Wow ... sorry for totally dropping the ball on consistently blogging for you guys.
(However, I was quite chuffed that a few of you came and gave me hugs on Sunday. I miss you all something fierce!)
December 20th's class was dealing with the lesson "Christmas: How can I share my testimony that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?"
And, well ... we discussed that. We talked about HAVING a testimony and being brave enough to share it.
I want you all to be aware that you can share your testimony, of course, over the pulpit on Fast Sunday. Or in Young Men's or Young Women's. Or face-to-face with someone. You can write it down in your journal. You can write it in a note or a letter to a friend. You can post it on social media. You can blog about it.
And it doesn't have to just be the whole "I believe this, I know that"-type of testimony.
You could post a quote from the scriptures or a church leader (even a teacher in your class ... but no pressure! :P) and write just a sentence or two about WHY you chose to post that.
What I'm trying to say is that it doesn't have to be a big, formal, scary thing.
And choosing to share your testimony is a wonderful way to strengthen it and to influence others.
On December 27th (my last class with most of you! *sniff!*), we talked about two of the lessons: "What can I learn from the scriptures to help me prepare for the Second Coming?" and "How can I understand the symbols used to teach about the Second Coming?"
Like it's been mentioned (often) the Savior often used parable and symbolism to express meaning to those He taught (and, since He knew them perfectly, He totally knew how to put things so that his students would completely understand what He was telling them. I, sadly, being imperfect, will not always be that effective of a teacher ... and part of this Sunday School Curriculum's goal is to help you all learn how to be able to teach as our Savior did. Since that's a REALLY GOOD TRAIT for missionaries [every member a missionary!] and parents to cultivate!).
We discussed a little about the ten virgins (remember? Five were foolish and five were wise. It's been revealed that ALL of them are representative of us in the Church. We should strive to emulate those wise ladies. Be prepared, as the Boy Scouts say. Constance vigilance, as Mad-Eye Moody states).
We also talked about the evil servant (how people can get complacent and assume that they'll have tons of time LATER to get everything in order ... but that's not so, since as we also discussed ...), how, since no one knows the day and time that Jesus is coming again, it will come as a thief in the night.
So, like it was stated, we need to be working to be ready NOW. This way, we have good habits and will find it easier to make righteous decisions.
And, if we're being righteous, we have no need to fear. We'll have peace and protection. We'll even have JOY ... even if the world's in even MORE of a mess than it is right now.
Most of the big events that need to be fulfilled before the Messiah comes again HAVE been fulfilled. There are still some things that we're working on (like taking the gospel to the WHOLE world. We're getting closer and closer) ... but ... well, we all might live to see that day.
And it will be a great time ... if we're righteous, anyways. If we're being naughty, it's not going to be so fun. And I'd really like you to have fun (I want to be able to have fun, too), so we all should work at making sure we're prepared (and you have FULL permission to call me to task if you see me slipping! I mean it!).
If you haven't already (since I'm SURE that you're reading all the references in the lesson plans ;D), you should totally read Dallin H. Oaks talk, "Preparation for the Second Coming."
It's a good one ... as are all the references that are given in the lesson plans. But you know what I mean.
Since one of the lessons from the last could weeks WAS about testimonies, I feel that I should share mine with you. It's not the most eloquent or anything ... but it's mine.
I know that we have a living Heavenly Father who loves us. He loves us enough to send his Only Begotten Son as a sacrifice so that we have the ability to have the fulness of the gospel here on the earth, we can repent and live with our Heavenly Parents, and so we all will be resurrected.
I know that God is a god of love. He loves all of us. He wants all of us to choose to return to live with Him, to be able to reach our full potential as sons and daughters of God. He also loves us enough to allow us the freedom to make our own choices ... choices which often hurt ourselves and others.
I know that we have the Atonement of Christ to allow things to be made right again. When we accept it and exercise faith in it, ... well, it will fix things. It will heal our hearts and minds. It will help us to forgive people, even ourselves. When we make full use of the Atonement, we are better able to be filled with charity towards everyone around us. We will be better able to do all the things that Heavenly Father has asked of us. We will be able to be better than we were.
I know that we have been blessed to have prophets and apostles. I love the fact that Heavenly Father loves us enough to do all He can to give us the knowledge that we need (while not compelling us ... since that's not how He works) to be able to make the choices that will bring us closer to Him and to be comfortable in His presence again.
I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God who helped to usher in the last dispensation and bring the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth. There is no way that he could have done even half of what he accomplished on his own. Therefore, I KNOW that he was inspired and strengthened by the Lord to do all that he did.
I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet. I'm grateful for the wise counsel from him and our other leaders. I am comforted when I listen to and obey their counsel.
I know that I'm blessed because, even in the periods of my life when not everything was fun or easy, the gospel is the one thing that has always made sense.
I'm grateful for the fulness of the gospel that allows families to be together forever. I love my family. The idea of being without them frightens and saddens me. So I'm very thankful that I've been blessed with the opportunities that I've had to be sealed to them ... and to KNOW that, as long as I keep the covenants that I've made with the Lord in His holy temples, I will have them. Forever. And everything will work out. Maybe not always how I'd like it to happen ... but, then again, I don't know everything. So I'm grateful that my Heavenly Father DOES.
I love you guys. You've been a wonderful class. I'm grateful that I've been blessed with the opportunity to get to know you and to love you. I hope that you KNOW that you're loved. Not just by me, of course ... but that there are lots of people who love you. Our leaders are praying for you, you know. We KNOW that you are capable of wonderful things. And I look forward to being led by you.
Heavenly Father and Mother and Jesus love you. You have ancestors and posterity who are all rooting for you. I want you to be aware of that.
And I say these things in the name of our Lord and Savior, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
... And, if you ever need someone to talk to or a hug or anything, just come find me. Because I love you all. And I want you to succeed. Because you're all awesome.
I know that the teenage and early adult years aren't always easy ... that's why I'm always after you to make sure that you are developing those good habits NOW (as opposed to Sister Cox, with the less-effective example), so that things will be better asap.
I want you to know that you're awesome. Really.
Now, go out and make awesome decisions. You're our future leaders. And I take comfort and joy in that thought. ^_^