Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Clinging to the Iron Rod

As I've mentioned infrequently on this blog, I grew up in Utah.

In Utah, unlike much of the rest of the world, high school students attend "release time seminary," where they are "released" from campus during one class period each day to attend the seminary building (usually located in an adjoining building to the campus). Seminary offers Latter-day Saint youth a chance to step back from the hustle-and-bustle cares of worldly study and focus on spiritual concepts such as scripture study, doctrinal discussions and missionary preparation.

Like I said, it's a unique system to Utah (and I believe parts of Arizona and Idaho ... correct me if I'm wrong, somebody). In most stakes, seminary is taught early in the morning, usually around 6 a.m. by ward or stake members who gather a stake-full of youth in a nearby chapel.

I finally had the chance to enjoy one of these early-morning seminary classes. My young single adult ward was assigned a week to provide "security" for the chapel while the teacher delivered his class to these high schoolers, so I went to the chapel at 5:30 a.m. merely to keep an eye on the doors and make sure the building remained secure (as well as provide help in case of an emergency to the classroom instructor).

I was struck by the diligence of these students. I expected a half dozen youth, falling asleep at their table, while some brother or sister droned on about the priesthood, the Restoration, or the Word of Wisdom. Instead, as I occasionally passed to listen to the instructor's lesson, I heard a small gaggle of attentive youths (there were around 20-30 in the room) actively engaged in a lesson outlining church and priesthood organization.The only lackadaisical routine of the early hour came during the opening hymn, when few in the small group expressed vocal intent (although, that may have been for the better, as some of the voices would have been quite underdeveloped).

Daily scripture study is important. Whether it's with a group of other students early in the morning, or personal reading of a few verses late at night, daily "feasting upon the words of Christ" is one thing that sets Latter-day Saints apart from the rest of the world. Doing so helps us to "treasure up in [our] minds continually the words of life."

When asked what the main difference is between the LDS church and other Christian denominations, Joseph Smith reportedly said, "we believe and follow the Bible." Such a bold statement stems from our unwavering desire to continually study the scriptures and learn the Savior's doctrine and about His plan of happiness.

I'll admit: my own scripture study has been waning lately. But what a blessing it is to be reminded of my imperfections, so that I can strive to be better.

Even if I am reminded by a couple of sleepy-eyed 14- and 15-year-old youths in Las Vegas.

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