My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

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DarkJedi
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Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by DarkJedi » 18 Aug 2019, 17:23

I try not to be critical*, but this was way better than the SS lesson I was in today. I ended up walking out about halfway through. Thanks for sharing Curt.

*OK, I only sometimes try not to be critical.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Roy
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Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Roy » 19 Aug 2019, 08:24

Thank you Curt. I enjoyed this lesson. FWIW, I would be overjoyed to have a teacher that was willing to validate non-traditional interpretations of the scriptures - even as "cool possibilities".
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Curt Sunshine
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Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Curt Sunshine » 01 Sep 2019, 21:45

Today's lesson focused on 1 Corinthians 13 - Paul's treatise on charity. I built everything around understanding why charity is so important and then what charity is, according to Paul in this chapter.

We started by doing an overview of Matthew 5 and emphasizing the "process of development" outlined therein. It ends with verses 43-48, which highlight love as the ultimate step of becoming perfect (complete, finished, fully developed, NOT mistake-free). Jesus' last words on the cross included, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do," and, "It is finished." Thus, his mortal ministry ended with an expression of love toward those who persecuted, reviled, and spitefully used him - which signaled true love for everyone.

We then read Romans 8:13-14 and talked about what it means to be "heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ" (equal inheritors through fully shared birthright) and how that was a departure from the old, sexist system. I asked the students two questions to which they didn't know the full answers: 1) What does "heresy" mean, and what is the central heresy of Mormonism in the eyes of most other Christians? (becoming like God) 2) Where in our scriptures does it teach that we can become like God? (The Bible, not the Book of Mormon)

We then read 1 John 4:7-8 where it says God is love and talked about why that is appropriate to say. That ended the set-up for 1 Corinthians 13 and why charity is so important. We concluded that becoming like God is impossible unless we develop the type of love outlined in Matthew 5 and 1 Corinthians 13.

We went through 1 Corinthians 13 verse by verse and talked about what each verse and phrase means. We talked about nothing else mattering if we are not charitable like God is charitable. We can be great orators - or prophets - or incredibly faithful - and still be nothing without charity. For example, we talked about God being LONG suffering (eternally). I described the scene in The Pearl of Great Proce where God weeps and all eternity shakes. We talked about specific examples of how hard it can be to love people who mock and hurt us, and I also emphasized that charity does NOT include putting up with abuse out of a sense of duty to love - that we still can be charitable toward someone from who we have to separate and with whom we can't associate. I mentioned that prophets can be wrong about some things (prophecy will fail). I told them to think of someone or a type of person it might be hard to love fully, and I used a few easy stereotypes of people walking into Sacrament Merting in the middle of the administration of the sacrament to make the point. (a drunk man staggering into the chapel reeking of alcohol, an obviously pregnant teenager wearing a short skirt and tank top with lots of visible tattoos, two men holding hands and displaying physical affection, etc.)

We ended with the request to seek charity intentionally by getting to know people they might avoid naturally - and to value real, expansive charity over ritualistic obedience to rules. I told them there is value to obedience, as we discussed in the last lesson about faith, works, and grace - but I stressed once again that love is the greatest commandment, and obedience without love (or contrary to love) is what Paul would have said means, "I am nothing."
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Roy
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Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Roy » 02 Sep 2019, 11:05

Thank you Ray.
I like to remember that Paul in those chapters is writing do a congregation struggling with disunity, strife, and factionalism. Specifically, there were Jewish converts that saw Christianity as an extension of Judaism and prided themselves on keeping aspects of the Law of Moses and Greek converts that were experiencing joy and spiritual gifts without adhering to the Law. I see Paul's examples in this context. If a new Greek convert is experiencing spiritual gifts then the Holy Spirit has placed his seal of approval upon that conversion - let's not go around placing additional limits on who is and who is not sufficiently converted. He then gives us the example of the body of Christ and how we all need each other. We are different but part of the same body. Finally, when Paul gives this hyperbolic treatise on charity and love, he is saying that no matter what you have or where you come from - do not use it as an opportunity to lord it over another. Perhaps you are a gifted orator and evangelist capable of converting thousands. If you use your strengths to cause division, contention, competition, and one upsmanship - your gifts are not profitable and become a hinderance. Perhaps you come from a muli-generational family and can recite your lineage back ten generations that have never eaten anything not considered Kosher. If you use this standing to look down your nose at the those that are more green and recently converted to the Gospel then all your stability, grounding, and deep roots in the church count for nothing because you are actively standing in the way of others. Whatever gift, standing, or station you might have - Act in Love towards your fellows or Go Home.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Curt Sunshine
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Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Curt Sunshine » 02 Sep 2019, 13:10

^This is excellent. Thanks, Roy.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16702
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Curt Sunshine » 15 Sep 2019, 20:30

The lesson possibilities today included 1 Corinthians 14-16 and 2 Corinthians 1-7. Last week, I was trying to figure out what to cover, and I was asked to speak in church today on the same chapters. It was great, since I was able to speak in Sacrament Meeting on 2 Corinthians 1-7 and cover 1 Corinthians 15 in class.

