Monday, July 22, 2013

The Lesson - How can I make the sacrament more meaningful to me? - What I did.

Let's just dive right in - I have an appointment with my 86-year-old neighbor to go get some day lily starts from him in a few minutes.  For reals.  It's serious business.

Um, okay, I'm back.  I got sidetracked by my ca-razy kids and couldn't type anything.

Story of my life.

*  Before class, make sure to gather enough Hymn books from somewhere in the church so that each student has one.  You'll need them for this lesson.

1.  Attention Activity

I found this in an old Family Home Evening manual - it's called Splintered Messages.  I put the kids into pairs.  Then I had them work together to decipher the splintered messages.  The words are in order; it's just that the spacing is wrong.  I told them to write the correct sentence under each splintered message.  Here is the splintered message worksheet:

When they were all done, I had each pair share one of the sentences they deciphered. 

1.  All of us sin, and this ordinance gives us a chance to renew our baptismal covenant.
2.  If we keep the promises we make, God promises us His spirit.
3.  We should be thinking of Jesus and his wonderful atonement.
4.  During this time, we can evaluate our lives and promise to do better.

Once we had read the real messages aloud, I told them that these splintered messages give us a clue as to what our lesson is about today.  I had them guess what the theme of our lesson was, and eventually they guessed that it was about the sacrament. :)  At first, they were like, "Covenants."  Because that's the theme for this month.  And I was like, "Okay, a specific covenant."  And then they were like, "Baptism?"  And I was like, "How late were you guys all up last night??"  Haha!  They were tired.  But it was a cute attention-getter.

2.  Index Cards

I gave each student an index card at this point.  I told them to write down what they thought of while the sacrament was being passed today - to the best of their remembrance.  I told them that we wouldn't be sharing these answers.  They looked confused (and tired), so I said, "Well, for example, if you had asked me this last week, I would have told you that I thought that so-and-so's new haircut was cute, that the sacrament bread was really yummy to me, that my kids were being naughty, etc."  Yes, sad, but true. 

I really do try to think about Christ while the sacrament is being passed.  It's just that I think I have a little bit of ADD.  Definitely not ADHD.  I kind of wish I had that one - then I'd have energy.  But my mind wanders.  A LOT.

After the students wrote their answers on their cards, I told them that we were making a new card at the end of class to keep in our scriptures, a card that will help those of us who have a hard time focusing during sacrament meeting.

3.  Preparing for the Sacrament

I gave each student the following worksheet:

Scriptures – Preparing for the Sacrament

Pick one of the following scriptures to read:

  1. 1 Cor. 11:23-29
  2. 3 Ne. 9:20
  3. D&C 20:37
  4. D&C 59:8-12

In the space below, write, according to the scripture you read, the things the Lord asks us to do to prepare for the sacrament. 

When they were finished, I said, "Okay, who chose the scripture in 1 Corinthians?"  If anyone raised their hands, I would then ask them what that scripture says about preparing for the sacrament.  I wanted to have us look up and mark each scripture, but I was running out of time and really wanted to make time to make our new index cards at the end of class.   So I just had them summarize for me.  Then I asked the same about the scripture in 3 Ne, etc.

1.  1 Cor. 11:23-29 - Examine yourself so that you're not partaking unworthily.
2.  3 Ne. 9:20 - Come to sacrament meeting with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
3.  D&C 20:37 - Humble yourself, repent, be willing to take upon you the name of Christ, determine to serve him, and do good works.
4.  D&C 59:8-12 - Broken heart, contrite spirit, confess your sins.

Then I had a student read quote number 1:

Quote #1:

For the sacrament to be a spiritually cleansing experience each week, we need to prepare ourselves before coming to sacrament meeting. We do this by deliberately leaving behind our daily work and recreation and letting go of worldly thoughts and concerns. As we do, we make room in our minds and hearts for the Holy Ghost.

Aaronic Priesthood holders earnestly prepare to perform their sacred sacrament duties. This preparation is made throughout the week by living gospel standards.

