I’m sure most of you have read about the new Relief Society and Priesthood curriculum for this coming year. I have heard many questions and worries from friends. They wonder what it will look like and how it can work in their wards. It is always difficult to try something new. Especially when it is so different from what we are accustomed to. But, as I have helplessly watched our brothers and sisters in Texas struggle to overcome Hurricane Harvey, I believe that the timing of the announcement of the new curriculum couldn’t be more perfect to help us catch the vision.
For those of you who haven’t read the announcement, the “Teachings of the Presidents” will be replaced with the “Come, Follow Me-For Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society Meetings” curriculum. We will be studying General Conference talks and articles. It’s the lesson plan for the first Sunday of each month that has me thinking about the catastrophe in Texas.
According to the announcement, the first Sunday of each month will be set aside as a time to counsel together about local needs. This council will be led by the presidency or group leadership. Imagine how important it is to practice this kind of organization. The skills we will acquire, as we learn to counsel and serve together, will help us more perfectly respond to events such as this flood in Texas.
Now, Catch the Vision With Me …
What if all the world was covered in the stakes of Zion?
What if all of the people of the world knew to look to the stakes of Zion for immediate organization? After all, this is what the established Kingdom of God looks like, right? (For more on this subject, see The Miracle of the Flood)
You can look to the kingdoms of this world for rescue, but you will not find it. Government organizations with the best of intentions cannot do what the Kingdom of God can do because the Kingdom of God is an organization with roots that spreads throughout the eternities. Simply put, look to the stakes of Zion for refuge because that is where you will find it.
Have you caught the vision yet? So, how do we get from where we are to where we need to be in order to gather the world in this perfect organization?
It seems to me that understanding the council system and correctly using it in our quorums, Relief Societies and presidencies would bring about great miracles. But it will take practice.
Elder M. Russell Ballard taught, “I believe councils are the most effective way to get real results. Additionally, I know councils are the Lord’s way and that He creates all things in the universe through a heavenly council, as mentioned in the holy scripture”. He also said, “There is no problem in the family, ward, or stake that cannot be solved if we look for solutions in the Lord’s way by counseling – really counseling – with one another.”
“We want to extend the power that exists in counseling together—not just to the ward councils and presidencies but also into the Relief Societies and quorums of the Church,” -Elder LeGrand R. Curtis. (General Authority Seventy and Assistant Executive Director in the Priesthood and Family Department.)
Setting aside our first Sundays to learn how to counsel together sounds like the most effective way to find the Lord’s solutions to our worldly problems.
“When we counsel together, we discover ways to lift and strengthen each other that also build unity. What a blessing it is for each of us to participate in God’s work, to become instruments for good in such a natural way!” –Sister Jean B. Bingham
Come, Follow Me
If you haven’t caught the vision for this great curriculum, then read the following quote from the “Come, Follow Me” web-page:
“God has organized His covenant sons and daughters into priesthood quorums and Relief Societies to help accomplish His work. Something powerful happens when we gather under the direction of those holding priesthood keys. So while gospel instruction is important, Sunday priesthood and Relief Society meetings are more than classes. They are also working meetings where we learn together from general conference messages, counsel about the work of salvation, and organize to accomplish the work. The changes coming in 2018 will help us fulfill these purposes.”
These “working meetings” will provide an opportunity for each of us to catch the vision and learn and practice unity. This doesn’t mean that we all have to see things the same way, or agree on everything. It does mean that we will practice showing respect for each other, listening and considering each opinion, and consecrating all of our unique talents, knowledge and abilities to rise above the contention of this world.
Unity is Key
As with all good gifts, this curriculum could also be used to magnify contention. We each need to decide if we want to use the power that has been given us to do something great, or to have a replay of the last days of the Jaredites and Nephites. If we truly work with the Holy Ghost and the Savior to build unity through the council system, this curriculum will help us overcome pettiness and work with the Savior to become the peacemakers that will help heal the world.
This is our divine role in these last days. This is what we have come to the earth at this time to accomplish.
Building God’s Kingdom
Now, more than ever, we are given the opportunity to “Call upon the Lord, that his kingdom may go forth upon the earth, that the inhabitants thereof may receive it, and be prepared for the days to come, in the which the Son of Man shall come down [from] heaven, clothed in the brightness of his glory, to meet the kingdom of God … on the earth.” (D&C 65:5)
Let’s build up the Kingdom of God like it has never has been built before. Let’s counsel together and share of own unique gifts, talents and time in the spirit of consecration to bring peace and safety to this fallen world. Let’s not waste any time in doing it.
I hope you have caught the vision of the new, “Come, Follow Me” curriculum. As we work together, tragedies like Hurricane Harvey will become stepping stones to help us be better prepared when disaster strikes again. What better way to perfect the saints and proclaim the gospel than by strengthening the stakes of Zion? The Lord is truly leading His work!