(In my talk, I focused on "reconciliation" being Paul's way of teaching what we do, ideally, when we use "atonement". I only had 15 minutes, so I focused on the description of the city of Enoch, mentioned my involvement online generically and how many people here are helped or hurt by how their local congregations accept them or not, and ended with a hope that our ward can be as close to the people of Enoch as possible in very practical ways - that each of us is accepting and accepted and helped in every way we need.)

First, we talked about who Saul was prior to his conversion and name change: a brilliant lawyer who worked for the Sanhedrin and oversaw the formal persecution of the early Jewish followers of Jesus, at least after the resurrection. I stressed that he tended to write scholarly, logical, legal defenses (e.g., his speech before King Agrippa, I Corinthians 13 on charity, chapter 15 on the resurrection, etc.) compared to John's more narrative focus on love, and I likened it to Elder Oaks (a trained lawyer) compared to Elder Eyring, Elder Holland, and Elder Uchtdorf (story-tellers who often get emotional). I also mentioned that Paul liked to play the "I'm a Roman!" card whenever he pushed the envelope and got into trouble and was facing formal punishment.

I mentioned that Paul's two most powerful sermons are about the two core elements of early Christianity (charity and the resurrection) and that both of them were written to the saints in Corinth - mostly because they were arguing with each other and forming competing groups within the early Christian community.

We then read verses 1-29, verse by verse, and talked about each one. The following is a summary of the explanation we discussed:
I taught you that Jesus died for your sins and then was resurrected. Lots of people saw him - even someone like me who wasn't part of the original group of believers. My background and lateness in receiving a testimony make me the least of the apostles, but I worked my butt off to make up for my past. In fact, I worked harder than anyone else. Well, God's grace worked in me really hard. (I mentioned that Paul sometimes reminds me of Nephi: dedicated, diligent believers who come across as conceited, privileged jerks sometimes.) We preached, and you believed.

Now, some of you say there isn't a resurrection. Why? We preached that Jesus was resurrected, and if we are wrong, everything we teach is pointless. If that is the case, we are liars. If Jesus wasn't resurrected, your faith also is pointless. In fact, if Jesus wasn't resurrected, we are more miserable than anyone else in this life. (I talked about what the early converts lost when they joined the new movement and its shared community.) We talked about what that would be like for modern converts now who are disowned and/or ostracized by friends and family.

All people died because of Adam's choice. (I mentioned again that the scriptures are sexist and that it should be Adam and Eve's choice.) Likewise, all people will be resurrected because of Jesus' choice. Paul tells of an order for the resurrection, but, once again, everyone will be resurrected.

Finally, to tie it all together, Paul offers the ultimate proof that the early Christian community believes in a universal resurrection: verse 29. In more modern phrasing, he said: If there is no resurrection, why do we perform baptisms for the dead?


I explained a couple of alternate interpretations of that passage I have heard from Christian friends - the most frequent being that another, apostate sect was performing that type of baptism and Paul was condemning it. I simply said that meaning doesn't fit the actual words of the verse. I said that baptisms for the dead was THE "ordinance" Paul used to show how central the resurrection was to the new faith - and, particularly, a universal resurrection of ALL God's children throughout history.

We then talked at length about why so many people in other religions are appalled by and oppose our vicarious temple ordinances. As part of that discussion, I asked them to imagine if their dedicated, passionate, faithful parents had no understanding of such a practice and heard that another religion was claiming their parents or children had joined their religion after death. I used the following statement as an example:
My parents absolutely would not have denied their religion. How dare you claim they will do so now that they are in Heaven. That is arrogant, insensitive, and unChristian!
I told them about a missionary companion who joined the Church and walked away from a LONG tradition of being the Buddhist priest in his home town. (oldest son of the oldest son for about 15 generations) He lost everything and ended up serving a mission on about half of the suggested minimum allowance. He was one of the most cheerful people I have met in my life, and he attributed it directly to having "found the Gospel of Jesus Christ". I used him as an example, because it would be crushing if he learned that there was no resurrection and his sacrifice had been in vain.

