Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Two Lessons to End Them All

So we have a double-header today. I failed to upload last week's lesson last week (as my sainted mother pointed out), so by way of repentance you get both lessons today.

Lesson 5 begins our discussion of the events immediately subsequent to the resurrection of the Savior. We cover that very busy first Sunday where He appears to several women in the morning, the faithful disciples on the road to Emmaus, and the ten apostles in the Upper Room that evening.

Lesson 5

The last lesson of the series wraps it all up. Lesson 6 picks up where we left off last week and talks about the Savior's 40 day ministry among His followers. We follow them to Galilee where Peter is given his chance both to repent for his denials as well as to accept his great commission as the chief apostle. We also discuss the Savior's ascension at the Mount of Olives and His subsequent appearances to the Americas as well as the lost tribes of Israel.

Lesson 6

You'll hear it in the recording, but I can't overemphasize the tremendous gift we have of being able to study the life of our Redeemer. I truly have gotten to know Him far better than I have before, and I know I can make these opportunities through the remainder of my own life. What a blessing!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Thoughts and Observations

With two sessions remaining of this assignment I wanted to point out a couple of things that I've really enjoyed.

Firstly, there's been the tremendous personal boost that comes from a concentrated and detailed study of any gospel topic, but particularly when that topic is the Savior Himself. What an opportunity! My always steady, firm testimony has grown exponentially throughout this cycle of study and preparation each week. I believe it's akin to what I've heard seminary teachers experience.

Secondly, there's the class itself. Those who can attend in the middle of the day in the middle of the work week tend to be, obviously, those who have little interference from work schedules. Thus I have a proportionately larger population of retirees in this class. I also have a few folks who are there at least in part because they've already received assignments to work as production staff for putting together the "Savior of the World" performances next year. They're looking to get some of the historical background surrounding the events portrayed in the script.

Mostly, though, these are just wonderful people who have made teaching this class an absolute joy. Mrs. Woody and the Woodyettes are always my biggest supporters and fans, of course. But I also get to interact with some well-experienced testimonies from among these wonderful retirees that I've mentioned.

One fun little "controversy" (for lack of a better description) to tell: these sessions are overseen by a member of the Stake Presidency. The same counselor, I might add, that gave me the assignment in the first place. During our discussion of John the Baptist last week, he asked the question as to which priesthood John received from the angel when he was ordained at 8 days old. He wondered out loud whether it wasn't the Melchizedek Priesthood that John received. I had always supposed that it was in fact the Aaronic, since those were the keys he held and delivered to Joseph Smith at the beginning of the Restoration. So I promised to research it and return to topic in this last lesson.

I had found no firm, definitive statements to the effect that "the angel ordained John to the ____________ Priesthood." No one, it seems, would commit themselves to such a declaration. However, Boyd K. Packer made some statements to the effect that John was, in fact, a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood during his earthly ministry, and that's what I reported back to the class on Wednesday.

After class — not recorded by my little voice recorder — was a discussion between myself and my lovely Chorale director (who is also the music director for the production). She said that, when discussing this topic of John's priesthood with others (her hubby is also our Stake Patriarch), the statement that Joseph Smith made that "all prophets hold the Melchizedek Priesthood" sprang immediately to mind. We were then joined by our Stake Presidency counselor who basically shrugged his shoulders and admitted that we were really no further along in answering the question than we were before.

The upshot is that everyone accepts the fact that this question is still in play, and no one seems at all upset by this. So next week I will also throw my hands up and shrug that question firmly into the realm of personal study and prayer, which is where all such mysteries rightly belong.

Did I mention I'm having the time of my life?

I hope I'm not coming off as a huge know-it-all in all of this. I'm just excited to share what I've been learning. If you download and listen to the recordings, you may pick up on that. I have a hard time listening to my own voice, really. It has an unusual timbre that always sets my own teeth just a little on edge. But I'd like to think that my enthusiasm for the topic is coming through, and this class has certainly been faithful in their attendance.

Now I just need to figure out what to do with myself when this Institute ends. Go back to Family History, would be my guess. May have to put certain missionaries in Salt Lake to work for me. Assuming their heads haven't exploded yet.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lesson 4

Sorry it took a couple of days to process. This was my first week back to work after vacation and things always pile up while you're gone. So, what with putting out numerous virtual fires and fighting a bad case of the doldrums (except for Wednesday's Institute class!), I think I'm lucky to be posting this at all.

Good news: the recorder worked for the entire run this time!

That 20 or so minutes I lost from the last lesson gall me... it reminds me strongly of my first missionary journal which was stolen in the highlands of Guatemala when I'd been out about 7 or 8 months. My entire MTC experience and my first two area assignments are gone forever. I did happen to write down quite a bit of what I'd lost, but you just know that there are memories on those pages that are unrecoverable until the hereafter. Phooey. Luckily, my notes for the lesson help compensate for whatever I lost, so it's not quite as traumatic as the journal was.

Anyway, here's the latest:

Lesson 4 (Quicktime, Ma!)

Here we play catchup with material that I didn't get to cover last session (not lost, just ran out of time!), and take a comprehensive look at the Savior's childhood leading up to His ministry. I make the case for why we aren't looking at the ministry itself; this is what we have Sunday School for, yes?