Saturday, April 28, 2012

YW Lesson 17: The Purpose of Covenants and Ordinances

From my perspective, it seemed like the purpose of this lesson was to teach about covenants and ordinances through what they have already experienced in baptism/confirmation/sacrament. I think that's a great idea and a great way to prepare them for the temple and discussions about covenants there. What I don't like, myself, is that we basically skip from baptism to marriage when we go to the next lesson (and we use the word marriage in our title, not sealing, even). And the little ladder thing in this lesson just doesn't work for me. But anyway, I do find it wise to use the covenants they've already made as a basis for a discussion. To that end, I appreciate the suggestions on the sidebar for lesson 17:
I also like the passages from King Benjamin (Mosiah 2-5) and Alma (Mosiah 18, mostly) where the people make their covenants. My favorite part, in connection with this lesson topic, is verse 10:
Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
What I like about this is the structure/chronology/(whatever the word is :) ) of their experience. What I like is that they had already had the desires to serve God, keep his commandments, love each other, etc. And baptism was a securing of that desire, a witness that they have entered into a covenant with him. (Even if that covenant is being made now, moments before that baptism.)

I think this is a great way to teach the temple, which seems to me to be the ultimate goal of this lesson (especially considered in its relation to the next lesson). When we go to the temple for the first time, we won't know everything about what is going to happen there. But, the covenants we make there will be a securing of all the desires and commandments we have already had. Nothing in the temple covenants is that different than what we had to be living in order to go through the interview in order to even receive a temple recommend, but it is taken to a higher plane. And in that sense, we can identify with the last part of verse 10:
"that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you"
The Spirit comes when we are baptized, take the sacrament, and live worthy to receive the Spirit. (Basically, as Benjamin says, when we yield to the Spirit - when we give in to the Spirit. I'm sure Elder Bednar and Elder Christofferson's talks have some great ways of explaining that so I shouldn't get into that here.) But my point is that we, and the girls, have received the Spirit through our primary ordinance of baptism. But in the temple, we make more covenants. And if we rejoice in the gospel and the Spirit that comes through the covenant we have already made, "what have we against" going to the temple and receiving more ordinances and making more covenants, that God may "more abundantly" pour out his Spirit upon us?

This also reminds me of Abraham 1:2:
...having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge...

There's much to be riddled out about Abraham of course, but I think the words apply beautifully. Whatever it was that Abraham already had and knew, he wanted to take that and build upon it. He had been a "follower of righteousness" - are we/the YW also followers of righteousness? Are we keeping our baptismal covenant and do we ever feel the Spirit? If so, do we desire "to be a greater follower of righteousness?" and "to be one who possessed great knowledge" from God? If that's the case, then let's focus ourselves and the young women on the temple, because that is exactly what the temple is all about!

What other ideas and suggestions do you have for teaching this particular lesson, especially as a lead-up to another lesson on the temple? (In my ward, we're going to use Lesson 18 to teach both the endowment/initiatory and the sealing, not just marriage inside vs. marriage outside the temple. (Yay!) So this lesson could really be a nice lead-up to that one.)

Or, perhaps you want to make this lesson #17 into a lesson on the temple, teaching about the ordinances of initiatory/endowment (and perhaps sealing too) in preparation for the next lesson on marriage. What suggestions do you have there? (Understanding these ordinances is so important for the YW and they rarely get taught!) So please share if you have something you think would help other teachers!

(Photo downloaded from one of lds.org's multimedia resources archives.)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post! I love that you included Mosiah 18:10, I think it fits much better in the lesson :)

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