Week in Faith – Dec12, 2010, Part 2 (Sunday School & Elders Quorum)

Brother J gave this our lesson this week. He gives good lessons. I was really inspired during this lesson. Let me explain. Our lesson was about Daniel 1, 3, 6. To start our lesson off Bro. J told us that if we would live what is taught in these scriptures we would be upstanding members of the church.

Before getting to far into this post in Daniel we learn about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Probably about ten years ago me father was teaching a youth Sunday School class. He asked what the names of these three men were. One of my friends, in all seriousness, replied, “Shadrach, Meshach and Reshack.” Ever since then we’ve had a running joke in our family about, Reshack.

Anyway, we read Daniel 1:8-13. In these verse the King wants to raise Daniel n his own way. He commands that Daniel should eat meat and wine. Daniel refuses and says he will eat pulse and water. And of course every member in the class was so happy to see this wonderful example of a prophet obeying the Lord’s Law of Health, the Word of Wisdom.

At first I kind of scoffed in my heart at the idea. But after looking at these scriptures I actually think it kind of fits the bill. Maybe not our modern Word of Wisdom, that is a commandment of God and differs from section 89. But rather what it was intended as, a word of wisdom.

We read that Daniel was blessed with health and wisdom for not eating the kings meat and wine. Those are the same blessings that we are promised in section 89, health and wisdom. Also section 89 forbids eating excess of meat. It also forbids drinking wine except for the sacrament. The problem the church has made is that the word of wisdom was revealed as just that, A word of wisdom. It’s not some new commandment, but one of the words of wisdom promised to be revealed as a Gift of the Spirit. We call this The Word of Wisdom, but it is just one of many words of wisdom.

But our teacher was correct to point out that if we have questions about the Word of Wisdom we should ask God.  My wife also brought up something about that. She said it doesn’t matter that the Word of Wisdom is not a commandment because I’m obeying it anyway. And while that can be true personally what I think we need to do away with is the institutionalization of the word of wisdom. It should be a personal commitment not a requirement. That’s why I always point out that it is not a commandment, not because I don’t think people should live it, but because I don’t think it is right for the Church to require obedience to it. It’s as if we as a church only use those parts of section 89 that coincide with our current practice. Instead of using the Word of God in section 89 as the guide, we use it as a buttress. But I’ll save a more in depth analysis of the Word of Wisdom for another time.

Later in class we talked about Shadrach, Meshach and Reshack(oops, I mean Abed-nego). We talked about how they would not worship the false god of Babylon. As a result of their disobedience to the King of Babylon they were thrown into the fiery furnace. The king ordered the fire to be made even hotter. The fire was so hot than when they were thrown in the people who threw then in died. Yet, the three men did not die.

We too should not deny our principles even in the face of a literal or metaphorical fiery furnace. I really felt the Spirit during this part. It reaffirmed to me that I cannot deny my principles even in the face of persecution. If those three men could stand up for God in the face of a fiery death, I surely can stand up for God in the face of a few persecutions(not that I’ve really had that many).

I wonder if we couldn’t compare the King increasing the fire to additional persecutions from those who should be supporting us, namely the church. What do I mean? Well it goes back to the principles I believe in. Along with all the basics, I believe (in):
1. Re-baptism for commitment and healing.
2. The Word of Wisdom is not a commandment.
3. The Law of Consecration.
4. Tithing as given in section 119 and in conjunction with the Law of Consecration.
5. Plural Marriage.
6. The literal gathering of Zion in Jackson County and the surrounding Stakes/Cities of Zion.
7. The literal gathering of Jews to Jerusalem.
8. The Restored Church exists collectively in all of the splinter sects of the succession crisis.
9. Unaltered Ordinances.
10. The Word of God trumps everything(especially the laws of the land and traditions).

That’s just a short list but you probably get my point.

Think through some of those things on the list. Many of them are eternal Laws. Pick a few and think if the church would persecute someone for practicing that.
Re-baptism? Possibly.
Word of Wisdom? The Church requires obedience to something that is not a commandment in order to enter the temple.

