mix– I really like bright colours, and I like my music loud. I like conversations and happy noises and pounding by toddlers on the piano as they explore sound. It is not THE temple, but it is my temple.

  3. I appreciate all the time and effort you put into this lesson but some of the questions are so guilt-inducing for me, which is why I stopped attending RS and participating in the VT program nearly a year ago. I don’t miss it one bit. And I haven’t been to the temple in more than a year.

    • MD,
      I am so very, very sorry. I did not intend in any way to make this a guilt-inducing lesson. I tried purposefully to avoid the temple guilt, and am unhappy that I failed you. That is why I chose to focus on the Hosanah Shout and other areas that seemed more – inclusive to me. That is purpsoefully why I asked “Must we attend the temple as often as possible, even to the neglect of our families, to partake of temple blessings?” I wanted to draw out an answer that going to the temple constantly -or even at all- is not righteous, especially if it is disabling to our mental health, family relationships or sanity (because the temple has driven me crazy at times, I had to search for a way to make it work for me, and I deeply empathise with those who struggle with going– or even thinking– about the temple.)

      Again, I am very sorry. What questions were triggering to you? If they were triggering to you, then they will be triggering to others. Please let me know so we address them in the comments, or remove them altogether.

      Love,
      spunky

      • I know you were trying to make it inclusive but I think for me nearly every lesson is so guilt-inducing. The questions that really stood out to me were:

        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?

        I am really uncomfortable with the temple so really any discussion of the temple makes me uncomfortable. I have been to a temple dedication and the hosanna shout made me really uncomfortable as well.

        I know for me personally I am very, very sensitive about anything that may be perceived as self-critical or forcing me to look at myself in a critical way. I already have any extremely low self-esteem and feel very badly about myself so anything that is self-reflexive just gets me going.

        I’ve been looking for peace in the gospel for a long time but it seems a lot of the lessons focus on doing more and being better, which is not inspiring but paralyzing for me.

      • MD,
        Thank you so very much for your candor. You, and your take on this lesson plan, are very much appreciated.

        I agree with you, I do not find solace in many church lessons- like you, the admonition to keep being more, doing more, praying more, righteous-ing more…. nothing else makes me feel like less than the constant admonition to do more. I did not intend for readers to feel like I was prodding to do more in this lesson, but I can see very clearly how that came across. I am sorry.

        For the “your body is a temple” thing– Starfoxy is a hero of mine for writing so well on body issues that I can relate to. Seems to me that she or someone else did a lesson plan (that to my chagrin, I cannot find!) wherein she wrote the word “temple” asked a class to list good things about the temple, which he then wrote on the board. Then she added “my body is a…” and kept the same words associated with the temple. That has been on my mind ever since I read it (whoever brilliantly wrote it!) because I do not treat or think of my body in the same way I know is generally associated with the temple. I had hoped to encourage people to think better of themselves and their bodies, not as places of perfect- but as beautiful, holy places that we see potential. This is not *the* post of my memory, but this is also brilliant: http://www.the-exponent.com/empathy/

        For the other questions, I intended to be akin to Vajra’s comment about finding peace. There are things that I keep with reverence and are private to me in my home that have nothing to do with the temple. But these things bring me peace. In all honesty, one of these things is a secret stash of mini reeses peanut butter cups in my sock drawer. Its not sacred, but it is a tiny thing that is all for me. It is a foreign treat, not a common one in Australia, and so it suits me. That ting indulgence brings me peace on some days, because it is tangible, and I can touch it, partake of it, and feel instant gratification. No, it is probably not sacred. But the ritual for me is essential. I don’t know if this is good or bad, but it bring sme peace. For now, for me, that is enough. That is all i was trying to get at– something for you. Something that brings you gratification. And if it is not something good (say, like a whole box of chcoclates), then how can that be better balanced? I did not intend to guilt you, I promise.

        I am truly sorry that my wording was so inadequate. Thank you for being brave and coming back to explain yourself. In doing so, YOU have contributed significantly to the lesosn material. Others will have felt the same way you did. So it is a very good thing that you commented, so –hopefully– together, a better lesson is achieved by everyone.

