The people at Thessalonica must have been pretty great bunch of folks. Paul gushes over them, and then their faith is so strong in the second coming that they literally quit their jobs in anticipation of the event they thought would be soon! These were fun books to cover.
1 Thessalonians 1-5
I spent a little time discussing the background of the people at Thessalonica and what kind of people they were. On the board I wrote a couple of questions to guide our lesson:
- Let's learn what kind of people were in the church at Thessalonica. Find some verses that show how Paul and other leaders felt about the people at Thessalonica.
- In what ways did 1 Thessalonians remind you of the messages from General Conference?
- How do you think church leaders today feel about us?
- Children of light
- Look at 1 Thessaloniands 5:5-26. Underline what you think are the most important parts of Paul's advice to the people.
It's funny -- going back I can't remember much about this lesson. No more complaining about when the kids don't remember what I teach! Ha!
My purpose here was to point out the good characteristics of the Thessalonians, demonstrate the love that leaders have for the people they serve, and to have kids pick out advice that might help them from Paul's words.
2 Thessalonians 1-4
On the board I wrote
Students were to unscramble the word to find out our topic for the day. I had to give hints -- the major one being you're studying this in YM/W and Sunday School this month. It did make me laugh that we had another lesson on apostasy this month. Poor kids.
Anyway, I worked from how the people got confused (1 Thess 4:13-17) about the second coming to Paul's instruction that they must wait patiently for the Savior's return (2 Thess 3:5, 10-13) to the scripture mastery passage about they had to wait: an apostasy must happen (2 Thess 2:1-3). I used the first two case studies in the manual to open a discussion about the second coming. We touched a little on the Rapture, because I think it's important for the kids to understand what other people are talking about when they refer to it.
Case Study 1:A boy in your seminary class has expressed concern about the things he has heard about the Second Coming. He wants to know if there is enough time for him to plan on a mission, college, marriage, and children. How would you answer him? Discuss their responses, then share the following statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer:
“Everything that I have learned from the revelations and from life convinces me that there is time and to spare for you to carefully prepare for a long life.
“One day you will cope with teenage children of your own. That will serve you right. Later, you will spoil your grandchildren, and they in turn spoil theirs. If an earlier end should happen to come to one, that is more reason to do things right” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 72; or Ensign, May 1989, 59).
Case Study 2:A friend tells you she attended a fireside in which the speaker had a dream about the Second Coming and was told to teach the Saints certain things they must do to be ready. Your friend doesn’t know if she should do what the speaker said or not. What would you say to her?
We spent a few minutes working on the scripture mastery. This was a good lesson. Nothing lightning-like. Can't get it there every day 🙂
On the Rapture
I did a little bit of reading trying to get to a place where I felt I had a good grasp of the concept of the Rapture. Basically, this is an idea that came around in the early 1800s (1830 as I recall) that uses 1 Thess to show that Christians will be taken away from the earth and won't be present during the days of Tribulation foretold by Daniel and described in Revelation. The idea is that if you're good/saved, you won't have to suffer as much as the baddies. Some think it happens before or after the bad stuff, or maybe even in the middle of it. There's also some emphasis on Jesus' feet not touching the ground at this Rapture time. It's a return of Christ before his final second coming and he steps on the Mount of Olives, splitting it in two.
Anyway, I don't know how the concepts in the Rapture fit in with our understanding and couldn't find anything except an old article from Ask Gramps that was insulting and uncited -- in short: totally useless. I didn't spend a lot of time on it, but I'd be curious to know a little more. As one who is a little afraid of heights,the idea of flying through the air doesn't appeal to me.
I suspect this isn't in the manual because these are written in Utah were talk of the Rapture isn't as prevalent as it is in Mississippi (or even Virginia). It would be nice if the manual spent a little time on scriptures that help us understand others' beliefs, with an eye toward being kind and understanding in our discussions of doctrine with other followers of Christ. Too often we are insulting (Jesus is Satan's BROTHER?!?!?!?!?! There is MORE THAN ONE God?!?!?! Don't you talk bad about MY GOD!) without even realizing it. Seminary would be a good time to try to address those issues. I do the best I can, but I've only ever been Mormon.
Certainly "Rapture" isn't a scriptural term, and it isn't one that we use in our teaching. Maybe it's all just semantics. Moving on.