  • Elder Robert D. Hales, April 2012 General Conference, “Coming to Ourselves: The Sacrament, the Temple, and Sacrifice in Service”

4.  Hymns

Kay.  We were quickly running out of time, so we didn't do the following activity.  Instead, I just talked about how the sacrament hymns can teach us a lot about Christ and his atonement, and that it would be a worthwhile thing to do to read the sacrament hymns while the sacrament was being passed. I encouraged them to find their favorite one next week.  But I would have really loved to do the following:

Hymns are a really important part of sacrament meeting.  Have a student read the following quote:

Quote #2:

The music of sacrament meeting is a vital part of our worship. The scriptures teach that the song of the righteous is a prayer unto the Lord (see D&C 25:12). The First Presidency has declared that “some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns” (Hymns, ix).

  • Elder Dallin H. Oaks, October 2008 General Conference, “Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament”

Then I was going to hand out the hymnals.  Then I was going to give them the following little worksheet (I actually ended up giving it to them and encouraging them to fill it out during sacrament meeting next week):

Sacrament Hymns

Directions: Pick your favorite sacrament hymn. These are usually hymn numbers 169 – 196. Read the words of the hymn, and then look up the scriptures listed at the bottom of the page of the hymn. Then answer the following two questions.

  1. Why did you choose this hymn? Why is it meaningful to you?

  1. What do you learn from this additional reading of the hymn and from looking up the scriptures at the bottom of the hymn?

    My answer (I actually shared this with them, too):

    My favorite sacrament hymn is  #192 - "He Died!  The Great Redeemer Died."

    1.  I chose this hymn because it's very personal - He groaned beneath your load.  He shed a thousand drops for you.

    2.  I learned from Matt 27:45 that there was darkness on the land from the 6th through the 9th hour of Christ's crucifixion, while he was still alive.  I never knew that.
    I learned from Matt 27:51 that the veil of the temple tore in half right after Christ died.

    Upon further reading of the hymn, I really appreciated the figurative language that talks about the tomb, in vain, forbidding Christ to rise.  I loved that imagery.  And I adored the image of cherubic legions guarding Christ home and all of us shouting welcome to Him.  That was so touching to me.

    5.  New Cards

    I handed each student a new index card and told them we'd write on them in a minute.
    I put them in pairs again and gave each pair one of these handouts - they're all different:

    Five Principles

    Directions: Read this section of Elder Don R. Clarke's talk, “Blessings of the Sacrament,” from October 2012 General Conference, with your partner. Be prepared to share with the class what Elder Clarke suggests to do to make partaking of the sacrament more meaningful.

    I. Have a Feeling of Gratitude for the Atonement of Jesus Christ

    The first principle is to have a feeling of gratitude to Heavenly Father during the sacrament for the Atonement of His Son. The following story is told about passing the sacrament:
    “The sacrament never really meant much to me until the Sunday I was ordained a deacon. That afternoon I passed the sacrament for the first time. Prior to the meeting, one of the deacons warned me, ‘Look out for Brother Schmidt. You may have to wake him up!’ Finally the time came for me to participate in the passing of the sacrament. I handled the first six rows quite well. Children and adults partook of the bread with no noticeable thought or problem. Then I got to row seven, the row where Brother Schmidt always sat. But I was surprised. Instead of being asleep he was wide awake. Unlike many of the others I had served, he took the bread with what seemed to be great thought and reverence.
    “A few minutes later I found myself again approaching row seven with the water. This time my friend was right. Brother Schmidt sat with his head bowed and his big German eyes shut. He was evidently sound asleep. What could I do or say? I looked for a moment at his brow, wrinkled and worn from years of toil and hardship. He had joined the Church as a teenager and had experienced much persecution in his small German town. I had heard the story many times in testimony meeting. I decided finally to gently nudge his shoulder in hopes of waking him. As I reached to do so, his head slowly lifted. There were tears streaming down his cheeks and as I looked into his eyes I saw love and joy. He quietly reached up and took the water. Even though I was only twelve then, I can still remember vividly the feeling I had as I watched this rugged old man partake of the sacrament. I knew without a doubt that he was feeling something about the sacrament that I had never felt. I determined then that I wanted to feel those same feelings.”4
    Brother Schmidt had communicated with heaven, and heaven had communicated with him.

