Sunday, February 28, 2010

Gospel Principles

For those that aren't aware, church services for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last 3 hours every Sunday. This is divided into 3 different parts: Sacrament Meeting, Sunday School, and then auxiliary meetings.

Sacrament Meeting centers around taking the Sacrament: the bread and water which symbolize the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The purpose of this meeting is to help all to remember our Savior. This is tied to the promise we make at baptism: part of this promise is that we will always remember Him. All things in our religion are meant to remind us of the Atonement of our Lord; without His sacrifice for us there could be no hope for any of mankind. Therefore, we have this meeting weekly to remember Him.

Sunday School is where we study the scriptures. Everyone attending Church goes to one Sacrament Meeting, but Sunday School is divided into age groups, and in some cases there are different classes focusing on different parts of the Gospel. In general, adults meet together and the youth meet in several different classes to keep them together based on their ages. This makes it so that the scriptures can be taught in ways that make sense for the different classes, because surely a 5 year-old needs a different explanation from a 15 year-old. Each year we rotate which scriptures we are studying: one year we'll study the Old Testament and Pearl of Great Price, the next year we study the New Testament, then the Book of Mormon, and then the Doctrine and Covenants. After we study all four, we start at the beginning again.

Auxiliary meetings mean that we meet in the various organizations the Church has organized for each of us. Adult women meet in the Relief Society. The Relief Society was founded in 1842 to aid the poor, and it is one of the largest and oldest women's groups in the world. On Sundays the teaching focuses on the Gospel as it applies to the members of the group and the mission of the Relief Society. Men go to Priesthood meeting, which focuses on serving others worthily through the Priesthood. All adult men go to this meeting because in our Church all worthy men hold the Priesthood; we do not have a paid clergy.

This year both adult auxiliaries are being taught from the manual Gospel Principles. This manual is meant to help us understand the doctrine of the Church. Each lesson is focused on a single point of doctrine. I have found these lessons to be very uplifting, and I intend to start writing about the different things we learn here. The full manual is available on the Church's website.

The plain and precious parts of the Gospel are important for all to know and understand. Many wonder why we would focus on doctrine that most already know or are familiar with. Others find it repetitive to discuss these principles over and over again. The simple truth is that we aren't perfect. If we open our hearts and listen to these essential teachings we will more fully understand the love of God and become more devoted disciples of Christ.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Thought on Death

This morning I read the following scripture:
And it came to pass that there were many who died, firmly believing that their souls were redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ; thus they went out of the world rejoicing (Alma 46:39)
It is very difficult to know the state of someone else's salvation, perhaps even impossible in general; however, we know that little children are innocent. When a child dies, it is beyond tragic. I am grateful that the Lord gives us this comfort to know that little children are saved. It comforts me to think that perhaps these innocent ones leave this life rejoicing, knowing that they go home redeemed and ready to inherit the blessings of a Heavenly Father.