Relief Society Lesson 21: The Second Coming

By Deborah

Okay, I struggled with finding the right focus in this lesson.  The quotes are pretty intense!  I have sat through many “second coming” lessons through the years, and I have never left inspired.  As a kid, the descriptions of the last days scared me.  As an adult, I’m sometimes troubled by “sign-seeking” – especially interpreting world events through a hybrid political/religious lens.  “____________________ (that hurricane, this legislation, that candidate, this war) is clearly a sign that the end is near.”  Discussion can quickly become a chance to bemoan the evils of the world — to which the optimist in me always wants to say “But there’s never been a better time in history to be a woman!”  And then in this time of economic turmoil . . . So what to do with this lesson, assuming that the women in your class come for both instruction and for a spiritual boost?  I might very well begin by asking some questions:  When you come to a class about the second coming, what do you hope to hear?  What do you want to learn?  What role does this doctrine have in your spiritual life?  What have you learned about it through the years that has brought you particular insight?

Lesson Quote 1:

“ ‘But [of] the time and the season, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you, for ye yourselves perfectly know that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night: for when they shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman, but they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness. … Therefore let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober, for they that sleep, sleep in the night, and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us who be of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us unto wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ [1 Thessalonians 5:1–4, 6–9.] Wherefore, comfort one another, even as ye also do, for perilous times are at hand.”

  • What insight does this give us about the nature of trials in our lives?  (My thoughts – life can quickly turn from ‘safe’ to ‘dangerous.’ I’m sure every woman in the room has an example of such a shift in life that comes “like a thief in the night.”)
  • What does this mean “Therefore let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober.”  (My thoughts: I’m struck by the number of scriptures that use the word “awake” – see Isaiah 51 for one great example; Judges 5:12 for another).  What does it mean to be spiritually “awake?”
  • What about this quote: “Wherefore comfort one another . . . . for perilous times are at hand”?  What kind of comfort can the Relief Society provide in “perilous times”? Practically? Spiritually? Emotionally?

Quote 2

“Let us be wise in all things, and keep all the commandments of God, that our salvation may be sure. Having our armor ready and prepared against the time appointed and having on the whole armor of righteousness, we may be able to stand in that trying day [see Ephesians 6:13].”

  • Let’s talk about “wisdom.”  Many of the signs of the second coming include times of war, natural disasters, and financial hardship.  The world has had plenty of all three in the last 150 years!  How can we be wise *in advance* of such difficulties?  (Could be a good opportunity to mention about 72 hour kits and employment/financial planning resources available through the church).
  • For me, the metaphor of “armor of righteousness” never resonated. Perhaps it seemed too masculine?  What would be an equivalent metaphor to talk about spiritual strength?  What is spiritual “strength?”

Additional Topic/Quote

This lesson describes preparing ourselves for the coming of Jesus, even in the midst of trials and pain.   But we also believe that we can be in the presence of Jesus in this world, in the present.  We can seek for his spirit even in the midst of our present trials.  If we haven’t felt close to Jesus recently, how can welcome his grace into our lives – as a personal “second coming?” The following quote from Sister Chieko Okazaki speaks to spiritual strength, preparation, and wisdom as we face a difficult world with hope in Christ:

All of us face different family circumstances and home situations. All of us need strength in dealing with them. This strength comes from faith in the Savior’s love and in the power of his atonement. If we trustingly put our hand in the Savior’s, we can claim the promise of the sacramental prayer to always have his Spirit with us. All problems are manageable with that strength, and all other problems are secondary in urgency to maintaining a strong spiritual life. If we have faith, we will desire to pray often and sincerely, and his Spirit will teach us what to pray for (see Rom. 8:26–27). We will have the sensitivity to serve compassionately. We will have the wisdom that we need for our Church callings. We can build a loving and respectful partnership with our husbands, children, parents, and friends. If we always have Christ’s Spirit with us, we will have a wise consultant when we are perplexed by our children’s needs. We will receive help in making correct decisions and strength in carrying them out. We will give and receive loyal friendship, and feel in ourselves when the advice we receive from others is truly suited to our needs. We will hold a clear vision of gospel ideals and aspire toward them even as we deal patiently with the limitations of reality. Through faith in the Savior, we can magnify our opportunities, cope with our problems, and keep both of them in perspective.

Deborah

Deborah is K-12 educator who nurtures a healthy interest in reading, writing, running, ethics, mystics, and interfaith dialogue.

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  1. Caroline says:

    This was wonderful. Who wrote this post?

  2. Deborah says:

    Opps! Just added my name 🙂

  3. tanya says:

    It is important to remember that not all signs are signs of trials, troubles and calamities.

