Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Melchizedek Priesthood - notes on D&C 128, D&C 121, and Alma 12 & 13 (YW Lesson 15, Manual 1)

Our ward is teaching the lessons on Priesthood after the lessons on the temple. We're starting with lesson 15, as an overview of the Priesthood. (And I get to teach again! Whoo-hoo!)

To get myself thinking, I decided to look at some of the sections in the D&C that describe the Priesthood. Here are some of my notes and thoughts so far (I hope to update this post when I do more):

D&C 128:
  • Priesthood is a "power which records or binds on earth and binds in heaven."
  • Priesthood has to do with doing things "truly and faithfully"
  • Priesthood also has to do with "knowledge of facts in relation to the salvation of the children of men"
D&C 121:
  • Priesthood can never be understood if someone is seeking the "honors of men"
  • It might be "conferred" upon some who will misuse it, and they might even have some "influence" (see v. 41 and also D&C 122:4), but this power cannot be "maintained." 
  • Priesthood powers, used rightly, "are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven" which depend upon the "principles of righteousness."
  • Priesthood can only be used right by those who have charity. To actually have the power and influence intended by the Priesthood, a person must use "persuasion, long suffering, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned, kindness, and pure knowledge." 
  • The hope is to "enlarge the soul" not control the soul.
  • The true understanding of the doctrine of the Priesthood will only come after one is full of charity. Then it will "distil" as "dews from heaven" - as a gift, gradual, but also life-giving.
Update 6/2/12: Elder Oaks' talk caught my attention this afternoon. I'm pondering the implications of these paragraphs:
“No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge” (D&C 121:41–42).
When priesthood authority is exercised in that way in the patriarchal family, we achieve the “full partnership” President Kimball taught.
I love D&C 121 and all it teaches about how if those with priesthood authority want to have any actual power or influence to use God's power, they need to be like God! Full of charity. But now hang on a second and look at what Elder Oaks adds to that. When priesthood bearers are full of charity, then a wife is a full partner. If he doesn't, then, they are not? Then he, as D&C 121 says, practices unrighteous dominion to at least some degree? And that changes the family, of course. It's not simply a matter of this is how he "should" be to be a good person; it is crucial to building an equal partnership. It allows for full partnership. That's a claim with a lot of substance to it. Of course, the woman has to be a covenant-keeping charitable person herself... but still! an interesting claim to make.

Okay, I'm still planning to write about D&C 84 and Alma 13 next.

Update 6/4/12: Yesterday I got to teach this lesson (yay!), and here's how we laid the groundwork.

Alma 12:20-21 - Antionah asks Alma why he's bothering to talk about heaven etc, when the scriptures say there's an angel blocking Adam and Eve from returning to the garden and hence from living with God or living eternally.

And because I like to doodle, I drew a picture of trees, a path, a nice stick-figure angel w/ sword, and Adam and Eve outside the garden.

Then we read Alma 12:29-30. (God sends angels to teach about the plan to get back)
And then we read Alma 13:1 (God ordains priests to teach others about the plan to get back.)

So we emphasized that the purpose of the priesthood, as Alma explains it, is to teach. And specifically, to teach how to get back past the angel/the veil to God's presence. (One of the other leaders nicely pointed out how this is related to the temple lesson we had a few weeks back - nice!)

Then to just throw things into complication (and to get us thinking, and just because I really, really like this quotation from Sister Beck), we all read this from an article on the 2011 Women's Conference at BYU:
“...we have and live with inseparable connection to the priesthood,” Sister Beck said. No one need confuse the idea of those who hold the priesthood with the gifts, blessings, and privileges associated with the priesthood, she explained.

“The priesthood is God’s power,” she said. “It is His power to create, to bless, to lead, to serve as He does.” The priesthood duty of every righteous man is to qualify to hold the priesthood so he can bless his family, while the priesthood duty of sisters is to create life, nurture God’s children, and prepare them to make covenants with the Lord.

“Don’t confuse the power of the priesthood with the keys and offices of the priesthood,” Sister Beck said. “The power is limitless and is shared with those who make and keep covenants. Too much is said and misunderstood about what brothers have and sister’s don’t. This is Satan’s way of confusing men and women so that neither understands what they really have.”

Our responsibility, Sister Beck said, is to make sure that our homes are blessed with priesthood power, as the Primary song says, “every hour” (Children’s Songbook, 190). “It isn’t just when Dad is there. It isn’t just when Mom is there. It isn’t just when a priesthood ordination or blessing is being performed. It’s every hour as covenants are made and kept.”
That really blew our minds for a while, and gave us a lot to talk about. In fact, it mostly turned into a discussion between the leaders asking questions and talking. Which was probably really cool for the girls to watch. 

We had a nice discussion about what they, as YW, can do to have priesthood power in their homes, regardless of whether their home situations were perfect (since all of them have been baptized, and received the Holy Ghost, and have made that initial covenant with God).

As I listened to the other leaders and thought about the lessons ahead, I wrote on the board "Priesthood Power" and then under it I put "Church" then next to that "Home" and finally next to that "Personal." I explained that what I'm coming to see is that the Priesthood flows to us in at least these three different ways. I explained that over the next few weeks we're going to have lessons on these sorts of areas, so we can talk about them in more depth and think about what this all entails. (Under "Church" I also wrote "ordinances" and "blessings" and "offices" to give them an idea of what I meant.)

I also wrote up some other places they could go to learn more about the Priesthood on their own (D&C 84, D&C 121, D&C 128, and some talks by Elder Oaks).

We ended with D&C 128:9 - a "Bold doctrine" - "that which binds on earth and binds in heaven" and sort of let the girls ponder what that might mean for each of the three areas we had talked about. 

I don't know how much they got out of the lesson as far as factual knowledge goes, but there was such a good feeling in the room of inquiry and desire to learn. And also a chance to bear testimony that this is all real - the Priesthood really is what crosses that boundary from outside the "Garden" to inside it. 

You never quite know what will happen when you teach. I love it when learning happens and the Spirit comes. Yay for teaching! :)

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