Feast upon the Word Blog

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“The Purpose of Covenants and Ordinances” YW Lesson 17, Manual 1

Posted by KS on May 4, 2012

From my perspective, it seemed like the purpose of this lesson was to teach YW about covenants and ordinances through what they have already experienced in baptism/confirmation/sacrament, and all this as a preparation for the temple. I think that’s a great idea and a great way to prepare them for the temple and the covenants there.

It also seems very effective way to open a space for discussion in the classroom. To that end, these seem like great suggestions on the sidebar for lesson 17: (for anyone unfamiliar with the updated information for the YW manual, let me fill you in: each online lesson outline (at lds.org) has updated material in the sidebars. There are links to recent talks, media like Mormon Messages, additional discussion questions, scriptures, etc. YW Leaders are encouraged to use this updated material.)

I also like the passages from King Benjamin (Mosiah 2-5) and Alma (Mosiah 18, mostly) where the people make their covenants. My favorite part, in connection with this lesson topic, is Mosiah 18:10:

Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?

What I really like about this verse is that they had already had the desires to serve God, keep his commandments, love each other, etc. And baptism was a securing of that desire, a witness that they have entered into a covenant with him. (Even if perhaps that covenant were being made then, moments before that baptism.) So the question at that point becomes, “what have you against” going on to this next step of baptism? Why not secure your desires and your covenants by this ordinance?

I think this is a great way to teach the temple, which seems to me to be the ultimate goal of this lesson (especially considered in its relation to the next lesson). When we go to the temple for the first time, we won’t know everything about what is going to happen there. But, the covenants we make there will be a securing of all the desires and commandments we have already had. Nothing in the temple covenants is drastically different than what we already had to be doing in order to receive a temple recommend. But in the temple, this way of living is taken to a higher plane. And in that sense, we can identify this with the last part of verse 10:

“that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you”

The Spirit comes when we are baptized, take the sacrament, and live worthy to receive the Spirit. We, and the young women, have received the Spirit through our primary ordinance of baptism. But in the temple, we make more covenants. And if we already rejoice in the gospel and the Spirit that comes through the covenant we have already made, “what have we against” going to the temple and receiving more ordinances and making more covenants, that God may “more abundantly” pour out his Spirit upon us?

This also reminds me of Abraham 1:2:

…having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge…

There’s much to be riddled out about Abraham of course, but I think the words apply beautifully. Whatever it was that Abraham already had and knew, he wanted to take that and build upon it. He had been a “follower of righteousness” – are we/the YW also followers of righteousness? Are we keeping our baptismal covenant and do we ever feel the Spirit? If so, do we desire “to be a greater follower of righteousness?” and “to be one who possessed great knowledge” from God? If that’s the case, then let’s focus ourselves and the young women on the temple, because that is exactly what the temple is all about!

Unfortunately, what I don’t like about this lesson is that we basically skip from baptism to marriage when we go to the next lesson (and we use the word marriage in our title, not sealing, even.) So, what ideas and suggestions do you have for teaching this particular lesson, especially as a lead-up to another lesson on the temple? For example, in my ward, this lesson will work as a nice lead-up to Lesson 18, because we are using that lesson to teach the endowment/initiatory and the sealing, not just marriage inside vs. marriage outside the temple. However, if lesson 18 will retain its focus on marriage, then perhaps another idea might be to use this lesson (#17) as a lesson on the temple ordinances (briefly talking about initiatory/endowment, and perhaps sealing too) in preparation for the next lesson on temple marriage.

As a more general question: what suggestions, conference talks, quotations, scriptures, or approaches might you suggest for someone wanting to teach youth about the temple in a brief but clear way?

(These notes were originally posted Beginnings New.)

One Response to ““The Purpose of Covenants and Ordinances” YW Lesson 17, Manual 1”

  1. This was very helpful for my lesson today. Thank you.

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