Law of Consecration? Good luck practicing that today through the church.

Plural Marriage? Do I need to even say anything. The church disciplines any who preach in favor of Plural Marriage. Any who practice Plural Marriage and do not repent for obeying God’s commandment are excommunicated.

You get the idea. We live in a time when even the Church persecutes those who obey God’s commandments. It is more important now than ever that we stay firm in not just the belief but the practice of God’s commandments. The real test of our faith comes not in the safety of our homes, but in the blasting heat of the fiery furnace!

Brother J told us that next week we will be having a lesson about the Gospel filling the earth. I’m assuming this the “stone cut without hands” lesson. I want to ask, that if you have any ideas for comments I can make in this lesson please tell me. I’ve been thinking about comment that the stone cut without hands must first break down the Babylonian kingdoms before it fills the earth. So this cannot be the expansion of the church that we are seeing now, because the Babylonian kingdoms have not been broken down. Any other ideas are welcome!

Elders Quorum
In Elders we were invited to help fulfill the sacred responsibility of keeping the Lord’s House clean. This made me stop and think. Are church buildings and meeting houses, the Lord’s House? I thought the Temples were the Lord’s House. Grants the Kirtland and Nauvoo temples also functioned as meeting houses and they were identified by the Lord as His house. But when our chapels do not function as temples can they be called the Lord’s house? I don’t have the answer but I did think about this. If any of you have the answer please tell me.

Our lesson was about the Sacrament. I peeked a few pages a head in the manual and there it was, section 20 used to justify our current practice of administering the sacrament. I knew what I had to do. So when we got to that point I raised my hand. I asked why priests pass the sacrament when section 20 tell us they are only to pass the sacrament when an elder is not present. Also why are teachers and deacons allowed to administer the sacrament when section20 forbids them from doing so.

Remember in part 1 when I said we would talk about this more. Well here we go.

It almost seemed like our Elders Quorum President, Bro W. Put on the brakes. He asked me to read the scriptures where this was mentioned. Instead of focusing on the key verse we read verses 38-52.

So lets read them:

Doctrine and Covenants 20:38-52

38 The duty of the elders, priests, teachers, deacons, and members of the church of Christ–An apostle is an elder, and it is his calling to baptize;
39 And to ordain other elders, priests, teachers, and deacons;
40 And to administer bread and wine–the emblems of the flesh and blood of Christ–
41 And to confirm those who are baptized into the church, by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, according to the scriptures;
42 And to teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the church;
43 And to confirm the church by the laying on of the hands, and the giving of the Holy Ghost;
44 And to take the lead of all meetings.
45 The elders are to conduct the meetings as they are led by the Holy Ghost, according to the commandments and revelations of God.
46 The priest’s duty is to preach, teach, expound, exhort, and baptize, and administer the sacrament,
47 And visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties.
48 And he may also ordain other priests, teachers, and deacons.
49 And he is to take the lead of meetings when there is no elder present;
50 But when there is an elder present, he is only to preach, teach, expound, exhort, and baptize,
51 And visit the house of each member, exhorting them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties.
52 In all these duties the priest is to assist the elder if occasion requires.

Brother W said that Priests are allowed to administer the sacrament when an Elder is present because the Priests are to assist the Elders in all those things if occasion requires. We can see this in that the Priests always look to the Bishop after they have said t e sacrament prayer. The Bishop leads our meetings so he is giving them permission.

So there you have it. Problem solved. We are doing it correctly after all.

Ok you didn’t really thing that was the end did you? While our lesson in Elder’s Quorum ended, I continued to ponder over this justification for our modern apostasy. So lets take a look.

Verse 52 says that the Priests are to assist the Elder, “if occasion requires.” To me this makes it sound like, that on the rare occasion that you need help the Priests can assist you. This seems a far cry from the weekly “occasional assistance” the Priests give the Elders.