    There are the postive signs too, the building of the Two Jerusalems, gathering of the 10 tribes, the growth of the church.

    All too often we focus on the doom and gloom and not the reason to rejoice, which is looking forward to the Coming of Christ.

    I am using the first paragraph to the tale of two cities as an example. I am also reading a quote by Harold B. Lee about the importance of using the scriptures to study about the coming of the Lord.

  4. tanya says:

    Oh, I also wanted to add that even though I am on the political opposite ends of the spectrum from the writers on this blog, it is important for me to try to control the conversation from leaning to the election this week. I personally do not feel it is an appropriate setting or time for that, and it could get sooooo out of hand.
    It is more important to focus on our own personal prepardness in watching for this time, rather than tearing down the political views of others that maybe sitting in the same room.

  5. Janna says:

    Several years ago Nancy Call gave an amazing sacrament meeting talk in the Longfellow Park ward on the second coming that was later published in Exponent II (perhaps you can track that down). Anyway, her perspective was the everyday we have the opportunity to experience the second coming of Christ as a manifestation of his love, comfort, inspiration, and guidance in our life. In other words, the second coming has already happened and is happening. Interesting thought…

  6. Deborah says:

    Thanks for your thoughts, Tanya and Janna. And please keep them coming. Especially ways to make this topic “enlightening” instead of “frightening”!!

  7. Steph says:

    I really enjoyed once being taught more about what we need to do to prepare. Lots of people for generations have been preparing for it and many will not be around when it comes but this life is when we prepare to be worthy to stand worthy when it happens. When we die that test is over from what I gather. You never know how short life is. We are to prepare ourselves and our family so when we die either now or live to see it we will be prepared. I think we focus so much on what is to come we forget to focus on the every day things we need to do. I like the thought of experiencing it everyday as you repent etc. It seems the promise is if you are prepared you will not fear especially if you happen to be around for the end. The signs are all around and we are told to recognize them we just don’t need to let them cause us so much fear we loose focus on what is important.

  8. Kirsten says:

    Just a note about the “armor of righteousness”… Try a more feminine approach: how about the “purse of preparedness.” I know many women who seem to have something to take care of every emergency hidden away in the pockets of a purse. Whether it’s ibuprofen, tissues, mini-scissors, or electrical tape (yes I actually carry a small roll of electrical tape in my purse to fix things…) we stock our individual purses with those things that we know we can use in times of need. The necessary items in the purse will be different for each person, but can lead them to the same end– security in a time of need/crisis.

    Is this too goofy of an example?

  9. Leslie says:

    I found a web site that was very helpful in preparing this lesson; it is http://www.ldslatterdays.com.

  10. Leslie says:

    oops I the last post had the wrong website.

  11. Leslie says:

    oops I the last post had the wrong website. It was http://www.ldslastdays.com

  12. Kate says:

    Kirsten,
    I loved the example of the purse! Every women can apply that to themselves.

  13. Kiri Close says:

    Maybe teachers can ask the class what their genuine notions of ‘second coming’ are in comparison to what the scriptures or RS manual offer?

  14. June says:

    Great ideas and thanks so much for sharing. Someone else mentioned a quote from Elder Hales about creating a sense of hope and peace in the children of today about the times to come. I’ll do more looking on that one.

  15. Evelyn says:

    I just recently stumbled on this site
    and I absolutely love it and appreciate
    everyone’s comments. I’m interested
    in finding that Sacrament Meeting talk
    by Nancy Call but I can’t find it.
    Any suggestions? THANKS!!!!

  16. michele says:

    Loved the analogy of the purse! I’m going to bring a purse to set on the table as a visual prop. I always write my talk and then come here to gain a little extra insight. Thanks for the tips-keep them coming.

  17. Genny says:

    I love this site. Your comments and ideas help soooo much. It’s just a pity I was released from teaching Relief Society a few weeks ago -although I was a stand-in teacher for this particular lesson – and I used the purse of preparedness too! I have certainly made sure my successor knows all about the exponent as well. Great stuff sisters.
    Genny. England

  18. JKR says:

    This is terrific stuff. I am teaching this lesson this afternoon and will begin by showing just a few minutes of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” Linus’s great faith and preparations (ridiculed by his friends) can be a good model for us — and a cautionary tale about the dangers of date setting. I especially like the positive aspect of many of the comments here, that the 2nd coming is something to be eagerly anticipated rather than feared. Thanks so much.

  19. Deborah says:

    I am teaching this lesson this afternoon and will begin by showing just a few minutes of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”

    Now that’s creative! 🙂

  20. atoa says:

    I too would like a copy of that talk by Nancy Call. And I relly like the purse idea too.

    I am preparing to give this lesson in a few weeks. Please Help.

    Thanks, Atoa

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