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15 January 2019

Come Follow Me: The Nativity



 Ok, it feels... weird to be studying the Nativity in January. I'm all set to be working towards Easter, and here's Christmas again.

But we had this thought in our conversation about Zacharias and John the Baptist (our family's discussion sort of glossed over Elizabeth; not where the kids' attention was, this time around), and I'm still kind of mulling it over:

John the Baptist and Baby Jesus are just about the only baby stories we have in the scriptures. We don't know about Isaiah or Daniel or Nephi or Samuel the Lamanite as infants. Even modern prophets, even Joseph Smith where stories from his childhood are pretty common, they're not baby stories. Hannah's son Samuel, that story talks about the desire for a child, but then pretty quick it's right on to Samuel as a precocious child-prophet in the temple.

My kids love baby stories. They ask for their own all the time

So why are these stories in the Bible when nowhere else in scripture do we see the first moments of a prophet's life?

I think it's because these babies are impossible:

Elizabeth was too old.
"Well stricken in years."
Virgins can't bear children.
It doesn't work like that.

So babies. This week is about babies again. And wise men.

I have questions about those wisemen: like, why did they come?

Yes, I know. They saw the star in the east, so they came to see Him. And they brought the gifts that funded the excursion to Egypt. But what if they hadn't come, would Herod have still killed all the children? Or would they not have noticed? I mean, something around two years had gone by and the baby had escaped his notice. So what was it that they were really there for? What did Christ do while his family was in Egypt? Or, what did the wisemen do when they went back home? Maybe the reason why their trip was important enough was something that happened back home, after they returned.

The stories we have are a treasure, no doubt about it. But I can think of a couple of places where I would love to have some more details. This is one of them.

I think that this week I also want to spend some time looking at some of the supporting characters: Anna the prophetess and Simon. How cool would it be to head to the temple one day... and there is the Lord!

And, Anna is a prophetess. That's not something that we talk about, much. But she's not the only one: Deborah, who was also a judge. Huldah the prophetess, that young King Josiah sent his messengers to. Isaiah's wife. Miriam, Moses's sister: also a prophetess. The Guide to the Scriptures article includes Mary in this group, which makes perfect sense. Given that the testimony of Christ is the spirit of prophecy, it makes perfect sense that believers of either gender could warrant the title prophet or prophetess.


And then, again, there's that thing that it says about Mary: she kept all these things in her heart. It would be interesting to see how that phrase is rendered in Japanese and Spanish.

In the manual there's also a section on what the Joseph Smith Translation is. This will be a likely time to remind my older kids of what it is: a series of corrections given to Joseph Smith during his period of instruction, by inspiration, as he studied the Bible;  and what it is not: a return to the original text. That's what my institute teacher told me, and everything I've seen since then has borne that out. The kids have run into it before --the corrections to the Exodus story, for instance, clarifying that it was Pharaoh's own foolishness and pride and not the Lord hardening his heart; that would be inconsistent with the nature of God, who never, at any point, would cause or condone sin.

Anyway, that's most likely as much or more than what we can cover this week. I'd love to hear what you are doing with the new curriculum. Drop me a note in the comments!




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2 comments:

Anne Chovies said...

My own personal thoughts are that once we get the record of the lost tribes we will learn more about the wise men.

Ritsumei said...

That would be fantastic --and it makes perfect sense.

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