Today is Easter Sunday. I love this Holiday and I love this time of year. It is a wonderful time to celebrate new life at Springtime, but even more importantly, to celebrate the Empty Tomb and what that means.
This also happens to be a 5th Sunday in the month which means that all adult men women meet together for the 3rd hour of the block. Because I live with a member of the Bishopric, I somehow got wrangled into teaching this hour. I still am not sure that I officially agreed to do it, but do it I did.
I thought a lot about this assignment over the last few weeks. I started preparing different lessons with different ideas emphasized. Nothing felt quite right. I looked for some media that I could use to enhance the lesson. Nothing really stuck. I went through some music to see if I could organize a special number celebrating the resurrection. Nothing came together.
I decided to go with a review of the last week of the Savior's life on earth. Maybe go day by day. Look at some scriptures. Read some general conference quotes. You know the lesson I mean. We have all had it at one time or another and it is a fine Easter lesson to have.
But it just didn't feel quite right.
When it got down to one week left, I was giving it more thought and more prayer. I kept coming back to the idea that our Heavenly Father loves us. Dearly. I honestly wasn't quite sure how exactly to present the thoughts I had knocking around in my brain. So by today during Sunday School, I started feeling really nervous. But I jotted down some notes, and as I did, the order of things fell together. Shwew.
We began by reading Alma 30:44 where we learn that ALL things, even the earth and how it goes around the sun, testify that there is a Christ (I'm paraphrasing...). I've lived in Durango long enough to know what kind of answers I would get when I posed this question: "When have you felt God or known that He loves you?" I couldn't have assigned the answers better had I tried. One sister shared a time she looked at the sky over the ocean. Another described the amazing detail of a butterfly's wings. I added my testimony that the world all around us can testify of God's love for us if we will have eyes to see it.
I displayed pictures of the Temple and the Sacred Grove-the obvious ones. But then I shared a couple of experiences I had using music (I played a minute of a favorite piano piece), art (I have a pic of God reaching out to touch the hand of Adam from the Sistine Chapel), and literature (I told about a CS Lewis book I had read and the miraculous circumstances that brought it into my hands). Each of these experiences taught me in a profound and touching way, using the world around me, that God knew and loved me. I took a bit of a risk and asked Jebb if he would be willing to sing the Primary song that starts "Whenever I hear the song of a bird..." Our sweet RS President agreed to play the piano for him and even ran through it with him during Sunday School. Well, I have to say that I know I am biased, but I think he did a really, really good job! He sang right on key and didn't seem nervous (although he told me that it was 'nerve racking'). It was definitely the highlight of the whole hour. ;)
After Jebb sang, I invited other people to again share their thoughts and it was deeply moving and I felt the Spirit testifying to our little Durango class that God did indeed know and love us.
I used Paul's works in Acts saying that "ye are the offspring of God" and in 1 Corinthians saying "For ye are bought with a price."
I then asked what God, your loving Father, would be willing to pay to save you?
We then turned to John 3:16. The scripture we all know from professional sporting events (there is always some happy Christian holding up a poster of it).
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
This is the Good News that the Gospel proclaims! God loves us! He loves us so much that he was willing to sacrifice his Son to save us. And that was the message I felt I needed to proclaim. God's love for each one of us. A love so deep that not only did He give us the Earth and all things in it, but He gave us his only begotten Son.
The class participation made our lesson so good. I am so grateful for the good members of our ward that are willing to share personal feelings and testimonies. It was those things which brought the Spirit to our classroom and made it so enjoyable to be there. I will not soon forget the feelings conveyed by those experiences shared by our class.
We then did the Easter Egg thing I did in Seminary (I had to get lots of use out of them...kinda silly, I know.) I put the eggs under the chairs of the class. I asked those that found the eggs to read the events from the last week of Jesus' life, but to preface each paper with the words "For God so loved me that..." It made the story of this difficult time for our Savior that much more personal.
The miracle of the empty tomb is a testimony of God's profound love for each one of us. I then told one last story of the Colorado River and how I used to work on it before my mission. When I was down in that beautiful canyon, I would think about the message I would be sharing. What would I say? Then, just as now, it was this message-- that God loves us deeply. Enough to allow the atonement to occur. We closed by singing the song "How Great Thou Art" which I thought summed up our lesson perfectly. I love it when music can do that.
And OK, I admit it, I am glad that my husband gave me the opportunity to teach this lesson. ;) But I think I am good for a few years.
On Easter Sunday, it is a hard, fast rule that we have to take Family Easter Pictures. Every year we coordinate ties to match Elise's dress. This year was no exception. We had a blue and yellow theme this year.
I decided to take the pictures in the music room this year, so we moved in a chair and table for a backdrop. We even hung a pictures on the (paint spot) wall. We take our pictures with the timer on my camera, so I had to set it up. Seth sat so I could see how we fit in the frame:
I thought we were getting close, so I called the family into the room and had them sit down. We try to mix it up a little bit and this was our first attempt.
Then is was time to get Grandma. As luck would have it, she even matched our outfits. We gave her some daffodils from the front yard and we were at it again.
We got this shot, which I think turned out pretty darn cute:
Then we got some shots of smaller groups:
There are few days that make me feel more gratitude for my Faith and my Family (and of course Easter Ham). Happy Easter! Love-The BigGTribe!