Primary to focus on peace through the gospel

"Peace," according to instructions for the 1994 Children's Sacrament Meeting Presentation, "is a feeling of love and safety and quiet that comes from the Lord."

To 6-year-old Amy Jensen "peace means being happy."During 1994, Primary children like Amy throughout the world will be focusing on the theme, "The Gospel of Jesus Christ can bring me peace." Then during sacrament meeting presentations scheduled for September or October, the children will share with ward members what they have learned throughout the year.

The Primary general officers hope that these children will understand, as Amy and her family have learned, that the gospel is the key to receiving peace - despite life's challenges. Amy's mother, Joanne, recalled: "While I was pregnant with Amy, we found out that her then-4-year-old brother, Michael, was going blind. I was pregnant with her and dealing with Michael having headaches, and then surgery to relieve pressure on his brain.

"Michael did lose his vision," said Sister Jensen, "but he is bright and inspiring in how he's handling this whole thing. The gospel has made all this easier to bear. You know the blindness is just for this life. We've got the gospel, and it's so important in our lives. It's been a big help for the whole family," which includes Sister Jensen; her husband, Roger; Jennifer, 17; Melissa, 16; Jeff, 14; Michael, now 12; Andrew, 9; Amy; Tessa, 2; and Zachary, 2 weeks. They are members of the Medicine Hat 2nd Ward, Taber Alberta Stake.

Speaking lovingly to the children of the Church, like the Jensens, throughout the world, President Ezra Taft Benson said during the 1989 April general conference: "Just like the beautiful Primary song

you sing, each of you truly is a child of God. For

you, rich blessings are in store, and if you learn

to do His will, you will live with Him once more.

I know this to be true." (See "I Am a Child of God," Hymn No. 301.)

This "learning and doing," as the song teaches, is the basis behind this year's Primary theme and sacrament meeting presentation, said the Primary general presidency, and is the key to finding peace in this life.

"The gospel of Jesus Christ is the one constant in today's ever-changing world," said Michaelene P. Grassli, Primary general president. "It is the rod to which all of us, including our children, can cling for safety and for peace. I love the verse, `Acquaint now thyself with Him and be at peace.' " (Job 22:21.)

Pres. Grassli's first counselor, Betty Jo N. Jepsen, who advises the general board committee members who prepare the sacrament meeting presentation outline, spoke with the Church News about the Primary theme and how Primary leaders and teachers can prepare for this year's presentation.

"Children in any situation and in any geographic area need the assurance of peace, and the gospel is one of the ways they can get this peace," she explained. "Whether they are having problems in school or in their families, they can always know they can pray and turn to Heavenly Father, and by obeying the commandments they can feel peace."

Sister Jepsen explained that the 1994 sacrament meeting presentation outline includes 12 concepts relating to peace that can be used in sharing times, and during Primary opening and closing exercises.

These concepts include: "Peace is a feeling of love and safety and quiet that comes from the Lord," "I can feel peace when I know that I am a child of God," "I can feel peace when I sing the songs of the gospel," "I can feel peace when I forgive others," "I can help others feel peace by loving and serving them as I try to live as Jesus lived."

Sister Jepsen emphasized that the concepts discussed during the first part of the year will focus on helping children learn about peace and its relation to other gospel principles. Then as the year progresses, the concepts will help children apply these principles.

For example, one concept for later in the year reads, "I can help others feel peace by being a peacemaker at home and among my friends."

Sister Jepsen explained that being a peacemaker is "learning to willingly share and be selfless and serve others. Being a peacemaker is more important than being right all the time."

However, she added, "children need to understand that being a peacemaker doesn't mean they are totally responsible for peace in their homes, but they can contribute in their own way."

In addition to the 12 concepts, other important elements in the sacrament meeting presentation outline are the scriptures and the music.

This year's outline focuses on Old Testament scriptures and stories, in conjunction with this year's Gospel Doctrine course of study. Sister Jepsen said many good examples of "peaceable people" can be found in the Old Testament.

"We have used many of the heroes from the Old Testament to demonstrate the principle of peace in our lives," she said. "We've used the stories of Daniel, Joseph and Jonah and others to demonstrate that when Heavenly Father's children learn of Him, then they can be obedient."

In speaking of the suggested Primary songs on the outline, she added, "Music is one of the most effective ways to invite the Spirit and a feeling of peace into our lives. Children need to have special experiences through music to raise them above the level of the world and to touch their hearts and souls."

The suggested songs include "I Feel My Savior's Love," "Follow the Prophet," "Keep the Commandments" and "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus."

As leaders and teachers prepare for the presentation, Sister Jepsen counseled them: "The presentation needs to be an outgrowth from a year's worth of teaching. Teach and then use the children's own words and understanding, and listen to your own children. You'll get the best presentation that way."

Sister Jepsen expressed a hope that these concepts, scriptures and music will not only be taught and discussed in Primary, but in the home as well.

In a recent letter on the Church's "Focus on Children," the First Presidency explained, "The principles children learn at home and at Church will help them gain a strong foundation of testimony that they can use to make righteous choices and faithfully live the gospel of Jesus Christ." (Please see Nov. 27, 1993, Church News.)

Children throughout the world need to learn, as Amy Jensen is learning, that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings peace despite the storms of life.

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