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Sunday, June 27, 2010

How Dear to God are Little Children


Dear Sister,

As promised here is the talk that I gave today in church:

Last week at Stake Conference it was wonderful to hear from Elder Lynn Robbins of the Seventy.  After the Conference he approached the Stake Choir Director and in discussing the music of the meeting, he said to her, “What we need in the church is beautiful music excellently done, and more of it; good talks excellently done and less of them.”  It is true that I spent more time preparing for the musical number, than this talk.  I have known that I was going to play “Beautiful Savior” today long before I knew that I was going to be giving a talk about our Savior.  I am grateful that the topics lined up so nicely.

In 3 Nephi it tells of when Jesus Christ visited the people who lived on the American continent.  It is a great and marvelous event that takes many chapters to tell about it.  In chapter 17, After he has been teaching the people many doctrines including the Sermon on the Mount and the Lord’s Prayer, he says that He is going to leave and give the people a break and go show himself unto the lost tribes of Israel.

3 Nephi 17:2-3 says “I perceive that ye are weak, that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak unto you at this time.  Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again.”

However, when Christ says this to the people he takes compassion on them, because they were “in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them.” (Verse 5)  I don’t know exactly what their faces would have looked like, but I can imagine the intensity that must have been present.

So, because of the Nephite’s faith, Jesus then asks for the sick and afflicted to come forward to be healed.  Reading in verse 9, it says “And it came to pass that when he had thus spoken, all the multitude, with one accord, did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him.”

Well, not only those who were sick got to meet Christ, but others also approached him and they kissed his feet and bathed them with their tears.

I tell you all of this in case you are unfamiliar with this story or perhaps you have forgotten the details, but it is the next part that I really want to focus on next.  It is when Jesus Christ commands the Nephites to bring their little children to him.  This is my favorite story about Jesus Christ, which fits in with this week’s theme (Tell me the Stories of Jesus).

So, the Savior has the children sit on the ground near him.  Then he tells the rest of the people to kneel down.  Then he knelt and prayed to Heavenly Father.  The Savior’s prayer was so marvelous that it could not be written, but one thing that they did record was “No one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father.” (Verse 17)  After his prayer, Jesus said that the Nephites would be blessed because of their faith, and then he wept because he felt so much love and happiness.

Then he took the little children and blessed each one.  He prayed to Heavenly Father for them and wept again.  Christ then said “Behold your little ones.”  When the Nephites looked at their children they watched angels come down from heaven that encircled the children and ministered to them.

So what do I learn from this story?

I have broken up my thoughts into two different categories.  First, what I can learn from the Nephites behaviors and reactions, and second, what I can learn from the Savior.

First, let’s look at the Nephites.  I admire them so much.  They had a desire for the words of Christ.  They were spiritually hungry for it, and they had spent the whole day feasting as they listened to Christ teach them all of these wonderful things.  In Matthew 5 it says “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” And they were.  They got to sit at the feet of the Savior and learn.  It wasn’t even enough though, because it was their look, their steadfast look that caused him to have compassion on them and stay a little longer.  He didn’t originally plan on healing the sick and blessing the children at that time, maybe he had plans to later, but he did it then, because he could tell how bad the Nephites wanted to drink the living waters of Christ’s love.  He was telling them that they have had enough for one day.  The Nephites also had faith.  They were healed because of that faith.

They were open to the Spirit.  To have a spiritual experience as great as that, they must have been keeping the commandments and living the teachings of the gospel.  Would you be prepared to have a visit from the Savior?  They were touched.  They had tears in their eyes.  That is one way that the Spirit touches people.  They were completely consumed, remember they had a steadfast look towards him.  No distractions.  Can you say the same about you?  Do you have distractions in your life that are preventing you from focusing on the Savior and keeping the Spirit from touching you?

Lastly, I have learned from the Nephites the kind of parent that I want to be.  Am I leading by example?  Do I have my children at the right places at the right times to be blessed by the Savior?  In order to be prepared, am I going to my meetings, and having both personal and family prayer and scripture study?  The Nephites knew that the Savior was going to come to them because of prophecies.  Have we heard of a time when the Savior will come again?  A time that has been prophesied of, a time that we are to be preparing for?  Yes, we do, the second coming.  I know that I can to do better, and I hope to be like the Nephite people.

Now, what have I learned from the Savior?

First, I like the pattern that he set forth here.  He taught the people doctrine, then he took compassion on them and solved a need that they had by healing them.  Elder Robbins just taught us how a problem is a goldmine.  Then Christ blessed the people and prayed for them.  This sounds like a great home or visiting teaching formula to me.  Teach, love, bless, and pray for those we are asked to watch over.  Am I asking others if they will allow me to solve their problems?  Am I offering my services to others to solve their problems?  Am I acting as our Savior, Jesus Christ?

Then I learned how I should love the little children like the Savior does.

