But as I was preparing my lesson, something kept telling me to do an introduction to the atonement. I kept thinking, "No, I don't want the kids to get the same lesson in both classes..." but the feeling persisted. So I followed it.
I found some great, great ideas from the Red-Headed Hostess on how to teach the atonement. And I felt like I should kind of go in that direction. I hope the Young Men's and Young Women's teachers weren't mad... But when I get a prompting, I follow it. Right? Right.
1. Leftover activity from last week
We were doing an activity last week when the bell rang to dismiss class. I asked them if they wanted to share what they had prepared this week, and they really did, so I gathered their materials and had them present them this week, which probably took a good ten minutes or so. And it was really nice. These kids are a.maz.ing.
2. Introducing the Atonement
First I handed this worksheet out:
Then I gave them each a bookmark that I made for them, which had four important points on it:
What the Atonement Can Do For You
1. It can cleanse you from sin – small sin and great sin.
2. It can heal you of your pain and sadness.
3. It can give you strength beyond your natural capacity.
4. It can change your nature – from bad to good, from good to great, from great into greater.
Here are the bookmarks:
1. It can cleanse you from sin.
A. I showed my students two stained shirts. The first is my husband's shirt, which is horribly stained (and which he refuses to throw away).
Then I showed my shirt, which has a teeny, tiny little bleach stain on it.
I told them that these shirts are like us. Some of us have committed "large" sins, and some of us have committed "minor" sins. The point is, all of us have sinned. And all of us need the atonement, because none of us is without sin.
Then I had a student read Quote #1:
The power of the Atonement is infinite (see 2 Nephi 9:7)—it can clean infinitely small sins, and infinitely large ones. If we haven’t committed the unforgivable sin—which the average member cannot—then there is no sin the Atonement cannot cover. There is no hole Jesus cannot mend. There is no stain He cannot cleanse. - The Big Picture by John Hilton
B. It can heal you of your pain and sadness.
I had another student read Quote #2:
“Night after night I knelt in prayer and asked my Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, to heal my emptiness. . . . Little by little Heavenly Father intervened in my life to show me that Christ’s love was healing me. Heavenly Father also let me know He loves me and that He knows me. I know, unmistakably now, that my Savior was aware of my pain and sadness. He never gave up on me. I can see now that He carried me through those difficult times. . . .
It was Christ who healed my heart.” - The Big Picture by John Hilton
C. It can give you strength beyond your natural capacity.
We looked up "grace" in the Bible Dictionary and just read part of the middle paragraph, which says:
"It is ... through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts."
Then I had a student read Quote #3:
The enabling power of the Atonement gives us ability beyond our natural capacity to do things we otherwise couldn’t accomplish on our own. It was the enabling power of the Atonement that gave Nephi the ability to build the boat, that allowed Peter to walk on water, that gave Joseph Smith the ability to translate the Book of Mormon. That same strengthening power from the Atonement can be given to us in our daily lives to make us better in all that we do. - The Big Picture by John Hilton
D. It can change your nature - make you better.
I had a student read Quote #4:
The Atonement of Jesus Christ has the power to change our character. President Gordon B. Hinckley said the gospel—which is centered on the Atonement of Jesus Christ—“can change our very natures.”
Jesus’ Atonement can make bad people good, good people great, and great people into true saints.
- The Big Picture by John Hilton
And then we ran out of time!
I felt badly. But when we were talking about grace, I did tell them that this strengthening power can be theirs as they teach in the gospel. I told them that it is very difficult for me to prepare a lesson every single week - that our weekends are crazy with our kids, and that I often think, "There is no way I'm going to be able to make a meaningful lesson for Sunday..." but Heavenly Father gives me strength and makes me less tired. He helps me to fulfill my calling. So there was a teeny bit about what my lesson was supposed to be about this week... Haha!
Here is what I was going to do with the rest of the time.
3. Every Member a Teacher
We were going to read the portion entitled "Every Member a Teacher" from Teaching, No Greater Call together. I was going to have each student read one paragraph. Here is that excerpt:
Every Member a TeacherWhen the resurrected Savior taught the Nephites, He said: “Hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do” (3 Nephi 18:24). In this instruction the Lord made no distinction among those who heard His voice. All were commanded to teach.
The same is true today. The responsibility to teach the gospel is not limited to those who have formal callings as teachers. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you have the responsibility to teach the gospel. As a parent, son, daughter, husband, wife, brother, sister, Church leader, classroom teacher, home teacher, visiting teacher, coworker, neighbor, or friend, you have opportunities to teach. Sometimes you can teach openly and directly by the things you say and the testimony you bear. And you always teach by example.
The Lord said, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). As you think of the role of gospel teaching in the salvation and exaltation of God’s children, can you imagine a duty more noble or sacred? It calls for your diligent efforts to increase your understanding and improve your skills, knowing that the Lord will magnify you as you teach in the way He has commanded. It is a labor of love—an opportunity to help others exercise their agency righteously, come unto Christ, and receive the blessings of eternal life.
- Teaching, No Greater Call
I was going to point out that all are responsible to teach, not just teachers. And then I was going to have them tell me, and I was going to list on the board, the opportunities that they have to teach the gospel in their every day lives. Here are things I thought they might suggest:
- conversations with non members, less active members, or even strong members
- their callings in class presidencies
- devotionals in seminary
- home teaching - for the boys
I was going to then ask them how the Lord helps us fulfill our responsibility to teach. (Answer - the Holy Ghost leads us to what to say. And we are strengthened to do the things we need to do - he strengthens the prophet and apostles to do all they need to do, despite their age and probable health problems.)
4. We are instruments.
I have two girls in my class who play instruments, and I had asked them to bring them, but they forgot. Which turned out to be okay, because we didn't get to this part. But I was going to have them show us their instruments and discuss what they have to do to keep their instruments prepared to work properly.
Someone playing a musical instrument is like the Lord using us as instruments to teach his gospel. We have to be prepared.
Together, read Alma 17:9-11. What did the sons of Mosiah do to prepare themselves to be effective instruments in the hands of the Lord? (They fasted, prayed, and kept the commandments.)
Then I was going to point out that, when they go on their missions, or when they serve in their callings, they need to fast, pray, and be good examples by keeping the commandments.
And that's all I prepared. Badda bing, badda boom.