Also, why would the Lord even include verses 50 and 51 if He was just going to negate that by allowing the Priests to assist the elders in all their duties. Was the Lord just rambling on in this revelation? Was He just talking and out slipped verses 50 and 51, so He corrected it in verse 52?

No I don’t think so either. I think the Lord meant what He said. Verse 52 cant be referring to the duties of the Elder it can only refer to the duties of the Priest. But if verse 52 applies to verses 46-49 it would cancel out verse 50 and 51. So the only place for verse 52 to apply is in the duties listed in verse 50 and 51. After all how can a Priest assist an Elder when an Elder is NOT present? So the only duties a Priest can assist an Elder in is in preaching, teaching, expounding, exhorting, baptizing, visiting the house of each member, exhorting them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties.

Additionally if our Priests give weekly assistance to the Elders in Administering the Sacrament, then why don’t they give weekly assistance to the Elders in leading our meetings? Oh that’s right the Elders don’t run our meetings it’s the Bishop. Silly, Zo-ma-rah, scriptures are for kids!

We didn’t ever talk about the teachers and deacons part, but I will here.

Doctrine and Covenants 20:58

58 But neither teachers nor deacons have authority to baptize, administer the sacrament, or lay on hands;

So why do we permit the teachers and deacons to assist in administering the Sacrament? In my imagination I can picture someone in Elder’s Quorum saying that administering means blessing that Sacrament. So teachers and Deacons don’t bless the sacrament, they just pass it.

So why then can Deacons and teachers PASS the sacrament when there is not scriptural command to do so? If passing the Sacrament is not administering then why just let the teachers and deacons pass? Why not let some Beehives and Mia Maids have a turn? Or let the relief society try it. For that matter lets give those investigators the Elder’s brought to church, a chance to pass the sacrament.

Well I guess on second thought everyone does help pass the sacrament. The teachers and Deacons just take the sacrament from the table to the ends of the isles. The members then pass the sacrament down the isles. I guess that kind of blows my “pass = administer” argument out of the water.

So does administer also include passing the sacrament? If so why are members allowed to pass the sacrament to each other down the pews? If not why are only priesthood holders allowed to take the trays from the Sacrament Table to the end of the isles? Is there something different about the space between the sacrament table and the pews, that different rules apply?

I don’t know, so I would be glad to hear your ideas.

What I do know is that we need to read the scriptures for what they say. We need to stop reading the scriptures and wresting them to match what we already practice.

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8 Responses to Week in Faith – Dec12, 2010, Part 2 (Sunday School & Elders Quorum)

  1. Lol. Those are some interesting thoughts about whether priesthood is needed to prepare and pass the sacrament, duties typically assigned to teachers and deacons.

    The scriptures state how the sacrament is to be administered in D&C 20: 75-79. “Administering” the sacrament is only defined in the Gentile scriptures as blessing the bread and wine, not passing or preparing the sacrament.

    Teachers and deacons have a duty to be “standing ministers unto the church.” This is, of course, an open duty, meaning that performing the duty of “standing minister unto the church” can involve a lot of things, including preparing and passing the sacrament, collecting fast offerings, being a bishop’s messenger, etc.

    As I understand it, as only the offices of teacher and deacon are standing-only ministers (every other office of the priesthood is either designated as a traveling office or a standing office that may travel), it is the deacons and teachers who are to do pretty much all the local service (ministering), except for those things specifically designated as pertaining to priests and elders. The priests, elders, bishops, high priests, apostles, First Presidency, high councils, seventy, etc., etc., are all supposed to be traveling ministers as their circumstances permit. The First Presidency, Twelve and Seventy are specifically traveling-only ministers, but everyone else (other than teachers and deacons) are supposed to travel when they can. So, the scriptures make sense when they talk of teachers presiding when no priest or elder is present. As all the other offices are supposed to be traveling around, it would be very possible that no elders or priests or bishops or high priests, etc., may be around for the local meetings.