First, Jesus is patient.  Verse 12 says, “Jesus stood in the midst; and the multitude gave way till they had all been brought unto him.”  He waited for all of the children to get up to him.  He was not in a hurry.  Kids move slower.  They get distracted, and it is easy as an adult to hurry children.  There was a great article in the June Ensign entitled “Don’t be in a Hurry”.  I highly recommend it.

Also, the children are brought up front before Christ prays.  I think this is significant.  In my house, we always say a blessing on the food before we eat.  Sometimes, it seems much easier to just quickly pray, because the baby’s quiet, or to hurry up and pray before the food gets cold, because we’ve already asked her to fold her arms 20 times, and she’s said “No” 20 times.  I often justify my actions in that, we are always eating, and so there will be many other opportunities to slow down and help my daughter fold her arms.  Are we working hard to hard to involve our children in the gospel?  As parents are we helping them be in the middle of it all or are we sometimes discounting their presence, or their ability to understand?  Do we sneak into the back of the chapel, or maybe even just sit in the foyer or are we helping them understand the importance of the sacrament?  Do we read the scriptures with them and explain what is happening, or do we just read the words thinking “they’ll understand when they are older”.

It says that Jesus took them one by one.  He spent time with each child, getting to know them, and helping them to feel loved.  Now, I would like to point out that Jesus was not the father to any of these children.  He did all of this, because he loved them, not out of duty or obligation, because he was the parent.  He wasn’t judging any parent, he wasn’t there to take the place of the parents.  He didn’t want to do someone job, or step on any toes.  Christ was a positive influence to these children.  I know as a parent I am always looking for support and role models for my daughter.  It didn’t matter if these children came from perfect homes or broken homes.  Jesus loved the little children.  The Proclamation on the Family uses the scripture Psalm 127:3 “Children are an heritage of the Lord.”  The Savior recognized that.

Pres. Eyring said in our most recent Conference, “Many bishops in the Church are inspired to call the strongest people in the ward to serve individual children in the Primary. They realize that if the children are strengthened with faith and testimony, they will be less likely to need rescue as teenagers. They realize that a strong spiritual foundation can make the difference for a lifetime.”  I love serving in the Primary.  I see their needs.  They all want to be loved.

Listen to the words of this Primary Song (Teacher, Do You Love Me).

(Child) Teacher, do you love me?
Teacher, will you care for me?
Even if I turn away, or disobey, or go astray,
Then will you love me still?
Teacher, will you teach me?
Teacher, help me choose the right.
When I do not understand the Lord’s command, please take my hand
And lead me safely with his light.
(First time child only.)
I need your love, I need your light
To show me how to be like Jesus.
The Savior’s love will light the path
To lead me safely home.

Elder Robbins said last week that “Love is a choice”.  Are we choosing to love the children in our ward?  Are we spending time getting to know them?  Pres. Eyring also said, “We all can help. Grandmothers, grandfathers, and every member who knows a child can help. It doesn’t take a formal calling in Primary. Nor is it limited by age.”  I know of many who yearn for children, and can’t have them.  Many grandparents wish their own grandchildren lived closer.  No matter what your family situation is, you can be like Jesus Christ, and love little children.

Our Savior prayed for the children.  We can pray for the children in our ward.  We can pray to love them.  We can pray for them to resist temptation.  We can talk to them.  Elder Hales just said in this recent conference, “I have learned that what makes a priesthood or Scout activity most meaningful to a boy is not just getting a merit badge but having the opportunity to sit and talk with a leader who is interested in him and his life.  Similarly, mothers and fathers, Do you take the time to have them take the earplugs from their MP3 players and all the other devices so that they can hear you and feel of your love?”

Proverbs 22:6  says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  We all need to help one another and help these children feel loved, not because anyone is being an awful parent, but because the world is wicked and we need to strengthen together and like Elder Eyring says, they will not rescue later on, if we help them now.

Children want to be loved.  I have worked with Primary children in 3 different states.  I have worked with After school programs, City parks and recreation programs, Summer Day camps, Cub Scouts, and in each of these, the children are the same. They want to be loved.  They want to feel the love of their Savior Jesus Christ.

I would hope that everyone here will answer as the teacher in the Primary song does:

(Teacher) Oh yes, my child, I love you.
My child, I’ll always care for you.
And with the Savior as our guide,
I’ll share the light I feel inside,
And you will feel his love for you.
Oh, yes, my child, I’ll teach you.
My child, I’ll help you choose the right.
And when you do not understand
The Lord’s command, I’ll take your hand,
And he will lead us with his light.
(Second time duet.)
I need your love, I need your light
To show me how to be like Jesus.
The Savior’s love will light the path
To lead us safely home.

I love the sweet children of this ward.  I need them, as much as they need me.  I love my Savior.  I love his example that he set for me.  I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Love,
Lindsay

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