The good news: I had gotten my wires crossed and carefuly read the lesson a couple of weeks earlier, forgetting that it was “teaching for our times” lesson, so I had some ideas. And on Friday, I read through the lesson again, just in case.
I said a silent prayer as our group leader conducted a bit of business, and I quickly looked over my highlighted passages in my Kindle Fire (I didn’t have my paper book, which I prefer on days I teach). The lesson was #5 about the blessings of the restored priesthood, a subject near and dear to my heart. Looking at the questions at the end of the lesson, I found where I wanted to begin and where I wanted to end, so with a little faith and some bravado, I stood to teach.
We turned to blessings of the priesthood, and read D&C 84:33-38, what has often been referred to as The Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. We pointed out specific blessings to faithful priesthood holders (sanctification, renewing of their bodies, membership among the seed of Abraham and the elect of God – see verses 33-34).
In the next few verses come the Great Blessing, namely All That The Father Hath (v. 38). I asked the group who can receive that particular blessing. A visitor said (without my calling on him) “men only.” I ignored his comment and walked through the logic of verses 36-38:
For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me; And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father; And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.Who receives the Lord’s servants? Anyone who receives priesthood ordinances.
What is the path to exaltation? The saving ordinances of the gospel.
Who receives the Great Blessing from verse 38? Anyone who receives all of the saving ordinances.
Our visitor then said, “Well, I see where you’re going with this, but….”
I didn’t have time to pursue it. I wish I had the time. It would have been interesting to unpack his concern and examine it more closely, and to see if we could reason together to understand it. But we were at the end of our class time.
What I really wish I had done (and had I been better prepared, maybe I would have) is followed my discussion with this quotation from President Smith from near the end of the lesson:
The authority of our Heavenly Father is upon the earth for the blessing of mankind, not to make those who receive that authority arrogant, but to make them humble; not to make those who have received special privileges feel that they are greater than others, but to make us humble in our souls, prayerful in our hearts, and considerate of all men in all that we do, and thus exemplify by upright lives that which our Heavenly Father desires us to teach.By citing that quotation, I don’t mean to suggest that our visitor was arrogant. I don’t think he was. But This quotation, taken with the rest of President Smith’s words from the lesson, make clear that President Smith saw the blessing of the restored priesthood in the service that the priesthood requires, not in the mere holding of it.