Relief Society Lesson 16: “That We May Become One” (To access the manual, click here)
The lesson is about unity in a variety of contexts: the church writ large, within your ward, within the home, between spouses and among church leaders. The term is not actually defined and seems to mean different things in these various contexts. It might be fruitful to begin by discussing what unity means to the sisters in your ward.
What does the word unity mean to you? Does anyone have an example of a moment when they felt particularly unified with someone else? What contributed to those circumstances?
This lesson begins with a story about the Perpetual Emigrating Fund, which was a program of donations among the saints who had already arrived in Utah to help fund subsequent immigrants. You may want to read or summarize the story. The manual notes that “Although the people had little to give individually, their unified efforts blessed many lives.”
Do you feel a sense of unity with anyone beyond your ward or stake boundaries? What has helped you to feel connected? (Some ideas: blogs, church programs, travel, missionary work, personal study, correspondence, family relationships etc.)
What barriers do you experience in feeling unified with those outside your own circle of acquaintance?
Sister Chieko Okazaki emphasized worldwide unity among the sisters of the Gospel: “All over the world, as brothers and sisters in the gospel, we can learn from each other, grow closer together, and increase in love for each other. Our unity grows from what we have in common all around the world. They are the doctrines and ordinances of the gospel, our faith in the Savior, our testimonies of the scriptures, our gratitude for guidance from living prophets, and our sense of ourselves as a people striving to be Saints. These are the principles of the gospel.” (Chieko Okazaki, Baskets and Bottles, April 2006)
What do you feel you have in common with a sister on the other side of the world? How does this change your actions in your day to day life?
President Lorenzo Snow asks the question “If two people were associated together who had never been acquainted, how would they go to work to secure each other’s friendship, attachment and affection one towards another?”
What do you think needs to happen for someone to go from a stranger to a friend? Invite to share personal experiences.
“We talk considerably in regard to the principle of loving our neighbors as well as we love ourselves; we talk about it and we sometimes think about it, but how much do we really enter into the spirit of these things, and see that the difficulty lies within ourselves?”
“Let a [person] go and trample upon the rights of a [sister] and how long would it take [that person] to destroy that feeling of confidence that had heretofore existed between them? And when once destroyed how long will it take to establish that feeling which once existed between them?”
What obstacles have you encountered in loving a neighbor? How can we repair the damage when we (however inadvertently) violate the trust of another and cause hurt? How can we build love with those who are disaffected from the church through violated trust?
We must exhibit this feeling by our works … instead of shaking a person by the hand and saying God bless you my good fellow, and the next day pay[ing] no regard to what we have previously said but trampl[ing] upon his best feelings.
How can we become more consistent in loving others and building unity? What blessings in your life have you seen from unity with others? How can we become unified with those not of our faith?
Image: Annunciation to the Shepherds, Louis Comfort Tiffany
Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, Maryland