Talk about a great New Year's Resolution! The first quote in Gordon B. Hinckley Chapter 2: An Ensign to the Nations, a Light to the World states,
"This is a season to be strong. It is a time to move forward without hesitation, knowing well the meaning, the breadth, and the importance of our mission."
That's what we need to be- confident and courageous in our mission. Are you? A lot of the focus of your lesson can be on how to become that way and why it is so important. What draws people to light? I talk more about the lighthouse pictured above in my Facebook Live video- keep scrolling to the bottom to watch it.
Questions to Ponder
Some of these questions are from the manual, others are ones that I thought of- use them in your preparation, lesson, or to help you think of your own.
- What strikes you as you consider the growth of the Church from 1830 to present day?
- What can you learn from President Hinckley's account of the first pioneers arriving in the Salt Lake Valley?
- How have you benefited from the prophetic vision of early Church leaders?
- What do you think it means to be "an ensign to the nations"? (See Isaiah 5:26)
- Why is it important that you see the grand picture as President Hinckley encouraged in section 3? Why do you sometimes lose sight of it?
- How can your small efforts contribute to the growth of God's kingdom?
- In what additional ways are Latter-day Saints becoming a "peculiar and distinctive people"? (see section 4)
- In what ways can you develop greater vision and courage in moving God's work forward?
- How can you live in the world without being of the world?
- How can you "take on more of the luster of life of Christ"?
- Why is it important to you to stand for what is right?
- The Church will continue to grow and prosper. How can you help?
- How are you a light? Who is a light for you?
- How can you overcome the fear or doubts that get in your way as you do the Lord's work?
Here are some articles and other things to study as you continue to prepare for your lesson. They should NOT replace the manual but rather help answer questions and strengthen your own testimony so that it is easy to teach with confidence and answer questions that arise during your lesson.
"Ye Are the Light of the World" by Brother Adrian Ochoa
"An Ensign to the Nations" by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
"An Ensign to the Nations" by President Gordon B. Hinckley- the manual quotes from this one
"We Are Doing a Great Work and Cannot Come Down" by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
"Be an Example and a Light" by President Thomas S. Monson
"Sharing Your Light" by Sister Neill F. Marriott
"Your Light- a Standard to All Nations" by President James E. Faust
"Be Strong and of a Good Courage" by President Thomas S. Monson
Before you use a video in your lesson, read these 15 tips.
Show the little short daily videos or the main video from the #LIGHTtheWORLD campaign. While it is not Christmas anymore, the message is still true.
Jesus Declares, "I Am the Light of the World, the Truth Shall Make You Free" (about 4 1/2 minutes)- Bible video
Ministry of Gordon B. Hinckley: Bringing the Church Out of Obscurity (about 2 minutes)
The Lord's House (about 1 1/2 minutes)- Clip from General Conference
Stand a Little Taller (about 1 minute)- Clip from General Conference
- Organize your lessons with this free teaching outline.
- December's #LIGHTtheWORLD campaign ties in nicely with this lesson. Ask people that did some of the Mormon.org challenges to share some of their experiences- how they were inspired, what effects their acts had on others, etc.
- Begin your lesson by reading and discussing Daniel's vision of a stone cut out of the mountain without hands (Daniel 2:36-45).
- Need some new ideas for how to start your lesson? Read these 8 ways for inspiration.
- Increase participation in your class with this great chocolate handout idea from My Computer is My Canvas.
- Make this ruler handout for those that can't attend your class due to illness, other callings, or any other reason. It's shown in yellow above but it is really in black and white. This way you can print directly on yellow paper and save yourself some ink. There are two sizes so be sure to print the page you want. Cut reach ruler strip apart and attach together with brads.
- We often talk about how the early pioneers couldn't have imagined what the church has become today but in the end of section 1, President Hinckley states, "And this is only the beginning. This work will continue to grow and prosper and move across the earth." I wonder if we fully comprehend the magnitude of this great work.
- If you have a loom or can assemble a makeshift one, it would be a great visual when jumping into section 3. Bring a magnifying glass to focus on the individual threads rather than the whole weave and even keep some of the weave hidden. Have a few different people come up and weave a strand to show their contribution might only be one row but in the end, it makes a whole masterpiece (and show the whole thing). There are several quotes you can draw from in section 3 as you do this metaphor.
- Have you ever done those art projects where all you get to contribute is one square of a whole picture? You don't even know what it is going to turn out to be- you are just supposed to copy to the best of your abilities the square you have been assigned. Then when all the squares are put up together it's beautiful. If you keep the assignment super simple you can quickly do the same thing in your class. Hand the assignments out before class and have each person copy the example on to their square during opening exercises. Be sure to put numbers on the back so you know how to hang them up on the board. When it's time have everyone bring up their piece and assemble (you may want to draw a grid on the board with tape waiting for them). You can have the finished product be a quote from the lesson or a super simple drawing (even stick figures will make the point). Again this project goes with section 3 particularly with the paragraph that begins with "Each of us has a small field to cultivate..." If you forget that your square is part of a bigger picture you may want to make it completely different from your assignment or be tempted to not complete it all, but knowing it will be part of something greater makes you approach the project with a determination to do it right and on time.
- In section 4 we are challenged to stand a little taller as we will only become more and more peculiar a people. Then President Hinckley goes on to cite some examples of how we may become more distinctive in the future. Bring some current event clippings that relate to his points and how it has indeed made us a more peculiar people. For example, he mentions the integrity of family. The world's definition of family has changed a lot since he said that.
- Relate the parable of the 10 virgins to how we need to be lights to the world. Use this origami idea to help illustrate your point.
- Section 4 also mentions how we can't live unto ourselves- we must mingle with others and be gracious about it. The Church now has a section on LDS.org dedicated to discussing religious freedoms- how we protect our religious freedoms, stand up for ourselves, but also be gracious in doing so. You may want to show one of the videos on that page during your lesson as an example of how we can live in the world without being of the world.
- Print the scripture quoted in the manual from D&C 84:88 as a handout for your class. It's free.
- Sister Cheryl A. Esplin gave a great object lesson in her April 2015 General Conference talk about withstanding the pressures of the world. It's a great example of how we can make ourselves strong to help in the Lord's work.
- Here's the video for Chapter 2. One additional thought when dipping our candles so the light is bigger is that we also light the way for ourselves to see the God's plan and our role in it more clearly. Find the Lighthouse coloring page at LDS Printable.