This will be a relatively easy lesson for our particular quorum. There is always much discussion regarding the need to attend and the blessings for doing so.
The official Church lesson manual includes a single video this week, of a young lady reflecting on the different events in her life that led her to the temple, blessing, baptism, confirmation, the sacrament, etc. There are actually no words spoken (in the entire 5+ minutes), but it is very thought provoking and helpful in getting in the right frame of mind to prepare this lesson.
From the Life of Ezra Taft Benson
With 6 sections in this lesson, I will skip this opening story of ETB’s mom preparing for the temple and paraphrase it in section 5. My timing has been off the last two lessons, and I want to make sure I have time for all 6 sections.
1 – Temples are symbols of all we hold dear.
The temple is the nearest place to heaven on mortal earth.
[The] temple will be a light to all in [the] area—a symbol of all we hold dear
I will ask at this point, What do temples represent for you? (There are no right answers here, merely a chance to have the quorum reflect and discuss the symbolism that resonates with them personally regarding the temples)
I will then have the next three paragraphs read from the manual:
The temple is an ever-present reminder that God intends the family to be eternal.4
[The temple is] a constant, visible symbol that God has not left man to grope in darkness. It is a place of revelation. Though we live in a fallen world—a wicked world—holy places are set apart and consecrated so that worthy men and women can learn the order of heaven and obey God’s will.5
[The temple is] a standing witness that the power of God can stay the powers of evil in our midst. Many parents, in and out of the Church, are concerned about protection against a cascading avalanche of wickedness which threatens to engulf Christian principles. I find myself in complete accord with a statement made by President Harold B. Lee during World War II. Said he: “We talk about security in this day, and yet we fail to understand that … we have standing the holy temple wherein we may find the symbols by which power might be generated that will save this nation from destruction.”
I will quickly paraphrase the story of the Beverly Hills party and then read the last paragraph of this section:
May [the temple] be a constant reminder that life is eternal and that covenants made by us in mortality can be everlasting.
2 – We need temple ordinances and covenants in order to enter into the fullness of the priesthood and prepare to regain God’s presence.
I will skim over this section as well, hoping to get more time for discussion on the last couple of sections. I will paraphrase most of this section emphasizing my personal belief that part of the symbolism we discussed in section 1 includes our progression AS a couple, man and wife. We move through each stage together, not one before the other. It is always Adam and Eve and never Adam and/or Eve. To support this idea, I will read the 7th and 8th paragraphs from the section:
The order of priesthood spoken of in the scriptures is sometimes referred to as the patriarchal order because it came down from father to son. But this order is otherwise described in modern revelation as an order of family government where a man and woman enter into a covenant with God—just as did Adam and Eve—to be sealed for eternity, to have posterity, and to do the will and work of God throughout their mortality.
If a couple are true to their covenants, they are entitled to the blessing of the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. These covenants today can only be entered into by going to the House of the Lord.
3 – Through temple ordinances and covenants, we can receive protection and God’s greatest blessings pertaining to eternal life.
I will have the first two paragraphs read of this section.
The blessings of the house of the Lord are eternal. They are of the highest importance to us because it is in the temples that we obtain God’s greatest blessings pertaining to eternal life. Temples are really the gateways to heaven
The Lord’s desire is for every adult man and woman in the Church to receive the ordinances of the temple. This means that they are to be endowed and that all married couples are to be sealed for eternity. These ordinances provide a protection and blessing to their marriage. Their children also are blessed to be born in the covenant. Birth in the covenant entitles those children to a birthright blessing which guarantees them eternal parentage regardless of what happens to the parents, so long as the children remain worthy of the blessings.
I hope to discuss this by asking the following questions: How can the sealing and endowments “protect” a marriage? Why does it need protecting? What is the threat to our marriages?
After this discussion, I will have the 4th paragraph read:
There is a power associated with the ordinances of heaven—even the power of godliness—which can and will thwart the forces of evil if we will be worthy of those sacred blessings. [Our] community will be protected, our families will be protected, our children will be safeguarded as we live the gospel, visit the temple, and live close to the Lord. … God bless us as Saints to live worthy of the covenants and ordinances made in this sacred place.
In order to keep the lesson moving, I will quickly point out that the Temple is important enough that the church builds them strategically around the world, so all members will have the opportunity to go. In addition. these ordinances help us:
- Become more Christlike
- Learn what is required of us and what we need to know (the “University of the Lord”)
- Must be performed for us to become perfected
- It is our mission to help others obtain these blessings
4 – We have the privilege of opening the doors of salvation to our ancestors.