    Five Principles

    Directions: Read this section of Elder Don R. Clarke's talk, “Blessings of the Sacrament,” from October 2012 General Conference, with your partner. Be prepared to share with the class what Elder Clarke suggests to do to make partaking of the sacrament more meaningful.

    II. Remember That We Are Renewing Baptismal Covenants

    The second principle is to remember that we are renewing our baptismal covenants as we partake of the sacrament. Some of the promises that we make, as recorded in the scriptures, include:
    “Come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, … to bear one another’s burdens, … to mourn with those that mourn … , and to stand as witnesses of God.”5
    “Come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, … willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end,”6 and to keep His commandments and always remember Him.7
    The sacramental prayers are a reminder of these covenants. When we partake of the sacrament, we renew our commitment to live up to these covenants. I believe it would be appropriate to memorize the sacramental prayers in our minds and in our hearts. This will help us focus on renewing our baptismal covenants. Whether we were 8 or 80 years old when we were baptized, I hope we will never forget that day and the covenants we made.
    Five Principles

    Directions: Read this section of Elder Don R. Clarke's talk, “Blessings of the Sacrament,” from October 2012 General Conference, with your partner. Be prepared to share with the class what Elder Clarke suggests to do to make partaking of the sacrament more meaningful.

    III. During the Sacrament We Can Feel Forgiven of Our Sins

    Thirdly, during the sacrament we can feel forgiven of our sins. If we have spent time before sacrament meeting repenting of our sins, we can leave sacrament meeting feeling clean and pure. President Boyd K. Packer said: “The sacrament renews the process of forgiveness. Every Sunday when the sacrament is served, that is a ceremony to renew the process of forgiveness. … Every Sunday you cleanse yourself so that, in due time, when you die your spirit will be clean.”8 Partaking of the sacrament worthily can help us feel like the people of King Benjamin, who “were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience.9
    Five Principles

    Directions: Read this section of Elder Don R. Clarke's talk, “Blessings of the Sacrament,” from October 2012 General Conference, with your partner. Be prepared to share with the class what Elder Clarke suggests to do to make partaking of the sacrament more meaningful.

    IV. We Can Receive Inspiration for Solutions to Our Problems

    The fourth principle is that we can receive inspiration for solutions to our problems during sacrament meeting. When I was a mission president in Bolivia, my wife, Mary Anne, and I had the blessing of attending a mission presidents’ seminar with President Henry B. Eyring. In that meeting he taught that there are three important ways to prepare to benefit from a meeting. We should come with our problems, humble as children ready to learn, and with the desire to help God’s children.
    As we humbly come to sacrament meeting, we can be blessed to feel impressions for solutions to our daily problems. We must come prepared, be willing to listen, and not be distracted. In the scriptures we read, “But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.10 We can know what we should do to solve our problems.

    Five Principles

    Directions: Read this section of Elder Don R. Clarke's talk, “Blessings of the Sacrament,” from October 2012 General Conference, with your partner. Be prepared to share with the class what Elder Clarke suggests to do to make partaking of the sacrament more meaningful.

    V. Partaking of the Sacrament Worthily Will Help Us Be Filled with the Holy Ghost

    The fifth principle, partaking of the sacrament worthily, will help us be filled with the Holy Ghost. Upon instituting the sacrament during His visit to the Nephites, Jesus stated, “He that eateth this bread eateth of my body to his soul; and he that drinketh of this wine drinketh of my blood to his soul; and his soul shall never hunger nor thirst, but shall be filled.”11 They had been promised that if they hungered and thirsted after righteousness, they would be filled with the Holy Ghost. The sacramental prayer also promises that if we live up to our covenants, we will always have His Spirit to be with us.12
    Elder Melvin J. Ballard said: “I am a witness that there is a spirit attending the administration of the sacrament that warms the soul from head to foot; you feel the wounds of the spirit being healed, and the load being lifted. Comfort and happiness come to the soul that is worthy and truly desirous of partaking of this spiritual food.”13

    After each pair read their portion and prepared what they were going to say, I had each of them share what Elder Clarke suggested in their portion.  As they told us, I would write each of the principles up on the board and have the students write the principles on their cards.  By the time we were done, the board (and their cards) should look like this:

    How to Make Partaking of the Sacrament More Meaningful - Elder Don R. Clarke of the Seventy

    1.  Have a feeling of gratitude for the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
    2.  Remember that we are renewing baptismal covenants.
    3.  During the sacrament, we can feel forgiven of our sins.
    4.  We can receive inspiration for solutions to our problems.
    5.  Partaking of the sacrament worthily will help us be filled with the Holy Ghost.

