Tuesday, May 15, 2012

FHE 5/21: Keeping our Covenants

We've got another parable-based talk this week, this time from Elder Robert D. Hales--"Coming to Ourselves: The Sacrament, The Temple, and Sacrifice in Service."  It's interesting, when I first heard it I was focused on the parable aspect, probably because we had just heard Elder Holland's.  But re-reading it, it's really all about making and keeping our covenants.  But, of course, "covenants" seems so BIG!  You can focus on what a covenant is, or specifics from his talk like what the sacrament means or how to prepare your families for the temple...or even what it means to "come to yourself" as the prodigal son did and "act on our desires" to come to the Lord.  SO MANY THINGS to talk about.  So prayerfully decide what your little family needs and go from there.  I'm putting a little bit of ALL of that here for you this week.  :)

 
POINTS TO PONDER BEFORE YOU BEGIN:
  • Do I understand what the sacrament really means?  Do I prepare my family well for such a sacred ordinance each week?
  • What covenants have I made already with the Lord?  Where might I be falling short?
  • How are coming to yourself and coming to the Lord connected?
QUOTES:
  • "Throughout our lives, whether in times of darkness, challenge, sorrow, or sin, we may feel the Holy Ghost reminding us that we are truly sons and daughters of a caring Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we may hunger for the sacred blessings that only He can provide. At these times we should strive to come to ourselves and come back into the light of our Savior’s love."
  • On the sacrament: "I testify that the sacrament gives us an opportunity to come to ourselves and experience “a mighty change” of heart—to remember who we are and what we most desire. As we renew the covenant to keep the commandments, we obtain the companionship of the Holy Ghost to lead us back into our Heavenly Father’s presence. No wonder we are commanded to “meet together oft to partake of [the] bread and [water]” and to partake of the sacrament to our souls."
  • On temple recommends: "Worthiness to hold a temple recommend gives us the strength to keep our temple covenants. How do we personally gain that strength? We strive to obtain a testimony of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the reality of the Atonement, and the truthfulness of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Restoration. We sustain our leaders, treat our families with kindness, stand as a witness of the Lord’s true Church, attend our Church meetings, honor our covenants, fulfill parental obligations, and live a virtuous life. You may say that sounds like just being a faithful Latter-day Saint! You are right. The standard for temple recommend holders is not too high for us to achieve. It is simply to faithfully live the gospel and follow the prophets."
  • On service in God's kingdom: "Whether we are young or old, what we do today determines the service we will be able to render and enjoy tomorrow. As the poet reminds us, 'Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: It might have been!"' Let us not live our lives in regret of what we did or did not do!"
SONGS (all from the Children's Songbook):
About baptism/baptismal covenants:
  • "Baptism"
  • "When I Am Baptized"
About reverence in sacrament meeting:
  • "Father, I Will Reverent Be"
  • "The Chapel Doors"
  • "Reverence is More than Just Quietly Sitting"
  • "To Think About Jesus"
  • "Before I Take the Sacrament"
  • "The Sacrament"
About temples/worthiness:
  • "I Love to See the Temple"
  • "Choose the Right Way"
  • "Keep the Commandments"
  • "Seek the Lord Early"
About service:
  • "'Give,' Said the Little Stream"
  • "Fun to Do"
  • "When We're Helping (We're Happy)"
  • "I Have Two Little Hands"
OBJECT LESSONS:
  • Baptismal covenants are one of the "keys" to eternal life.  Check out the full object lesson HERE.
  • There's a cool idea HERE where you use a hard-boiled egg to represent us, and you draw all over the shell with crayon to represent different sins or weaknesses.  Then, because of baptism, or later repentance and renewing our baptismal covenants through the sacrament, we can shed our outer layers of skin and become clean/whole again (you peel the egg). 
  • I love this one: teaching kids that ordinances and covenants are inseparable, show them both sides of the coin and ask which is more important or if they can separate it.  Just as these are inseparably connected, ordinances and covenants are BOTH important and they both go hand-in-hand.  (Here I would have family brainstorm a list of ordinances--like baptism, confirmation, the sacrament, endowments, sealings, etc.--and then talk about the covenants that go along with them--or, for REALLY young children, define these things and show pictures from the Gospel Art Kit.) (Came from "Teaching, No Greater Call.")
  • Covenants protect us from the "filth" of the world: In a shallow dish/pie pan, pour in water and have it settle a little before you teach.  As you talk about some of the bad things in the world, or the temptations we might have, sprinkle pepper across the top of the water.  Have kids look at how "dirty" it could be.  BUT, if we keep our covenants, we are strong enough to repel those unclean thoughts and stand up to the world's filth--place the tip of the soap into the peppered water and watch the pepper flakes run away!
  • There's a fun, quick idea HERE about helping children to understand that covenants are really just promises.
  • Decisions are like dominoes: Set up a short domino course and talk about cause and effect (AKA Choices and Consequences) as you knock it down.  (You could relate it to the parable here--how the prodigal son was greedy, so he left, and because he left, he didn't have any money or support system, and because of that, when famine hit he got REALLY hungry...etc.)  Talk about how the Lord can help us set the course back up and inspire us how the path of our lives should go as we repent and come to Him.  And we can have multiple paths open up to us because of His promises!