I particularly like the word “privilege” as it is used to summarize this section. Before we read anything, I will ask why could this be looked at as a privilege? After all, the genealogy, submitting the names, arranging for the different ordinances to be performed could also be looked at as a lot of work. 🙂
During this discussion, I will have the first 2 paragraphs from the section read:
Temples are built and dedicated so that, through the priesthood, parents can be sealed to their children and children can be sealed to their parents. These sealing ordinances apply to both the living and the dead. If we fail to be sealed to our progenitors and our posterity, the purpose of this earth, man’s exaltation, will be utterly wasted so far as we are concerned.
It is not sufficient for a husband and wife to be sealed in the temple to guarantee their exaltation—if they are faithful—they must also be eternally linked with their progenitors and see that the work is done for those ancestors. “They without us,” said the Apostle Paul, “cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect” (D&C 128:15). Our members must therefore understand that they have an individual responsibility to see that they are linked to their progenitors—or, as sacred scripture designates, our “fathers.” This is the meaning of section 2, verse 2, in the Doctrine and Covenants when Moroni declared that Elijah “shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.
But being commanded is not always a privilege (can you imagine telling someone, it is my privilege not to kill you today since it would be against the commandments of God?). There must be another reason:
I will then read the 5th paragraph (emphasis mine!):
It is well to ask, “Have I done all I can as an individual on this side of the veil? Will I be a savior to them—my own progenitors?
What a concept, to be a Savior of sorts for our relatives. That is indeed a privilege. Imagining that there is a celebration of sorts by those who have been waiting for the ordinances helps us stay motivated to do both the genealogy and the temple work.
5 – Children and youth need to learn about the blessings that await them in the temple.
The temple is a sacred place, and the ordinances in the temple are of a sacred character. Because of its sacredness we are sometimes reluctant to say anything about the temple to our children and grandchildren.
As a consequence, many do not develop a real desire to go to the temple, or when they go there, they do so without much background to prepare them for the obligations and covenants they enter into.
It is at this point I will share the story from the Life of Ezra Taft Benson section of this lesson. Where is mother would talk to him about the temple as she prepared herself to go. Examples are often the best teachers, do we take the opportunity to explain to our kids/grandchildren about why we are going to the temple? Do we tell them when we go? let them ask questions? I will ask at this point, how the different members of the quorum have taught their children about the temples.
6 – Increased temple attendance leads to increased personal revelation.
This section ties in so well with Lesson 8 – The Power of the Word. I will remind the quorum of this lesson during the course of the discussions here.
Starting with the 3rd paragraph, we’ll read:
I promise you that, with increased attendance in the temples of our God, you shall receive increased personal revelation to bless your life as you bless those who have died.31
In the peace of these lovely temples, sometimes we find solutions to the serious problems of life. Under the influence of the Spirit, sometimes pure knowledge flows to us there. Temples are places of personal revelation. When I have been weighed down by a problem or a difficulty, I have gone to the House of the Lord with a prayer in my heart for answers. These answers have come in clear and unmistakable ways.32
Do we return to the temple often to receive the personal blessings that come from regular temple worship? Prayers are answered, revelation occurs, and instruction by the Spirit takes place in the holy temples of the Lord.
This is as good as it gets, a promise from the Prophet that if we go to the temple more, we will receive an increase in our personal revelation. I will focus on the word ‘often’ in the question, Do we return to the temple often… and stress that if we only attend once a year, our minds are busy trying to remember the details instead of being open and receptive to the personal revelation we are entitled to.
In conclusion, I will refer to the last statement in the lesson:
Let us make the temple a sacred home away from our eternal home.
In our last conference, President Monson spoke on The Blessings of the Temple. He makes a wonderful point regarding the feeling of Peace the comes to us as we visit the temple. I will probably use the missionary story from this talk during the course of our discussions. Elder Boyd K. Packer’s last conference talk, The Plan of Happiness, included a good section on Sealings and the Temple, which inclusion might be timely if their is any discussion on his passing.
I am enjoying the lesson outlines published on the website PROPHETS, SEERS, AND REVELATORS. This week, it includes a great activity that could be included in the 2nd section, on working together. there are also some great Temple quotes and the section on becoming more Christlike would make a wonderful lesson on its own. This lesson plan can be found here.