    I told them to stick their cards in their scriptures in D&C 20, where the sacrament prayers are, and to look at the cards during sacrament meeting next week to help them focus.  

    I told them that I did this during sacrament meeting today, and that it was so much more meaningful to me.  When I was thinking of the atonement, I remembered that part of Christ's atonement is that he can strengthen me to do the things that I need to do to build the kingdom of God.  When I thought of baptismal covenants, I couldn't remember where to find them, so I looked in the index under "baptism" and found them in Mosiah 18, and then I re-read them.  I prayed for forgiveness for things I did wrong this week.  I prayed briefly for inspiration on how to be better about doing Family Home Evening.  

    So much better than what I was thinking about last week!!!  Haha!

    So that is that, friends.  Now I need to do dishes and start on dinner. Yeee-haw!



S. Crane said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to post this! I needed some fresh ideas for my youth Sunday school class and this is perfect!

Neil said...

So grateful for your website. I am currently serving in the Relief Society Presidency and teaching Sunday School while they find and call a replacement. I don't have the time I used to to prepare, and I love how simple you make the Come Follow Me. It's so brilliant. Thank you so much for taking the time to share.

MaryB said...

Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful ideas! I haven't taught teenagers in such a long time and with the new curriculum I was feeling kind of lost. You are a lifesaver!

Karyn Weichers said...

You're funny, and I've always believed that funny people are smart, so you're smart too! Thanks for sharing your lesson plan.

Scott and Sarah said...

Thank you! This is great!

chelon:) said...

I am so grateful for all your lesson plans. You have a gift! Thanks for sharing :)

Kristin Redekop said...

Thanks a million! I love your ideas! thank you for sharing your talents with us.

SommerNani said...

Thank you for blessing my life and helping me to fulfill my calling by magnifying your talents. I appreciate your hard work and dedication and willingness to share! It is so appreciated! You are a gifted teacher for sure!

Luke said...

Thanks so much, I'll be using this tomorrow.

Chelsea said...

I just have to say a huge thank you again. You are so talented and creative. Thank you for taking the time to write up the blog posts for our benefit.

Lulu P said...

Thank you, Thank you. You make me love my calling a little more every Sunday. I am so grateful for you and your wonderful talents. Thank you for sharing them. May the Lord continue to bless you with more wonderful ideas.

Lulu P said...

Thank you, Thank you. You make me love my calling a little more every Sunday. I am so grateful for you and your wonderful talents. Thank you for sharing them. May the Lord continue to bless you with more wonderful ideas.

Raeanna said...

I want to say thank you! This is my third year teaching the youth Sunday School and the way things worked out in my ward, I have had the same kids the entire time. I love your fresh ideas to the themes that I feel can be repetitive, even for us teachers!!!

Jane Dunn said...

Thank you so so so much!!! I have a class full of boys, and it is tough! But when I found your activities, etc, it was answered prayer!!! You most definitely are my Sunday School Angel and I love you!!!

L C said...

Love the plethora of engaging activities. Heartfelt thanks!!!

Mower Family said...

Thank you so much for posting these ideas. They are so good and very helpful.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! for posting your ideas. I love them!

Karen said...

You are a life saver! Thank you! Had to teach last minute and this saved me!

Rachel said...

Thank you so much....what a gift you are sharing with us and the youth!

Joy Hansen said...

Thank you for sharing your ideas. It helps me a lot of time from brainstorming of how to present the weekly lessons.

Natasha Hernandez said...

I can always turn to you!!! God bless you!

Unknown said...

Really appreciate your ideas and thoughts. Nowadays it's important that we get creative with our class but I struggle with that so thanks for your example. All the best

katherine blake said...

I love all of your lesson ideas! Keep em coming!

Alison Packer said...

After reading over the lesson on I always check in to see what ideas you have. You have helped me so much!!

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