Saturday, October 25, 2008

Primary Sacrament Meeting

Tomorrow is the Primary Sacrament Meeting--in other words, the best sacrament meeting of the year. For everybody except the Primary Presidency--hee hee. (I've done my time, and will doubtless do time again.) This is my second year of being the Primary chorister (for both Junior and Senior Primary), and I have to admit being very excited for tomorrow. We've been working hard all year on learning the songs, and while none of them will be anything like the Primary choir at conference this year, you should hear my kids sing "Called to Serve". They love that song, especially the chorus, and can belt it out with great enthusiasm (if not always on tune. Senior Primary is mostly boys, and let's just say that they aren't all pitch-perfect).

My oldest's birthday is tomorrow; he will be five. He was chosen from his CTR 5 class to give the talk--the rest will participate in a recited piece together. My boy is so excited about his talk--he's not one for stage fright. (It's far more likely that he will get carried away by the sheer thrill of talking in sacrament meeting and add some...embellishments, shall we say?...to his talk. It's out of my hands now, though. He's got his testimony/talk about the Savior memorized, and only forgets the close "In the name..." about 50% of the time.

Although I wrote his talk, we talked about everything he wanted to say, and I distilled it down for him. He knows Jesus loves him, and he knows that Jesus died on the cross. He chose his own favorite story about the Savior, and patiently added the part I wanted about what that story teaches us.

He's almost five, and yet he constantly amazes me with his understanding of the Savior's love. He will sleep on the floor next to his little brother, and when brother wakes up sad, he'll soothe and sing and comfort. He hugs and loves and shares (sometimes); he'll remind me when I'm angry that "Jesus wants us to love each other"; he loves to pray for everything (including the ants that crawl outside).

Primary has taught him a lot--he has trouble sitting still, and not talking out of turn, but he truly loves his teacher and loves to sing. He comes home from class and tells us the stories he's learned--it's hilarious to hear gospel stories through a pre-school filter. And tomorrow he gets to tell everyone in our ward about how "Jesus fell asleep on a boat during a storm. His friends were scared, but Jesus woke up and said, "Peace! Be still!" and the storm stopped. I know that Jesus can help us feel peaceful too."

I just hope he keeps the (rather extravagant) arms gestures to a minimum.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Joseph Smith: A Mostly New Bottle

And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles. (Mark 2:22)

It seems to me that Jesus is explaining in this passage why he didn't use the existing Jewish establishment to spread his message when he came to earth in the meridian of time. Instead, he started with those whom others considered ignorant and unlearned.

Speaking of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, Spencer W. Kimball said, "This budding prophet had no preconceived false notions and beliefs. He was not steeped in the traditions and legends and superstitions and fables of the centuries. He had nothing to unlearn."

President Kimball is obviously seeking to draw our minds back to the Savior and his work by his description of the boy prophet. It is ironic, however, that it was during the tenure of Spencer Kimball as a leader in the church that we learned that his description of Joseph is hyperbolic. It appears that Joseph was very much a product of his environment, soaking up the legends and superstitions of his time. Mark Hofmann with his forgeries, shocked the Mormon world with stories of salamanders and spirits. But his forgeries about Joseph and magic and treasure digging were believable precisely because they fit in with the things that were being unearthed at the time he forged them.

Joseph wasn't, it turns out, an entirely new bottle. Are we wrong then, to draw such images as President Kimball did? We're in company with the Savior when we do so. Jesus himself seemed to describe his followers as new bottles even though they too had soaked up false beliefs about religion and about the coming Messiah. Those sincere ancient apostle, like Joseph in modern times, had things to unlearn. But Kimball is right on the larger point. Joseph was the instrument that the Lord needed to move the work forward, and we're all grateful he was available and fit for the job.

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