 
GAMES & LEARNING ACTIVITIES:
  • If you're lucky enough to live close to a temple, take your kids on an evening walk around the grounds...talk about how they feel there and what they can do to prepare to go inside someday. You can even hold mock-interviews so they understand, as Elder Hales said, that temple worthiness is really just living the gospel and following the prophets. 
  • Pick one of the Primary songs listed above that you don't know all that well (or that your family doesn't) and learn it.  Find a way to teach it to your kiddos/family--through objects, pictures, or just listening to it and going through line-by-line.  Music has a way of teaching pure doctrine and helping people *absorb* gospel truths in a lasting way.  :)
  • Act out the parable of the prodigal son!  (Or you can show a video clip...LDS.org has one HERE.)  Make sure you draw parallels between the father in this story and our Heavenly Father's love for us!
  • There is a GREAT lesson idea about the sacrament that uses Gospel Art Kit pictures (and she has some printables, too, including a coloring page!) HERE.
  • From the same site as above, there's a lesson about preparing for baptism HERE.
  • To illustrate the value of making covenants with the Lord, invite the strongest and smallest members of your family to stand. Ask the person to imagine that the strongest family member represents Christ while the smallest represents each of us. Using a rope, handcuffs, or other material, tie the hands of these two people together. Ask them how the weaker person would be helped by uniting with the strongest. How is a covenant with Christ similar to being tied to or bound to Him? (Dennis H. Leavitt and Richard O. Christensen, Scripture Study for Latter-day Saint Families: Book of Mormon, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003], p. 121.)
  • The son in the parable misstepped a lot in the beginning, but in the end he returned to his father's house.  We can walk by faith down the right path, too.  Cut out six footprints and attach one of the six pictures found HERE (go down to the middle-end of the lesson) to each footprint.  Have these footprints lead to a picture of a baptism--maybe even yours, if you have one--and discuss each step.  (Full instructions can be found at that link.)
  • Reverence in sacrament meeting activity idea from the Primary 2 manual: "Ask the children to listen carefully as you read some statements about things they could do or think about during the sacrament. Tell the children that if the statement describes something they should do or think about during the sacrament, they should stand up. If the statement describes something they should not do or think about during the sacrament, they should sit down. Use the following statements or create some of your own: Remember that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us. Think about going out to play. Think about Jesus making sick people well. Whisper and talk to your neighbor. Wiggle in your seat. Think about the sacrament song or another song about Jesus. Say a prayer to Heavenly Father. Draw pictures or play with a toy. Remember stories about Jesus."
  • A big part of keeping covenants is choosing the right!  There's a free CTR gameboard and questions HERE.
  • Play BAPTISM BINGO!  I made you a print-and-play game, which you can download HERE, that has a bunch of questions about baptism and the covenants we make there in a BINGO-format.  There are pictures in the boxes, and directions and answers are included.  :)

HANDOUTS & FREEBIES:
  • COLORING: There are two coloring pages about baptism HERE.  There are images on THIS PAGE that you could easily put into a word document and make into a coloring page about baptism. There are some about sacrament, temples, AND service on THIS PAGEHERE are some temple images for coloring.  There's a coloring page of children being reverent HERE
  • Pass out a copy of "My Gospel Standards" (you can buy it from the distribution center online)--it reviews ways children can keep their covenants.
  • There's a great subway art about baptism available for free HERE.  There's another one for $6 on Etsy HERE.
  • There are beautiful, antiqued temple pictures HERE.  :)
  • You can buy this BEAUTIFUL print about temple prep for super-cheap HERE.


 
CRAFTS & MORE:
  • Make a Sunday Binder filled with file folder games, LDS-themed coloring sheets, etc. (or just print off that quiet book you've been wanting to for a while now) to keep the little ones focused on the gospel during sacrament meeting!  If you can find pictures of ordinances, especially, it will remind them of the covenants they will be making one day!
  • There's a neat spinny wheel kids' craft at the bottom of the page HERE that you cut, color, and use a brass fastener--it helps your kids focus on the Savior more during Sacrament especially.
  • You could make these super-cute white dress hankies to give out as reminders. :)


 
TREATS:
  • Hardboiled Eggs (especially if you did the object lesson above!)
  • Homemade bread and flavored water
  • Something/anything "white" to represent purity/worthiness
  • Anything pig-shaped (for the pig food in the parable)--you can cut a small watermelon INTO a pig (instructions HERE) and have melon balls!
  • Baptism KIT KATS! (Idea from HERE)

    I love the challenge Elder Hales gives us: "I challenge each of us to follow our spiritual desires and come to ourselves. Let’s have a talk with ourselves in the mirror and ask, “Where do I stand on living my covenants?” We are on the right path when we can say, “I worthily partake of the sacrament each week, I am worthy to hold a temple recommend and go to the temple, and I sacrifice to serve and bless others.”  I know I have some things to work on after reading this talk; I could be better, much better, about keeping my covenants and understanding the Sacrament.  But I will work on it, because I want to be able to look myself in the mirror and answer well.

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