    I suppose that in an ideal situation, in which the traveling officers are all out traveling, a priest or elder would be called to come back to the local congregation only when the sacrament needed to be blessed or when someone needed to be baptized and confirmed, then they would go back to traveling around. Of course, currently the traveling aspects of all the offices of the priesthood are dormant (in practice). Only the Twelve, Seventy and First Presidency travel. Everyone else stays put in their stake, ward or branch.

  2. zo-ma-rah says:

    That’s interesting about teachers and deacons passing, as standing ministers. So if passing the sacrament is part of the ministry would they need to pass it to each individual member? Or would does their ministry end at the pew and whoever-in-the-heck-and-their-mamma can pass the sacrament and fulfill the roll of deacon to the person seated next to them?

    It would be interesting to study how the traveling aspect of preisthood offices would work. I suppose the main purpose would be as missionaries to gather Israel. But since we no longer gather Israel, I can see how these functions have diminished.

  3. Deacons and teachers are standing ministers. The people in the pews are sitting ministers. Everyone in the church is called, by baptism, to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” As the dynamic of a pew does not allow a standing minister (teacher or deacon) to comfortably enter a pew and pass the sacrament to all the members sitting down in it, the people sitting in the pews comfort the deacons standing at the ends of the pews by passing the sacrament for them within the pew.

  4. Dave P. says:

    I really could say this anywhere but thanks for having the link to the Comments feed available. That makes it much easier to catch up on what I missed throughout each day.

  5. zo-ma-rah says:

    Thanks for reminding me. I needed to find out how to put the recent command feed on this blog.

  6. Btw, I forgot to put a “;)” after my last comment.

  7. Justin says:

    So — this last Sunday I read thru the verses in D&C 20 thinking about the comments you brought up in this post. Here’s the way I read it:

    46 The priest’s duty is to preach, teach, expound, exhort, and baptize, and administer the sacrament, 47 And visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties. 48 And he may also ordain other priests, teachers, and deacons. 49 And he is to take the lead of meetings when there is no elder present;

    These are the duties of a priest — when there are no elders present. If the elders are not traveling, but can instead be found attending their home congregations, then:

    50 But when there is an elder present, he is only to preach, teach, expound, exhort, and baptize, 51 And visit the house of each member, exhorting them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties.

    The Lord does not repeat things for no reason. Here we have an identical list of duties as was stated in the previous [elders are not present] section — except the administration of the sacrament in not listed. This is intended to draw our attention to that fact. So, in a congregation that has both priests and elders — the second section is the stated duties pertaining to priests.

    Now, concerning the next verse that Brother W brought up:

    52 In all these duties the priest is to assist the elder if occasion requires.

    This is a classic context question. “In all these duties…” What duties, what is “these“? Is it the first set listed [when no elders are present], or the second set?

    These duties” refers to the most proximate duties listed — and that would be the set that does not include the administration of the sacrament.

    Further, as it pertains to the meaning of the word “administration“, there is one shade of meaning in the 1828 Webster’s dictionary that mentions the Christian ordinance of the sacrament — and that is:

    4. dispensation; distribution; exhibition; as the administration of justice, of the sacrament, or of grace.

    So — to administer the sacrament involves dispensing or distributing it to the congregation — i.e. the duty we assign to the deacons and teachers.

  8. I also feel that the priests (or elders) should handle every aspect of the sacrament. Here is the definition of administer for the next edition (1913) of that dictionary:

    2. To dispense; to serve out; supply; execute; as, to administer relief and justice; to administer the sacrament.

    The D&C instructions of how the sacrament is to be administered covers only the execution part of administer: making the bread and wine a sacrament through the sacramental prayers. It does not explain how the sacrament is to be dispensed, served out and supplied, which are the other parts of the definition of administering. These other aspects of administering may not need rigid or formal instructions in our scriptures, as dispensing, serving out and supplying can be accomplished in various ways, all equally valid.

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