        I really am grateful for your comments. Please come back, and when you have more to add, please, please do. Your voice is important to me. It is important here. You are smart, and you have added to this blog. Thank you for being you.

      • If you feel uncomfortable about the temple or don’t take it seriously, you might as well drop Mormonism completely, because THAT is the way heaven will feel. Teaching after teaching has stated that the feelings present inside of the temple resemble the hereafter closer than anywhere else on Earth. If you feel uncomfortable inside of the temple, you might want to look for a new religion that has a different take on what heaven is like.

      • Barack,
        Many people, many, many people are uncomfortable with the temple, including men. One of the most dedicated and driven missionary-inspired men I know nearly left the church the first time he went through the temple. Its been a decade of just complete faith on his part to not leave the church because of his extreme discomfort with the temple. To belittle his concerns is unChristlike. Just as your comment is unkind, adn therefore, unChristlike.

        If you have something to add to the conversation, then please do so. In the meantime, take note of our comment policy and moderate your words. Consider this your first and final warning.

    • I worry about you. You’re distancing yourself from blessings

  4. I love the Hosanna Shout, and love the emphasis (both in the lesson and in your own words) above.

    Still, even though it is called a “Shout” I have never even thought of actually shouting it. I suppose because that doesn’t mesh with what we often think of as reverent. Next time I get the chance, I will shout it!

    (I also love the story of the mama and babe that joined in, related by Eliza.)

    • I actually have a few family names that need some temple work — I reserved them on newfamilysearch.org three years ago — but I haven’t done the work yet, though I’ve attended the temple a few times since then. I think I’m waiting to be in the right frame of mind to do the work, especially because some of it is for my grandmother.

  5. I’m teaching this lesson tomorrow and was looking for ideas online. I happened upon your site and while I can tell you are good at lesson outlines (and probably a good teacher as well), I noticed that you used a lot of quotes outside of the lesson manual. The lessons put forth from the general authorities are meticulously looked over and revised until the brethren deem them perfect for what they feel, prompted by the spirit of course, saints should be taught. This tells us a little something about the importance of the content. The Church produced teaching manual “Teaching, No Greater Call: A Resource Guide for Gospel Teaching,” states that, “to help us teach from the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets, the Church has produced lesson manuals and other materials. There is little need for commentaries or other reference material.” Including scriptures, teachings of latter-day prophets, and lesson materials are fine when used appropriately. Of course the most important thing is guidance by the spirit and if a teacher feels they need to include something else, they can make that call. Also, I think it’s great that you publish your outlines for others to see, but you might want to address that fact that every teacher should follow the guidance of the spirit to know what their specific class needs to hear. Each class is different and will vary, some more than others. This may prevent some from thinking they can rely on any outline material and call it good. Just a suggestion.

    • Heather, You chastise others for looking for ideas “from other reference material” when that is exactly what you came looking for on this website. I hope you have a wonderful day and I did in fact find something inspirational for your class.

      I appreciate the input and look on several websites for source material and though I don’t use all of it, I have found content from the lessons to be very helpful and inspirational. I also enjoy reading all the comments from others and have at times used ideas from those comments to tailor to the needs I feel my class could use.

    • Heather, I agree with you completely. I come looking for peoples insights. I love the exponent, they have a lot of people with different ideas and thoughts on the same topics I am teaching. I feel this lesson went way away from the manual, they usually do not go this abstract. Thank you for sharing something I was feeling.

      • Colby, I come to these site to see the way people view the materials. Usually they are very insightful and I enjoy getting opinions and thoughts from other minds. I have to agree with Heather on teaching what the church has given us. I normally love to get a few other ideas from other people, however this lesson in particular goes far from the path of the lesson. There is very little of the lesson used at all. It started well, but I feel disappointed. It is wonderful that we can all think and feel the way we want to, and hopefully people are not critical of these things. It makes me sad when I see people bashing in the comments.

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