I said I love the idea that we baptize absolutely everyone we can vicariously, since it tells me we truly believe God views all of his children exactly the same - but I also said I understand completely why it is such a hot button issue for so many people. I think probably none of them had considered that in the past, and I was glad to see their reactions as I talked about it.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Curt Sunshine
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Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Curt Sunshine » 18 Sep 2019, 15:07

I just realized I didn't add the postscript I wanted to include here:

Paul's characterization of being "most miserable" if resurrection isn't real is most powerful for people who have sacrificed greatly for the cause. I couldn't say the following in that class, but that understanding can be powerful for those who aren't convinced but want to remain involved or associated, since it hints at a perspective that can be used to decrease the possible misery of a change in faith.

Lower commitment decreases misery, since it lessens the associated sacrifice. It also is more authentic for the person whose faith has changed. In my own terms, "I only can do what I can do without damaging other critically important elements of my life," and, "If you ask for me, you get me."

That isn't easy, but it can bring peace.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16702
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Curt Sunshine » 03 Nov 2019, 19:41

We missed Sunday School throughout all of October, due to General and Stake Cnferences, so I covered the October lessons material today.

First, we discussed 2Thessalonians 2:3-4 - the verses about a "falling away" happening before Jesus came again. We looked at it phrase by phrase. I stressed that they expected his return quickly, that some people appear to have written to them pretending to be the Church leadership, and that the falling away would be long enough for Satan and his power play to be revealed. We talked about some of the core Protestant creeds, especially, as they relate to the Biblical Godhead. I basically said at the end not to fall for the same alarmism that existed back in Paul's day - that nobody knows any timing for a Second Coming, but lots of people still like to warn about it happening quickly to push people into panic about it. I said it will happen when it happens. (I didn't express my ambivalence about whether it is literal, since that isn't my place as a teacher.)

We talked about 1Thessalonians 2:21-22 - the verses about proving all things, holding to the good, and avoiding the evil. I explained how we have screwed up that verse in our culture by focusing on what other people think (how something appears to them) rather than focusing on whether or not something is evil (the nature of something regardless of what others think). I used two primary examples: me giving a woman a ride (in the rain, carrying groceries, to make the point more clearly) and my dad doing his Home Teaching one month in the local bar, since that was the only way to see the man that month. I also used the example of them attending church, since some people think attending the LDS Church is evil. If the verse means abstain from anything that appears to be bad to some people, they should stop attending church. They understood the stupidity of that interpretation.

We ended by discussing Ephesians 5:21-33 - the verses where Paul gives his sexist advice about marriage. I told them the manual states that Paul wrote in a time when women were not considered equal to men. I pointed out that counsel was blatantly sexist. I told them we still aren't at true equality yet, but it is important we work to get better at it. We read the verses and changed the wording to fit a partnership of equals. For example, "wives, submit yourself to your husbands" became "husbands and wives, submit yourselves to each other". We talked about both spouses "suffering for" each other, and I gave a few specific examples about my parents and about my wife and me. We talked about why, in that culture, women had to submit and men had to be commanded to love. (That love wasn't an expected part of marriage back then, and love could motivate men to treat their wives as something other than a possession.) I ended with a plea for them (male and female) to look for someone who truly would see and treat them as an equal. It was a great discussion.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16702
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Curt Sunshine » 17 Nov 2019, 20:45

Today, we covered the two lessons for November. I focused on the following verses in Hebrews.

1) Hebrews 4:15 says Jesus suffered all things, including all temptation.

2) Hebrews 5:8 talks about learning through suffering.

3) Hebrews 11 is a treatise on faith. We focused closely on verse 1 - Paul's difintion of faith.

4) Hebrews 7:11 mentions Jesus as the great High Priest.

We had a long talk about suffering - including a discussion of the difference between temptation (an urge strong enough to have real potential to cause action), transgression (the simple violation of a law, particularly, in Mormon theology, unintentional actions or actions taken in ignorance of the law that do not violate an individual's conscience or belief in a divine commandment), and sin (actions that violate one's conscience or view of divine command). Hebrews 4:15 says Jesus suffered all things. I told them I personally believe that means he suffered every type of pain, not literally every single painful moment for everyone throughout history. I mentioned the suffering described in the Garden, the trial, and the crucifixion being the most intense suffering imaginable at the time - which means he suffered as deeply as anyone could have suffered.

I asked if they thought Jesus ever was depressed or felt anxiety or dealt with any other non-physical suffering. Nobody had asked any of them that, so the question made them think. We talked about the moment on the cross when his Father withdrew all spiritual help and he was left completely alone. We talked about being rejected by everyone with whom he was raised. We then talked about holding on through suffering and trying to learn from it.

Hebrews 4:15 makes the point that Jesus was tempted but didn't sin. I told them about the movie, "The Last Temptation of Christ", and the backlash it received from Christians, since it depicted Jesus being tempted by a beautiful woman - with the outrage being a belief that he couldn't have been tempted in any real way. I told them I have no idea exactly what temptations Jesus faced that could have been considered strong enough urges to have real potential for action, but I pointed out again that the verse says he was tempted in all things. That makes sense if we believe he was truly human in a real way and had to experience the full effect of being human. We talked about not beating ourselves up for feeling real temptation, of any kind.

We talked about what Jesus might have done in his life that was either temptation or transgression but not sin. I told them how much I hate the line in "Away in a Manger" that says, "The cattle are lowing, the poor baby wakes, but little Lord Jesus no crying he makes." He was a baby; he cried. He pooped and made a mess. He might have smacked someone who annoyed him when he was a small child. Smacking another kid would not have been sin, at the very least until he grew and learned and his conscience developed to the point of believing he shouldn't do that. I mentioned him clearing the temple, describing that it was premeditated, since he took the time to fashion a whip and drive the people out using it. I asked how that could be considered not sin. We talked about the belief that he was the God of the Old Teatament (Jehovah) and that he could be seen simply as driving corrupt people from his house who wouldn't leave any other way. Regardless, if he wasn't acting in opposition to his own conscience, he wasn't sinning. We talked about the importance of them following their own consciences, no matter what anyone else might think.

We read the definition of faith in Hebrews 1 and talked about what it means (and what it doesn't mean). We talked about believing the sun will rise in the morning or that the light will go on when we flip the light switch NOT being faith. It is knowledge from experience (things seen). We talked about how people have faith in what they want to beleive (the things for which they hope). I mentioned that I have no knowledge of a post-mortal life, since I have never seen someone after they died. I hope it is true, so I have faith in it. My wife has felt the presence of her father in the temple, so she feels comfortable saying she knows there is life after death. I am cool with that, but it doesn't change my own inability to claim I know it.

We read D&C 46:11-14, where it says: 1) not everyone has all gifts; 2) all gifts are given to humanity to help each other; 3) SOME people are given the gift to know that Jesus is the Christ; 4) others are given the gift to believe those who know. We talked about how even the most central aspect of our beliefs won't be known by all members - that some carry on in faith. We talked about not being ashamed or depressed or feeling inferior or worthless if we can't say we know something - that faith also is a gift and that believing or wanting to believe is good enough. Verse 14 says the ultimate reward for knowledge AND for continue faithfulness is the exact same. Knowledge is not morally or spiritually better than faith; it just is different.

We talked about how some people testify of specific things and promise everyone they also can know those things. I told them directly and clearly that such statements aren't consistent with the verses we had read. I told them I don't know paying tithing keeps people from financial difficulty; in fact, my own experiences have taught me otherwise. I have NO problem with other people making that claim, since that is their experience, and I understand why they beleive it can be true for everyone else ("If God will bless me, God will bless anyone," is a sincere statement based on humility.), but it is inaccurate as a collective standard - even if it is said by an Apostle from the General Conference pulpit. I will not argue with people about their own views on it, but I also will explain my experiences to help provide balance and help others not feel inferior or guilty.

We ended with a discussion of Sheri Dew's statement in the manual from the November 2001 General Conference when she said the blessings of the Priesthood are available to all members, men and women alike. I mentioned how often that statement has been repeated recently, and we talked about the endowment and how each person leaves the endowment clothed in the garment of the Priesthood after receiving personal Priesthood authority and power. We talked about the hierarchical Priesthood of offices and ordinations being staffed only by men currently but how the Priesthood itself is given to both men and women in the temple. I also grinned and said I would say it carefully, but it is inaccurate and inappropriate to say the sacrament will be blessed, passed, or administered by the Priesthood (which is said often in my current ward), since people do those things - not "the Priesthood". I mentioned that has been stated recently in General Conference, but habits are hard to break.

I loved this lesson today, since I think everyone learned something new, we had some excellent discussions, and I could see some deep thinking at various points in the lesson.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Roy
Posts: 5896
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: My New Calling: Sunday School Lesson Recaps

Post by Roy » 18 Nov 2019, 11:17

Wonderful!

In regards to Jesus not sinning. If Jesus is God (of the OT) and sin is something that goes against God's will - then anything that Jesus willed is de facto not a sin. :lol:
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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